Did you know the Enneagram can unlock compassion for both yourself and others? Instead of looking at the Enneagram as another personality test, think of it as a tool for growth in life, love, and even business. Your Enneagram is a journey of self-awareness and self-growth, and when approached correctly, you can use it to thrive spiritually, psychologically, and emotionally.
In today’s episode, I am chatting with Steph Barron Hall, founder of Nine Types Co, author, and expert on all things Enneagram. We’re unpacking everything you ever wanted to know about the Enneagram and types, including how to find out which one you are, what enneagram wings and subtypes are, and how they can be used as a tool for self-growth. Plus, Steph is walking us through each core type and how they show up in stress.
Follow along with Steph @ninetypesco
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Music by Taylor Ryan
“I’ll just say it is complex. If you don’t know your type, you might resonate with a lot of these. So just keep that in mind. But a lot of us have all of these types to an extent, but there is one that’s really driving and persistent beneath the surface.”
– Steph Barron Hall
“We have all nine types within us. And really the growth path, the ultimate growth path, is to be equally all nine types.”
– Steph Barron Hall
Meg: Okay, friends, I have Steph Baron Hall with me today of NineTypes Co, you might be more familiar with her from there. Welcome, Steph.
Steph: Thanks so much for having me.
Meg: Of course, we are so excited. I was going to say we’re so into the Enneagram. But I feel like everyone is, right?
Steph: That’s true. So, but I do know that there are still some people that are like, “Any oh, what?” So, I’m really excited to show people who aren’t familiar that are always just like, “What is this? How can I figure mine out?” But then also for the people who do know, but maybe want to learn some more to get some insight. So, we just have so much to talk about.
Meg: So before we dive into specifically the Enneagram, can you tell us about you and NineTypes Co and all of that good stuff?
Why She Created An Enneagram Focused Company
Steph: Sure. So, I am Steph and I love the Enneagram. I always say I talk to people about the Enneagram on the internet. That’s like, my little tagline because sometimes it’s a lot to explain. So I started Nine Types Co in 2017, I had a different side hustle, and I was like, “You know what? I want something new. And you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to create coffee mugs for each Enneagram type.” So that’s where I started out.
That’s actually where the name came from. Because I was like, I don’t want something that explicitly says Enneagram. So, I called it Nine Types Co, which is funny, because now people are always missing it. They just read it and think it says Ninety Pesco. So at this point, I have just embraced it. But I really started getting into the Enneagram maybe five years ago, maybe a little more than five years ago, and just was fascinated by it. So I thought, I’d love to work with teams with the Enneagram in organizations, and that propelled me to go back to school and get my masters.
So, I have a master’s degree in organizational communication and leadership, and I fuse that with my enneagram certifications in order to really serve teams and individuals both. So that’s a little bit about my background, and Nine Types Co pivoted from being about coffee mugs and selling a product to being more about service, and really education. I think that’s the thing that I really love about the Enneagram is that there’s so much to learn, and there’s so much depth, and so I just enjoy sharing that.
Meg: That’s awesome. And you have a book, correct?
Steph: Yep. It’s called The Enneagram In Love. It’s basically about interpersonal communication. So really, it’s focused on romantic partnerships, but any partnership could probably benefit from it.
Meg: That is so, so neat. It is mind-blowing once you have yours figured out, and then you start to learn about your partners, you’re just like, so that’s why you do that.
Steph: Yeah, exactly.
What Is The Enneagram?
Meg: Okay, so what is the Enneagram?
Steph: So, the Enneagram is a motivation-based personality framework oriented around nine core motivations or nine archetypes. It’s really about what’s underneath the surface. It’s not really about behavior. It’s not like, you’re a perfectionist, or you’re always late, or you’re on time or you’re organized, it’s not about those things. It’s really about why you do what you do. And so when I say Enneagram, I’m really saying “Ennea,” which means nine, and then gram, which means something written or drawn. I’m just referring to the symbol itself, and there’s a lot of symbolism within that.
So, that’s the basics of the Enneagram, and it’s really intended to be used for growth, spiritual growth or psychological growth or emotional health and self-awareness, things like that. So, one of the challenges about the Enneagram is that it focuses on some of the less desirable aspects of your personality type, right? So, it looks at your shadows and your blind spots and helps you to understand them and understand how to move forward from there.
Meg: Yes, I love that. It’s such a great tool. Sometimes I would get a little defensive and I am like, “This is boxing me in. I am not the stereotype of my number.” But when you see it as a tool and not as a box, I heard someone once say that it’s a color scale, you don’t have to end up there. It’s so helpful.
How To Explore Enneagrams Further
Meg: So before we dive into each type, how can someone listening who isn’t familiar with the Enneagram find out their number? Obviously, we’ll walk through each one. So, maybe they’ll get an idea of which sounds like them, but if they want to explore it further, what should they do?
