Have you ever wondered why certain people of a particular type are absolutely incredible and filled with wisdom, while others are the most obnoxious people you’ve ever met? A lot of how an Enneatype portrays itself depends on the level of health of that particular individual. A healthy Two, for example, may be the most unconditionally loving, altruistic person in your sphere. An unhealthy Two, in contrast, is manipulative, self-important, and overbearing. You might look at a healthy and an unhealthy Two and think “Surely these two individuals don’t share the same Enneagram type!” and you’d be wrong (but understandably so).
Today we’re going to explore what the healthy and unhealthy versions of each type look like so that you can understand why you see such variety in the world of the Enneagram. Some people have been nourished in their lifetimes and have grown wise through self-awareness, hard work, and maturity. Others have either not been nurtured, or they have low self-awareness and maturity. So many factors can affect how your Enneagram type shows up in your personal interactions with others! So without further ado, let’s begin!
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Table of contents
- Healthy vs. Unhealthy Enneagram Types
- The Enneagram One
- The Enneagram Two
- The Enneagram Three
- The Enneagram Four
- The Enneagram Five
- The Enneagram Six
- The Enneagram Seven
- The Enneagram Eight
- The Enneagram Nine
Estimated reading time: 13 minutes
Healthy vs. Unhealthy Enneagram Types
The Enneagram One
Healthy Enneagram Ones are the picture of nobility. They are both discerning and uplifting; balancing practicality and hopefulness. These types truly want to improve the world, but they aren’t there to steamroll people into believing what they believe. Tolerance is a skill they’ve honed through practice and self-awareness. They know that nobody can be perfect, but that doesn’t stop them from noticing the best in others and helping them to make the most of their gifts.
Words that describe healthy Enneagram Ones:
Unhealthy Enneagram Ones tend to bowl people over with their criticisms and judgments. They take the idealism of the One to an unhealthy level and become absolutistic, seeing many things in black and white that have many shades of gray. Spending time with these Ones is exhausting because they reek of self-righteousness and hypocrisy. Rather than being tolerant, like the healthy One, these ones are closed-minded and don’t seem to take into account that everyone’s stories are unique. Thus they judge people who haven’t come to the same conclusions as they have, even though their life experiences haven’t led them in the same directions. They also tend to dismiss their own faults and focus on others’ faults, believing that they’re doing a good job of hiding their weaknesses (usually they aren’t).
Words That Describe Unhealthy Enneagram Ones:
Read This Next: 21 Signs That You’re an Enneagram One Type
The Enneagram Two
Healthy Enneagram Twos radiate selflessness and warmth. Yet one mustn’t mistake their selflessness for martyrdom! These Twos know they can’t nurture for others unless they love and nurture themselves, so they look for joy, beauty, and refreshment every day. Sincere and empathetic, they have an intuition about people that is close to uncanny. They seem to just know how other people are feeling and what they need, showing support and care during good times and bad. They are truly concerned for others and truly humble, delighting others with their joyful expressiveness and warmth.
Words That Describe Healthy Enneagram Ones:
Unhealthy Enneagram Twos are a far cry from the selflessly loving healthy Twos. These Twos want to be needed and appreciated, and they’re not afraid to manipulate in order to get it. They may underhandedly create struggles or pain for others just so they can swoop in and offer a bit of temporary relief. They crave acknowledgment for all their efforts and will instill guilt in those who don’t give them the affirmation they crave. They may concoct stories in order to get people’s attention, love, or even pity. People around them feel smothered and manipulated rather than loved and supported.
Words That Describe Unhealthy Twos:
Read This Next: Seven Struggles of the Enneagram Two Type
The Enneagram Three
Healthy Enneagram Threes radiate charm and the overwhelming sense that anything is possible. These types, when healthy, are modest and self-accepting. They have let go of the belief that the only way they can be worthwhile is if people see them as esteemed and successful. Instead, they want to encourage and help others to achieve their dreams and find joy. Their authenticity and self-awareness helps them to create genuine bonds with others and their competency and diligence helps them to accomplish many things others would be too afraid to try.
