Have you ever been at the end of your rope and seen your personality shift in dramatic ways? Each of us tends to act out under stress, but the ways that we do it will be different depending on our enneatype. Today we’re going to look at how each type disintegrates under stress, and what they should do instead!
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The Enneagram Types In Stress or Growth
The Enneagram One and Disintegration
When Ones begin to experience stress, they become more true to their type. They become overzealous in proving that they are right. They see things in more black and white terms and suppress their anger through gritted teeth, clenched fists, and possibly workaholism. As stress increases, Ones start disintegrating to 4. Like unhealthy Fours, Ones start to become melancholy, overly subjective, self-destructive, and self-absorbed. At this point, they are tired of being responsible and trying to live up to their ideals. They might get lost in fantasies about a rescuer who can save them from their current situation. They might become self-indulgent and seek out experiences they would have condemned at an earlier time. Eventually, if this continues, it may lead to self-loathing and masochistic tendencies.
What Ones Should Do Instead – Integration:
What Ones should do when they’re stressed is integrate to 7. Take a moment to relax. Focus on “chilling out” for a little while. This could mean watching a comedy, going for a jog outside, getting together with a trusted friend, or doing something creative.
Ones need to remind themselves that life is a journey to be enjoyed, not a goal to be accomplished. They need to remember to pause and enjoy the little things that show up along that journey. Take the time to have fun. Find ways to laugh at a tough situation. Remind yourself that you’re doing your best and that it’s okay to make mistakes sometimes. It’s okay to rest. It’s okay to have fun and not know the answers to everything.
Integrating to Seven is crucial for the One because it allows them to be more accepting, joyful, refreshed, and grounded. But it can feel awkward at first because Ones will naturally think of all the things they “should” be doing instead.
Read This Next: The Enneagram Type One – The Perfectionist
The Enneagram Two and Disintegration
When Twos begin to experience stress, they immediately behave more Two-like. They repress negative feelings and focus on serving other people. They hope that if they do enough then maybe they can ask for something in return. However, many times, they fail to ask for the things they need and when people don’t pick up on their needs they feel taken for granted and used. They might draw attention to the things they’ve done, gossip, or seem arrogant and self-righteous.
As Twos disintegrate to Eight, they become surprisingly blunt, controlling, and even aggressive. They lash out at others and feel justified in going after the desires that they’ve put off for so long. They become bitter, vengeful, and feel overwhelmed by hatred and negative feelings.
What Twos Should Do Instead – Integration:
When Twos are stressed they should look to 4, not 8, to quell their pain. They need to realize that it’s okay to get in touch with their feelings and make time for introspection. It’s vital for them to look at themselves squarely, dark side and all, and move towards self-knowledge. Doing this helps them to realize their underlying needs, motives, and feelings they’ve repressed. It allows them to see their brokenness for what it is (we all have our broken pieces, this isn’t exclusive to Twos by the way).
Spending time in quiet introspection and creativity helps Twos to be more self-accepting, emotionally honest, and more in touch with themselves. They become more self-aware, and life feels more profoundly meaningful. Their generosity becomes more powerful because they are more deeply in tune with the human experience as a whole.
Read This Next: The Enneagram Type Two – The Helper
The Enneagram Three and Disintegration
When Threes are stressed, they become more true to type. They become extra competitive and eager to prove themselves. They try to find ways to stand out from the rest of their peers, but not so much that it makes them isolated. Working on a variety of projects becomes a way that they manage their stress, and they get lost in busywork and exhaustion.
As stress increases, Threes disintegrate to Nine. They become overwhelmed by doubt and lose interest in themselves and their own ambitions. They lose all motivation to reach their goals and become empty, listless, and detached. They turn their competitiveness and aggression towards themselves and can become self-destructive. They start to let themselves go and begin to neglect themselves. When healthy, Threes are very image-conscious and usually look prepared and polished. During disintegration, they become complacent and will appear more disheveled and unkempt.
What Threes Should Do Instead – Integration:
Threes should look to the 6 enneatype when they’re stressed rather than the 9. They need to learn to lean on others, commit to something outside of themselves and accept that they are part of a greater whole. Doing volunteer work, asking for advice from a trusted friend, or seeking wisdom from someone they admire – these activities can all be helpful.