Steph: So I don’t always love the online tests, mostly because they’re not always very accurate. A really easy way to approach it is to take a quiz or a test online, that’s fine, and then you can just look at your top two to three results, maybe four results, especially if some of them are tied, and then read a little bit further about those. So don’t think, “Oh, I took the test that says I’m a two and now I took the test, and it says I’m a nine. And so my type changed.” Your type doesn’t change.
Your test results can change based on a lot of different factors, what test you’re taking, and where you are in life, and how you’re doing that day, and all those things. So, tests are typically pretty good at measuring behavior, but they’re not as good at measuring motivation, like why you’re doing what you’re doing. So, that’s why I focus on that.
So, read a little bit more about the types that came up to the top for you, and you can go in your podcast app and type in Enneagram four, and probably find a bunch of people who have shared about their experiences as an Enneagram four, and see what it’s like to be inside their head. And that can be really, really helpful. There are also a lot of places to read online.
I also have included in my Instagram, a typing guide that will help you peruse the different types and understand how to think about them. But yeah, it’s a journey. It’s not straightforward. It’s not like you just punch in your birthdate and then it shows up for you. So, that’s a bit of a challenge about it, but I think it’s really worth it to figure it out.
Meg: It’s so fun, once you figure it out, I agree. I took the test and it told me I was a two. I feel like I know so many women who took the test and it said that they were a two. One day I’d love to unpack the psychology of that. Why so many of us test as a twos or something. I found personally that just reading about all of them was like, that’s not me or..
A Walk Through Of All Nine Enneagrams & How They Show Up In Stress
Meg: So I would love to walk through all nine Enneagram types you could share with us. Just general description and core motivation, like you said, and then since this is a very stressful time, maybe you could share how each type shows up in stress.
Steph: Sure. So again, I’ll just say it is complex. If you’re listening and you don’t know your type, you might resonate with a lot of these. So, just keep that in mind. But a lot of us have all of these to an extent, but there is one that’s really driving and persistent beneath the surface.
Steph: So for type one, they are really motivated by this need to be good. When I say good, I don’t mean to be good at things. I mean, to be a good person in a really deep and sincere way. That can vary depending on the person and what actually being a good person means. But they do have that desire. So they’re focused on being right and correct. They tend to be idealists who believe a perfect world could exist if everyone just did their part. But then they work really hard to make it come to fruition, and they fall short and get frustrated. So, that’s the type one.
They have a lot of energy to work toward excellence and to work toward raising the bar for themselves and for others. So, they can be really great forces for good in the world. Even though deep down sometimes they are afraid that they’re not as good as they think they are. So, that’s a really hard thing about type ones.
Steph: Type twos are motivated by a need to be loved, wanted, and needed, and a lot of the time, to subconsciously believe that they are most loved or lovable when they’re helping others. So, they will help others in whatever way they can. Sometimes it’s bringing somebody a casserole, something like that, but a lot of the time. And that’s a stereotype, right? I don’t know any millennials who bring a casserole. It’s such a stereotype. They often are more helpful in other ways. It might not always be tangible, it might be relationally helpful or encouraging or asking good questions or listening and giving of themselves for others.
They genuinely want that relationship and that connection. But they also worry that if they’re not that helpful, that other people won’t love them or like them, and that’s what they really want in the world. So, they’re very relational, they’re very connected, and they tend to be very warm. Not all twos want to be helpful all the time but, all twos really want that connection and relationship with other people.
They can be really fantastic friends and loved ones because they really do care genuinely about the people around them.
Steph: So, type threes are motivated by this need to be successful and admired and valued, and what’s beneath that for threes is a desire to be worthy. So, they look at their relationships, or they look at their society or their culture or their family values and they think, “Okay, what does success mean in this sphere?” Then they strive to meet it because they believe that they’ll be valued and worthy if they meet that.
So, a lot of the time threes are very productive and they’re very much about output, putting more out into the world. But deep down, they have this fear that they won’t meet their full potential, and that will be really devastating, or that they’ll fail, and that will be devastating as well. To combat that sense of not being enough, threes can always do more, and they can be very inspiring, very engaging, and charming because they do have a unique way of seeing other people and being able to understand other people’s desires or expectations. And they can meet them in a way that’s really relational and adaptable as well. So, it’s not all about work for threes, that can look a lot of different ways. But a lot of the time, that’s one of the ways that threes are pigeonholed.
Meg: Yeah. Wow, it’s so interesting. Is all of this routed –no matter what the type–in the need for love? Or does that depend on the type?
Steph: That depends on the type, but those first three types are. I have a friend actually, who makes up triads on Instagram. They have like a new triad. What I mean by triad is a grouping of three numbers. Okay. If I were to make up a triad, I would say that those first three types, they need to ask, “What is mine to do? How can I do more for myself and less for people?” because those first three types are very much about doing it all for everybody. They’re very responsible and they’re very dedicated to meeting other people’s needs. Sometimes each of those types can overlook their own real needs.
Meg: Wow, I never thought about that. But that is interesting. I never put those three together. Interesting. Okay, sorry to interrupt in the middle of that.
