What a rich conversation with Enneacast podcast hosts Jesse Eubanks and Lindsey Lewis about the 9 different types of the Enneagram. We talk everything from mistyping women to Jesus, Kevin Hart, and the Apostle Paul.
This is a great episode to share with your family, small group, or friends—it's an opportunity for honest conversations about your areas of brilliance. . .and the blind spots we all have.
Here’s what we cover:
1. The 9 different types
2. Your Enneagram number as one part of who you are
3. The Enneagram and narcissism
4. Why celebration is a discipline we all need to practice
5. How to love types that trigger us
6. The difference between comfort and shalom
7. What type was Jesus? Paul? Peter? Tom Brady?
Do you have questions for Dr. Alison? Leave them here.
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Music by Andy Luiten
Sound editing by Kelly Kramarik
The Enneacast Podcast with Jesse Eubanks and Lindsey Lewis
More about Love Thy Neighborhood
Dr. Alison’s episode with The Enneacast
How We Relate by Jesse Eubanks
When Narcissism Comes to Church by Chuck DeGroat
“Idolatry happens when we take good things and make them ultimate.” -Tim Keller
Episode 49: 5 Personality Traits
Episode 50: 9 Intelligence & 9 Sacred Pathways
Episode 51: 12 Common Thinking Traps
Boundaries for Your Soul Series
While Dr. Cook is a counselor, the content of this podcast and any of the products provided by Dr. Cook are not specific counseling advice nor are they a substitute for individual counseling. The content and products provided on this podcast are for informational purposes only.
The Best of You Podcast:
With Dr. Alison Cook with Jesse Eubanks and Lindsey Lewis
Episode 52: Favorite Psychology Tools – The Enneagram
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Hey everyone, I'm Dr. Alison, and I'm so glad you're here to discover what brings out the best of you. This podcast is all about breaking free from painful patterns, mending the past, and discovering our true selves in God. I can't wait to get started as we learn, together, how to become the best version of who we are with God's help.
Hey everyone, and welcome back to today's episode of The Best of You Podcast. I'm so glad you're here. So I have mentioned the Enneagram, on this podcast, numerous times and, almost, always one of you writes to me and says, "Can you please tell us more about the Enneagram?" And it is certainly one of my favorite and most well-loved psychology tool. So I thought it would be fitting to include it in this series.
And, so, I invited my new friends, Lindsey and Jesse, on to tell us all about it. They are the co-hosts of an amazing podcast called The EnneaCast. It's put out by their organization called Love Thy Neighborhood, which I'm really excited to learn more about from them today. Its mission is to disciple Christians to serve their neighbors, cultivate healthy relationships, and follow Jesus in their culture and context. You can check out The EnneaCast. It's a biweekly show that explores personality and the Enneagram, through the lens of the gospel.
I had a blast recording an episode for their podcast with them. I discovered a couple of kindred spirits on this journey of bringing spiritual formation and the Bible together, with all things becoming the best version of ourselves. And I am so excited to have Lindsay and Jesse on The Best of You podcast, today, to walk us through the Enneagram. Thanks for being here, guys.
Jesse: Our pleasure. Yes, we had such a good time, we're just bringing the party over to your podcast
Lindsey: Yes, just another chance to connect.
Alison: You guys really have an amazing blend of just fun, and humor, and playfulness, and depth, a lot of depth, in what you're doing. It's a really neat synergy, so thank you.
Jesse: Yes, it's touching, it's something that we really revere. People come on and they share deeply personal things with us, so there's a lot of tears shed. But also we will act like idiots and have a ton of fun. And, so, we really are trying to do this space where we're holding joy and sorrow together, both those things can co-exist.
Alison: Exactly, and you're also both just so real. So you model, you provide the way for us to just become ourselves and share what we're really feeling, so, thank you.
Jesse: Well, we're aiming, we're trying. We're doing the work, I mean, we're trying.
Alison: I was thinking to myself, I was like, "Jamming the Enneagram into one-hour episode is going to be tough." But I do want to hear a little bit about how you each discovered the Enneagram and what it meant to you personally.
