If you’re like most people, you have days where you feel like you’re just going through the motions. You might be struggling at work, feeling disconnected from your partner, or doubtful about your future. In moments like these, it can be helpful to turn to the wisdom of others for guidance. For me personally, I often peruse quotes by people I admire when I’m going through hard times. Sometimes hearing how other people have coped and overcome inspires me to deal with my (often less severe) problems.
This week I had the chance to listen to the audiobook Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. As I listened, I became deeply aware of my own privilege and became inspired to do something valuable with the time I have. I would encourage anyone who is struggling to read his book (it’s free for Audible members right now or you can check out your local library).
As an Enneagram coach, I often heard passages in Frankl’s book that would be ideal for each of the nine Enneagram types. At certain times I would think, “this is exactly what a Six needs to hear” or a Two, or a Four, or a Five. With that in mind, I decided to compile this post with curated quotes for each Enneatype. I hope it will inspire you to grow and to seek out more ways that give life meaning to you personally.
Not sure what your Enneagram type is? Take our free questionnaire here.
Who is Viktor Frankl?
Viktor Frankl was a Holocaust concentration camp survivor and founder of logotherapy, also known as the Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy. Logotherapy is focused on an individuals’ search for meaning. Frankl used his traumatic experiences in Auschwitz and other concentration camps to become one of the most influential figures in psychology. His main focus was helping people to find hope amidst hopelessness and suffering.
Viktor Frankl believed that by helping survivors overcome their psychological traumas, the healing process could be made easier. Through his work he demonstrated that even in the depths of despair there is always something positive to draw from our experiences. In doing so he revolutionized the way psychologists approach treating victims of concentration camps – providing them with understanding, compassion and a sense of purpose to heal and move forward in life with strength and resilience.
Where Does the Enneagram Come Into This?
I want to start by saying that Viktor Frankl himself has never said a thing about the Enneagram. What I’m doing in this article is choosing quotes that could inspire each of the nine Enneatyeps to grow in ways that will help them find wholeness and meaning. I would encourage each of you to read Frankl’s book to further deepen this experience.
Each Enneagram type has a set of strengths and weaknesses. Each type has both self-defeating and self-healing behaviors that they can choose to rely on in hardships. For example, a One can choose a self-defeating pattern by feeling like they have to do everything themselves because others can’t be relied upon. Or conversely, a One can choose a healing pattern by accepting help, even if the help isn’t “perfect” in their book.
My hope is that Viktor Frankl’s wisdom will inspire each person who reads this to move into patterns of healing and growth and veer further away from self-defeating patterns.
The Viktor Frankl Quote You Need to Hear, Based On Your Enneagram Type
“The attempt to develop a sense of humour and to see things in a humorous light is some kind of a trick learned while mastering the art of living.” – Viktor Frankl
Ones feel a constant burden to do the “right” thing. They monitor their thoughts, feelings, and actions with severity and strictness. While on the one hand this can make them responsible and self-controlled, it can also make them critical, rigid, and exhausted. Life can become a series of self-imposed rules that bring no satisfaction.
The path to growth for a One is learning to see the beauty, fun, and humor in life. Growth often comes through lessening strictness and learning to be more tolerant – not only of one’s self, but of others as well. Ones need to fully realize the truth: No one – not even the One – is capable of perfection. Pushing yourself past the point of endurance isn’t always noble – sometimes it’s masqueraded self-righteousness.
Frankl’s quote is a reminder that the art of living can be acquired through learning to see the humor and beauty in life, thereby bringing balance and joy to one’s existence.
Another Frankl quote I would recommend for Ones is this:
“I do not forget any good deed done to me & I do not carry a grudge for a bad one.”
This quote is a reminder to Ones that holding on to past grievances and resentments will only prevent them from experiencing true contentment. It’s essential for Ones to learn to forgive, let go of judgment, and surrender control in order to reach a place of peace and joy.
Find Out More About Enneagram Ones: The Enneagram 1 – The Perfectionist
“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Viktor Frankl
Twos tend to be generous and friendly individuals. They often think to themselves “how can I help?” or “how can I make people like me?”
For the Two, life often revolves around what other people need or want. There’s a strong pull towards serving others; or a pull towards being a listening ear to others’ problems and issues. At average to unhealthy levels, the Two does all of this in order to feel needed or worthy. They give in order to feel a sense of love or value in return. Deep down they are afraid that they are unlovable unless they serve others. They gain a sense of pride from feeling needed.
So why would I pick a quote for Twos that only further preaches the value of giving? Because I believe this quote characterizes the gifts of the Two at their best. At their best, Twos are selfless. They give not to get something in return – but out of pure love and selflessness. And not only that, they choose their own way. They give because they sincerely want to help, not because they’re looking to be “needed” or worthwhile in others’ eyes.