Steph: So type fours are motivated by this need to find their true heart and to be really deeply understood by themselves and by others around them. I know that sounds really woo-woo. But when I say it, I know a lot of fours really felt because there is a need for that deep introspection understanding. I’ve heard it said that for years, by the time they’re like 25, they’ve felt every possible emotion that anyone could ever feel because they’re acutely aware of it. It’s just the full spectrum of emotional experience.
Fours have gotten this message in their lives that they’re either too much or they’re not enough and they don’t want to experience that, they want to be understood. They want to be seen for who they are and they want this deep meaning and significance in their lives and really bringing in and highlighting the beauty in all things. But when they constantly miss that or constantly can see an opportunity for more, they end up feeling a little bit sad or bummed that things aren’t meeting that expectation of what could be the beauty and the idealism. But with that can also be really deeply empathetic and understanding of others. They bring a lot of creativity and an interest to the world because they just understand things in such a unique way.
Meg: So cool. This is very interesting. I feel like I’m in the minds of all these people that I know that their type in all of that.
Steph: So, type fives are motivated by this need to be competent and self-sufficient. Fives really believe that having enough knowledge is what not only will make them competent but will make them steady and make them feel secure. They constantly seek knowledge, they constantly seek more understanding to make themselves self-sufficient.
There are some types that go out and conquer the world to make themselves autonomous, but fives decrease their needs. So they decrease our expectations of others, they decrease their expectations of the world and sometimes can live –not stoic, I can’t think of the word –but just a life that doesn’t need much from the world other than knowledge, it doesn’t need much, right? Because they really don’t want to be intruded upon, they don’t want to experience the pain of somebody else invading their space and, and invading their life.
They can tend to self-isolate and really withdraw and have strong boundaries because of that. But also, fives can be very kind and generous, once they allow somebody to get to know them. They really open up and are very committed to having a strong relationship and a very loyal relationship with those around them.
Meg: Interesting, I have a question about fives. I feel like I have all the numbers, but I feel like fives are the type that I don’t know many of. Is that because they’re rare? Or, is it because they don’t really take the test or take the test or read into it, which are they on and then share about it?
Steph: I think it’s probably a little of both, I think it’s probably that. There are fewer fives, I think there are also a lot of fives. They might not get into the Enneagram, that’s common, but they get into it in such a way that they’re not going out and talking about it. It’s more like they’re reading all the books, and they’re really researching. They’re finding the best expert they can and dissecting it from that perspective. So, it’s much more academic in some ways, or it could be a lot more spiritual, where they’re really going the mystic route with it. But I think that’s the big difference. I think in general fives just don’t tend to self-disclose as much unless they’re super close with people. So, that’s common as well.
Steph: So, type sixes are motivated by this need to be secure and in community. They really long for safety. Sometimes we think, “Oh six is always knowing where the fire extinguishers are,” which might be true, there are sixes who are like that, but a lot of the time, sixes are really thinking about threats and their environment. That typically means more so about financial threats or plans that are happening and making sure that they can troubleshoot them.
So, it’s not that they’re always afraid or that they’re always anxious, it’s just that they’re very aware of what’s going on around them and how they can mitigate anything negative that might happen so that they can feel calm and feel safe from that. They do get the reputation for being a little bit overly anxious, but they’re also really great at troubleshooting and figuring out what could happen and then making sure that it doesn’t. They’re also really great at building friendships and connections. They really long for a deep community with other people and so they want connection with other people. They want to have friendships and alliances that make them feel supported and safe. That’s where they can also reciprocate that as well. They’re very practically minded and responsible and beautiful people.
Meg: Nice. I’m a six. I always hate the six stereotype that they’re always scared or prepared.
Steph: You’re aware, you’re alert. That actually is the thing with sixes, too. So, this is in the weeds, but there’s a thing called subtypes, which basically is that within each type, there are three subtypes, and they’re pretty distinct.
With six, in particular, they’re very distinct. So, the different subtypes show up very differently. It’s very difficult to describe type six without describing the subtypes. That’s why you end up with those generalizations like, “Oh, they’re just anxious.” It’s very difficult to describe all sixes with one. The same thing is true with fours, actually. With 1:1 description it’s very difficult to describe all of them.
Meg: Interesting, that makes sense because there’s definitely sixes that I’m like, “I don’t relate to you at all.” But, I feel like my seven wing is so strong and if someone has a five wing, but I haven’t looked into the subtype. So maybe that would make more sense. Since I brought up wings and didn’t explain it, do you mind explaining wings for people that are like what?
What Enneagram Wings Are
Steph: Sure. You probably have seen wings and not known what that meant. You might see a little six with a small “w” in the center, and then seven. So that signifies six, wing seven. So, your wing type is a type adjacent to your core type that modifies your behavior. So, it dictates how your core type is lived out.