Lindsey: Well, for me, I had heard about the Enneagram for a couple of years. I had actually taken a test many years before, with a counselor, and not followed up with the information. So then it became really popular while I was living overseas. And I was really resistant to it because I had taken many personality tests with our mission's organization. And I was like, "Don't we all have more to do with our lives than continue to naval gaze?"
But, then, we unexpectedly found our self-state side, and somebody gave me a book, and I just thought, "Okay, let's just look into it." And within two chapters of the book, I was seeing the world in a completely different way, and it was something I really needed. It was how we always joke, "Why doesn't life come with a guidebook?" To me, it felt like the guidebook. I all of a sudden saw people in a new way, and had an understanding for how to navigate my relationships with them.
Jesse: Yes, and then my story is one that might be familiar with some of your listeners. Which is I was on staff at a ministry and we'd spend all our time telling everybody about how Jesus loves them, and how you should become a part of the family of God, and we all just wanted to choke the life out of each other.
We were not getting along. We were super dysfunctional. We second-guessed each other. We bickered, we undermined each other's efforts. So we're presenting this picture of relational health, the beauty of the gospel, and the truth is that we were like airplane salesmen, and we hoped you didn't ask us if we knew how to fly. We just had no ability to actually do the work.
So some guys came in, two retired pastors and one of the tools they brought to help us with their mediation was this thing called The Enneagram. And it freaked me out, the first time that I took it, because it gave me such profound insights into myself that I had not been able to see before. Things that I was unwilling to take a look at.
But it also gave me the ability to, suddenly understand why the people around me were acting the way that they were, and that it wasn't just to drive me crazy. And it wasn't just because they were immoral, and it wasn't just because it was from these much deeper places. And really the fundamental reality is none of us see the world the same. We're all approaching life different, and the Enneagram gave language for us to be able to talk about those things in ways that brought unity to us instead of driving us further apart.
Alison: That's beautiful. So tell us, what is the Enneagram and why do you think it's so different from other tools that people may be more accustomed to?
Lindsey: I'll give the short answer and then you can give the long answer.
Jesse: Yes, deal.
Lindsey: Usually it's the opposite. He's got the wordsmith and I'm like "Here's five pages of an answer." But I really just look at the Enneagram, it's a personality tool that talks about the nine archetypes that we see in humanity. And it can be more useful than other tools because of its flexibility and movement. So it's not just telling you, "This is your type, okay, goodbye."
It's actually asking you to be curious about your life story. What's brought you here? What are those triggers that are activating you in your daily life, that you're completely unaware of? Like Jesse said, we're wearing these lenses that we don't even know we have on and we don't realize other people have different ones on, and that it's changing the way we behave and the way we relate.
And, so, I love that the Enneagram gives you movement and tools for this is an area where you could grow. This is an area where you could move out of your ego response and find a truer way, to take your white knuckles off the steering wheel a little bit.
Jesse: Yes, the way that I often say it is that the Enneagram, it's a theory of personality that explores the patterns in the ways that we perceive process and present to the world. And that all of us have particular fixations, and the Enneagram really attempts to unearth what those fixations are, in part, so that it can invite us to begin to confront those trances and fixations that we focus so much on.
"Okay, this is how I'm going to get my security, my safety, my value." And begin to invite us into a broader way of seeing. And as Christians, when we apply the gospel to that, it's the invitation into what does the abundant life look like?
Well, at some level, that is definitely going to include that my way of seeing is not quite as narrow. That there's a broader way and that Jesus reveals that in the gospels, in His own character, and His own way of being, and that He's inviting us into that as well.
Alison: Yes, I like how you guys are describing it as there's movement, there's flexibility, and that was, for me, it's so different. We've talked in this series about different traits that have been researched in psychology that are fixed, and different types of intelligence. But with the Enneagram, there's so much richness and so much depth to it, as you guys are getting at, in that it reveals both strengths and the weaknesses. That are the very things that fuel us and that become our strengths.
The gifts we have to offer the world can be the very things that are our Achilles' heel. That's the stunning part of it because we all know that about ourselves. And that's why when you look into it, you're like, "Oh, it's actually showing me, this thing I pride myself on. But then there's the dark side of that that I try to hide." They're both right there in the Enneagram.
