Whatever the reason for the party, 7s are the ones who want to get it started, and the rest of us are usually willing to join in the celebration. They’re the fun-loving, enthusiastic cheerleaders who people often want to be around: adventuresome, gregarious, spontaneous, uninhibited, entertaining, optimistic, and imaginative.
In fact, others don’t just want to be around 7s, some actually want to be 7s. The exterior is very appealing, especially to those who don’t naturally have the abundant energy and optimism 7s seem to have. The reverse, however, is that 7s may be viewed as superficial dilettantes—again based on outside appearances. What’s really behind their whirlwind of mental and physical activity?
Escape from Boredom and Pain
According to Jerome Wagner, in The Enneagram Spectrum of Personality Styles, 7s are working really hard to avoid experiencing pain and suffering. Their primary defense mechanism is sublimation:
To keep pain out of your awareness, you sublimate it and turn it into something interesting or good. You automatically look for the good in everything. So you might celebrate the new life of a deceased loved one rather than mourn their loss.
7s don’t just want to be happy, they need to be happy. Therefore, they work and play as hard as they do in order to try to maintain a steady state of happiness. Pain and suffering are a major buzz kill. If 7s can’t outrun or outfox it, they’ll find a way to reframe it the same way 3s reframe failure. This can lead to a variety of risky behaviors—including addictions—that in the long run create a great deal more pain and suffering than they were being employed to try to avoid in the first place.
Too Much of a Good Thing
7s need constant stimulation. They have extremely active, quick, and agile minds that can easily solve complex problems and generate amazing insights, but may also move with lightning speed from one thing to another, never focusing on anything long enough to truly grasp or appreciate it. They may be more concerned with possibilities than actualities. They like what is new and intense rather than what is humdrum and ordinary.
There is more refreshment and stimulation in a nap, even of the briefest, than in all the alcohol ever distilled. –Ovid
You could substitute any substance or activity or emotion for alcohol and the words would still mean the same thing. The relentless pursuit of happiness is also known as escapism. In trying to escape from pain and suffering, 7s only succeed at escaping from themselves.
In The Wisdom of The Enneagram, Don Riso and Russ Hudson suggest 7s focus on being present in this moment rather than anticipating what might be around the corner in the next one:
Find the joy of the ordinary. Like Fours, Sevens tend to seek out heightened reality—you like things to be extraordinary, fabulous, exciting, and stimulating. The amazing thing, however, is that when we are present, all of our experiences are extraordinary. Cleaning your room or eating an orange can be a totally fulfilling experience if you are in it one hundred percent. Each moment is a unique source of delight and amazement. Your fear of deprivation and your desire to entertain yourself prevent you from finding the fulfillment you seek. Think about which moments from your past were the most alive and fulfilling—a child’s birth, a wedding, a picnic with friends during college, a perfect sunset. What about them made them so satisfying and real? Also notice that these moments do not necessarily make exciting stories, although they have another quality that makes them fulfilling. Your life will change to the degree that you find out what that quality is.
7s have so much to offer. When they slow down, calm down, and learn how to be with themselves without all the external stimulation they habitually surround themselves with, they often get in touch with a different kind of happiness—a quieter, but deeper happiness that doesn’t depend on the next great thing.
- Only the Shadow Knows (ninepaths.com)
- In the Shadow of Type 1: Anger (ninepaths.com)
- In the Shadow of Type 2: Neediness (ninepaths.com)
- In the Shadow of Type 3: Failure (ninepaths.com)
- In the Shadow of Type 4: Ordinariness (ninepaths.com)
- In the Shadow of Type 5: Emptiness (ninepaths.com)
- In the Shadow of Type 6: Deviance (ninepaths.com)
Thanks for posting these; they’re awesome! Because no matter that I’ve long been familiar with the Enneagram, it’s so easy to forget what it is that makes us all tick, and it’s so good to be reminded!
Thanks, Connie. They remind me, too. When I was putting this post together, I developed a greater appreciation for just how much my 7 wing influences my 8 behavior. There were actually a couple of surprises.
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