So your core type, like I’ve said, is about core motivation. What is your why, what’s underneath? It’s that persistent driving force. Your wings bring balance. I’ve heard it said that the core type is the tension between the two types on either side. As you have been listening to this, you might have been noticing that like, “Wow, it seems like the types that are next to each other are super opposite,” which is true a lot of the time.
So, they do bring balance. They mitigate some of the strength of the types, in a sense. So my approach to wings is that one, I don’t think they matter a ton. I think subtypes typically matter more, but some people find ways to be super helpful. You can have one strong wing. So, you might really resonate with the type seven if you’re six, or you could have both. So, you might sometimes resonate strongly with seven and sometimes it’s five or neither wing. So, it can be any of the above.
But it does sometimes explain why the types are a little bit different. Especially within the type. I think subtypes explain that in more detail, but wings can also be helpful. Then how do you find your wing is basically you just look at the types on either side of you. So, it’s not like you look at your test, and then your top result is their core type, and your second result is your wing type. That’s not how it works. People always do that and then they come up with I’m a three wing eight. And I’m like, “Yeah, that’s not actually possible.”
Steph: Type sevens are motivated by this need to be free, to explore every possibility and opportunity. They sometimes get the reputation for being really fun and enthusiastic and out there and off the wall because they’re just constantly in brainstorming mode. They are very cerebral, which is something that people often miss about sevens. We think of fives as the most cerebral types, and then sixes and then sevens, but actually sevens are very cerebral as well. They just express it differently.
They go through life just wanting to sample everything. They want to try everything possible. Sometimes they don’t even realize that they’re exhausting themselves. They’re burning themselves out by trying to sample every possible thing along the way. So, sevens have this desire to run into the future so that they can taste more of the world.
Some of the challenges or difficulties of the present, won’t loom as large in their life. Sevens going through something a bit challenging in life or a bit traumatic, might actually seem a lot more grounded because they have learned a little bit more about how to incorporate the full sense of the emotional spectrum. But in general, sevens are visionaries, and they’re creative and they can be very expressive. They’re not always outgoing, but they can be. They’re a lot of fun to be around. They’re always making plans for the next adventure. So, that’s really fun.
Meg: Yes, I feel like everyone knows sevens.
Steph: Right? Type eights are motivated by this need to be against. And when I say that, I don’t mean that they’re just contrary and for contrarian’s sake. I mean, that they’re really pushing back on what is accepted as true in order to find what’s not being said. So, they’re always looking at how can they look at something differently and push back on social norms and things like that.
But eights also have this strong desire for self-protection. So, they tend to have a really tough outer exterior until you really get to know them because they don’t want anyone to betray them, or they don’t want anyone to control them. So, they really moderate who gets in behind the barrier.
They tend to be really comfortable. They find conflict to be just a fun conversation. People sometimes get thrown off by that because they’re like, “What is happening here? Why are you fighting?” and they’re like, “Oh, I’m just having fun. I’m just playing devil’s advocate. I’m taking the other side of the argument.” They can really get a reputation for being bossy, or controlling or domineering, or brash.
I think that’s unfortunate because once you get to know them, they’re not that way. They tend to be soft and care about others. But they just don’t tend to care. If you make a quick assumption about them, they don’t feel the need to change your mind. Whereas, for example, types two or three, would really dedicate themselves to saying like, “I’m not that way.”
Eights are like, “Well if you’re going to assume that I’m a jerk, then I’m just gonna move on.” They’re really dynamic and they’re very courageous and daring. I’m very partial to eight because they get such a bad rep.
Meg: Yes, I was gonna say, I feel like the eights I know are not like these stereotypes.
Steph: The whole enjoying debates, some people take that as they like to fight. They’re just raging. But they are very grounded in who they are. They’re grounded in general. People expect to be able to push them and they’ll move. And when they don’t, people are like, “Whoa you’re not like that. I didn’t expect that.” You know? So, I think it’s especially eight women who are really misunderstood and that can be a real challenge.
Steph: So finally, we have type nines who are motivated by this need to be at peace internally and externally. Part of the theory of the Enneagram, if you see the symbol, it’s that type nine is at the top. So, they can look down on all the other numbers. Not in a superiority way, but in a way of being able to feel experientially what it’s like to be each of the other types. They are like, “Oh yes, I’m this type. Oh, yes, I’m this type.” They can imagine themselves as each of the types. They really feel it strongly.
But they really want unity and harmony. So, a lot of the time they look for unity with other people through peace or through understanding them, or through mediating. If you’re looking for agreement, they really don’t want to be the cause of discord or the cause of disconnection either. Sometimes they don’t speak up as much about their real desires and their real strengths or their real thoughts, because they want to make sure that everyone is heard. They want to be fair, and they want to really care for other people, and they want to be comfortable. Which, for nines, does not mean conflict. It means that they make themselves smaller sometimes so that there’s no disconnection.
It’s interesting because nines, again, are next to eights. They’re next to ones. But they’re so different from those two types. In the sense that they do really want everyone else to have space. So, they’re so used to being a Wallflower. They float into the background, but they can be really good at seeing who else is floating into the background and bringing that person to the forefront because they really do notice people and they’re very warm and connective in general.