Jesse: Yes, it makes me think of there was this TV show, on Netflix, called Kevin Hart Can't Stop. And, of course, Kevin Hart is the famous comedian, and he's insanely successful. He's got hundreds of people that are employed by him. And the same thing that makes him so charismatic, and funny, and entertaining, and such a great, successful business person. It's also the thing that, in the show is revealed, it's also destroying his life.
And, to your point, Alison, the Enneagram helps us understand what thing is my strength. But what thing am I expecting to do something it is incapable of doing for me, but I continuously expect it to be able to do those things.
Alison: That's a great example, that's so interesting. I want to spend some time going through the nine types. So as best you can give us an overview, let's just go ahead and run it.
Lindsey: Okay, well, we will start with Type One. So Type One we call The Reformer, and these people are driven by this desire to be good, morally right, people of integrity. And what that looks like is they're honest, they're hardworking, they're ethical, they're conscientious, they're reliable.
But the unresourceful side, like you said, the other side of that same coin is that they can become judgmental. There's a good way and a bad way. They have very black and white thinking. They're rigid, even in their physical bodies, their shoulders are up. They're so diligently working; they're trying so hard. They become resentful because no one else is trying to be good in the way they are and demanding, critical of others. And the big thing for the one is that they have this inner critic that's just constantly driving them. Like, "Here's a problem."
"This is wrong."
"You're not doing it good enough."
"You need to try harder." But then that comes out as also a judgment of others. And, so, people think, "Well, they can dish it, they can take it." And actually, they can't, they're very sensitive because they already have that megaphone going on in their minds.
Alison: That's such a good description. I have so many ones, very very close to me in my life, and that angst. And there's another way of putting it, the perfectionist, is that fair to say? That angst stuff, I don't think people realize that inner critic is just as loud as any criticism that is flowing out toward anybody else.
So it's a really beautiful and, again, as we've been talking about, fraught, there is the beauty in it. They bring so much goodness, so much of that loyalty. These are folks who are just doing it, and then that dark side of that resentment or that anger, that criticism, that can really trip somebody up. You put that so well, it just filled my heart with love for those ones that...
Lindsey: Yes, me, too.
Jesse: Yes, and, Alison, it's probably worth mentioning this, is that our working philosophy is that all human beings have all nine of these, that we're about to describe, as ingredients in our personality to greater or lesser degrees.
So as we say this regardless of whether we come across one you're like, "That sounds like me, verbatim." There's probably going to be a lot of other elements. You'll hear that and go, "Well, that also sounds a lot like me." And, to Lindsay's point earlier, that's one of the beauties of the Enneagram is this fluidity. This ability to go, "I'm a complicated person."
Alison: I love that you said that, Jesse. We just did a series on the podcast on Internal Family Systems, which is the topic of my first book. And, so, we did a six weeks deep dive into this idea that we all are made up of parts. And one of the things that has helped me the most with the Enneagram is to think about my primary Enneagram number as the part of me that's closest.
But then I really do have relationships to all the different parts. Some are further out, some I need to bring a little bit more in and, ultimately, and probably you guys have arrived at this, too. I assume that Jesus is the ultimate representation of all nine parts. Is that the whole of all?
Jesse: Which is why He's unpredictable when you read the Gospels. Unlike every other character in Scripture or any story, there's an extent to which we can guess how the character is going to behave. But Jesus is totally unpredictable, He acts this way in this moment, this way in the next moment, and it's because He is much more wholly integrated than any of us are. And, so, yes, we say He's the fullness of all nine types, in their full expression.
Alison: That's so cool, I love that.
Jesse: Okay, so back to your question, you asked about Type Two. So Type Two, we call these folks The Helper. Some people like to call them The Be Friender, these are like nurses. I feel like these people live with scrubs on all the time, they just take care of people. So these folks are generous, they are supportive, they're encouraging, they're thoughtful, caregiving,
they're compassionate, and they are sacrificial. They will give you the shirt off their backs. They will clear their calendar. These folks love to give themselves to others that are in need.
However, when they're unhealthy they, actually, become intrusive. I mean, if you think of the mother on Everybody Loves Raymond, who lived across the street, in all her goodness just wanted to help, she just didn't have any boundaries. They become possessive. They can become co-dependent, where they seek out people with high needs so that they always feel needed themselves, to fill the emptiness inside.
