7 Struggles of the Enneagram Four Personality Type
When you’re blessed with originality and imagination but cursed with feeling different or misunderstood, you might be dealing with enneagram 4 struggles! The creative individualists of the Enneagram, Fours bring depth and authenticity into the world. While other types are consumed by their ego identity, Fours are the type most courageous in facing their darker side. Fours strive to be deeply in touch with their core self – flaws and all. Unfortunately, this quest for self-understanding and identity has some hardships that go along with it. That’s what we’ll be exploring today.
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7 Struggles of the Enneagram 4 Type
#1 – Finding a Lack of Authenticity in Others
Fours face their flaws, mistakes, and motives with an observant eye. They will reveal the most shameful mistakes for the sake of honesty. They have no interest in forcing on a happy, sunny façade when their inner world is filled with questions, sadness, or deep longings. Sadly for Fours, most other people live with a public persona that doesn’t match their deep authenticity. This results in Fours feeling lost in a sea of people who seem to have it “all together.”
#2 – Feeling Misunderstood
Because Fours are so willing to face the more uncomfortable aspects of their lives, they may admit to things for the sake of honesty only to be met with confusion by others. Because so many other people are unwilling to be open about their mistakes, they may respond with silence when the Four reveals something that is potentially embarrassing. This leaves Fours feeling misunderstood, rejected, and frustrated. Often, Fours feel like they are more flawed or broken than other types – but this is only because while they face their flaws, other people are more content to live in denial of them.
#3 – Feeding Creativity with Pain
Fours are often drawn towards creative avenues as a means of self-expression and fulfillment. Unfortunately, Fours often feel that they must experience emotional intensity in order to produce the kind of art or originality that they want to. They often fear that without intense pain and emotional turmoil they won’t be able to create anything important or high-quality. They channel a lot of their anguish into their creative works and it can take some time and practice for them to realize that they can still be creative without dwelling on negative emotional energy inside themselves.
#4 – Being Their Own Worst Critic
Fours are so focused on their darker natures and their mistakes and flaws that they naturally tend to be very self-critical. It’s vital for Fours to recognize their strengths, positive traits, and the good they have done. The bad so often overpowers the good in their lives, and it can lead to a lifetime of melancholy feelings and despair.
#5 – Envy
Fours often feel that part of themselves is a mystery. Their search for identity can leave them feeling unfinished, misunderstood, and deficient. They long for social ease and friendship, but, especially at average and unhealthy levels, feel that it is forever out of reach. Falling into the trap of comparisons can be difficult for them to avoid as they look out on a world full of people that seem to have a clear sense of self. Often, average to unhealthy Fours feel like they are fundamentally different than others and this breeds envy and dissatisfaction in their lives.
#6 – Finding People Who “See” Them
In childhood, most Fours felt fundamentally different from everyone else in their family. There was nobody who understood them, mirrored them, or got on their level when it came to their feelings, struggles, and values. This planted a seed of longing in them – a desire for someone to come along and accept them for who they really were. They crave acceptance, affirmation, and transparency with someone who will appreciate all the long-ignored parts of themselves they’ve had to keep hidden.
#7 – Being Punished for Being a “Rule-Breaker”
Fours like to put their own creative spin on everything they do. Being able to embrace their vision, style, and originality is vital to them. They don’t see the point it putting on a façade just because it’s socially expected of them. This tends to get them in trouble, especially when they are being micro-managed or forced to live their life “by the book.”
5 Ways for Fours to Get Help with Their Struggles:
- Connect with the real world around you in healthy ways. Reach out to people you trust. Take a walk in nature, visit a friend for a cup of coffee, exercise, create art without worrying about it being “perfect.” Getting in touch with reality in a safe way can help you to feel more connected, creative, and inspired.
- Start to recognize when your feelings are trying to rob you of joy and acceptance. Remember that even the most powerful feelings aren’t always factual. You may feel ashamed of yourself when you should forgive yourself. You may feel rejected when someone doesn’t text you back even though they may just be busy. You may feel completely alone and misunderstood when you haven’t reached out to people to find solidarity and companionship. Don’t let your powerful emotions hijack what’s true in your life.
- Take time each day to notice the things you have done well. Count your blessings on paper before you go to bed. Acknowledge when you took a creative risk, notice the blessing of a soft bed or a hot cup of tea, notice that you were honest or thoughtful or inventive. You can spend so much time criticizing yourself and looking at your failures that you forget to accept the things you’re succeeding at.
- Set up healthy and positive routines for yourself. Put inspirational quotes on your bedside table or mirror. Wake up to a healthy breakfast and music that uplifts you. Spend time in meditation before you go to work. Listen to an audiobook on your way to work so you have something to look forward to in the morning. Think of ways you can infuse your day with happiness, positivity, and health.
- Challenge your inner perfectionist by “just doing it” when it comes to your creative ideas. Don’t beat yourself up over details that aren’t exactly how you envisioned them. Practice accepting your genuine skills even when they don’t match up with the “fantasy self” you’ve created in your mind. Maybe you’ve imagined yourself being a concert pianist and are frustrated that you’re still struggling with simple pieces. Make sure you’re being realistic about your capabilities and persisting even when it’s hard. Everyone fails sometimes – failure is almost always the first step to success. And don’t beat yourself up if you need to switch skills. Sometimes we have to experiment before we find our natural talents.
What Are Your Thoughts?
Do you have any insights or wisdom to share with other Fours? Let us 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 Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!
Other Articles You Might Enjoy:
The Best and Worst Versions of Every Enneagram Type
The Childhood Wounds of Every Enneagram Type
The Enneagram Type Four – The Individualist
Thank you, sometimes we don’t see it for ourselves.
Thank you for your astute take on the Four. My issue is that my interest in mysticism, spirit channeling, and my psychological awareness does make me frustratingly different from others. I am not imagining this condition. It is hard, for one, to receive spirit guidance to “bond with peace, not conflict” (to rest in stillness and peace energy), and to recognize that I am still on a solo path to awakening: I haven’t met anyone who shares, understands, or seeks my experiences. Therefore, my social connections are largely superficial and I struggle to learn to live with that. I don’t invest my sorrow in art, but I am a perfectionistic creative. Still, a visit to a wonderful art gallery or antiques mall will lighten the mood, and bike riding or beachcombing for treasures are helpful too. Thanks again.
Thank you for this Susan. I am currently going through a bevy of your old articles finally and am absolutely floored by this. I’m a middle aged male INFJ #4 who has struggled so long with these things much to my detriment and this article has given me validation and understanding beyond measure. Thank you for this gift and the work you do.
Absolutely spot on! What a relief in some odd way to realize this or to actually view it in print. It offered me a bit of normalization and validation for all these obsessive and oppressive emotions .
My sincere appreciation MS
Thank you so much. This is one of the best articles I’ve read for a while (and I read about this A LOT!)
I’m an SP4, currently in some emotional turmoil. This spoke directly into my space right now, I feel understood which brings a lot of comfort.
Great work 🙏
This is very accurate to me, an SP4. Thank you so much for doing such a good job with the nuance of the 4 instead of the stereotypes. Excellent work here!
I am not new to the Enneagram. I have studied it for the past 5 years. You are right on in your descriptions except for being an introvert…. I am a major extrovert and have many close friendships.
However, I still feel different and am constantly comparing . I’m getting better at that, though.
What do you know about the fact that many people who are diagnosed with ADD are Type Fours?