Words That Describe Healthy Threes:
Unhealthy Enneagram Threes are terrified that others will see them as worthless or failures. They feel they must wear a “mask” in order to impress others, coming up with rehearsed stories that they use to gain admiration. Vulnerability is an enormous fear of the unhealthy Three; they worry that others will see past their mask and see that they are worthless beneath all their efforts at success. Thus they conceal themselves, hiding under a façade of competitiveness, seduction, and emotional detachment. Highly opportunistic, these Threes may exploit others to climb the ladder towards success. They may betray people who thought they were their friends simply because they see no further practical use for them.
Words That Describe Unhealthy Threes:
Read This Next: 7 Struggles of the Enneagram Three Type
The Enneagram Four
Healthy Enneagram Fours have let go of the belief that they are more flawed than others or that others have something they’re missing. Instead, they are emotionally strong and resilient, engaging with the world around them in creative ways. Being authentic is crucial to this Four, and their honesty and empathy is inspiring to others and opens up the path for sincere connection. Often quiet and gentle, healthy Fours listen to their inner voice while remaining open to the lessons of the world around them. While healthy Fours are empathetic and compassionate, they also aren’t codependent or martyr-like. They’re able to feel for others and help them without being overwhelmed by their feelings.
Words That Describe Healthy Fours:
Unhealthy Enneagram Fours believe that they are inherently flawed, different from others, and cut off from the world around them. They are absorbed in their feelings, to the extent that they reject anything or anyone that doesn’t fall in line with their current emotional mood. Self-pity is frequent with unhealthy Fours, with them looking disdainfully at the world around them and feeling isolated from it, even though they are the ones choosing to exclude themselves from it. They tend to be simultaneously pretentious while being self-loathing and envious. They resent others for having all the things they wish they had, and are often blind to other peoples’ struggles and the commonalities they all share as humans. Rather than reaching out to the world and test their feelings against facts, they withdraw further and further into their fantasy world and into resentment of others.
Words That Describe Unhealthy Fours:
Read This Next: The Enneagram Four Child
The Enneagram Five
Healthy Enneagram Fives have stopped believing that they are just outside observers of the world around them. Instead, they are active participants in the beauty and experience of life. They are visionary, curious, and in awe of the world and all it has to offer. There’s a sense of gratitude in them; a deep joy at all that they can experience, know, and create. Their insights are often original and profound, and while they may not have the gregariousness of other types, they are intensely compassionate. When it comes to their judgments and decisions, people come to them for their objective, rational perspectives. While other types may be affected by the trends and viewpoints of others, healthy Fives are open-minded and independent, testing their own thoughts and providing unbiased, reasonable perspectives.
Words That Describe Healthy Fives:
Unhealthy Enneagram Fives feel cut off from the world around them and are afraid to venture outside of their inner world. They worry that they will never find their place in the world and that they will never fully connect with other humans. Because of all their suspicions and fears they tend to be distrusting, pessimistic, and antagonistic. To fight away their fears they reject others, burning bridges for fear of being overwhelmed by people they can’t understand or predict. They are often plagued by dark fantasies and distorted perceptions of the world both inside and outside themselves. The more they retreat from the world, the more sinister and unstable their thoughts become.
Words That Describe Unhealthy Fives:
Read This Next: The Enneagram Five Child
The Enneagram Six
At healthy levels, the Enneagram Six has let go of the belief that they need to rely on someone or something outside themselves for security. They are courageous rather than fearful, self-reliant rather than self-destructive. Their grounded outlook on life enables them to see things for what they are rather than the terrifying things they “could be.” When it comes to their relationships, healthy Sixes are reliable and engaging; people often call them “faithful friends” and enjoy their humor as well as their steadfastness. These Sixes care about their communities and will go above and beyond to improve the world around them.
Words That Describe Healthy Sixes:
At unhealthy levels, Sixes don’t trust themselves and instead look for security in authorities outside of themselves. Panic and neediness overwhelm them as they hope to find the protection of someone stronger and braver than they are. At the same time, these Sixes are plagued by pessimism and distrust and can’t find an authority they are willing to count on. Thus they are caught between anxiously seeking an authority and defiantly lashing out at them. Eventually this can lead to them isolating themselves and becoming too paranoid to inhabit the world around them. They become ridden with anxiety, fear, and inferiority, either conforming completely to a belief or system outside themselves or getting stuck in their own terrified company.