Meg: Yeah. Love that. My mom’s a nine. So, I have a star for nines and for listeners who are Wihimsy and Wellness customers, Haylee, our founder, is a nine. For a while she was like, I don’t know if I’m a seven or a nine. I think she knew in her core that she was a nine, but people kept telling her that she was a seven. She’s like, “Guys, I’m a nine.” Are nine sometimes mistyped as sevens? Or maybe they appear as sevens?
How To Group Enneagrams
Steph: Well, a couple of things. So, there are all these different ways of looking at the Enneagram. One of the ways, one of the groupings that we put people into is about how they engage with conflict, and how they relate with others.
One of those groupings is called positive outlook. So types, two, seven, and nine, all of them basically want to look on the bright side of things. They want to be optimistic, they want to be positive, they really care about that. Sevens want other people to be happy so that they can feel happy, and so they have that way about them. Sevens, they don’t want to be weighed down by other people’s negative emotion. So, that’s part of the reason why they look on the bright side.
I know that makes sevens sound bad, but it’s not bad. It’s a thing that everyone has, things that they do. Nines want other people to be happy so that everyone is at peace, and everyone is calm and connected. That’s part of it, too.
The subtypes I mentioned earlier, a specific subtype of type nine, clearly mistypes are sevens, because generally, nines are thought to be like, “Oh, they just need a nap.” But a lot of nines actually aren’t that way. Specifically, the social subtype of type nine, is that they’re very active and driven, and they can be really social and chatty. They are constantly doing more, and they have four or five different jobs all the time. They’re seeking belonging and participating in things and that can seem very sevenish. So, I actually know a few social nine who bridge that gap.
Meg: So interesting. Okay, so do we want to dive into how each type shows up in stress?
How Each Enneagram Type Shows Up In Stress
Steph: Sure. Okay. So, there are some ways of looking at the enneagram with stress where there’s a specific pattern of stress and growth. What I’m talking about today is not using that model.
On my Instagram, I will just ask people, “What do you think about?” or “How do you experience stress? What is that like for you?” I love that because I love learning from people. I love learning straight from one how they experience it, instead of it just being imagined, from my perspective, which I probably could imagine a lot of it by now because I’ve been doing this for years. I just think it’s so much more helpful this way.
Enneagram Type One & Stress
Steph: Common stress responses for type ones are that they’ll often hold even more tightly to their idea of what’s right. So, they can be very rigid and black and white. They’ll hold even more tightly to that. When that doesn’t really work, they further internalize that frustration that they feel and become really self-critical. General ones can be very self-critical but in stress, they can be even more so.
Enneagram Type Two & Stress
Steph: So type twos, when they’re stressed, they work even harder to make themselves indispensable to people around them. They really want to make sure that they’re not going to get forgotten or replaced in some sense because that would threaten their love ability or their likability. So, they really work harder to make themselves indispensable. Often, that’s very subconscious. Then when that doesn’t work, they start to realize their needs have not been met for ages, right? They’re like, “I’ve been spending so much time working for everyone else, that I haven’t done anything for myself.” So, they can sometimes get really demanding about getting their needs met from others around them.
Meg: So, is there a conscious feeling of resentment sometimes? Or is it subconscious? They don’t even really know that it’s even there.
Steph: I think it’s typically conscious. I think sometimes it can be subconscious. But typically, they know.
Enneagram Type Three & Stress
Steph: So type threes, when they’re stressed, they tend to make themselves more busy and start new projects all the time. So, I’m a type three. At the very beginning of the pandemic, I had been working. I had contracts out for corporate clients. I had this other contract that I was working on that was doing social media manager and all this different stuff. Everything dried up. Overnight all of my income. And so I was like, “Oh my gosh.”
So within two weeks, I built a brand new course and posted it on my website, and did a webinar to drum up business for it. It was like, “Okay, I have to do this.” I just did it. I started this new thing. But then what happens for threes often is they’ll do that and then when that doesn’t work, they just become listless and unmotivated.
They’re just like, “Nothing is happening. Nothing works.” They just don’t even feel like doing anything, which is very foreign for threes, though. Sometimes it’s their body saying like, “Hey, you need to take a break.”
Meg: Interesting. Is it common for threes and eights to be mistyped?
Steph: It is. The big difference is that threes are more so about what other people think of them. I’m not always conscious. Sometimes they don’t realize that they’re performing. But they’re definitely focused on that. Eights are not, that’s not a big top-of-mind thing. Eights really have no problem when other people don’t like them. They really have no problem when other people push back on them or anything. They also don’t really have a strong need for validation, which is really different from threes. Threes tend to be a little bit more peacekeeping than eights. They don’t really want to ruffle feathers, even though they both tend to be really bold and dynamic. Threes tend to be a little less. They’re a little bit more political, a little bit more diplomatic and coy about things. Which, is just not something that eights are really focused on.