They can become people pleasers. They need to be needed, and it can really shock people. They can be so warm, but if they feel underappreciated, they can become, quickly, very angry. And the number one struggle that folks that are Type Twos struggle with is just the issue of boundaries. Boundaries are just going to be an ongoing, lifelong, journey for folks to figure out where they end and other people begin.
Alison: That's so well put, just so many of those. I think there are also a lot of Twos in the therapy world.
Lindsey: Yes, and, I think, a lot of women, depending on if you're below the Mason-Dixon line, and especially, if you were raised evangelical, that a lot of us have this as one of the characters inside of us. It's we were told, "This is who you're supposed to be." So you're either struggling against, "That's not who I am." Or you're over-emphasizing that part of you to some extent.
Alison: And we talked about this a little bit when I came on your podcast, but a couple of thoughts on that. One is almost every woman, as a Christian counselor, as my clients would go through and take the Enneagram, they almost always test out a Twos, initially. Because we're so supposed to look like Twos, as Christian women. I write about this in The Best of You. I tested out as a two. I thought I was a two for a very long time, only to realize I wasn't.
And, so, I do think that's important for women who are listening. A couple of people have asked me about gender and the Enneagram and it's something I wanted to touch on, with you guys. And it doesn't just relate to the Two, I'm sure that men are socialized to be certain types of numbers as well. But just to always keep that open mind of what is that mask, in a way, that we feel like we're supposed to wear. That isn't really reflective of the true inner workings of our hearts. So I love that you said that.
Lindsey: That's good. All right, we'll go to the Three, this is our achiever. So these are people with a lot of energy, with drive, they're very efficient, they're goal-oriented, they're motivated, and they're also motivating. People are just drawn to them, and they're competent, and they're very adaptable.
They can go from this group of people to that group of people, and alter their personality to really make those people feel comfortable. I think you're the one who says, Jesse, that they're always creating the shortest distance between the other person and themselves. So it's like, "Whatever I have to do to make this a short bridge, I can become that."
Alison: That's well put.
Lindsey: Mh-hmm, good job, Jesse.
Jesse: Thank you.
Alison: I resonate with that.
Lindsey: Yes, but the flip side of that is they're very chameleon-like. They're very image conscious, like what are they projecting out there? They can be out of touch with their inner authentic self because they're always morphing into these different personalities. And they can be inauthentic, addicted to positive attention and manipulative, they can use their powers for good or their powers for not so good.
Jesse: Mh-hmm, they get lost in between the public role that they're portraying, at that moment. Whether that is, "I'm a competent, nonprofit leader." Or whether that is "I'm a business person." Whatever it is, but they get confused between what it means to portray success and then who they actually are. And, so, a lot of Threes have got to really do the work of coming home to themselves, and beginning to go, "Who am I?" And the big catch for Threes is that they become addicted to adoration.
So the applause of other people have a very intoxicating effect on the Three, that it doesn't hold on other types. But for the Three, there's almost like they can get drunk off of it. It just feels like love. And, so, the three has to do the work of separating out the admiration of others, with genuine, actual, love from the people in their life that it matters.
Lindsey: I've been doing a lot of reflecting. I have really high Three, but when I initially tested, I, actually, on the test only had 20%, I just found my original results. Because my achieving was so much the one, so much being the good girl, doing it all right, following the rules, very rigid, all that. But I was reflecting on my life story and things, over the last year, and I just realized all these times in my life where I had that, whatever the image was.
So I was a cheerleader and that was who I was. At school, I was like, "I am a cheerleader, this is what I do. I have this role." And it was very attention-receiving. And then my faith didn't really jive with how that was going. So I left cheerleading, and then it was I have to create a new identity for who I am at school, and I did that.
And then when we moved to Louisville, I really wanted to be on the worship team. Because I really love to sing, it's passion, it's one way that I could lead as a woman in the church. And I worked really hard at that, and I became part of this core team. And then when we went overseas I had this moment, this day, a memory that I have where I was rehearsing for Sunday and, all of a sudden, it hit me, I think, it was my last Sunday. And I thought, "I'm not going to be a worship leader anymore. That's no longer my title and I wept.