At their best, Twos can find ways to give even in the midst of terrible suffering and pain. And they do this without any hidden agenda. The healthy Two also knows when to put up boundaries and take care of their own needs in a balanced way.
Find Out More About Twos: The Enneagram 2 – The Helper
“Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it” – Viktor Frankl
Threes are the Enneatypes most motivated to be successful. Often their childhoods gave them the message that they were only worthwhile if they were successful. As a result, they chase after success, striving for approval and recognition from others. But no matter how much they achieve, there is still a deep longing for real, genuine meaning and value. Deep down they worry that they’ll never climb high enough to be worthwhile and loved.
At their best, Threes can take Frankl’s advice and realize that real soul-fulfilling meaning comes from serving a bigger cause than the self. They can learn to listen to their conscience and do what is right – not because it will get them recognition or approval but because it is the right thing to do. In other words, they have to be able to relinquish control over the outcome and trust in the process. They can start to reach out in ways that are aligned with their deeply-held inner values. Life can become less about awards and recognition and more about living from a place of authenticity and purpose.
The healthy Three is able to accept success when it comes, without needing it to feel valuable – because they already know that they are. They finally realize that they are free to find their own identity and their genuine heart’s desire in life. As they learn to accept themselves, scruples and all, they become filled with benevolence and authenticity.
Find Out More About Threes: The Enneagram 3 – The Achiever.
“The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity — even under the most difficult circumstances — to add a deeper meaning to his life. It may remain brave, dignified and unselfish. Or in the bitter fight for self preservation he may forget his human dignity and become no more than an animal.” ― Viktor Frankl
Fours are deeply sensitive and romantic souls searching for a sense of identity and self-actualization. Their childhoods were often marked with disappointment or loneliness; a feeling of being different or misunderstood. As a result they often experience deep emotional lows and melancholy.
At average to unhealthy levels, Fours become self-absorbed and temperamental. Often they feel that nobody can understand them and they dream of being rescued from their pain by someone who will finally grasp their plight. When this rescuer never comes, they can intentionally alienate themselves from others, believing that they will never have it as easy as the rest. Envy is a trait of the average to unhealthy Four. They often feel that others have it better, are happier, or are in other ways separate from them.
When Fours enter health, they learn to accept their struggles as an inherent part of life. They can take Frankl’s advice and see that even when things don’t turn out the way they hoped, they always have a choice in how they respond. Rather than seeing themselves as more flawed than others, they learn to approach life with a sense of humility, resilience, and graciousness. At their best, they see how all humanity is tied together in suffering, and that that in itself creates meaning, beauty, and purpose. Through this awareness they embrace their best self: a Four that is compassionate, insightful, and driven to make a difference.
Find Out More About Enneagram Fours: The Enneagram 4- The Individualist
“The true meaning of life is to be discovered in the world rather than within man or his own psyche, as though it were a closed system. I have termed this constitutive characteristic “the self-transcendence of human existence.” It denotes the fact that being human always points, and is directed, to something or someone, other than oneself–be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter. The more one forgets himself–by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love–the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself.” – Viktor Frankl
The Five is the archetype of the contemplative thinker, eager to uncover the mysteries of life. They are curious and analytical, constantly absorbing new information and learning new things. Despite this intellectual capacity, Fives often feel a deep sense of emptiness or alienation from themselves and others. They put off interacting with the world because they need “more data.” At their heart, they worry that their skills are insufficient and that they can’t go out into the world because they’ll fail. So they tend to stay inside, isolate themselves, and fend people off.
At average to unhealthy levels, Fives detach from reality in search of greater knowledge, and they can become over-intellectualized, disconnected from their emotions and their bodies. They may feel that the world is too overwhelming or threatening, so they withdraw and try to understand it through the lens of an observer.
As Fives enter health, they learn to recognize the wisdom that lies within themselves as well as the wisdom that exists outside of them. They learn to trust their own inner feelings and intuitions, as well as seek out understanding from other people and life experiences. The more they give themselves permission to explore and engage with the world, the more expansive their knowledge becomes.
Frankl’s quote emphasizes that in order to actualize oneself and become more human, one must look outward. Fives can learn that the world is vast and filled with knowledge if they only take the time to explore it. As they do, they will find a greater sense of purpose and belonging within themselves.
Find Out More About Enneagram Fives: The Enneagram 5 – The Observer
“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” – Viktor Frankl
Sixes live their lives on guard; always ready for things to go wrong. They are deeply devoted and loyal to their families, friends and causes, but their desire for security can lead them to be overly anxious and guarded. They crave stability and control in order to feel safe, but the world is ever-changing which can make it hard for Sixes to relax.
At average to unhealthy levels, Sixes become paranoid, suspicious, and cynical. They feel like they’re constantly on the defensive and can quickly imagine worst-case scenarios and negative possibilities. Some Sixes seek out authorities or structures to feel safe. Others eschew authorities, feeling that no one can be trusted.
