What are the typical struggles of the enneagram 3 type? Productive, goal-oriented, and motivated – Threes are known for their desire for success and achievement. Self-propelled and energetic, they have an inner drive that is nearly unstoppable. Rarely lazy, they feel compelled to accomplish their objectives, stay optimistic, and go full-force to attain the things they’ve always dreamed of.

Even though Threes tend to be optimistic and resourceful, they still have some unique struggles that very few people realize. Let’s take some time to explore those today.

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7 Struggles of the Enneagram 3 Personality Type:

#1 – Feeling Unseen

Threes often feel like they need to present a curated image to the world around them. Their Facebook pages, Instagram accounts, and work resumes are perfectly presented. Around friends and lovers they try to stay upbeat, confident, and competent in everything. Yet beneath their charming and polished demeanor, Threes are often plagued by a sense of loneliness. They focus so much on perfecting their outer self that the inner self is ignored or abandoned. No matter how many friends they have or how many accomplishments they achieve, underneath it all they can feel invisible, misunderstood, and only known on a surface level.

#2 – Feeling Like True Success is Always Out of Reach

Threes at average or unhealthy levels feel like there is a level of success that is constantly evanescent. They climb for it, but the ladder just keeps growing higher and higher. There’s always someone more successful, an achievement just beyond their grasp, or something about their appearance or lifestyle that needs upgrading. Deep down, average to unhealthy Threes worry that they are worthless without success – but unfortunately, the level of success that will satiate their desire is always higher, never right where they stand.

#3 – Having to Put Up with Inefficiency and Incompetence

Above all, Threes believe in developing their talents and skills. Hard-workers by nature, they naturally organize their world to be as efficient as possible. Incompetency is unbearable to them, and having to work with people who are lazy, inefficient, or disorganized can be mind-numbing for them. They often feel that other people are too distracted by trivialities to focus on their goals and achieve what they really want. It’s crazy to them that more people don’t create a strategic roadmap for a successful life.

#4 – Comparisons

No matter what kind of success Threes achieve, when they are at average to unhealthy levels, they get stuck in a constant state of comparing their success to the successes of others. If they are around people less successful they feel proud and competent, but perhaps bored because it doesn’t challenge them. If they are around people more successful they feel wavering senses of insecurity or discontentedness – a hunger to achieve that which others have achieved, or more. It takes a lot of personal growth for Threes to stop playing the comparing game and be content with their current level of achievement.

#5 – Burnout

Because Threes are so focused on success and goal-achievement, they can become out of touch with their bodies. Over time they accumulate sleep debt, fatigue, and health issues as they overextend themselves to go after their dreams and ambitions. It’s crucial for Threes to stop and take deep breaths every so often, checking in with themselves to see if everything is physically alright. Do they need a nap? A drink of water? A healthier diet? A walk in nature? Threes are so driven, but if they’re not careful they can drive themselves right into illness and sleep-deprivation.

#6 – Always Being “On”

Because average Threes are so naturally image-conscious, they worry that the slightest faux-pas will set them back and reveal their inner insecurities. They can be frightened to reveal their insecurities and hurts, worried that people will judge them or find them “weak.” It’s vital for Threes to find trusted friends they can confide in and be vulnerable with. Despite what they may feel, it’s often their vulnerability that will endear them to other people and establish solid, healthy relationships.

#7 – Feeling Unloved, Even By Themselves

Threes can become so fixated on fixing and perfecting their outer image that they lose sight of their inner self. In fact, they frequently cover up their insecurities with awards, goals, work, and social “polish” (style, humor, confidence) to make sure that their inner self goes unseen. In childhood, many Threes felt loved for what they accomplished rather than who they were inside. The affirmation they got from achievement never really satisfied them enough, because it felt like it was related to their actions – not them. In turn, they learned to put their feelings aside – to cage them and go after achievement and action. Performance became their life rather than living for their own authentic desires and qualities. In order to survive, they learned that they needed to focus their attention on the approval they got through performances and acting in a way that would bring validation. The price they paid was a certain “lost self” (like we discussed in the first point of this article). This lost self is the one that desperately needs love, rescuing, and a chance to share its voice.

5 Things That Can Help with the Enneagram Three’s Struggles:

  • Take a moment to consider the goals you are pursuing. Are you pursuing them because you actually want them, or because you’re competing or comparing? What would you want if there were no rewards and people loved you for yourself?
  • Find a trusted confidante that you can share something vulnerable about yourself with. Focus on how you’re feeling as you do so. Are you anxious? Do you feel good? Sick? Wary? Look for someone who also tends to be honest about their scruples and mistakes. This can help you see that you can experience love for your true self, not just your achievements.
  • Take time to be creative for you! Paint, learn a new instrument, draw, re-decorate your room! Make sure what you’re doing has nothing to do with your work or gaining any kind of outside approval.
  • Learn to be part of a team. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, participate at an animal shelter, read to elderly people in nursing homes. Doing these kinds of tasks can give you a sense of self-worth and community that can’t be gained by status-seeking.
  • Take time to meditate, pray, or tune into your body. Really relax and breathe deeply. This may take time to become comfortable with! The more you do this, the more you’ll become in tune with your physical needs and your “lost self” that needs to be found.

Want to know more about Enneatype Threes? Here’s a video I made about them: 

What Are Your Thoughts?

Do you have any insights or wisdom to share? Let other readers know in the comments!

Find out more about your personality type in our eBooks, Discovering You: Unlocking the Power of Personality Type,  The INFJ – Understanding the Mystic, and The INFP – Understanding the Dreamer. You can also connect with me via FacebookInstagram, or Twitter!

Other Articles You Might Enjoy:

The Enneagram Type Three – The Achiever

Here’s What Infuriates You, Based On Your Enneagram Type

Here’s What You Desperately Crave in Life, Based On Your Enneagram Type

Get an in-depth look at the unique struggles of the enneagram Three personality type. #enneagram #enneatype #three

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Susan Storm is a certified MBTI® practitioner and lover of all things psychology-related. She is the mom of five beautiful children and loves using her knowledge of personality type to understand them and others better! Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest to learn more about type!
Get an in-depth look at the unique struggles of the enneagram Three personality type. #enneagram #enneatype #three
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