The enneagram is an ancient personality system that can unearth some of your hidden desires and fears. One of the things that the enneagram can tell you about yourself is how desperate you are to find something that seems almost unattainable. This article will explore some of the things that each enneagram type searches for in life, but finds hard to actually maintain or grasp.
Not sure what your enneagram type is? Take our new personality questionnaire here!
Here’s What You Desperately Crave in Life, Based on Your Enneagram Type
As a One, you greatly desire a sense of integrity and wholeness within yourself. You tend to be a perfectionist and sometimes it can feel like there’s a judge sitting inside your brain calling out all your failures and the failures of the people around you. You keep hoping that you can reach your ideal, achieve that goal, or destroy all the “bad” parts of yourself. Sometimes it feels like if you can keep trying hard enough eventually that feeling of wholeness and peace will arrive. You’ll finally be able to rest knowing you have conquered your demons. Have you gotten there yet, or do you feel like it’s a destination you’ll never reach?
What to Do:
Feeling like you have to constantly strive to “deserve” the life you’ve been given will burn you out and lead to anxiety and endless frustration. As much as possible, try to make peace with the two sides of yourself – light and darkness. Everyone has a dark side. Don’t ignore what seems right or wrong to you, but don’t dwell on past mistakes or failures. Forgive yourself for the wrongs you’ve done and forgive others if you can. Look at yourself with compassion for a change and ground yourself in the present moment. What can you do now that is wise yet kind to yourself and others? What are your emotional and physical needs right now? Maybe what’s best is to just allow yourself to sit with your strengths and weaknesses for a while. Look at yourself honestly but with compassion. Know yourself, both the wonderful parts and the weak parts. This will allow you to be more whole on the inside and less fragmented and frustrated.
Want to find out more? Read our Enneagram One Profile
You have always desired a sense of belonging, unity, and love. You tend to put other people’s needs ahead of your own and you are typically warm and generous. You live to make good things happen for people, but what you desperately crave is having that love given back to you. You want to feel accepted, appreciated, and affirmed. You worry that without giving yourself away you somehow are worthless. You feel you have to earn love through selflessness, friendliness, and sacrifice. Sometimes this leads you to being servant-hearted and compassionate; other times this can lead you to being exhausted, burned-out, and resentful.
What to Do:
You might fall into the trap of doing things for people in an effort to get acknowledgment and affirmation in return. Look at your reasons for doing something before you just go in full steam ahead to help others. Are you doing this because you genuinely care about their well-being? Would it be better if they solved this problem themselves? Or are you doing this so that you can get some kind of sense of worth back in exchange? Be extremely honest with yourself about your motives, listen to your heart, your mind, and your body. Are you ignoring your own needs, both emotional and physical, to tend to someone else? In your relationships, ask people what they want help with and what they don’t want help with so that you can avoid over-stepping other people’s boundaries.
Want to find out more? Read our Enneagram Two Profile
As a three you crave success, achievement, and a sense that you have accomplished something important in this world. You are especially goal-oriented and you enjoy collecting awards and symbols of success as you go through life. You feel like you must keep achieving and accomplishing things so that you will feel worthwhile rather than worthless. You might have grown up being praised for your accomplishments but feeling invisible when you weren’t accomplishing anything. You may have felt like in order to earn your place in this world you had to get the right house, the right clothes, the right car, or have the perfect job. Sometimes it can be exhausting feeling this pressure towards success. When you’re mentally mature and healthy you tend to be self-confident, creative, hard-working, and motivational. When you’re mentally immature or unhealthy you can be prideful, burned out, and materialistic.
What to Do:
Spend some time in your mind analyzing what you do for YOU and what you do to chase after success and the approval of others. Find someone you can trust to share your vulnerabilities with. This can be hard because you want to appear accomplished and self-sustaining as much as possible. However, having someone who is safe, non-judgmental, and trustworthy to talk to is very important. Revealing your true self to someone might seem scary, but it will probably make you more endearing to that person rather than less. You’ll also build up a level of trust and authenticity that will help you to feel loved for who you are rather than what you do.