Enneagram Type Four & Stress
Steph: So for type fours, when they’re stressed, they can really get into daydreaming. They have this imagined world in their mind of what could be and they just start daydreaming about it. And again, it’s just something that they slip into. It can be really hard for us because sometimes the daydream isn’t really possible, and that causes a lot of sadness and melancholy and comparison for them. So, that’s really tough.
After the daydreaming phase, sometimes they also might get really vindictive toward others who they’ve been comparing themselves to and haven’t been meeting it so they want to make other people feel as bad as they feel sometimes. Again, often that subconscious. They don’t realize that they’re doing it, but they really want somebody to see and feel their suffering. When people don’t, it can be really tough.
Meg: Is that rude? Wanting to be understood, or what do you think that’s like?
Steph: Yeah. I wouldn’t say fours are particularly angry people. But at times they can get really angry because they’re like, “Nobody understands me. And I want to be understood and I want to feel mirrored.” When they don’t that can make them really angry.
I think that sometimes fours don’t understand themselves. To an extent, they’re like, “I don’t know why I can’t stop feeling all these things.” That’s something I’ve heard said but I wouldn’t say that. I think fours are very when you say, “Oh, this is your blind spot.” that they’re like, “Yeah, I know.”
They live so much in our world that they very much understand what’s going on. But they don’t always know how to step out of that pattern more or a blind spot to us is that they forget that they actually have the power to change the story. They have the power to change the narrative for themselves. Even if they can’t change the situation, sometimes they can bring perspective to how they feel about the situation. But that can just be really tough. Do I feel for them? Yeah.
Enneagram Type Five & Stress
Steph: When fives are stressed, we talked a little bit earlier about how they tend to withdraw and they tend to isolate even further because they don’t want their energy to be depleted. When they’re stressed, they just shut down and withdraw. They also have a tendency to rely solely on logic.
So, they separate themselves from any feelings that they might have and try to sort things through using only logic, which can help at times. Some of us are like, I wish I could do that. But also, it doesn’t really get them that far because life is emotional. As humans, we are emotional beings so that can be tough for fives.
Meg: Yeah, no, that’s so interesting that fives go to withdrawing and logic with being sandwiched in between the four and the six. So, I’m interested to get some real-time feedback. What do you think about type sixes, they’re motivated or not motivated?
Enneagram Type Six & Stress
Steph: For type six, the common stress response is that they tend to double down and plan every little thing to calm themselves. They feel extra responsible for every detail. It becomes a huge concern for them. When that isn’t met, they can feel a little bit lost or get a little suspicious of other people around them, like, “Everyone is out to get me the world is out to get me.”
Meg: I definitely, I do relate to that being suspicious of people. I’ll just start to look for like, how you are against me.
For sure, but I will say that there’s nothing about a five that I relate to, except for withdrawing when stressed. Even if I just have so, so much on my to-do list, this could be I guess, five or seven, I just will not do any. Because it’s overwhelmed way too much. So, I’m just going to either withdraw and lay in bed or withdraw and go out and do something fun and pretend that I don’t have so much to do.
If someone really goes to that being skeptical and thinking that someone’s against them, how can we reset? Because that’s not only damaging for ourselves as a six, but also their relationship to the other person.
Steph: Yeah, a lot of the time that really comes from this really strong desire, a really strong need to figure it all out. You need to be able to see what threats are gonna come and then to figure them out beforehand. So, one of the ways to just step out of that can be just to take a break. Not in a way that’s like, withdrawing, but to take a really intentional break of being like, “I’m going to give myself some time to do this.” And then make some decisions.
That can be really, really helpful of saying, “Okay, I’m going to make a decision on these three things today, and it’s going to be done, and I’m not going to revisit it, it’s gonna be fine. I know that I’m prepared, I know that I know all the information that I need.” And so just having a little bit more clarity about that because I really do think that looking for who’s out to get you has to do with wanting to figure it out and feel safe. So, just reminding yourself that you are safe, as you are already is helpful.
Meg: Yeah, that’s so good. I do feel like I relate to fours. So, it was funny that you said that people about impossible wings. When I first read the enneagram, I’m like, “Oh, I’m a six wing four.” And then I realized, that’s not possible.
But where I do relate to four is just what you were saying, I like to be validated in my pain, the other person has to understand it. So like, I can’t just know. If someone has passed away, it hurts. You have to understand how bad it hurts otherwise, I don’t know what. I relate to a four in that piece. I have to get them to understand the pain. Is that common with sixes or fours?
Steph: I was mentioning the triadic grouping earlier of the positive outlook. The four, six, and eight are called emotional reactivity. They want to have the real emotion out there. They just want everything to be said and to be out in the open. They tend to push back on things and question things a lot.
I will also say that four and six is a pretty common mistype for some, but one of the painful experiences a lot of sixes have is that their experiences are invalidated. Their anxieties and their fears and their worries are constantly invalidated. So, when they’re in a time when they really need somebody to hear them and understand their experience, it can be really painful when somebody doesn’t because they’re so used to it. They’re so used to hearing like, “Oh, your worries are just silly. You’re just being anxious. You’re just being whatever.” So, it really gets exacerbated in stress.
