Tag Archives: Type 8

What Drives Us?

Memory

(Photo credit: Our Hero)

One of the things I like about the type profiles in Don Riso and Russ Hudson’s Personality Types is the succinct “Key Motivations” they describe for each type. Since my score on their Enneagram test (way back when) had only a one-point difference between 8 and 7, reading the Key Motivations helped make it abundantly clear to me that I’m an 8w7, not a 7w8.

Recently, I incorporated these Key Motivations and some of Jerome Wagner’s information on the shadow into descriptions of what drives each type. This was for a group I’ve been working with in which everyone knows their type. During the group discussion, it became clear that some people think these are conscious motivations. As conscious motivations, they seem somewhat objectionable or at least unflattering. But they’re not conscious, they’re unconscious. Enneagram behavior is automatic, or autopilot, behavior. It’s the opposite of conscious behavior.

1s, for example, don’t wake up in the morning and tell themselves nothing is more important to them that day than being right. I don’t get up in the morning and tell myself I’m off to assert myself and prevail over my environment.

Our unconscious motivations are like hidden—at least to us—agendas. They’re more obvious to others because other people see only what we do and say and how we react. They see us from the outside. They don’t have access to our inner experience or personal history. More importantly, they don’t have access to the stories and explanations we’re constantly spinning that tend to obscure our agendas and keep them hidden from us.

No matter how hard we try, we can’t uncover our unconscious motivation by looking inward. If we want to understand what drives us, we have to look not at what we think or feel or want to do, but at what we actually do.

Socrates was only partly wrong that the “unexamined life is not worth living.” The key is the kind of self-examination people perform, and the extent to which people attempt to know themselves solely by looking inward, versus looking outward at their own behavior and how others react to them.

–Timothy D. Wilson, Strangers to Ourselves

Paying attention to what we do is a great focus for self-observation. And paying attention to what we do pays off, too, because as long as our agendas are hidden from us, we’re stuck being at the effect of them.

Unconscious Motivation for the Nine Types

[Note: Key Motivations from Personality Types are in italics.]

1s are compliant to their idealistic obligations, moving toward what will help them earn righteousness and resisting the inner impulses that might lead them astray. To keep their angry impulses out of their awareness, they do the opposite of what they are inclined to do (instead of confronting someone, being nice to him or her; instead of being sexual, becoming puritanical). They tend to be concerned with what is right in front of them (subject, as are the other two Compliant types, to what has been called “the tyranny of the immediate moment”). They tend to play by the rules and expect others to do so, too. They want to be right, to have integrity and balance, to strive higher and improve others, to be consistent with their ideals, to justify themselves, to be beyond criticism so as not to be condemned by anyone. Type 1 is called The Good Person, The Achiever, The Reformer, and The Perfectionist.
Keyword: Principle

2s are compliant to their need to be seen as friendly and helpful by others, so they move toward what will help them earn attention and approval. They tend to be concerned with what is right in front of them (subject, as are the other two Compliant types, to what has been called “the tyranny of the immediate moment”). They tend to recognize the needs of others and are happy to roll up their sleeves to tackle others’ problems while pushing their own into the background. Because their own needs make them anxious, they keep them out of their awareness by repressing them. They project their needs onto others (so other people are needy, but they aren’t). They want to be loved, to express their feelings for others, to be needed and appreciated, to get others to respond to them, to vindicate their claims about themselves. Type 2 is called The Helper, The Giver, The People Pleaser, and The Partner.
Keyword: Persuasion

3s aggressively attempt to maintain both an inner and an outer image of success, moving against anything that prevents them from attaining their goals. To keep failure out of their awareness, they identify with whatever successful mask or role they are playing at the time. They identify with their roles instead of with themselves. Like the other Aggressive types, they tend to hurry through the present and not give much thought to the past. They will play by the rules if that works for them, but they’re willing to bend the rules in order to meet their goals or objectives. They want to feel valuable and worthwhile, to be affirmed, to distinguish themselves, to have attention, to be admired, and to impress others. Type 3 is called The Performer, The Succeeder, The Motivator, and the Status Seeker.
Keyword: Performance

4s withdraw in order to nurture an internal image of uniqueness, moving away from anything that triggers a sense of something lacking. In order to avoid experiencing the common and ordinary, whenever anything seems bland they turn it into something extraordinary or dramatic. Like the other Withdrawing types, they tend to focus on the past, often feeling victimized by it. They tend to feel like they’re on the outside to begin with and are very sensitive to slights and perceived slights (lack of support). They are easily hurt. They want to be themselves, to express themselves in something beautiful, to find the ideal partner, to withdraw to protect their feelings, to take care of emotional needs before attending to anything else. Type 4 is called The Individualist, The Tragic Romantic, The Artist, and The Sensitive Person.
Keyword: Passion