Want to find out more? Read our Enneagram Three Profile
Many fours feel like they are odd ducks in a world full of conformists. They long for personal identity and significance, but feel like it’s perpetually out of their grasp. They often feel unlike others, like nobody can love them or see who they truly are. They are often introspective and creative, drawn towards stories, art, poetry, or music that embodies a feeling that they struggle to express in words. Typically, Fours grew up feeling different from everyone else in their family. They sometimes express this as feeling like an “orphan” in their home because they had no one they could particularly identify with or find comfort with. More than anything, Fours want to feel like they have a place in this world, some significance, to bring their inner experience and identity out into the open.
What to Do:
Pay attention to your feelings and start to notice when you have the urge to “amp them up”. Sometimes you can feel unloved, rejected, or misunderstood without having evidence to support those feelings. Get reality checks from the people you trust when you feel that you are being judged, criticized, or avoided. Try not to “overinterpret” every gesture and comment made about you. As a four you want to have a unique talent or skill, something that sets you apart. Sometimes it can be hard to get started though. Setting the mood in your room or home can make a big difference! Think about creating an “atmosphere” in your room that promotes creativity and inspiration. Print out pictures that inspire you, set up a vase with flowers that make you feel calm, light a candle. Think of small ways you can engage in attitudes of peace rather than turmoil.
Want to find out more? Read our Enneagram Four Profile
As a five you want to understand how the world works, and you enjoy spending a lot of time in analysis, research, and learning. You feel like if you can learn enough or have enough mastery over one subject that you will be capable and competent. But it often feels like your pursuit of knowledge is never enough to satisfy you. You worry that your expertise isn’t useful enough or doesn’t make you competent enough. You worry about being helpless, trapped without adequate knowledge, or overwhelmed. You tend to feel like you need to hoard time and space; time to yourself, space to yourself, energy to yourself. People tend to exhaust you in large doses and you often feel over-stimulated and stressed by their demands and interruptions. You feel a strong need to have expertise in one area that will make you feel connected and capable in the world.
What to Do:
Pay attention to when you’re feeling dependent on your knowledge. How does this make you feel about yourself? Are you neglecting other areas of your life that need your attention? Self-care, friendships, health, and family relationships are all very important. It can be easy for you to feel absent from your body – a “walking, talking mind” of sorts. You can start to ignore your physical and social needs, which only hurts you in the long-run. Try to get into your body in some way. Spend a few minutes each day journaling your mental and physical experience. Try to spend some time engaged in physical activity like yoga, running, bicycling, or martial arts. When your body is awake your mind is sharper and you will have more access to your mental resources. You’ll also feel less depressed and stressed. Try reaching out to someone you care about each day. Even if it’s just a simple text message or an email, these consistent efforts on your part will help you to feel more connected to the world around you.
Want to find out more? Read our Enneagram Five Profile
As an enneagram six you crave a sense of belonging and trust with the world around you. You often struggle to have confidence in your own judgments and decisions; you fear that you’ll make the wrong decision, that you’ll trust the wrong person, or be left on your own incapable of handling what life throws at you. You like to be prepared, and you’re very strategic, coming up with contingency plans for every worst-case scenario that crosses your mind. You hope that you can be prepared enough for whatever comes your way, and you deeply crave community support and security – a network of trust and reliable beliefs you can count on. When life is calm and everything is going smoothly you tend to feel anxious, looking for things that you might have forgotten or potential disasters that might sneak up on you. You want this anxiety to go away, but you’re so focused on productivity and preparedness that you can burn yourself out.
What to Do:
One of the biggest issues that Sixes have is looking to build safety in their environment without resolving their own emotional wounds or insecurities. Try to journal about your anxieties, fears, and worries and then pinpoint what is triggering them and how many have actually come true. What would it be like if you could let go of even 75% of these worries? What would be the potential gains or losses? Try listing 10 things each day that made you feel security or peace. Could you focus on these areas more? Practice living in the moment and letting go of the search for potential disasters. Practice being still with yourself instead of constantly working and building up that security that always seems out of reach. Cultivate some quiet time for yourself each day so that you can ease your mind. Take walks, exercise, and get in touch with your body. Doing this can help you to de-stress and feel more mentally focused and clear in your thinking.
