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Each Enneagram Type’s Biggest Fear and What to Do About It

Each Enneagram Type’s Biggest Fear and What to Do About It

I don’t like to be scared. Being frightened isn’t my thing, but living a life of fear? Well, I keep signing up for that.

The truth is I worry a lot and live with a chronic case of low-grade anxiety. It wasn’t until I discovered the Enneagram, an ancient personality typing system designed to help people understand who they are and what makes them tick, that I understood what I feared deep in my core, how it drove my behavior and what spiritual disciplines could help me shed my worry.

If you have worries and fears in your life, find out your Enneagram type first then read this post. You’ll learn what you fear, why you fear it, how worry manifests itself in your everyday life and God-centered habits for shedding that fear.

Please know I’m not an Enneagram expert. What I present to you is based on my own research from books like The Road Back to You + The Sacred Enneagram, websites like The Enneagram Institute and Your Enneagram Coach, feedback from fellow worriers and peer review from people of each type.

Type 1: The Improver

What Type 1s Fear: Your underlying fear is imperfection. You fear being accused, misinterpreted, corrected, blamed and not meeting expectations. It worries you if your physical space is messy, if expectations are unclear and if there’s a lack of quality in any area. Deep down, you want to be good and balanced.

Why You Fear: Somewhere along the way you picked up the message that you must be better than you are. You’re an idealist at heart so you believe that anything that’s flawed can and should be fixed, including you.

How Your Fear Manifests Itself: More than any other type, your inner critic won’t be quiet. You may become angry with yourself, others or an imperfect situation. Type 1s may grow resentful and exhausted because you’re trying to fix things and others don’t recognize or appreciate what you’re doing.

How to Work Through the Fear:
1. Remember you are loved exactly for who you are. God is absolutely crazy about you, and no condemnation is found in Christ!
2. Practice stillness. Stillness will help you loosen your grip on doing so you can be with God. This practice will help you let go of your addiction to making yourself better. Resting in stillness gives you permission to take a break from all of the inner frustration, exhaustion and resentment. It may feel impossible, but the freedom found in stillness will liberate your soul.
3. Play! It’s okay to not always be a responsible adult.

Type 2: The Helper

What Type 2s Fear: Your underlying fear is being unloved or unwanted by others. You fear relational tension, confrontation and disappointing others. Saying “no” to someone or being rejected are two things you absolutely hate. Deep down, you want to be loved.

Why You Fear: Type 2s often believe the lie that says you aren’t “enough” and that the only way to win love is to hide who you are, causing you to work to prove that you’re worthy of love and never share what’s going on inside. You may have picked up a message throughout your life that naming your needs could lead to rejection so you’d rather stay focused on the needs of others so everyone can stay happy.

How Your Fear Manifests Itself: Because of your fear, you say “yes,” so boundary setting is hard for you. You may also find yourself unable to focus until any relational tension is resolved. Type 2s find the topic of “needs” a bit tricky: you may believe your needs don’t matter OR you may feel shame that you have needs OR you may become resentful that even when you recognize your needs, you don’t have anyone to share them with. You may also unknowingly manipulate others out of a desire to feel useful, loved and needed. As a Type 2, you may look for others to define who you are instead of allowing God to define that for you.

How to Work Through the Fear:
1. Remember you are so loved by God no matter how much or how little you serve or do today.
2. Practice solitude. When you practice being alone, you connect with what’s going on in your own heart and learn to rest in who you most fully are. You also understand it’s totally okay to be alone. Solitude can teach you how to be present with no string attached – no compulsion to do and no subconscious expectation for something in return.
3. Name one need you have and share it with a safe, trustworthy, God-centered person, like your spouse, best friend, pastor or counselor. As you feel comfortable and safe, share another need.

Type 3: The Achiever

What Type 3s Fear: Your underlying fear is not being valued. You fear underachieving and being unproductive and not making progress toward a goal. Deep down, you want to be valuable.

Why You Fear: Type 3s believe the lie that says you have value because of what you do and how much attention you receive. You fear anything that causes you to feel worthless, which might be as simple as not checking everything off the to-do list.

