Why Each Enneagram Type Feels Trapped
Table of contents
Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
You naturally take on responsibility and obsess about what you should or shouldn’t be doing. In fact “should” or “shouldn’t” are like enormous green and red lights blaring in your mind. You work hard, criticize yourself, and set your expectations to an impossible standard. When inevitably fail to reach perfection, that critical voice inside berates you and anyone else who might have failed to live up to their end of the deal.
Your standards, self-criticism, and determination to always be “good” can trap you in a cycle of workaholism, perfectionism, and exhaustion if you’re not careful.
What to Remember: Remember that the critical voice inside yourself isn’t “God.” It isn’t even truth. Practice self-compassion, forgiveness, and patience. Take time to relax and do something spontaneous (go for a drive, listen to an audiobook, spend time in nature). Plan something to do that is simply for your own enjoyment. It might feel difficult at first, but remember that this is your path to integration.
You’re tired of draining your energy in an attempt to meet others’ needs. You tend to overdo it for others because you’re afraid of appearing selfish and therefore “unlovable.” You have a laundry list of things you wish you could do, but you always scrap it to do what’s good for everyone else. When you do manage to take time for yourself, you often beat yourself up for being “selfish.” Tact and consideration are all good things in moderation, but sometimes you get tired of leaning on them at the expense of your own feelings and desires.
What to Remember: Remember that sometimes the most loving thing you can do is say “No.” Sometimes people need to solve their own problems. Sometimes “helping” isn’t as helpful as it would seem. Take time to get quiet and observe your authentic feelings, even if they’re “ugly” or sad. I know it doesn’t sound fun, but it’s crucial to your development and well-being. Practice saying no and setting healthy boundaries. Schedule non-negotiable time for yourself to read, create, rest, and explore your inner world.
You’re a go-getter who runs towards success and away from any sign of mediocrity. “Work B***ch” by Britney Spears could be your theme song because you’re always working, always trying, always focusing on your goals. Whenever you reach one level of success you see another one in the distance you still “have” to achieve. You can’t let any struggle stop you from pushing yourself, trying, and going after your dreams. But sometimes your dreams seem more like nightmares when you’re burned out, overworked, and grasping for a level of success that keeps slipping away.
What to Remember: The stress of overworking can lead you to long-term stress, chronic pain, and physical and emotional problems. Schedule non-negotiable time for yourself each day to rest, meditate, or do something you enjoy. Get in touch with your feelings, even the vulnerable ones, and try to clarify what actually matters to you on a personal level. Do you really need that next gold medal/promotion/car? Or is your reason for going after that related to a deeper unmet need that you need to work on?
You frequently feel misunderstood and unseen in your environment. There’s this raw part of you that you really wish someone could just see and appreciate for the first time. You often struggle to feel visible and valuable, sometimes more to yourself than even others. You have beautiful dreams and visions for your life, but your dark moods and melancholy feelings can keep you from going after them. Over time, you may even feel that you don’t deserve to have what you want. Longing is your constant companion and shame is an all-too-frequent visitor.
What to Remember: Your feelings can feel overwhelming and all-consuming, thus stopping you from achieving the dreams you set for yourself. When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, take a moment to step back and look at yourself as if from a distance. Visualize yourself gradually turning down the dial of the emotional intensity you’re feeling. Then allow yourself to feel the hurt, but keep in mind that it will pass. You can also try writing down your feelings in a letter and then crumpling it up and throwing it away. Practice mindfulness techniques, meditate, and breathe deeply. Prioritize getting enough sleep, exercising, eating well, and nurturing your relationships. Nurture your creative side, practice self-discipline, and find ways to act on your strong ideals and principles. This is a big list so don’t let it overwhelm you. Pick one or two things to work on, but be patient with yourself and don’t beat yourself up if it takes time!
You have a knack for standing back and viewing life objectively and without emotional bias. Highly observant, you gather enormous amounts of data so that your decisions can be informed and wise. Unfortunately, no matter how much information you have, it never seems like enough. You see people who have far less intelligence than you succeeding, just because they have better social skills or act faster. You want to bring your ideas to life, but you struggle to express your thoughts clearly. You want connection, but people overwhelm you.
