Two years ago, I began to attend courses on the enneagram. I’m a type eight. Yes, the one that so many look at as “the worst.” But I don’t agree. I claim who I am proudly! Others have differing personality types with their strengths and weaknesses. I’ll own mine.
When I first read the description of an eight, I was repelled. It didn’t feel flattering. I did not want to see it, let alone identify as an eight. It took me some time to accept that I am all of it, the ugly along with the great things, and there are so many wonderful things about who I am!
The enneagram is a spiritual growth tool. One of the benefits of using the enneagram is that a person can learn to work on the not-so-healthy parts of themselves and move forward into health. This is the journey we are all on: self-discovery and improvement. I embrace this journey fully.
This last week I was asked by another course attendee what I liked about being an eight. To answer the question, I decided to write this post.
When I first read about who eights are personality-wise, all I could see in the words were the negatives. To tell you all the truth, I readily identified with the harshness that we as type eights can hold ourselves to. I possess an inner critic that pushes me to do my best. I’m not a perfectionist: I require that I do my best, and that I be satisfied with being good enough. I’ve really had to work on this part of myself. Accepting ourselves as good enough is a battle because society tries to force a belief that perfection must be achieved at all costs. I disagree, and see the damage that perfectionism can cause. Let there be “good enough” and let it begin with me.
I am thankful that my “knowing” can also cause me to question. I believe that this quality enables me to sit with the uncertainties, and to learn more about what I once thought were absolute truths. I like that in a crisis situation, I can respond with the ability to provide a workable solution.
We’re leaders, and sometimes we fall into the trap of protecting those whom we see as vulnerable in negative ways. We can also speak to the need to protect the vulnerable and hold deep compassion for their struggles. I’m becoming aware of when this is healthy, and when it isn’t such a good thing.
I like the way in which I’m challenged to confront myself in the mirror of life. I believe one of the strengths we as eights have is to come out of our denial, and to look at our weaknesses. We might spend time fighting the truth about ourselves, and when we embrace what we must embrace, we dig in deep and work to understand ourselves better. I really like this about myself.
I don’t like that there is a part of me that goes to vengeance. I do this when I feel the need to protect myself or others. It is ugly. I’m coming to understand that in challenging my need to protect, and to mount the campaign to go to war over what I perceive as unjust, I first need to look inside and explore myself before I aim and fire.
Which leads me to the fact that we as eights have a tendency to fire first before we even aim or are ready to aim. We can be dense and asleep to how our harsh reactions can affect the fragile souls of others. When we come to understand what our actions may be doing to someone, we can challenge ourselves to that part of ourselves that desires to protect in healthy, compassionate ways. Understanding the enneagram is enabling me to be kind and gentle to myself. I can use my two arrow to give to myself in softer and gentler ways. I can drop into my five arrow, which I do often. I use this arrow to observe myself and others. My five arrow is one of the things I credit to bringing balance to the eight within.
I like the part of me that will explore and is curious. I like the fact that people know that I’m dependable. I also understand that if I set a boundary or a limit to what I can take on in life, it is understood that I’m at my limit.
I am learning to trust in new ways. I like the fact that my vulnerability teaches me that I can do this hard thing.
I have done the activism that I’ve needed to do in my life, and I listen to the call to change my life direction and to try a new path. I’m excited for this new thing. I sense that this is the best thing about eights: when we’ve done the work around our knowing and can sense our new direction, we can and do act boldly.
I love being an eight!