I was so sad that I made a place for myself in that spot, but then I became a missionary. And, so, then I was a missionary, and that's a great title, and I was a little embarrassed by that one because I never felt like I fully lived into it. I never really achieved it. And then, unexpectedly, we had to come back stateside, and then I was no longer a missionary.
And, I think, all of the ones, I was in my mid-30s, it was the right time for a midlife crisis. And it was, all of a sudden, it was enough. You can't pick one thing that's going to be you are this, that's not who you are.
But it is, I mean, it's been seven years since then and I'm still cultivating what are those deeper, authentic, pieces of myself that remain, and I've found a few. But it's so automatic to be like, "Well, now I am this."
"Well, now I am Lindsey, the co-host of The EnneaCast."
"Now I am a mother to these children, am I doing that in a great way." And now that's my identity. And then you have a bad day mothering and now you're no longer that identity. And, so, it can be really tricky because some of those things we just naturally have things we do.
Alison: They're good things, even, and we can make an identity. And this is true of the Three, it's turning that identity into the thing that gives me worth, that makes me a success. "I am the best mom."
"I am the best worship leader." And it's subtle because some of them are really good things.
Alison: But I love what you're saying, there's so much self-awareness in that. That realizing you were just trading one identity for another. And at the end of it, it's like, "Wait a minute, can I just be enough as me and what does that really look like? What does that really mean?" It doesn't mean I won't be a great mom; it doesn't mean I won't be a great worship... but that thing isn't the thing that I'm striving for.
I think a lot about athletes, I don't want to go down too much of a tangent here. But I think about Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, I don't know, there's so much of that identity and it can propel this excellence. I think of the word excellence, that it isn't bad. Excellence is a good thing in and of itself, however, at what cost and what happens when that goes away. Do you crumble, to your Kevin Hart example, what's underneath that, at what cost? And I love Lindsay that you're painting that picture, that it's really easy to fall into.
Lindsey: Yes, absolutely.
Jesse: And, I think, we're getting into, Tim Keller uses the phrase, "When good things become ultimate things." And I think that the Enneagram gives us a pathway to begin to go, "What good gifts from God are present in my life, but in what ways have I made them ultimate? In what ways have I made them emotionally salvific?" I want them to be the things that define me as a person and God, in His mercy, often has to come and tear it all down.
Jesse: Because it's a reminder to us that we have been bestowed with value that has nothing to do with our performance. But often God has to let us suffer loss, let us suffer failure. He has to break the illusion, and that's a painful journey, but it's also the only way forward.
Alison: Yes, thank you for sharing that. That is so powerful and so resonant. Even the good roles, I love that. I can be the best friend, I can be the best mom, whatever it is can become, I love that phrasing, can become emotionally salvific. When in fact it's not the thing, at the end of the day, that's incredible.[00:23:35] < Music >
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Jesse: Well, let's talk about Type Four. So these folks are called The Originalist and they're driven by a really deep desire for authenticity. A desire to really live into the truth of who they are. They have a strong resistance towards just playing the part for the sake of fitting in, for the sake of whatever. But they want to be true to the truth of whatever's going on inside of them and who they are, so driven by authenticity.
When these folks are healthy, that comes out in a lot of amazing ways. These folks are super creative, highly expressive, they are deep. So if you're hanging out with a Four, you know you're about to have some good conversation, you're going to go deep. They're authentic. They are intense, so when they show up you can just feel it coming off of them.
They have a heightened sense of beauty. So they walk into a space and they are paying attention to the aesthetics and the beauty of that place. And they are emotionally intuitive, they give language to other people, "It seems like you're experiencing X, Y, Z?" Fours are very gifted at understanding the emotional experiences of others.
Now when it turns dark, when it turns on its head and becomes toxic. When it goes the wrong direction, they become over-reactive. So something happens and they, emotionally, backfill that situation until it goes off like a bomb. So they overreact to a situation. They become temperamental, they become dramatic, they become snobbish. So I say that they become like the cool police, "Oh, that's cool. Oh, that's lame."
"That's cool, that's lame." Stop pointing at me, Lindsey Lewis. They become dissatisfied and feel misunderstood, and one of the benchmarks of the Four is that they become addicted to differentiation. Whatever others are experiencing, whatever the common thing is in the room. They can't accept it as part of themselves because it feels like a threat to their identity.
