7 Enneagram One Struggles
Today I want to explore some of the unique struggles of the One in the Enneagram system of typology. Ones are known for their desire for integrity and their fear of being fundamentally evil. These types strive to be the best they can be, often pushing themselves too hard in the process. The life of the One is definitely not easy in many cases. Let’s explore some of the most common struggles these types face:
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7 Struggles of the Enneagram 1 Personality Type
#1 – Having Unrealistic Expectations of Themselves
Ones feel an urgent need to be ethical, honest, responsible, and hard-working. If they say they’ll do something, by golly they’ll get it done – no matter what natural disaster gets in their way! Their high standards can be both a blessing and a curse. Many people depend on Ones and appreciate their ethical integrity. But Ones are usually their worst critics. When they fail, they berate themselves harder than most people would. They may see even their most minor failures as a sign that they are corrupt or defective in some way. They may punish themselves, or, if they are especially unhealthy, they may feel like they see their own flaws in everyone around them.
Ones need to learn to accept themselves and the fact that nobody is perfect. The more they grow towards self-acceptance, the more they accept others and can see what’s good about them as well. They are able to move past their failures quickly and be more positive and free-spirited.
#2 – Taking On Too Much Responsibility
Ones tend to push themselves beyond their limits and often believe that the weight of the world is on their shoulders. Anxious to be all that is good, they can take on too many obligations and burdens in an effort to assuage their guilt. They believe they have to be perfectly in charge, self-controlled, and constantly at work to improve themselves. It’s difficult for them to say no when asked for help, and it’s even more difficult for them to ask for help. This can lead to burnout, exhaustion, and resentment.
#3 – Feeling Never Good Enough
At average to unhealthy levels, Ones are strict with themselves and unforgiving of their mistakes, no matter how small. Their “defects” seem to overwhelm them, and they often find themselves at night lost in a re-run of their daily failures. This self-judgment leads to loss of energy, irritation, and a feeling of being defeated.
#4 – Being Unappreciated
Ones will work ceaselessly to take care of their responsibilities. They are the employees who never take a sick day, the mothers who hide their frustration under gritted teeth and clenched fists while preparing the “perfect” dinner. Because Ones don’t tend to draw attention to their sacrifices, people get accustomed to them and take them for granted. This results in resentment, frustration, and sadness. Often, Ones feel that everything depends on their always being perfect – without reproach. Unfortunately, no one can be perfect all the time, and this leads to the self-criticism and judgment we discussed in the last point.
#5 – Exhaustion
In childhood, Ones learn early on that they have to grow up fast. For various reasons, whether through neglect or unconscious messages, Ones feel that they must be “little grown-ups,” staying cool in the face of chaos and handling whatever problems come their way. This feeling follows them throughout life and they struggle to take time for themselves and their own desires. They often feel like self-care or leisure activities are a waste of time. Many feel guilty when they relax and, as a result, wind up in states of burnout or exhaustion. It’s crucial for them to take time to play, rest, and breathe. When they make time for this, their inspirations become stronger and their emotional health improves drastically.
#6 – Being Overwhelmed by Corruption
Idealistic and goal-oriented, Ones want to make the world a better place. They aim for ethical integrity, not only in themselves but others. At average levels, they feel that they must always do the right thing, and encourage others to do the same. They feel compelled to lead others towards the light, to improve the living conditions of others, and to create a world that is more fair, just, and pure. They strive to overcome moral adversity and promote higher values, even if it means sacrificing their own needs in the process. Because Ones work so tirelessly for a better world, they feel defeated when corruption continues to roam free. Reading the news, hearing stories of corruption and betrayal, dealing with apathetic and hurtful people – all these things confuse and anger the One. And since Ones try so hard to repress their anger, this builds up a sense of stifled fury and pain inside of them. This fury comes out sideways in sarcastic or cynical comments, but it nevertheless does them emotional damage. It’s vital for Ones to take time to see the beauty in the world. Sometimes this means looking for positive news, and at other times it means taking Time to “stop and smell the roses”: walking in nature, spending time with animals, or reading an uplifting story.
#7 – Taking Things too Seriously
At healthy levels, Ones are influential, accepting, and inspiring. However, at average or unhealthy levels, Ones come across as serious, no-nonsense, and relentlessly hard-working. It can be difficult for them to loosen up and enjoy life, seeing leisure activities as nearly immoral because they get in the way of “getting things done.” Their highly self-controlled nature can turn to rigidity and tension. Like a bubbling pot of boiling water, Ones are simmering with passion and rage, but they won’t allow themselves to “let the lid off” their emotions. This leads to an inability to loosen up and difficulty in expressing their true feelings. Ones often long for someone who will understand their plight, but it’s hard for them to get this because they struggle to be vulnerable when they are at average or unhealthy levels.
5 Things That Can Help Ones With The Enneagram One’s Struggles:
- Give yourself some of your childhood back. Find a way to “play.” Throw a ball to a dog, Watch a comedy. Paint. Meditate. Play a board game. Dance. Let yourself be light, silly, or irresponsible.
- I know it’s cliché, but remember that nobody is perfect. You can’t get rid of all your problems, and repressing them forever can make your problems more powerful than they would be otherwise. Get deeply in touch with these parts of yourself and allow yourself to talk about them with someone you trust. Let yourself be vulnerable. Everyone has weaknesses. Don’t ignore yours or run away from them – face them and forgive yourself for them.
- Ask for help. Don’t burn yourself out by having to be the perfect, responsible one all the time. Being open about what you want or need helps you to enrich your relationship, get rid of resentment, and develop greater integrity. Remember that when you ask for help, the person’s style or approach may be different than yours – and that’s okay. Allow people to help you in their own way.
- Recognize what your true voice really is. When your inner critic belittles you or calls out your failures (or the failures of others), learn to recognize that voice as something other than your own. Pay attention to how that voice effects you and your well-being. Is it doing more harm than good? Pay attention to the child inside, and the voice trying to break through all the criticisms that the critical voice puts on you.
- Rather than repress your anger, learn to process it. Being angry is not an inherently bad thing. Pretending it’s not there can cause internal stress, sickness, and passive-aggression. It’s okay to express your anger in healthy ways – confront someone who has hurt you, punch a pillow, or even find a private place where you can scream at the top of your lungs. You can also write out your feelings in a journal to get them out in the open and process them.
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