During this time, Threes become more in touch with their anxieties and allow others to see their true feelings. Through this vulnerability, they build stronger relationships, and they learn that they are loved for who they are and not just what they accomplish. This process allows Threes to admire other people instead of worrying about being the “best.” They stop worrying about impressing others and learn to use their talents to serve their community. Through this process, they begin to feel safer and more connected to themselves and others.
The Enneagram Four and Disintegration
When Fours begin to experience stress, they become withdrawn and melancholy. Confusion and depression reign and they feel alienated from the rest of the world. They often feel like nobody understands them and that they are on an island, and connection from others is entirely out of reach. Fantasies take over their lives, and they get more and more depressed as they realize that their fantasy life is so different from their true life.
As stress increases, Fours disintegrate to Two. In order to find a connection, they reach out to other people and can be needy and overly-attentive. They try to be helpful and generous, wanting to be needed and also supported. They hope that through this connection, others will realize how gifted or talented they are and see them for the unique individuals that they are.
What Fours Should Do Instead – Integration:
Fours should veer towards the One enneatype rather than the Two enneatype when they are stressed. By doing this, they focus on something objective and get in touch with the real world. Rather than being guided by their emotions, they look at what’s factual and reasonable. They begin to be in a place of principled action rather than a place of melancholy neediness. At One, Fours get in touch with their values and with reality itself. They develop more clarity about who they are and where they are going. Their assessments become more reasonable and they connect their feelings with reality by putting action behind them. When Fours are integrating they can handle criticism without feeling crushed. They get more in touch with nature and feel more connected with the real world, and people in general.
Read This Next: The Enneagram Type Four – The Individualist
The Enneagram Five and Disintegration
When Fives experience stress, they withdraw and obsess over their hobbies and unique interests. They retreat from others and fear that they won’t be able to accomplish anything that they set their mind to. Their world seems to shrink, and they become overwhelmed by dark fears and anxieties. Escaping from other people and gathering their energy becomes a singular goal.
As stress continues, Fives disintegrate to Seven. When this happens, they seek diversion and pleasure. Normally withdrawn, now they become impulsive and act out on their desires recklessly. They may dabble in sex, drugs, or thrill-seeking activities. They try to convince themselves that they are okay and compartmentalize their anxieties and stressors.
What Fives Should Do Instead – Integration:
Instead of veering towards Seven when they are stressed, Fives should move towards Eight. They have to accept that they could always gather more information, but that won’t help them. They need to take action. They need to use their knowledge to do something in the real world. Stepping outside of their comfort zone and making something happen will help them to realize they are more competent than they imagined. By trusting themselves and gaining real-world experience, they discover new things about themselves and learn that real joy comes from putting their knowledge to good use. They become more confident, capable, and practical.
The Enneagram Six and Disintegration
When Sixes experience stress, they become more true to type initially. They feel plagued by self-doubt, insecurity, and poor confidence. They might look for community or authority to help guide them back to a path of security. On top of this, they feel obliged to meet other people’s needs in order to get support and approval in return. They don’t want to be abandoned or rejected so they look for allies to bolster their security. They also work hard in order to gain financial security or a sense of control.
If stress continues, Sixes can disintegrate to Three. When this happens, they become manipulative, dishonest, and unfaithful in order to save their own skin. They become more competitive and self-promotional in order to compensate for their growing feelings of inferiority. They want other people to recognize their talents and may hype up their successes in order to feel accepted and become affiliated with others. They can also become vengeful, duplicitous, and devious. For example, they might appear quiet and content in a relationship only to disappear without a trace one day without any explanation. Or they may vindictively hurt the people who have hurt them.
What Sixes Should Do Instead – Integration
Instead of veering towards Three when they’re stressed, Sixes should veer towards Nine. When Sixes go to Nine, they learn to rest and trust the universe. They are more emotionally open, receptive, and peaceful. Getting to this place can involve meditation, deep breathing, visualization techniques, or just getting some rest. Actively letting their mind’s rest is crucial for Sixes. It can also be important for them to ground themselves in their bodies. Taking time to trust themselves instead of looking for authorities or “experts” is crucial. Their intuition is sharper than they realize most of the time.