"The only way forward, for me, is to be fully authentic, which means I can't be replicated. I've got to be entirely my own person." And they fixate on it, to the point that they can end up really turning a blind eye towards beautiful things in their life. Because there's lots of common things that are deeply beautiful.
Lindsey: They're like the pendulum from the Three. They're like, "We're going to go the opposite way."
Jesse: Yes, they're like the fail-safe for the Three.
Alison: Well, it's so interesting listening to you because they do sound like opposites. And, yet, both could be susceptible to that cult of identity in this for different reasons, and that's the whole thing with the Enneagram. It's just the motivation is different.
So the Three is trying to get that identity that makes them the best, or gives them success, or gives them recognition. Whereas the Four is trying to get that identity to make them unique, make them special. But there's still a falseness, whatever the motivation is, there's a falseness to the pursuit if we're not careful about it, so interesting.
Jesse: Yes, and we didn't talk about this here, so we're not going to go too far down this. But it's worth saying that Types Two, Type Three, and Type Four are in a thing called The Heart Triad, and they are fundamentally searching for identity. There's a layer in which somewhere in the mystery of nature and nurture, they feel as though they lost an identity, and that they now need to go create one in order to have value and love among their community. So those folks are oriented around, "Who am I?"
"What is my identity as a person?"
Lindsey: Well, number Five, that is the beginning of our Head Triad, speaking of the triad. So this is going to have a much different feel. These people are looking for security and safety, more so than identity.
So for the Five, we call them The Investigators. These are our epic head types. They are driven by desire to be competent, knowledgeable, they want to know all about how things work. They want to know the intricate details. And when they're resourceful, they're scholarly, they're wise, they're very objective, they're not ruled by emotions. They're intelligent, they're very reflective, and they can be very witty, that dry sense of humor.
Jesse: There are a few places that are more enjoyable than sitting next to a Type Five, in a meeting. Because they will make incredible jokes and it's a one-time performance, and you need to be sitting right next to them when it happens, it's great.
Lindsey: Yes, they're just going to, kind of, say it under their breath.
Lindsey: When they're not resourceful, though, they can become reclusive, antisocial. They're in their study on YouTube or Google, doing their thing. They don't really feel the need for relationships and they can act superior because they're so knowledgeable about things. And they become relationally detached, cold, and they have a scarcity mindset. Like "I need to protect my resources. As in my physical, my energy, but then also maybe my money, or my talents, or my time." It's very much a scarcity mindset.
Jesse: Yes, so there's a relational stinginess, that can really overtake their life. And the lie that the Five, often, believes is that they're just being prudent. "I'm just not being emotionally over-reactive." And what happens, over time, is that they train themselves, subconsciously, they don't mean to into a space in which they try to turn their emotions off. They try to withdraw from as many relationships as possible. And they even try to get to where they, themselves, don't want to have needs. So they begin to neglect their own needs as well because everything is about resources.
Jesse: And it's like, "Anytime I interact with you, you're using my relational fuel."
"Anytime that I have a personal desire for something, now I've got to go figure out how I'm going to take care." So their fixation is just around resources.
Alison: So interesting because we've been talking, again, in this series, about some of these like introversion. Some of these traits that are more, genetically by. Not that every Five is an introvert because I don't know that that's, necessarily, true, although, I'm hearing some components of that.
Alison: And then we've been talking a little bit about different sacred pathways, different forms of intelligence, and how I'm just listening to you, I'm thinking of the Fives I love. There are a lot of ways in which some forms of, especially, evangelical churches aren't super tailored toward a Five, in some ways. Where there's a quiet, there's a contemplation, there's a need to be a little bit cynical, not in an unhealthy way. That there's such a need for us to consider all different types and not sideline folks.
My spouse doesn't want to go to all these social events and it's like, "Well, that isn't the benchmark of what makes one a good Christian." Someone who is more inclined toward being a Five may need to think, "What does that look like in corporate worship?" It might look a little different for a Five than it's going to look for a Two.
Lindsey: Yes, I think Fives are naturally more contemplative than some of the rest of us, especially, The Heart Triad. They might never get to a place where they're going to be super expressive in worship. That there are spiritual disciplines that when they're really trying to get in touch with their heart, with their soul, and relationship with God. They can be contemplative masters while the rest of us are just barely eking out silence and solitude. Some of us, two minutes is too long and for them they can really go to that deep place within themselves.
