type 8 - the challenger

Do you even Enneagram? Episode 5

Just getting started? Check out these earlier posts:


Episode 1 - What even IS the enneagram?

Episode 2 - The Nine.

Episode 3 - Wings and Arrows.

Episode 4 - Type 9 - the Peacemaker.


I'm going to go ahead and admit right now that there is a big part of my Peacemaker heart that completely envies the bold conviction of Type 8 - the Challenger. Eights have the highest energy level of any of the other numbers on the Enneagram (and Nines the lowest, hence part of my envy!). They exude confidence, strength, determination and then more confidence. On the downside, unhealthy Eights can be controlling, domineering and intimidating, but when an Eight is spiritually and emotionally centered and mature, their passion for justice, their confidence and conviction, can make them an unstoppable force for change.


Having just seen my first ever P!nk concert, she is pretty much the image that comes to mind when I think of an Eight on the Enneagram.


The Eight's core fear is of being controlled or harmed by others, and their core motivation is to protect themselves and maintain control over their own lives.


Eights value honesty and integrity in relationships - once trust is broken with an Eight, it is not easily (if ever) restored. Rather than shy away from a debate or an argument, Eights rather enjoy them. To an Eight, conflict = connection. An Eight who engages you in a verbal spar is checking you out, finding out what you're made of, looking for any sign of weakness or falseness in you. If you're able to keep your cool and stand your ground, an Eight may not agree with you or come around to your way of thinking (rather unlikely, actually) but they will respect you all the more for taking a stand.


Eights tend to be dualistic. Where a Nine looks at all viewpoints and has the ability to see each as containing at least some validity, an Eight sees nearly everything in black and white. People are good or bad, strong or weak, right or wrong. There are no grey areas for an Eight, and they have no patience for indecision or wishy-washy behaviors.


Eights reside in the Instinct/Anger triad like Nines - however, where Nines keep their anger buried deep inside, an Eight's anger bubbles right underneath the surface and is often the their go-to response. Others may perceive this as threatening, domineering and bull-dozing behavior, but to the Eight it is just blowing off steam.


Underneath this tough exterior, most Eights have deeply tender, loving and caring hearts. Since it is difficult for them to trust others, they usually have a few close, solid relationships rather than lots of shallow, superficial ones. The Eights downfall is that they can, when unhealthy, sabotage their relationships out of fear of being controlled or hurt. They can be overly blunt, confrontational and immovable, which can be exhausting and frustrating for the rest of the personality types. A healthy, mature Eight, however, is fiercely loyal and protective, fun, hard-working, motivated and adventurous.


If you are an Eight, some simple ways to help keep you from bull-dozing over the ones you love might include:


Avoid black and white thinking - try to look at a situation from another person's point of view, even if deep down inside you are convinced they are wrong;


Resist the temptation to act impulsively. Remember that Eights live in the Instinct triad - often acting first and thinking/feeling afterward. Be slow to act, slow to judge, and (really stretching here) quick to forgive;


Give your partner or your kids the reins for the day - let them decide where to eat, what to do, even what time to go to bed. Try not to look at it as being controlled by their decisions, but as a way to empower those you love and encourage them to be decisive. It's not a skill that comes naturally to all of us;


Find and read pretty much anything by Brené Brown on vulnerability. "Dare to Lead," is one of my favorites, but "The Power of Vulnerability" might be a good place to start.


If you love an Eight, do yourself and them a favor and a) never lie to them (Eights prefer the blunt truth over anything else) and b) try to find a balance between letting them feel in control of their lives without running roughshod all over you. It may not be an easy balance to achieve, but great is the reward for the person who loves and is loved by a healthy, secure and mature Enneagram Eight.



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