5s doubt their ability to deal effectively with the external world, so they withdraw into their own minds to avoid coming in contact with anything that might make them feel inadequate. To avoid feeling empty, they isolate themselves in their heads away from their feelings and other people. They focus on their thoughts in order to make themselves feel full and comfortable. They also isolate or compartmentalize one time period—or aspect—of life from another. Like the other Withdrawing types, they tend to focus on the past and often reflect on their prior experiences. They aren’t interested in following rules. They don’t like being a part of the system, so they prefer to do things their own way. They want to be capable and competent, to master a body of knowledge and skill, to explore reality, to remain undisturbed by others, to reduce their needs. Type 5 is called The Observer, The Investigator, The Knowledge-Seeker, and The Thinker.
Keyword: Privacy

Because they are anxious about their inner worlds and the external world, 6s move toward whatever—and whomever—they believe will make them feel safe and secure. 6s are the most anxious of the three Thinking center types. They project onto others their own sense of disobedience and rebellion. Other people are trying to get away with things, and 6s need to monitor their activities and bring them in line with their authority’s principles. Or others are trying to trip them up and trap them. They tend to be concerned with what is right in front of them (subject, as are the other two Compliant types, to what has been called “the tyranny of the immediate moment”). They want to be seen as strong and reliable, but at the same time they want to feel supported by others. They can get defensive. They want to have security, to feel supported, to have the approval of others, to test the attitudes of others toward them, to defend their beliefs. Type 6 is called The Loyalist, The Questioner, The Guardian, and The Devil’s Advocate.
Keyword: Participation

7s want to avoid experiencing the pain that could result from their own thoughts and feelings, so they aggressively move against whatever gets in the way of their happiness and contentment by focusing on external events and activities. To keep pain out of their awareness, they sublimate it and turn it into something interesting or good. They automatically look for the good in everything. So they might celebrate the new life of a deceased loved one rather than mourn their loss. Like the other Aggressive types, they tend to hurry through the present as they make plans for the future. They tend to be more focused on their own needs and often fail to notice the needs (and problems) of others. They want to be happy and satisfied, to have a wide variety of experiences, to keep their options open, to enjoy life and amuse themselves, to escape anxiety. Type 7 is called The Adventurer, The Epicure, The Generalist, and The Enthusiast.
Keyword: Pleasure

8s aggressively assert themselves against others and the environment, moving against what gets in the way of their pursuit of their agendas. To prevent weakness from showing up in their awareness or persona, they deny any presence of it (the real kings and queens of denial). Like the other Aggressive types, they tend to hurry through the present and not give much thought to the past. They are comfortable in the supportive role, but they don’t want to need other people, so they keep their guard up to prevent others from getting too close. They are easily angered. They want to be self-reliant, to resist their weakness, to have an impact on the environment, to assert themselves, to stay in control, to prevail over others, to be invincible. Type 8 is called The Challenger, The Confronter, The Leader, the Asserter (and a few other things that are unprintable).
Keyword: Power

9s withdraw so others won’t disturb their inner peacefulness, moving away from anything that triggers a sense of distress and discomfort, whether it’s internal or external. To avoid conflict, they numb their feelings, wants, and preferences. They make everything the same and highlight nothing. They make molehills out of mountains. Like the other Withdrawing types, they are focused on the past and tend to ruminate about what happened, both good and bad. They try to pay attention to others’ needs as well as their own; as a result, they often become overwhelmed so they tune out instead of responding to either. They want to have serenity and peace of mind, to create harmony in their environment, to preserve things as they are, to avoid conflicts and tension, to escape upsetting problems and demands on them. Type 9 is called The Peacemaker, The Preservationist, The Mediator, and the Universalist.
Keyword: Peace

Peace out. 🙂

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Be Yourself?

Fear of being who you are

Fear of being who you are (Photo credit: Skye Suicide)

What does it mean to “be yourself”? Do you know who that is? When someone goes on a journey to find him or herself, what—or who—do they find? And what are they actually looking for? Does a self even exist?

That last question may seem a little out there, but I think these are all good questions to ask. People end relationships because they weren’t able to be themselves. They like to have friends with whom they can just be themselves. And sometimes, for one reason or another, people are afraid to be themselves.

This train of thought was inspired by the post of another blogger, Donald Fulmer at Museical Garden. It begins:

Be  yourself!

Whoa—not me. I didn’t want the attention, the humiliation, people making fun of me. I wanted people to smile and leave me alone. Which they did.

I couldn’t just be myself. Or wouldn’t, I mean.

Don is a 9, as he makes pretty clear right off the bat (and as he’s told me). He goes on to talk about a tattoo he just got:

A large tattoo—of flowers. Lotuses to be exact. Beautiful, rich red lotuses.

