The Self-Care You Actually Need, Based On Your Enneagram Type
More than ever, the idea of self care is being reduced to a trend. When we think about the words “self care”, we think about aesthetically pleasing workout clothes, making smoothie bowls and journaling. We think of journaling and hot baths. We think of all the things we’re definitely going to do to help ourselves — but once the new year rolls around.
The term “self care” is icky because it reduces taking care of yourself into a matter of aesthetics and convenience.
Don’t get me wrong — we definitely should be carving out time for conscious self care. Journaling and exercising are important, and it definitely doesn’t hurt to buy workout clothes in your favorite color.
But we shouldn’t wait until the mood is right to check in on ourselves. Making sure that you are healthy and happy is important. You are important. No matter how busy you are, or how unaesthetic you feel.
Today we’ll be exploring what each enneagram type can do to take care of themselves in daily life.
Not sure what your Enneatype is? Take our free questionnaire here.
The Self-Care You Actually Need, Based On Your Enneagram Type
Type One: Acknowledge emotions as they come.
In their quest to make things right, Ones can sacrifice their emotions for the sake of the “greater good”. Their main objective is achieving perfection in their work lives and relationships, and that can come at the expense of ignoring any stray feelings that arise.
Ones can push away anger at themselves and others, and stress over the pressure of having to do everything right. They push away emotions they view as “wrong” so they can feel like they are in control. But this just sets up the illusion of control. Because we’re human beings, suppressed emotions always — always — come to the surface eventually.
No matter how good you think you are at keeping your feelings under wraps, they manifest in the form of increasingly cold replies to the people you care about. Constant headaches. Negative self-talk. You have the choice between letting emotional suppression slowly eat at your life or seeing your feelings as what they are.
Your emotions are just indicators of how you feel. They’re not your enemies, and more likely than not, they are on your side. When you feel that familiar prick of anger, observe that emotion — don’t judge yourself for feeling it. Think about why it’s there, and take note of which situations cause it.
Emotional health requires intelligently processing and dealing with negative feelings. But a good first step is accepting that they’re there.
Find Out More About Ones: 10 Signs of an Unhealthy Enneagram One
Type Two: Treat yourself as you would your partner.
Look, we’ve all heard self-help gurus tell us to go on dates with ourselves. This sparks pictures of sitting alone in restaurants, or pretending to push someone else on an empty swing.
But actually dating ourselves is very cool. Especially for Twos.
When making plans, Twos are hyper-focused on the people they’re making them with. More than likely, they’ll end up tailoring their activities around others’ interests, or spending time with people who require a lot of emotional energy. This is a subconscious way of ensuring that people stay.
Often, Twos skip out on doing things they really want to do because they’re so focused on what other people want to do. While Twos genuinely enjoy spending time with other people, sacrificing the things they enjoy just to please everybody becomes exhausting.
This is where the idea of dating yourself comes in. But instead of taking yourself out on an actual date, treat yourself as you would a partner you love.
Do something simply because it makes you happy. Don’t wait for someone else to decide your schedule, and don’t let how people respond to you in a day decide how you feel. Instead, take a detour on your way home to try a new restaurant. Learn how to sew a dress. Lie in bed and read books that make you excited to read. Whatever your hobby or enjoyment is, give it a chance to breathe and find life.
And through it all, treat yourself like someone you love.
Find Out More About Twos: 7 Struggles of the Enneagram 2 Personality
Type Three: Consume media thoughtfully.
Threes are often overwhelmed by the amount of work they have committed themselves to, and equally overwhelmed by the voices in their lives telling them to cut down on this work so they can focus on their loved ones or themselves.
The sheer amount that Threes have on their plates can be compounded by the information overflowing online. In fact, consuming too much media from too many sources numbs our minds and makes us less ready to handle stress. To make their minds more healthy and ready to face their responsibilities, Threes can consume media thoughtfully.
It’s revolutionary to see your laptop as a tool just for work. Or the Safari app on your phone just as a place to read articles in which you are genuinely interested. Instead of passively taking in media, really think about what you consume.
Choose the articles you look at, the radio station you listen to, and the blogs you scroll through with intention. Try to read articles word for word instead of skimming subheads and pictures.
