Aspects of the Inner Child Seen in Enneagram Types
I am more a specialist with working with inner children, and definitely am not an expert about the Enneagram. However, you may find it useful to see how the wounds, emotional makeup and strategies of each Enneagram type as I speculate on them in the following paragraphs.
I’ve slanted the discussion to include possibilities for inner child work.
You may find bits of yourself in different types, and can check to see whether you can see your inner child better after understanding your Enneagram type.
What Enneagram Type Am I?
I’ve taken many questionnaires/tests to determine my type many types. Mostly, I am typed as a 1–it’s the Reformer, others name type 1 as the perfectionist. I describe elsewhere (refer to suppressed inner child article) how perfectionism may be paired with suppressing emotional reactions from the inner child.
Why does this happen?
Emotional responses interfere with a perfectionist strategy of meeting high standards. They also may be seen as getting in the way of reforms moving to the ideal.
It’s also the Doer mentality, and often relies on the mental intellect for solutions to overcome obstacles to success. Emotions are messy and are distracting in this view, and are best put aside or buried.
In short, the perfectionist chooses the head over the heart, making the wounded heart unappealing or irrelevant.
No wonder it took many decades for me to find that my heart was wounded. I stressed the head and achievements for most of my life.
The Nine Enneagram Types
You can find many descriptions of the 9 types on the Internet and in books. The descriptions below are attempts to capture the essence of the various types but may not be completely accurate. You may also find that different authors differ in the details of how each type is described.
My main sources are The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram by Sandra Maitri, Discovering the Enneagram by Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert, and The Enneagram Made Easy by Renee Baron and Elizabeth Wagele.
According to the Enneagram system of personality types, everyone has one basic type from 1 to 9. Once a major type is determined for an individual there may be two wings of other types that can modify the personality.
Depending on age and maturity and whether the individual is stressed or relaxed, you can experience yourself as a better fit for one type sometimes and not at other times.
At the website of Enneagram Institute you will find a questionnaire to more precisely find your type if you want to take the time for greater accuracy.
The Enneagram has a long history, coming from Sufi mystic traditions. It provides a rich body of information useful for understanding our personalities, our challenges and potential transformation.
For our purposes here, each type will be described briefly and what will be extracted are:
- How emotions are dealt with
- The strongest emotion(s) usually felt.
- What defenses or strategies and beliefs operate?
- What is the wound that created the inner child?
Using enneagrams here serves the purpose of using another set of lens to learn more about yourself and how to use it with your inner children challenge.
The 9 types are seen in groups of 3’s according to their major orientation: head, heart, or gut (intuition, sexual). Types 8, 9 and 1 are the latter. 2’s, 3’s, and 4’s are heart-centered. Types 5, 6 and 7 are head-centered.
Do you fit Enneagram Personality 1’s?
1’s are described as Reformers, the Idealists, the Perfectionists who constantly see how things can be improved—themselves and the world. They need to be perfect, and tend to be achievers, responsible, serious, competent, orderly, self-disciplined, fair and honest.
On the other hand, they have high expectations of others. Thus, they can easily try to control others in pursuit of the perfection they want. Seen as judgmental and critical, no one is excluded from judgment including themselves.
Although emotions are neither good nor bad, 1’st tend to view negative feelings as bad, and therefore, may repress and suppress anger especially. This characteristic produces a generally constricted emotional makeup.
1’s would benefit from focusing on their internal processes to learn about their negative feelings, especially anger. It makes sense that their strategies of making things better and to exerting control are efforts to correct the imperfect world of their wounding.
I’m speculating that their childhood wounds result in beliefs that they are “not being good enough; being inadequate; wrong/bad/unlovable.” Or, “I have to be or I am good/right.”
1’s may need to be patient in trying to access their upset feelings, with anger probably the most important to focus on. Another strategy would be to identify defenses of perfectionism and judgments and get beneath them to their source in the wounded child.
How Many Enneagram Personality 2’s Do You Know?
2’s are the Givers or Helpers and need to be needed. They are usually extroverted and social, and feel their worth from how much they help others. Selfless, generous and warm they feel comfortable and virtuous. They are tuned into the feelings of others.