As Sixes enter health, they learn to recognize and trust their own inner guidance. They learn to identify their core values and can become more secure in themselves, knowing they’re capable of handling whatever comes up.
As a concentration camp survivor, Frankl lived through the worst experiences imaginable, yet was able to still find purpose and meaning in life. This can be a powerful reminder for Sixes that they too can create their own sense of security when faced with uncertainty. That rather than fearing the worst and taking up habitation in that fear, they should instead look for the meaning that can be found in every moment – the good and the bad.
Find Out More About Enneagram Sixes: The Enneagram 6 – The Loyalist
“Ironically enough, in the same way that fear brings to pass what one is afraid of, likewise a forced intention makes impossible what one forcibly wishes… Pleasure is, and must remain, a side-effect or by-product, and is destroyed and spoiled to the degree to which it is made a goal in itself.” – Viktor Frankl
Sevens are the possibility-seekers of the Enneagram. Energetic and adventurous, they look for opportunities in every moment. They have an innate ability to find the silver lining in almost any situation, but can become overly focused on seeking out pleasure and avoiding pain or discomfort. This search for pleasure can lead them to distract themselves with superficial amusements instead of taking time to address their deeper feelings.
At average to unhealthy levels, Sevens can become frenetic and scattered. They may jump from one experience to the next without really taking in each moment or acknowledging their feelings. This can lead them to avoid difficult emotions that come up and make it hard for them to form deep connections with others. It can also make it difficult for them to complete what they start or accomplish the goals that matter deeply to them.
As Sevens enter health, they learn to appreciate and savor the moments in life. They learn that pleasure is not the end-all, be-all goal and that real joy can come from connecting with others and living authentically.
Frankl’s quote emphasizes the importance of finding meaning in one’s life instead of solely seeking out pleasure. It speaks to Sevens by reminding them that pleasure isn’t the only thing to strive for in life. That genuine happiness, contentment and connection come from the pursuit of something bigger than the self – something more profound and meaningful. Pleasure is simply a byproduct of that.
Find Out More About Enneagram Sevens: The Enneagram 7 – The Enthusiast
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Viktor Frankl
Eights are the strong, take-charge type of the Enneagram. They embody assertiveness and hold to the belief that they must not depend on others. Instead, they seek out independence and challenge. It’s a dog-eat-dog world to the Eight, and they often give into anger in order to attain power and assert their independence.
At average to unhealthy levels, Eights can become overly aggressive and domineering. They can be recklessly assertive and attempt to control situations and people around them while ignoring their own feelings. This can cause others to feel threatened or disrespected by the Eight’s actions.
As Eights enter health, they become more comfortable with vulnerability and authenticity. They stop feeling like they need to control everything and everyone in their environment. Instead of being driven to have power, they embrace true heroism, which means helping and protecting others instead of trying to dominate them.
Frankl’s quote speaks to Eights by reminding them of the power they have in their responses. The idea that one can choose his or her response gives Eights back control over their emotions, allowing them to express themselves in a more constructive and healthy manner. Rather than giving into anger, domination, or boasting, Eights can get in touch with their feelings, restore their balance, and curate a more compassionate response.
Find Out More About Enneagram Eights: The Enneagram 8 – The Challenger.
“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.” – Viktor Frankl
Nines are the peacekeepers and mediators of the Enneagram. They tend to be easygoing, accepting, and accommodating which makes them great listeners and team players. Nines typically want to avoid conflict at all costs and will often go with the flow in order to keep the peace. “Don’t rock the boat” is often an inner mantra of the Nine. By calming outer conflict, they hope to maintain inner serenity.
At average to unhealthy levels, Nines can become too agreeable and numb. They may ignore their own needs and feelings in order to please others or appear non-threatening, which can lead to a loss of identity and the ability to express their individual voice. Over time this can lead to repressed anger and inaction. The Nine feels out of touch with themselves and numb to their own desires.
As Nines enter health, they learn that conflict doesn’t have to be negative and that it can actually lead to greater understanding, connection and intimacy with others. They learn to speak up for themselves and set boundaries, while still honoring the needs of all involved. Tension, conflict, and outer disruption cease to be so intimidating and Nines can begin to courageously take a stand for what they believe in.
Frankl’s quote speaks to Nines by reminding them of their potential. By striving, struggling and searching for meaningful purpose, Nines can become more engaged with life and be inspired to take action rather than sit on the sidelines. This quote, I hope, can inspire Nines to realize themselves and to stop numbing their inner guidance for the sake of “keeping the peace.”
Find Out More About Enneagram Nines: The Enneagram 9 – The Peacemaker.
What Are Your Thoughts?
Did you enjoy this article? Do you have any thoughts or insights to share with other readers? 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, The INTJ – Understanding the Strategist, and The INFP – Understanding the Dreamer. You can also connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!