The Enneagram Seven and Disintegration
Sevens under stress initially become more true to type. They may excessively seek pleasure or look for distractions to guard themselves against underlying pain. Anything that stands in the way of their need for a positive outlook is battled against. They become more impulsive, reckless, and rebellious.
If stress continues, Sevens will disintegrate to One. They realize that they are going to have to focus their energies if they want to accomplish anything. Therefore, they impose limits on themselves and others and try to “buckle down” to make things happen. They defend their ideologies and force themselves to stay on track. While this may seem positive in some ways, they tend to become rigid, grim, brusque, and impatient. They judge themselves and others harshly and scold and nitpick, even relying on condescending, sarcastic comments.
What Sevens Should Do Instead – Integration:
Rather than resort to One, Sevens should integrate to Five when they are stressed. When this happens, they become more self-aware, and they stop suppressing or distracting themselves from their pain. They stop fearing loss of happiness and start focusing on their interests in-depth. By internalizing their experiences, they are able to find stability and security inside. It’s no longer satisfying for Sevens to only experience the world, they want to understand it. They become more focused on preserving meaningful things, seeing the world as not something to use but as something to take care of. They concentrate more fully, become more expert at their tasks and interests, and they contribute more originality to the world around them.
The Enneagram Eight and Disintegration
When Eights are stressed, they will first appear more true to type. They become confrontational, direct, and hostile. People have to walk on eggshells around them because they’re worried about instigating an explosion.
If stress continues, Eights will disintegrate to Five. When this happens, they withdraw from the world and brood over all the problems and threats they imagine. They fear losing power and feel powerless and incompetent. To deal with this, they hoard data and information, looking for answers to gird themselves with. They get lost in their projects and become emotionally detached and preoccupied. Often they will appear secretive, high-strung, and private. They don’t want anyone to know very much about them because that could mean the other person could have an advantage or power over them. Trust is hard-won at this stage, and they may be cynical and contemptuous towards others.
What Eights Should Do Instead – Integration:
Rather than reverting to Five when they are stressed, Eights should go to Two. They need to delve into their softer side, reach out to people, and allow themselves to be compassionate and vulnerable. Using their power to nurture instead of fight, Eights come fully into their power and experience the heroism they’ve dreamed of. They put aside their need for control and power and relate to others as individuals and equals. They become kind, compassionate, and forgiving. They learn who they can trust.
It’s vital for Eights to remember that when their power is used for others it is revolutionary, but when their power is used for self-interest it becomes destructive. It can feel scary for Eights to initially integrate to Two because they worry about being taken advantage of or controlled. But heading in this direction allows them to become the heroic, courageous beings that they were meant to be.
The Enneagram Nine and Disintegration
When Nines experience stress, they immediately begin to act more true to type. They withdraw and try to numb themselves to their problems. They may distract themselves with imaginary fantasies or console themselves with platitudes and proverbs. They hope that if they can numb the pain they are feeling that they can continue to survive and see the brighter side of life.
If stress continues, Nines disintegrate to Six. They become fearful, insecure, and overwhelmed. They look for security in religion, institutions, authorities, or friendships. Instead of being tolerant and nurturing, they become defensive and passive-aggressive. It becomes increasingly difficult for them to make decisions and they hope that others will decide for them so that they don’t have to disrupt their peace of mind. They start complaining and blaming other people for their insecurities and problems . They might have unusual displays of temper and become overwhelmed with their anxieties and a sense of panic.
What Nines Should Do Instead – Integration:
Rather than revert to Six, Nines should integrate to Three. When they do this, they start to develop their talents and skills. They move from being withdrawn and numb to being motivated and inner-directed. Instead of living through other people, they assert themselves properly and go after their dreams. At this level, Nines take constructive action and stop selling themselves short. They become more autonomous and self-assured, looking for ways to inspire themselves and others. They can be world-changers – connected with their vitality and authentic values. They learn the difference between destructive impulses and healthy impulses that should be etrusted.
What Are Your Thoughts?
Do you have any insights or suggestions for other people of your enneatype? Let us know in the comments! You can find out more about the Enneagram system here.
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 Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!
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