A Beginner’s Guide to Enneagram Types

The Enneagram is a personality typing system that goes beyond the Myers-Briggs type indicator. There are nine different Enneagram types, each representing a particular worldview and way of thinking.

The Origins of Enneagram Types

Although there is some dispute as to the origins of the Enneagram, its modern iteration most likely originated with a Bolivian spiritual teacher named Oscar Ichazo in the 1950s. Additionally, modern Enneagram theories are also influenced by the Chilean psychiatrist, Claudio Naranjo, who borrowed extensively from the teachings of George Gurdijeff.

However, the fundamentals of Enneagrams go back even further. Researchers have claimed similar ideas can be traced back to a 4th century, Christian mystic named Evagrius Ponticus. Others have claimed roots dating back as far as 4,500 years ago. The nine Enneagram types have also been connected with Jewish Kabbalah and Sufism (mystic Islam).

What are Enneagram Types?

Enneagram types attempt to offer key insights into deep motivations and drivers of our personality. They examine fears, motivations, and our lived emotional experiences.

It’s based on the Enneagram figure composed of three parts: a circle, an inner triangle, and an irregular hexagon.

Enneagram type diagram
Enneagram Figure 1.1

The circle represents the wholeness and unity of life. The inner triangle symbolizes the “law of three” as represeted by the numbers 3-6-9, while the irregular hexagons represent the “law of seven” as because 1-4-2-8-5-7-1 is the repeating decimal created by dividing one by seven in base 10 arithmetic. The latter two shapes represent the ways in which we are divided.

Once you identify your Enneagram type, the numbers on either side of your number are called your Enneagram wings. These wings represent related personality traits and styles that we can work towards in order to develop our true selves.

How to Find Your Enneagram Type

There’s no easy answer to this question. Most people will take a quiz to start. However, you are unlikely to fit neatly into one category or another. Once you get your results, take a look at the Enneagram types you rank highest for and examine their core motivations.

Which one do you identify with the most? (You do need to choose one). Next, you’ll want to take a look at the nine core fears and choose the one you identify with most strongly. This should help you confirm or narrow down your precise Enneagram type.

If you’re still unsure, do some more research. Read up on the nuances of each of the 9 Enneagram types and determine which resonates most with your core motivations. As you choose, remember to focus on what motivates you, and not your actual behavior. This will help focus your decision-making.

Enneagram TypeCore Fears
Type 1Corruptness, Imbalance, Being Bad
Type 2Being Unloved
Type 3Worthlessness
Type 4Have No Identity or Significance
Type 5Helplessness, Incapability, Incompetence
Type 6Being Without Support or Guidance
Type 7Being Unfulfilled, Trapped, Deprived
Type 8Being Controlled, Harmed, Violated
Type 9Loss, Fragmentation, Separation
Core Fears of the 9 Enneagram Types

Enneagram Quizzes

There are many quizzes available to help you discover your Enneagram type. Here are a few that come highly recommended:

The 9 Enneagram Types

Each of the nine Enneagram types is further divided into three sub-types: Heart Types, Mind Types, and Body Types.

  • Heart Types: rely on emotional intelligence to make sense of the whorld
  • Head Types: rely on intellectual intelligence to navigate the world
  • Body Types: rely on instinctual intelligence (gut instincts) to respond to the world

Let’s briefly examine each type, its sub-type, core fears, and motivations.

The Enneagram chart with an explanation of how to read it
Enneagram Types Figure 1.2

Enneagram Type 1: The Idealist/Reformer

Body Type

Type One Enneagrams are perfectionists at their core. They are sticklers for rules and doing things correctly. It’s no surprise that they abhor making mistakes and become easily frustrated when things (and people) fail to meet their high expectations.

Type 1 Core Fears:

  • Corruptness
  • Being “bad”
  • Imbalance
  • Imperfection

Type 1 Core Motivations:

  • To be good and honorable
  • Integrity
  • Balance

Enneagram Type 2: The Giver/Helper

Heart Type

Type Twos are friendly, generous people. They have an innate desire to be loved and to belong. At their core, Type Twos are altruistic, but they have a tendency to put others before themselves and are susceptible to people-pleasing.

Type 2 Core Fears:

  • Being alone,
  • Feeling unloved
  • Being Unwanted

Type 2 Core Motivations:

  • To be loved and appreciated

Enneagram Type 3: The Achiever

Heart Type

Type Threes are highly competitive and seek to be the best at whatever they do. They are self-assured, charming, energetic, and motivated. Their drive makes them uniquely positioned for success. However, this drive can also be their downfall. Threes run the risk of caring what others think and becoming workaholics, which can negatively impact other areas of their life.