Meg: Okay, can you share, since we shared the other two, triads, so what are those called?
Steph: I call it the conflict triads. There’s a more technical name for them. But sometimes the technical names are really confusing.
So, the other one is called competency. And it’s one, three, and five. It’s really this focus on if I separate myself from my feelings, if I stay logical, if I focus, then I can figure this out. So, they’re looking at life like a puzzle a lot of the time and trying to problem solve. Especially when they’re in conflict with somebody else, but also just in general. They really separate themselves from being swayed by their emotional experiences, which is unfortunate, because a lot of the time our emotions have something really valuable to tell us. But we forget about that, and so we just think, “Oh I’m just going to figure this out and I’m going to rely solely on my mind.” The flip side is that I could use a little bit more logic when I get stressed.
Meg: So, would that be similar for four, six and, eight? Do they go more emotional?
Steph: Not so much with eighths. But the thing with eights is that they just the thing that four sixes and eights typically need to question, do I need to say this thing right now? So, all three of those types tend to say the thing. Without thinking, they’re just like, well, “I’m just gonna say it, I’m gonna put it out there.” Because it’s very important for all three of those types to be very authentic and very honest, for different reasons. I think four is authenticity is top of mind, to being true to themselves, and then for sixes and eights, authenticity is a lot more about being honest and being direct. Because that’s how they can gauge if they can trust people or not.Interesting. There’s so much theory to the Enneagram. We could literally do this for five hours, but we’re not going to.
Meg: I keep going down little rabbit holes. There’s so many questions. Trying to keep it non-squirrelly brain.
Enneagram Type Seven & Stress
Steph: So, when sevens get stressed, their first reaction is typically to be like, “Oh, it’s not so bad.” They just reframe it. “Oh, it’s actually better that it happened this way. Because blah, blah, blah.” So, they go down that path. They can sometimes really busy themselves to avoid feeling anxious or fearful. That might be like learning a new hobby, or might be going on a trip, or might be starting a new project. Or, it could be really retreating inside themselves and maybe going and reading a book, but they just do something that will engage their mind so that they don’t have to feel the fear or the stress or the anxiety that might come about otherwise.
Enneagram Type Eight & Stress
So, type eights when they’re stressed, they tend to protect themselves and others, like their close people even more fiercely. So, they have even stronger boundaries and stronger areas and will go out and fight people if they need to protect. When they’re stressed, they’re like, “Okay, we are being threatened and we are going to create these barriers.” They tend to withdraw so that nobody can control them. That’s a really important thing for an eight, they do not want anyone to be controlling them ever. So, they really push back against that and that gets a really visceral response from mates. So, withdrawing in that sense means like, “I’m not going to say anything that could later be used against me. I’m just going to keep to myself so that nobody can see this vulnerability of stress and come in.” Even sometimes eights withdraw because they don’t want to admit they see stress, like being stressed experiencing stress as weakness. So, they don’t want to admit it.
Enneagram Type Nine & Stress
Steph: So, nines do something a little similar to seven, which is that they just ignore it. They ignore the stress, they find a silver lining. Then they pay close attention and get hyper-focus on their own comfort. So, they might create a comfy space in their home, might create a comfy space in their mind where they can just retreat to when they’re stressed. You’ll be in the room with the nine who’s stressed out and it’s like they’re there, but they’re not there if you know what I mean. They just go into their brain. They might not text their friends back, they might just be like moving toward comfort and turning their brain off to the stress, which is pretty common for nines.
Meg: It’s so helpful to not only understand how you react to stress your own number but then also people that you’re in a relationship with. Whether it’s friends or your partner or whatever because certain things will frustrate you. You suddenly have compassion. I definitely have experienced that with the enneagram. The more I learned about my loved ones types, the more compassion I have for things that used to really annoy me or frustrate me.
I can hold space for that because that’s very similar to how I do this or whatever. So, it’s such a growth tool. I know sometimes people will say, “Oh, I change types.” I know you said we don’t change type. So, at what age do you think our type comes up?
What Age Does Your Enneagram Begin?
Steph: Yeah, so the teaching tradition that I have been taught in is that you are born with your type. So, it’s confirmation bias. Anyone who’s read the enneagram has probably heard about childhood wounds.
I think it’s an important distinction that childhood wounds are not like, your parents were like, “I’m gonna do the same to you to make you a certain personality.” It’s more just the way that we perceive the world. So you’re born with a type, and then the things that happen in childhood often just confirm it in the sense that you perceive it in a specific way and a different type would perceive it in a different way. You’ll even hear people whose kid is an eight. And they’re like, “They came out of the womb an eight.” I think you even hear that from parents a lot of the time to where they’re like, “Oh, I could tell this baby’s personality was different from this baby, like when they were in utero.” That’s the perspective and then we have things that we go through in life, there are so many facets to our personality, this is just one of them. I think it’s really important but it’s not the only one.