And here it is:

He took a chance on doing something a bit outrageous—and, hey, it turned out OK. To me, Don’s post was like a celebration: a coming out party for a 9. The title, “It Hurts to Be Yourself,” is a double entendre. It hurts to get a tattoo, of course; and sometimes, maybe, it hurts to be yourself. While I was thinking about what he’d written, I realized that as an 8, my experience is pretty much the opposite of his. I’d say that for me, it hurts to not be myself.

OUR SELVES R US

But again, what or who the heck is that? The truth is that we’re probably composed of many different selves. In Stumbling on Happiness, for example, Daniel Gilbert says we have at least three: our past self, our present self, and our future self. Our past self has set in motion much of what our present self now wants nothing to do with. And our present self is quite confident it knows exactly what will make our future self happy. His premise is that our present self is really clueless about our future self. It’s one of the problems with the way our brains work: we equate confidence with validity when the two have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

But returning to the question of selves, I suspect that what we think of as our true self is really the particular set of compulsions, automatic responses, and (as David Eagleman calls them) zombie subroutines we have developed since birth. I doubt we were born in some perfect state and have been corrupted by our subsequent experiences—otherwise known as life. I think the development of our particular compulsions and autopilot behaviors is just a natural response and reaction to the joys and exigencies of life. Our unique dance with life, if you will.

The desire to locate some essential, authentic, uncorrupted self underneath all the compulsions and automatic responses seems literally wrongheaded. As Flip Wilson’s character Geraldine always said, what you see is what you get. And that’s amazing enough! We are marvelous, amusing, innovative, and fascinating creatures with astonishing possibility, not in spite of our compulsions and idiosyncrasies but because of them. We just need to shake loose from our concepts about who we are or who we think we’re supposed to be.

Don wrote that the lotuses in his tattoo symbolize enlightenment: seeing things as they really are. Right on, Don!

So, yes, by all means be yourselves. There are no other selves you can be.

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In the Shadow of Type 8: Weakness

Crying..

Crying.. (Photo credit: Anders Ljungberg)

People often look to 8s to take the lead because 8s are perceived of as self-confident, decisive, strong, powerful, direct, courageous, resourceful, just, and of course take-charge. They talk the talk and walk the walk. Since taking charge comes naturally to them, others pick up on it and often fall in line behind them. Hopefully the 8 taking the lead is heading somewhere everyone else wants to go and not for the nearest cliff. That’s a danger since 8s can be very convincing. This is often because they don’t rely on outside authorities but prefer to figure things out for themselves, so they are quite firm in their resulting convictions. That makes them appear extremely confident, which is something we value in leaders.

I think whether you’re having setbacks or not, the role of a leader is to always display a winning attitude.
–Colin Powell

Right. No one wants a weak, wishy-washy, fearful, timid, muddled leader. And no 8 wants to be seen as such. So while 8s really do possess many of those admirable qualities, they also know those are the qualities others want them to project, especially when they are in leadership roles. However, it’s hard for 8s to take off the leader hat when they go home at the end of the day, hard to let down their guard in one setting and keep it up in another.

About that River in Egypt

Jerome Wagner, in The Enneagram Spectrum of Personality Styles, says the defense mechanism of 8s is denial.

To prevent weakness from showing up in your awareness or persona, you deny any presence of it. “I don’t hurt, I’m not nice, I’m not sentimental, I don’t need you,” etc.

Each 8 probably defines weakness in his or her own way, but however 8s define it, it is definitely anathema to them. They don’t want to experience it, and they certainly don’t want others to see any sign of weakness in them. So they power through situations that might leave others gasping at the side of the road. There’s a time and place for that, but not every time and every place.

I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.
–Washington Irving

8s are good at denying, stuffing, covering up, or ignoring what they perceive as weakness. Pretending it’s not there doesn’t make it go away, though, so the better 8s get at denial, the more pressure builds below the surface. Some days you can look at an 8 the wrong way and receive The Wrath of Khan in return. You don’t know what just hit you, and the 8 is as surprised as you are.

Take a Hike!

In The Wisdom of the Enneagram, Don Riso and Russ Hudson have a number of suggestions for 8s that center on getting in touch with their feelings (which they admit is a cliché) and aren’t very specific. I don’t think telling 8s to get in touch with their feelings is particularly helpful, since not all 8s are out of touch with their feelings, or at least not all the time. They just don’t consider them a high priority. The following suggestion seems much more practical and therefore likely to appeal to 8s:

Take some quiet time to restore your soul. This doesn’t mean watching television, eating, or drinking—really take time to be with yourself and enjoy simple things. Take a tip from your next-door neighbors, the Nines, and let your senses be revitalized by nature. Although your type would not be among the first in line for a class in meditation, quiet, centering practices are tremendously helpful to reduce your stress levels.