Type 3 Core Fears:

  • Failure
  • Worthlessness

Type 3 Core Motivations:

  • To feel valuable
  • Attention
  • Admiration

Enneagram Type 4: The Individualist

Heart Type

Enneagram Type Fours pride themselves on being special and unique. They tend to be self-aware and introspective. Fours value individuality and authentic expression, which is why they are often creative types. Sometimes their intense connection to their inner world can lead to feelings of self-pity and melancholy. They run the risk of isolating themselves or feeling misunderstood.

Type 4 Core Fears:

  • Having no real identity
  • Insignificance

Type 4 Core Motivation:

  • Self-expression
  • Uniqueness

Enneagram Type 5: The Investigator

Head Type

Enneagram Type Fives are insightful, curious, and fiercely independent. They are driven to understand things and have a thirst for knowledge. Much like INTJs, Fives value privacy and have a tendency to pull back from the world. They are cerebral and have a robust inner life, which translates to a lot of alone time. At their best, Type Fives are visionaries and pioneers. Conversely, they can become isolated and come across as arrogant.

Type 5 Core Fears:

  • Becoming overwhelmed by people and relationships
  • Feeling useless and incapable
  • Being invaded
  • Appearing incompetent

Type 5 Core Motivations

  • Mastery
  • Understanding
  • Competence

Enneagram Type 6: The Loyal Skeptic

Head Type

Type Sixes have a strong desire for security, safety, and preparedness. They value loyalty and trust, which enables them to be responsible at all times. Sixes like to avoid risk and graviatate towards trustworthy authority figures. They are excellent problem-solvers and troubleshooters with a propensity for remaining on high alert. When taken to an extreme, however, Sixes can become high-strung, paranoid, and overly skeptical of unfamiliar people and institutions.

Type 6 Core Fears:

  • Being unprepared
  • Feeling insecure
  • Lacking support or guidance

Type 6 Core Motivations:

  • To feel secure and supported
  • Safety
  • Loyalty
  • Trust

Enneagram Type 7: The Enthusiastic Visionary

Heart Type

Enneagram Sevens have a lust for life. They are extroverted and spontaneous individuals who aim to life live to its fullest. Sevens value freedom. They are adventure seekers who are not afraid to experience new things and latch onto opportunities as they come. Having fun is central to Sevens’ way of life. They are optimistic, flexible, and future-oriented. However, Sevens run the risk of going overboard. They can be impulsive and exhausting to themselves and those around them. Sevens need to be mindful of becoming impatient with people who don’t share their same energy and to allow themselves space to slow down.

Type 7 Core Fears:

  • Boredom
  • Feeling trapped
  • Deprivation
  • Missing out

Type 7 Core Motivations:

  • To be happy and content
  • Fun

Enneagram Type 8: The Challenger

Body Type

Eights are known for their strong, assertive natures. They are self-confident and like to present themselves as powerful. This makes many Type Eights intimidating. They value a sense of control and are good protectors. Eights value strength. and standing up for what they believe in. At their best, they are decisive leaders. However, they can become argumentative and are inclined towards bad tempers and outbursts.

Type 8 Core Fears:

  • Appearing weak
  • Feeling controlled or violated
  • Vulnerability

Type 8 Core Motivations:

  • Influence
  • Power
  • Independence
  • Self-sufficiency

Enneagram Type 9: The Peacemaker

Body Type

The final Enneagram type are the Nines. Nines desire peace above all else – peace within themselves and the world around them. They abhor conflict and will avoid it at all costs. Nines are generally easy going, agreeable, and calm in demeanor. They’re supportive nature makes them great at bringing people together. However, their aversion to conflict can make them overly passive. Interestingly, Nines are also quite stubborn. They do not like to be controlled, which can manifest in procrastination and other forms of passive resistance.

Type 9 Core Fears:

  • Confrontation
  • Fragmentation
  • Loss
  • Separation
  • Neediness

Type 9 Core Motivations:

  • Wholeness
  • Peace of mind
  • Inner stability

Final Thoughts on Enneagram Types

Enneagram types are an interesting way to examine our inner worlds and understand ourselves better. They are an excellent tool for self-knowledge and growth. Understanding your core fears and motivations can help you become a more effective leader, partner, friend, and colleague. It can also help you form healthier relationships with people who operate differently than you.

If you’re interested in exploring Enneagram types further, go ahead and take a quiz to see where you land. You might suprirse yourself!

The 9 Enneagram Types: Explained with a picture of the Enneagram figure
The 9 Enneagram Types