Why All Nine Types Are Within Us
Steph: So for example, for me, there are a lot of things about me that really align with type nine. There are a lot of things about me that really aligned with type seven. Those are not wing types for me. So, those are just types that I really strongly, strongly resonate with and experienced them in a sense. But I’m a type three and I know that.
We have all nine types within us, and really the growth path, the ultimate growth path, is to be equally all nine types. That doesn’t mean you shift types, it means you are very balanced. Your personality isn’t driving you. It’s very mystical and interesting to explain.
Meg: That’s so neat. I have a baby. And I’m always like, “I wonder what type we’re making him?” Because they all have a wound. I was thinking about it, “Oh, great. Which wound am I giving him?” So, it’s reassuring that we’re not.
Steph: I hear that all the time and it’s just so hard for parents to hear that because you don’t want to do that. I think most parents do their very best and are well-intentioned. Some of us turn out with trauma, and some of us don’t. But we all have things in life and ways that we understood the world that impacts us later on. So, with each type that has this wounding childhood message, sometimes people will see that for their type.
Meg: And for listeners that are like, “What is that? You can?” It’s pretty easy to just go like, “Oh, perfect.” We can put in the show notes. So, I think sometimes people are like, “Well, my parents didn’t say that to me. I had great parents. I had a great chat.” So that can’t be but like, I just wanted you to reiterate that your parents don’t have to necessarily say that message to correct.
Steph: Yeah. It’s typically what you absorbed from your environment and from the world around you. For example, for type three, you’re not allowed to have your own identity. This is the message that was absorbed. Nobody is walking around saying you can’t have your own identity. But that is the message absorbed from the world and from people around you and everything. A different kid in the same scenario would have a different message that they absorbed.
Meg: There’s also a healing message. So, we’ll put that in the show notes along with your typing guide so that people feel like all of them, which is so common. So, you can read through the typing guide and figure it out. Her Instagram is so helpful. It’s a wormhole. I’m always just scrolling and scrolling. So, but okay, before we hop off, are you ready for rapid-fire?
Meg: Okay. What is your guilty or late night? Guilty pleasure snack?
Steph: I love cookies and I love baking cookies. During the pandemic, I started making tahini, dark chocolate chip cookies. It’s a recipe from the New York Times and they’re so freaking good. They’re the best. So, I always have the cookie dough in my freezer and just pop a couple out of the freezer and put them into the oven. I have fresh baked cookies.
Meg: That is genius.
Steph: My husband is a lucky man.
Meg: Yeah, really.
Steph: I’m also very lucky to eat my own cookies.
Meg: I know I always bake cookies and I’m like, it makes you look so nice, but it’s like this is for me. This is very self-serving. Who is your entrepreneurial girl crush?
Steph: I think I have two. So, one is Rachel Rodgers, who has a new book coming out called “We Should All Be Millionaires.” I’m really excited to read that and I love her podcasts. It’s really great. I just love it. She’s a type eight and I love her energy and just the way that she does her business and her life. It’s inspiring for me. I want more of that type eight.
My other is Amy Porterfield. I really like her podcast as well. I just appreciate the way that she goes about doing her business because she’s so freaking helpful. I love that. People always say I give up too much information for free and I feel the same about Amy Porterfield. That’s why she’s my crush.
Meg: I love that. I just heard an amazing episode on her podcast with Jam Gamble. So good. That woman runs “Slay the mic” and it was a really good episode. Okay, oil blends that you love?
Steph: I did a blend that was lavender, citrus fresh, and geranium.
Meg: Oh, yeah, that would be good.
Steph: Yeah, I had a friend who had that going at her house when I was there. And I was like, “That scent!” I used to use oils more. I would put way too many drops in and then it would be way too strong and it would smell terrible. So then once I was like, “Oh, I just put one drop of…” and then I liked it. I have a ton of oils that are like Vetiver and Palo Santo, and I like those woody oils. I really like those.
Meg: So good. We have a Whimsy and Wellness Enneagram collection. You get your core roller bottle for your type. Then you also get the number that you go to and stress and growth, which we then get to talk about today. But it’s super easy to find. Lastly, where can people find you and learn along with you and all of that fun stuff?
Steph: You can head to my website, which is NineTypes.co. That’s the hub where you’ll find everything. You can go to my blog, you can click on “find your type” and get my typing resources you can take my course which is called “From Frustrated To Flourishing” and it’s about using a different look at the Enneagram to actually apply some growth knowledge. And then you can also go to my Instagram which is @ninetypesco.
Meg: I love your Instagram so much. It’s amazing. I’ve saved so many Nine Types Co posts, I just have a whole Enneagram file. Well, thank you so much. I feel like I’ve learned so much. I hope that listeners have learned a lot about the enneagram. Just really appreciate you coming on.
Steph: Of course, thanks so much for having me.