How Your Fear Manifests Itself: Because of your fear, two habits creep in:
1. You become hyper busy, doing anything and everything – even projects that don’t interest you that might bring you achievement and recognition. You’ve adapted your life to meet the expectations of others, which can be exhausting. You also spend time curating your image to look like you have it all together. While you are busy doing All The Things, you’re also willing to quit projects that you’re not good at because those “failures” hurt your image.
2. You stuff down your feelings to soldier on. You often say you’ll deal with your feelings later, but you never do.

How to Help Work Through the Fear:
1. Remember you are loved by God just for who you are, that God is crazy about you and made a talented and kind person when He made you.
2. Practice solitude. In the solitude, you’ll learn that you don’t have to prove your value or perform for God. Being alone in the presence of Christ will help you to trust that because God is near, grace is always available.
3. Spend time thinking about what you want and who Christ created you to be. This will free you from chasing after positions and opportunities that aren’t meant for you. It also gives you the chance to work on what He has called you to with all the enthusiasm you bring to every other aspect of your life.

Type 4: The Individualist

What Type 4s Fear: Your underlying fear is being abandoned by God and others because you really are “too much.” You fear being misunderstood, dismissed and stereotyped. Deep down, you want to be understood and loved for the individual you are.

Why You Fear: Type 4s feel like something is missing and there’s an underlying angst about what that could be. You may have heard the message from childhood that you didn’t really belong.

How Your Fear Manifests Itself: Because of your fears, Type 4s may feel like you feel too much, such as your frustration because of your idealism, angst about what could b, or envy about the deep and interesting inner lives of others. You may turn passive-aggressive or manipulative to sustain relationships. Type 4s may also feel shame as you compare yourself to others and declare yourself lacking.

How to Help Work Through the Fear:
1. Remember you are fully known and fully loved by God for who you are. God sees your heart and has tucked your identity in Him.
2. Practice solitude. Being alone will help you dial back your emotional energy. It will give you rest from your inner turmoil and a much-needed break from your compulsion to be seen.
3. Take a few minutes to express appreciation for what’s unique in those around you instead of focusing on what’s missing in your own self.

Type 5: The Investigator

What Type 5s Fear: Your underlying fear that you won’t be able to function successfully in the world. You fear being helpless, incapable, not having all the information and feeling out-of-control of your circumstances. Deep down, you want to be capable and competent.

Why You Fear: Type 5s often believe the lie that your worth is tied to your performance, specifically in having the right answers for every situation. This wrong belief may be rooted in negative messages heard from a parent or teacher, who said that you don’t have what it takes to be successful or that you aren’t good enough to warrant praise or love. (Written by Donya Dunlap)

How Your Fear Manifests Itself: Because of your fear, you withdraw from others so you can observe your environment and retreat into your own mind where you feel more capable. Emotionally, you withhold your energy, become angry at interruptions, and deflect your own needs. You may also analyze e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.

How to Help Work Through the Fear:
1. Remember God is your shepherd so you always have everything you need. You lack nothing because Christ is in you.
2. Sit in silence. Being quiet brings clarity to your overactive mind, which is constantly on the prowl for solutions. The silence helps you let go of your compulsion of demanding answers and obsessively searching for more information.
3. Join a small group to practice connecting with others.

Type 6: The Loyalist

What Type 6s Fear: Your bottom line fear is that everything will go wrong. You fear trusting others and not having guidance or support. Deep down, you want security.

Why You Fear: Type 6s crave security, support and reassurance, therefore fear arises when these things are lacking. In the unpredictable and uncontrollable nature of life, your inner doomsday committee spins out worst case scenarios for you all day long. This committee makes you doubt yourself and fear picking the wrong next step. (Written by Kira Bridges)

How Your Fear Manifests Itself: Because of your fear, you worry a lot and tend to make a Plan A then Plans B-Z just in case. You often feel distracted as your brain works overtime to find solutions. Your type seeks control and can overthink situations.

How to Work Through the Fear:
1. Remember you are safe because there is nothing that can separate you from God’s love.
2. Practice silence. When you are literally silent (no podcasts, webinars, music allowed!), you’ll be able to hear God whisper how much He loves and cares for you. In silence, you’ll hear the truth about who you are and how God provides for you. It brings clarity to your hunt for assurance and quiets your churning thoughts.
3. Journal out your fears and worries and offer them to God. Your words will serve as a testimony to God’s faithfulness and love for you.