Carry a book with you — a book that you actually like, not something you feel like you “should” be reading — so that when you’re sitting on the bus, waiting in line, or have downtime at work, you can read from a consistent source instead of website-hopping on your phone.
It can be so difficult to cut down on the work we have to do, because everything feels necessary. But to keep ourselves from becoming overstimulated, we can cut down on the clutter of the media.
Find Out More About Threes: 7 Struggles of the Enneagram Three Type
Type Four: Become more aware of your body.
Fours’ ability to dive into their most authentic emotions is unparalleled by any type. Because they spend so much time in their minds, they are not strangers to difficult emotions and suppressed memories — as soon as a jarring experience happens, they’re analyzing it from every angle and considering how it made them feel.
But when they get so involved in their inner world, they become detached from what is actually happening. They get so in their heads that they don’t truly see, touch and experience the life around them. They become minds living in vessels, forgetting their bodies.
However, we feel like we have more autonomy in our lives when we drop into our bodies and physically experience life. When we are aware of our bodies and see them as partners with our minds, we can make decisions and participate in reality.
Go through your day, but try to be aware of your body. Notice how water feels when it trickles into your stomach. Notice how the sponge feels against your skin when you shower, and the taste of food in your mouth, and physical reactions inspired by conversations with different people.
It’s impossible to be aware of how your body feels all the time. But you can start to notice it today.
Find Out More About Fours: 7 Struggles of the Enneagram Four Type
Type Five: Consume more light-hearted media.
Afraid to settle for just a surface level understanding of life, Fives spend more time than other types trying to decipher the world. They see the people around them settling for ideologies and worldviews just because they’re easy to believe — and they resolve that this will never be them.
So, a big portion of the media they consume on a daily basis deals with deeper topics. From podcasts about modern politics to articles on theology, Fives find satisfaction in using media sources to constantly debate the truth.
And these things are good. Fives should never stop using them to learn and stimulate their minds. However, too much time spent ruminating on serious topics can make us feel jaded.
When we spend too much time contemplating the evil that lies in human nature, the bleakness of the economy, and the discord in today’s politics, we lose sight of the good things in our lives. We become anxious and disillusioned.
To lighten this burden, balance learning about these heavy topics with lighter media sources. This doesn’t mean switching to mindless media, but subscribing to a YouTube account that teaches about gardening petunias instead of foreign wars. It could look like ending a long day of work with a sitcom that makes you laugh. After all, the quote “laughter is the best medicine” isn’t a lie. Laughter actually stimulates mood-boosting endorphins to improve your mood and reduce stress. It also improves circulation, reduces muscle tension, and can improve your immunity. You can find out more about the benefits of laughter here: Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke
Find Out More About Fives: 7 Struggles of the Enneagram Five Type
Type Six: Don’t accept anxious thoughts as facts.
To try to mentally prepare themselves against impending trouble, Sixes can struggle with feeding themselves anxious thoughts.
On a conscious level, they truly believe that every single one of their worries has a chance of happening, so their worrying is therefore completely justified. On a subconscious level, they believe that worrying about things in advance can protect them from being burned when they do.
But in reality, so many of the things that we worry about never end up happening. Instead of being relieved when they don’t, however, we simply move on to the next worry. It’s normal for a Six to spend all week worrying that they won’t finish all their work on time, finish it, and then immediately start worrying about next week’s work. There’s no break.
We can feel our emotions, but we can’t always trust them as indicators of what’s really there. For Sixes, choosing reality over their overwhelming emotions looks like realizing that anxious thoughts aren’t facts.
When you are afraid for the future, remember all the times you were anxious about something that never even happened. If you are religious, trust that God will ultimately make everything in your life work out.
While they may be rooted in valid fear, your anxieties are not prophecies. Don’t put yourself on the emotional rollercoaster of believing they are.
Find Out More About Sixes: 7 Struggles of the Enneagram Six Type
Type Seven: Listen to a sad playlist.
The core fear of Sevens is to be deprived, or miss out on experiences. To keep themselves constantly chasing the next experience, Sevens can neglect fully processing their feelings.