Want to find out more? Read our Enneagram Six Profile
You are one of the most adventurous, risk-taking personality types of the enneagram. You love excitement, travel, and trying new things. It feels like your mind is buzzing with ideas and alternatives to explore. You deeply crave a life of fun, excitement, and fulfillment. You worry about missing out, being bored, or deprived of the good things in life. You chase after freedom and satisfaction, but sometimes it feels like there’s an inner anxiety that you’re running away from in your pursuit of happiness and adventure. You may find yourself regularly distracted, jumping from activity to activity rather than finishing the things you start.
What to Do:
Practice noticing your desire for new things. Do you feel like if you try a different activity or obtain a different item that you will then be happy? Take a moment to find the beauty and wonder in the moment you are currently experiencing. What joy is at your fingertips right now that you might not see in your quest for the new? When you’re bored, practice writing down your thoughts rather than finding a new activity. What thoughts, memories, or feelings is that boredom bringing up for you? Do any of these need to be dealt with rather than avoided? Learn to listen to yourself and your feelings when you’re bored rather than pursue something else.
Want to find out more? Read our Enneagram Seven Profile
You’re someone with an enormous amount of willpower and energy. You strive to be independent and strong, and you believe in being persistent and enduring through any hardship. You crave a sense of strength within yourself, strength to protect yourself and the ones you love. You want freedom to determine your own way of life. You hate the idea of being controlled; simply imagining it makes you feel angry and frustrated. The only problem with this is that sometimes your search for independence can make you guarded towards close relationships, unable to connect with people or be vulnerable around them. You can also cover of your fear of rejection or humiliation by blocking other people’s attempts to connect with you on a deep level. You feel like putting yourself out there might cause you to lose your sense of control and freedom.
What to Do:
If you’re like most eights, there was probably a time in your childhood when you felt like you had to be the “grown-up” in your family. You probably had to take on a lot of responsibilities and you had a sense that you couldn’t really let down your guard or be yourself. You didn’t dwell on your grief, instead, you decided to take your life into your own hands – protect yourself, protect the ones closest to you, and be brave and in-charge. But one of the things that can help you to heal and find peace is coming to terms with your own grief and the childhood that you may feel you didn’t get to have. Explore some of the reasons why you guard yourself against vulnerability – what would happen if you opened up to someone or if you asked someone for help? You don’t have to go over-the-top and wear your heart on your sleeve, but denying your hurts can lead to bitterness, self-protection, and anger.
Want to find out more? Read our Enneagram Eight Profile
Easy-going and grounded in the spiritual and natural world, you crave inner and outer peace. You want to establish harmony in the world around you, and you try to be patient and level-headed in all that you do. As a Nine you crave inner harmony so strongly that you risk overlooking conflicts, going along with others even when you don’t want to, or downplaying the importance of problems in your life. You may “check out” when there is conflict within yourself or in the environment around you. You tend to repress anger, feeling that if you were to engage in the conflict or express your frustration you’d lose that inner harmony you so desperately want.
What to Do:
Whenever you feel yourself “checking out” of your surroundings, think about what triggered your need to do this. What threat did you perceive? Is this a threat you need to deal with? What are the pros and cons of “checking out” versus tuning in? Simply thinking about these things can help you to be more aware when you need to stand up for something or engage rather than retreat. You tend to repress your anger, feeling that it’s not okay to state your needs or wants if it might destroy harmony. Learn that it’s okay to be angry sometimes. Practice saying no to the things that you don’t want to do. Remind yourself that people won’t instantly hate you or reject you if you stand up for yourself – in fact, they may respect you more in the long run.
Want to find out more? Read our Enneagram Nine Profile
What Are Your Thoughts?
Was this helpful? Do you have any insights to add? You can find a lot more information about your enneagram type (and solutions for healing) in The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson.
Find out more about your personality type in our eBooks, Discovering You: Unlocking the Power of Personality Type, The INFJ – Understanding the Mystic, The INFP – Understanding the Dreamer, and The INTJ – Understanding the Strategist. You can also connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!
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