Type 7: The Enthusiast

What Type 7s Fear: Your underlying fear is pain. You fear not having options, missing out on new experiences and people, not getting to do All The Things, getting trapped by routine when you want the freedom for fun and standing up for yourself and your needs. Deep down, you want to be content and happy.

Why You Fear: Somewhere along the way, you heard (or experienced) the message that you are on your own, that no one was available or willing to help you.

How Your Fear Manifests Itself: Because of your fear, you’re constantly busy, which makes you tired. You’ll put up with the exhaustion that comes from doing All The Things because that seems more palatable to you than experiencing the pain and ache inside. You may also not follow through on commitments because you don’t want to be pinned down. However, at the other extreme, you may excessively plan to ensure there’s always a fun experience right around the corner.

How to Work Through the Fear:
1. Remember when God says He’ll take care of you, He means it. What is true is that you are not alone or on your own because you have a powerful God who loves you and thinks the world of you.
2. Practice silence. The silence gives you rest from the mental activity of thinking about the future. It offers a break from the pressure to keep moving forward and the compulsion to live distracted. Turn off the noise so you can hear God whisper His plans for you are good and He won’t let you miss any good thing.
3. Because you simultaneously don’t want to miss out AND you don’t like being pulled in too many directions, ask yourself this question, “If I only had one egg, which basket would it put it in?” This helps to focus your energy on the most important thing.

Type 8: The Challenger

What Type 8s Fear: Your underlying fear is being hurt or controlled. You fears betrayal, rejection, vulnerability, clingy people, sharing your needs and connecting with others. Deep down, you want the relational confidence that you can trust and be trusted.

Why You Fear: Type 8s often believe the lie that you are what you do. Somewhere along the way, you picked up the message that the world is a tough place where only the strong survive. You decided to be one of those survivors so you fear anything that prevents you from being in charge.

How Your Fear Manifests Itself: Because of your fear, you push your body to exhaustion. You also want to be in charge. You can come across as aggressive, assertive, rude and intense. Type 8s may also create drama and thus lose their emotional connections with others.

How to Help Work Through the Fear:
1. Remember God provides for every need and every person, this includes you.
2. Practice stillness. Being still allows you the opportunity to identify less with what you do and more of who you are in Christ. It gives you to be vulnerable with God about your struggles and weaknesses.
3. Help others even when you fear rejection, being used, or connecting with others on a deeper level. As Carrie Kintz says, “Wisely pushing ourselves in this area goes a long way toward helping us learn to trust, not only between us and the Lord but with others as well.”

Type 9: The Peacemaker

What Type 9s Fear: Your underlying fear is being separated from others. You fear of loss, unresolved conflict, relational tension, expressing your own ideas/dreams/opinions and saying “no.” Deep down, you want to feel at peace.

Why You Fear: Type 9s often believe the lie that you are what you do, and what you do is keep everything swimming along. Somewhere along the way, you picked up the message that your wants, opinions, needs and dreams don’t matter.

How Your Fear Manifests Itself: Because of your fear, you are the most likely of all the types to self-forget: you “forget” your own priorities, thoughts and goals. You may disengage from people and your emotions instead of participating or engaging in confrontation and conversation. It’s also hard for you to get started on projects because you’re deflecting your own priorities. You can be passive-aggressive, ambivalent and have trouble making decisions. Type 9s want to believe that all is well, and as a result, you may end up engaging in numbing behaviors like withdrawing from others.

How to Work Through the Fear:
1. Remember God sees you, and your life very much matters to Him. He placed you here for a reason and He can’t wait to see how you’ll bring glory to His kingdom.
2. Practice stillness. This discipline allows you to be present to God and to learn how to show up when you’d rather opt out. Bring all you avoid into the presence of Christ and ask Him to reveal to you how aware He is of you.
3. Find an app or organizational system that allows you to stay on task. It’s easy to be pulled multiple directions as a peacemaker. A good task-management system will help you stay focused on what you need to do today and what your life-long priorities and goals are, without the influence of the requests of others.


This piece was originally featured on Jill E. McCormick’s blog. Used with permission.

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