Sure, it’s easy to start working through these feelings with a few lines in a journal entry or five minutes of forced reflection time. But Sevens — like plenty of the rest of us — grow antsy and convince themselves after a few minutes of reflection that their problem is fixed. They’re ready to go back out into the world after a few minutes.
Contrary to all the stereotypes about Sevens, they do have very strong negative emotions. These just aren’t obvious to other people — or themselves — because they don’t enjoy processing them when they could just be happy.
But being sad isn’t a bad thing at all. It’s not. Just like happiness, it’s an emotion that needs to be processed.
To delve into the negative feelings you may usually ignore, listen to a playlist of sad songs that you like. We never know how sad we actually feel about a situation until we’re hit out of the blue with “All Too Well” by Taylor Swift and start crying for no reason.
Of course, this is not an excuse to wallow in sadness and lie in bed all day eating chocolates. But when you listen to songs that speak to how difficult life can be, feelings rise so that you can deal with them.
Find Out More About Sevens: 7 Struggles of the Enneagram Seven Type
Type Eight: Become more vulnerable.
Eights want people to see them as strong, or emotionally unaffected by life’s troubles. This makes it hard for them to open up to people — they don’t want to put themselves out there, just to be laughed at or taken advantage of. For an Eight, the worst thing possible is to be at someone else’s mercy, especially in matters of emotion.
This keeps Eights from actually forming deep relationships. When they don’t self-reveal at all in conversations, other people can’t feel connected because they won’t let them. And all of the trauma, negative feelings, and hurt that Eights store away never gets to be talked about. It just builds, manifesting in the form of outbursts that confuse them.
Look, Eights know that they are supposed to be opening up to people, but the idea of doing so can be scary. But if you stop censoring your vulnerability in your daily life, that’s a great start. It’s okay to express how you feel.
It’s okay to tell the people you spend time with that you value them. It’s okay to admit that your day didn’t go very well. It’s okay to tell your friend that what they said hurt your feelings — remember that you would rather keep your friendship than “win” the imaginary fight but resent them.
Once you start regularly practicing vulnerability, you will see that other people are not the enemy. And you’ll realize how much you’re actually loved.
Find Out More About Eights: Seven Struggles of the Enneagram Eight Type
Type Nine: Tell people “no”.
As a Nine, you often tell yourself that you will be okay as long as everybody around you is happy with you. If they’re happy with you, then peace is achieved and conflict is averted. Therefore, you become a “yes” person — you agree to favors, hangout proposals, and events even when you don’t feel like it.
It’s true that being a “yes” person opens you up to plenty of experiences. In fact, a lot of us need to practice saying “yes” more. But for Nines who feel like they have to do what people ask them to do in order to keep the harmony, saying “yes” too much is unhealthy. It can lead to them feeling invisible, or disregarded, because they aren’t considering their own opinions as a priority.
To take care of yourself, tell people “no”. Say “no” to the brunch if you’re tired, even though the group chat is giving you grief for it. Say “no” to running errands for the “friend” who only calls you when they need something. By understanding that you are not okay with certain things, you build a greater sense of identity and keep from becoming a mixture of other people’s opinions.
Remember, there is no rule that you always have to do what people want you to. You are not just a vessel for people who need favors, and you don’t only exist for people to hang out with. You’re a person, just like everybody else.
Be open to experiences. But also know what you want from life.
Find Out More About Enneagram Nines: Seven Struggles of the Enneagram Nine Type
What Are Your Thoughts?
What self-care practices have improved your life? Do you like these ideas? Let us and other readers know in the comments!
It’s interesting to me that the “Find Out More About Enneagram Type 2-9” articles are titled “Seven Struggles of Type ___” whereas Type 1 is “10 Signs of an Unhealthy One”. Everybody else has “struggles” but Ones are “unhealthy”. I wonder why the distinction. Makes me feel like I’m sick.
Hi Steve! This definitely wasn’t intentional, but thanks for bringing it to my attention. I do have an article on the struggles of the One and I have some articles in-process that are unhealthy versions of the other types. If you’d like to see the struggles of the One article, you can view it here: https://www.psychologyjunkie.com/2020/04/06/7-struggles-of-the-enneagram-one-personality-type/