However, if they are not appreciated for what they give they tend to become manipulative and bossy. In their efforts to be ever helpful, they can‘t turn down any request made of them, and they can be abused, a door mat for others. With such an energy-consuming style, 2’s often experience burnout and may complain and whine a lot.
2’s can be seen as trying to prove their worth by helping and giving to others; therefore, their wound is about “not being love-able as they are.” Their strategies involve doing and giving.
Below the surface 2’s may experience resentment and anger for not having what they give returned to them, and this may be a good place to start accessing 2’s negative feelings. Calling forth an inner child with hurts related to these strategies may be helpful.
Name the Enneagram Personality 3’s in Your Life
3’s are called the Achievers or Performers who need to be productive and achieving success. They need to succeed. Confident, ambitious, practical, energetic, competitive, and hard-working are traits that define them.
They want to be seen as successful and triumphant, and definitely looking good while doing it. Goal-oriented and driving to success they serve as the perfect client for a success coach. They take action; they are do-ers.
On the other side, 3’s may be seen as people who stress images and superficiality over substance–Getting attention and self-promotion, driven by ambition and power. Advertising and the media certainly stress these values.
3’s may be unaware of their emotions because they have schooled themselves to create success in the outer world. In their drive to be appreciated and liked, they don’t want to know about negative emotions, yours or their own.
Perhaps if a 3 personality type experiences enough failure, the door to working on their internal process may open to learn about their negative emotions.
The childhood wound of 3’s probably is some form of being unworthy, undeserving, not being good enough, and their strategy of achievement can be seen to prove otherwise. In pursuit of success, 3’s can compromise their values, be inconsistent, say or do things in line with the image they want to project without meaning them.
Are Enneagram Personality 4’s the Artists Around You?
4’s are described in a positive way as being the Romantic Individualist. They want to be seen as original, aesthetic and creative, emotionally honest, self-aware, creative and personal. They want to experience their feelings and want understanding.
4’s need to be special—they want to be anything but ordinary, and are expressive, compassionate, warm and supportive. Yet they also have a sense of missing some lost connection, and thus harbor a hopelessness and tragic quality. They can also be prone to self-indulgence and self-pity.
In social relationships they tend to withdraw and withhold themselves, feeling defective and vulnerable, or they hide behind a persona of buoyancy and optimism.
4’s probably have the easiest access to emotions that lead back to the inner child. They may have a sense of being unloved and abandoned, signs of early wounding. They may believe that they don’t deserve love.
Their strategies may include withdrawing and withholding, as well as projecting a bright persona—all to hide from the original pain. 4’s expect a lot from life and may have ways to hide their guilt, moods, and disappointments from others.
How do You React to Enneagram Personality 5’s?
5’s are described as Investigators because of their need to know or “perceive and understand everything.” They are inclined to withdraw from the world and dwell in their heads, being analytical, objective, persevering, and wise.
5’s are very sensitive and fear that they don’t have adequate energy to deal with the world except through the mental realm.
“Eccentric” is a description used for 5’s because they prize their freedom of mind, self-sufficiency and autonomy, and don’t feel any need to conform to society’s demands. Often intelligent, erudite, they can become experts in whatever field they become interested in.
5’s tend to be emotionally restrained although sometimes below the mask of indifference there can be strong feelings that many don’t know about. Since they want to appear self-contained, they process their feelings on their own. Outwardly then, they appear to be distant and aloof.
They seem to operate on the principle of scarcity, neither wanting to share nor expecting much from the outside. 5’s may hold a belief that the world is a dangerous place. Their early wounds may also relate to the belief of not having a right to exist.
5’s unexpressed strong emotions indicate the presence of the inner child. However, because they tend to stress the mental realm, they would probably approach personal development work that stresses cognitive changes.
Because their emotions are troublesome to them they may be open to using the subconscious to neutralize and release them—the approach of MAP (manifest all possibilities.
Do You Cherish the Enneagram Personality 6’s You Know?