Words That Describe Unhealthy Sixes:
Read This Next: 7 Struggles of the Enneagram Six Personality
The Enneagram Seven
Healthy Enneagram Sevens have let go of the belief that they require specific experiences or items in order to feel fulfilled. Rather than living in fear of boredom or pain, they are content with their lives and see beauty in every moment. They are deeply grateful of what life has given them and their enthusiastic outlook inspires many individuals who come into their path. Their sense of adventure guides them down many new paths, but they aren’t scattered and covetous; they can finish what they start and stick with projects even when they get dull. They have the practicality and self-confidence to be productive so that they can enjoy their freedom more fully knowing that their responsibilities are taken care of. There’s resilience in the healthy Seven that is nearly unmatched; whatever setback occurs, they seem to see the lesson and beauty in it.
Words That Describe Healthy Sevens:
Unhealthy Sevens try to avoid their pain and anxiety by distracting themselves with objects or experiences. Because of this, they have an escapist mentality, looking for satisfaction in temporary pleasures. They can be hedonistic, wasteful, and thrill-seeking; leaving projects half-finished and feeling a constant restlessness that is never satisfied. Impulsivity rules the day for the unhealthy Seven, and they struggle to ever deny their wants, even when it hurts themselves or others. People often see the potential of the healthy Seven, but shake their heads as they see waste it by acting out an making greedy, irresponsible choices.
Words That Describe Unhealthy Sevens:
Read This Next: The Enneagram Seven Child
The Enneagram Eight
At healthy levels, the Enneagram Eight has let go of the belief that they must always be in control of their environment. Instead, they have embraced a more heroic, gentle side of themselves. People who are used to the stereotypes of Eights will be surprised by their compassionate, faithful nature. These Eights have their signature self-reliance and strong-will, but they use it for good rather than to demand respect of others. Their visionary, empowered outlook is an inspiration to others and there is almost nothing they can’t do. They are champions of other more vulnerable people and use their strength to protect others rather than simply to protect themselves.
Words That Describe Healthy Eights:
At unhealthy levels, Eights feel like they must stay in control of their environment at all costs. They are often suspicious that others are turning against them and have little patience for anyone who fails to fall in line with their plan. Explosive outbursts mark their daily lives, destabilizing their relationships and causing intense outer turmoil. In order to feel important and in control, they become dictatorial and intimidating, forcing others to obey their commands. Rather than having the gentleness and humility of the healthy Eight, they are self-glorifying and egocentric, taking up space and overwhelming the people around them.
Words That Describe Unhealthy Eights:
Read This Next: Seven Struggles of the Enneagram Eight Type
The Enneagram Nine
At healthy levels, Nines have let go of the belief that their part to play in the world doesn’t matter. Instead, they embrace themselves and are fully awake to what’s happening around them. They can say no to things they don’t want and stick up for themselves and others. While they have the peaceful, accepting nature typical of Nines, they are more self-possessed than the average Nine, knowing that their ideas and contributions to the world really matter. These Nines take time to contemplate, relax, and get in touch with themselves and their feelings. The more they become self-aware, the more they comfort and nourish others. They are often healers of emotional hurts, unselfishly giving to others and hearing their struggles.
Words That Describe Healthy Nines:
Unhealthy Nines block out problems so that they can live in the illusion that everything is okay. They zone out of reality, distracting themselves with fantasies or numbing their senses and feelings to make peace with what’s happening. Because of this, they become ineffectual, willfully blind, and repressed. When something should be said about a problem, they withdraw and shut down rather than speak up. This can lead to neglectfulness, apathy, and internal distress. At the same time, Nines don’t want to be controlled by others, so they not only neglect the problems others are causing, but they neglect their own responsibilities and become resistant to any outside attempts to help them.
Words That Describe Unhealthy Nines:
Read This Next: How Enneagram Nines Handle Anger
Want to learn more about the Enneagram? Check out these books I always go to when I write my articles:
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