8s are Doing types, so going for a walk or hike or just getting out in nature on a regular basis can be a non-threatening way for them to center themselves, if they do it alone, or to connect with other people. Physical activity is also an excellent way to de-stress. And the 8s also get to feel that they’ve accomplished something at the same time!

Type 8: Embrace Your Inner Weak Sister

Powerful, I take responsibility for who I am, ...

(Photo credit: Tomas Sobek)

8s are pretty darn capable people. They will do whatever it takes to get the job done. Sometimes they will even do more than it takes. They are proud of being able to accomplish what they set out to do and of their ability to deal with adversity, challenges, and obstacles. 8s tend to feel as if they can weather whatever storm nature throws at them. If you are being treated unfairly—caught in a metaphorical or an actual storm—8s will also direct their considerable energy on your behalf.

But their tough exterior covers the same kind of fear every other type has, which is that deep down—or when push comes to shove—they are not all that. 8s whose identities are completely wrapped up in being a powerful force of nature expend quite a lot of energy proving it over and over again to themselves and to everyone else. Once is definitely not enough.

However, no man is an island—and no woman is, either. We are interdependent. We need each other. As far as 8s are concerned, it’s perfectly OK for someone else to be needy. But it’s definitely not OK for 8s to feel needy, actually be needy, or—horrors!—be seen as needy. It’s kind of the opposite situation to the boy who cried wolf. 8s do such a good job convincing everyone else of their hardiness and durability that others assume they don’t need help. Ever.

Notice that 8 over there who just fell through the ice? No worries. He’s got everything under control. See, he’s signaling that he’s just fine. Yes, he’ll be waving everyone off until the moment he slips under the ice and is gone, victim to his compulsion to always be the rescuer and never the one who is rescued.

It’s great to be able to tough things out, but it’s not so great to risk life and limb out of the compulsion to tough them out.

People…people Who Need People…*

One of the things 8s fail to recognize, in addition to the utter folly of their total commitment to their position, is that other people like to be needed. They appreciate being able to help each other. Another thing is that always being the one to lend a hand and never being willing to accept a hand creates an imbalance in all of one’s personal relationships. This ought to make an impact on 8s, who are greatly concerned with fairness and balance. Give and take—or give and accept—would make a good mantra for 8s.

When 8s embrace their inner Weak Sister (whether male or female), they can let down their guard and admit they don’t have every single thing under control. They may not be able to deal with a thing or two life throws at them. So once in a while, they could possibly use a little help from their friends. It’s OK to ask. When they do, they may be surprised to find out that expressing vulnerability does not knock them down a notch in everyone else’s eyes. It might even raise them up a notch or two.

*not an endorsement of the song

Type 8 Child

Most recent in the type comic series. See also: Type 1, Type 2, Type 4, Type 5, Type 7, and Type 9. (Types 3 and 6 coming soon .)

Songs for the Road (the list)

If you’re travelin’, you need a road song, and everyone loves a good road song, right? But not everyone likes the same song or moves to the same beat. So here’s my list of road songs by type:

Type 1: The Higher You Climb (Dan Fogelberg)

You get a little bonus hit of Down the Road as an intro.

Type 2: I’ll Take you There (Staple Singers)

Type 3: I Can Walk on Water (Basshunter)

Type 4: Runnin’ Down a Dream (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers)

Type 5: Boulevard of Broken Dreams (Green Day)

Type 6: Road to Nowhere (Talking Heads)

Type 7: I’ll Follow the Sun (the Beatles)

Type 8: I Can’t Drive 55 (Sammy Hagar)

Type 9: Every Day Is a Winding Road (Sheryl Crow)

Start Your Engines

If nothing else, I can serve as a bad example. Back on 09/22/12, I kicked off my other blog, www.givemeadaisy.com, by describing how I had come up with a personal keyword theme for the season of autumn: velocity.

Velocity, of course, means speed, pace, swiftness, or rapidity. And that’s exactly what I had in mind: moving as fast as I could to get as much done as possible.

It took a couple of weeks before I realized the extent to which I’d put the cart before the horse by failing to specify a direction. Going for velocity without first identifying a destination—or having a vision of where I wanted to go—is akin to setting a driverless race car careening along a track at high speed. Derailment, or worse, is only a matter of time.

How perfectly like an 8, though. Speed over substance; quantity over quality. The whole thing really made me laugh at myself. It isn’t that I value speed or quantity over substance or quality. It’s just that it’s so much easier for me to go there. It’s easier for me to move. Move where? Anywhere! The direction is often less important than the motion.

I don’t recommend trying this at home.

Fortunately, I recognized my folly before I hit the rails or crashed and burned. I have since decided on a destination and laid in a course. All systems are go. At least now I’m a guided missile.