6’s are called the Loyalists or Questioners and are defined by fear and anxiety and driven by their need for security or certainty. Their strategy then is to find security in their commitment to causes and people.
Although fear is at their core, 6’s often appear to others as loyal, friendly, responsible, compassionate, witty, warm, likeable and caring.
Internally, however, at their core, they are full of doubt about their perceptions and thus lack confidence and certainty. The phobic Six’s can’t always hide their insecurity and have trouble moving ahead on their own. This is why relying on others or a cause to provide guidance becomes their strategy.
The need for security is very strong drive or motivation in 6’s.
The counter-phobic type 6’s, on the other hand, attempt to hide their anxiety and fears to prove that they are secure. In fact, they become risk-takers, testing themselves to prove they are fearless.
For the 6 personality type, the target emotion for the inner child work is fear. 6’s seem to have reacted to their early wounding by collapsing into their fears at that time. Since a sense of safety is important in doing this kind of personal development process, this issue of feeling safe needs to be fully addressed.
6’s strategies aim toward alleviating fear. As part of their strategy in dealing with fear they can become the perfect friend and participant in a cause. Once allied with others, their relationships can help relieve their anxieties and fears. On the other hand, under stress, they may become suspicious, inflexible, sarcastic, and arrogant.
Do You Admire Enneagram Personality 7’s?
7’s are the Adventurers or Enthusiasts who see life as an adventure. They are curious, optimistic, buoyant, and are interested in everything. Without the stimulation of the new they get bored and dissatisfied.
Quick to get the big picture, they may be impatient to have things unfold. Their strategy is to plan, and may not be around for the details and follow-through. Hence, they are dilettantes and may lack perseverance.
Unless they meet with many failures that collapse their robust sense of movement out into the world, 7’s would not see the point of looking for more in their interior life. In short, they would not be candidates for any therapeutic work.
Hmm..and What about Enneagram Personality 8’s?
8’s are the Challengers or Asserters who want control over their destiny, people and things. They have a strong need to be independent and self-reliant. They are described as self-confident, decisive, strong willed, energetic, and direct.
8’s take life by the horns—meeting life with strong physical appetites and instincts. Intimate relationships may be difficult because of their control issues and avoidance of vulnerability.
The 8’s wound seems be that life has treated them unjustly, unfairly. Their strategy is to set things right, out for justice. In such efforts, they may not trust or rely on anyone, believing perhaps that dependence may lead to betrayal.
Rohr describes 8’s as having a need to be against.
They push aside any feelings of weakness or any feelings that would make them appear weak. They too like 3’s would probably need strong incentives such as experiencing too many failures, especially difficulties with relationships, to want to enter their internal world of emotions and deal with their inner child.
Ah, Don’t Enneagram Personality 9’s Help in Your Life?
9’s are described as the Peacemakers because their primary motivation is keeping their world peaceful and harmonious. They therefore have difficulty asserting their needs; in fact, Rohr calls it a need to avoid. Rather, they prefer to place others before themselves, never want attention drawn to them, and are conflict-avoidant.
Since they are able to see things through the view of others, they make excellent mediators. 9’s can also get lost in the world of others and may not pay attention to their own thoughts and feelings, never quite knowing what their needs are.
Their essential sense of deficiency is feeling worthless and unimportant which are soothed through diversions and what spells comfort for them. Yet to the world they are stable, solid, dependable, and kind.
9’s will need to make a strong commitment in order to make internal changes. They need to be re-directed to their inner life in order to become aware of their feelings. Since their strategy in life is to make everyone important, and avoid attention, they may hold beliefs that they are not worthy and perhaps invisible.
Using the Enneagram for Inner Child work
Perhaps, you found it fun to type yourself. In this context, it’s not important that you define yourself as a particular enneagram type. Rather it’s a playing field to become acquainted with various descriptions of being in the world, how emotions are handled, and what possible childhood wounds underlie each type.
Please don’t get sidetracked but rather play with checking out the features relevant to you to help you discover how you can find access points to your inner childhood wounds.
copyright, Anne K Uemura PhD, March 2020