What to Remember: Integration for you means embracing some qualities of the Eight enneatype. This means getting in touch with your body, trusting your instincts more, and taking more action. Go ahead and take a risk or speak up, even if you risk saying something you later have to take back. Play a sport or go outside more often. Practice being in the present, asking for what you want, and letting others know that they matter to you.
You often feel bombarded by worries and premonitions about potential worst-case scenarios. The ground beneath your feet feels shaky and unsteady because you feel so conflicted. You want to trust, but you don’t want to be duped. You want to relax, but your mind is always scanning for danger. You want to love, but you’re worried about being abandoned or taken advantage of. There are so many conflicting voices and thoughts inside your head telling you different things that it can be next to impossible to feel free or be present in the moment.
What to Remember: Remember that you can overcome your fears and be capable of taking action in the presence of them. You’re not a slave to your worries. You can become the controlling narrative and shut off all those conflicting voices. Practice talking to yourself in compassionate ways, and practice trusting when people say kind things to you. Try to reality check your suspicions and fears with others by asking them if they’re really thinking what you think they are (for example, if you assume someone’s having negative thoughts about you). Visualize a peaceful scene and practice deep breathing when worry seeps into your life.
Action-oriented and adventurous, you crave excitement and a sense of possibility every day. Unfortunately, your hunger for new experiences can give you intolerance for boredom and an incessant case of FOMO. You may feel that you can’t get what you really want because you spread yourself too thin, taking on too many opportunities. You may feel trapped whenever you have to focus on one thing for an extended period of time and leave dozens of half-finished projects in your wake. You either feel like you’re leaving too much unfinished or not getting enough time to do all the things you really want to do. You want the benefits of sticking with things, but you also want the freedom to switch directions when the mood strikes. But it seems nearly impossible to have both.
What to Remember: Remember that integration for you comes when you move towards Five. This means calming yourself down and exploring subjects in depth. It means placing value on self-discipline and wisdom more than action. Practice sticking with your problems instead of immediately tuning them out. Find someone you trust to talk to about your struggles. Practice focusing on the projects you’re currently doing instead of fantasizing about all the better things you could be doing. Remind yourself that finishing a project will be deeply satisfying to you. After all, you wouldn’t have started a project if you didn’t think it was worth doing. If possible, work for yourself or pursue a career that you love so that you can happily maintain your focus instead of feeling trapped.
Bold and independent, you have an inner strength and fighting spirit that can be both a blessing and a curse. You often feel like people prematurely judge you for your intensity, and you may inadvertently scare away people without meaning to. You often feel like the world wastes time with sugarcoating and diplomacy when a more direct, take-charge approach would improve everything. You feel trapped when people you love try to tone you down or make you follow their “rules.” You feel an incessant urge to stick your neck out to protect others, but you feel like too many people are willing to be doormats for the rest of the world. Often times people judge your aggressive, intense outer demeanor without seeing the caring spirit underneath.
What to Remember: Remember that verbal sparring is often energizing to you but draining to others. Learn the art of negotiation and pause to see things from other people’s perspectives before immediately lashing out. Find friends who appreciate your non-conformist, intense behavior and accept you for who you are. Make sure that your expectations for yourself are realistic and make sure that you’re allowing yourself time for fun, creativity, and physical action.
Considerate and open-minded, you care deeply about what others need and want. You can feel trapped because people take your warm, accepting nature for granted. You may feel like it’s nearly impossible to stand up for yourself, choosing to go along with what others want instead. You may feel confused about what you really want because you’re so concerned with not “rocking the boat.” Your sensitivity to criticism, your need for harmony, but your simultaneous need for independence and freedom can all be at odds with each other and this can make you feel paralyzed and stuck.
What to Remember: Remember that your voice matters. Give your opinions and desires as much or more credence than what the people around you think. Take the first step to change a situation that isn’t right, and bring up your problems with others instead of letting them simmer and boil under the surface. Practice feeling the buildup of emotions in your body and try to express them calmly right away instead of acting like everything is fine. The people who care about you really want you to express yourself authentically.
What Are Your Thoughts?
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Find out more about your personality type in our eBooks, Discovering You: Unlocking the Power of Personality Type, The INFJ – Understanding the Mystic, The INFP – Understanding the Dreamer, and The INTJ – Understanding the Strategist. You can also connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!