Alison: I love that. That's what I love about my Fives, they just keep it real, what matters not what's for show.
Jesse: Yes, so type Six are commonly referred to as The Loyalist. And, so, these folks are driven by a really deep desire for security. So we talk about the whole triad Ones. Six is one like times two, it just is a very pronounced in what drives them as people. When that comes out in a healthy way, I say that they represent the covenant of God. These are covenant people. When they say "Yes", they hold to that yes. When they say "No", it means no.
But they will make deep sacrifices for the sake of the community. They're faithful people, they're committed people, highly responsible. The original Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America, they are ready for whatever comes. They are dependable, they're systematic, they are honorable people. They don't tend to have a lot of deception in them, and they're committed to security. They want our communities to be places of safety.
So when we live in a country right now where there's unexpected violence, Sixes tend to be a lot of the personality type that are going, "What protocols can we put in place to keep our children safe?" So Sixes are proactive thinkers. But as we all know, when we are anticipating things that have not yet happened, it can really spin out of control.
And, so, for Sixes, they can become catastrophic thinkers. So they just think all the worst-case scenarios because they need to plan for all the worst-case scenarios. And then, over time, what happens is that that becomes their go-to way of thinking, where they almost become allergic to hope. Allergic to the possibility that there could be good days ahead. They become skeptical of other people. So their disposition, initially, is always to stand back and observe and the other people have to prove their loyalty.
They are anxious, they're self-doubters, they can be uptight, rigid, wary, and reluctant. And the thing is that with all of our types, perception is reality. And the big thing that the Sixes, their ongoing battle in life is just because it might be true it doesn't determine that it is true. And just because inside of who you are, as a person, you think the other person might have this other motivation. It doesn't actually decide that they do have that motivation.
So projection is just an ongoing struggle for Sixes that they always have to be mindful of, and really ask themselves, "How much am I thrusting another person into a role, when actually there's no evidence that that person is that way." And, so, they have to wrestle through that.
Alison: Yes, minding your mind, and we just did a whole series on this really minding what conclusions you're jumping to, that's so good.
Jesse: Yes, I'll tell you this, though, my wife is a Six and if you got kids, having a Six spouse is pretty awesome when you go to the doctor. Because about nine times out of 10, my wife knows more than the doctor because they are researchers, they study, they check things out. They do not just let the paperwork decide things. They are going to make sure everyone has been, adequately, cared for, and they're not just going to get lost in just pushing that paper down the line.
Lindsey: I'm guessing you don't run out of toilet paper, and Kleenexes, and all those things as well.
Jesse: Very rarely.
Lindsey: They're stocked and prepared.
Jesse: Yes, I did, actually, a few years back I was like "We look the Beverly Hillbillies when we go on vacation. We really got to dial this back. So we have a little too much protocol going on vacation with us."
Lindsey: That's hilarious, especially, when they're little, oh, you got a lot of protocol.
Jesse: Yes, and in my wife's case she's got a Seven Wing, we'll talk about the Seven, in a second, but I say that there's regular Lindsay, so my wife's name is Lindsay. So there's regular Lindsay and then there's vacation Lindsay because she learns how to let it go.
Lindsey: Oh, that's good.
Jesse: So not this Lindsey, this Lindsey is married to Drew. I'm married to my wife, Lindsay.
Lindsey: Yes, well, speaking of the Sevens, the Sevens are our Enthusiasts. I say the Sevens are Peter Pan. If you think about all the perks of Peter Pan and all the pitfalls of Peter Pan, that is your Seven. So they are driven by a desire to enjoy life and to experience all that life has to offer. Whether that's reading every book or going to every resort, it's different for each seven, but they love that endless possibilities.
So when they're resourceful, they are so joyful, they're optimistic, they're very child-like energetic. They're optimistic about what you can accomplish, and what I can accomplish, and what we can accomplish together. They're imaginative, they're very quick thinking because they're just ready to go.
But the flip side of that is they can become unreliable and scattered. They want to wait for the best possible situation before they're going to commit. So they are like, "Well, I might come to your party on Friday, but if something better comes along I'm going to go do that, instead."
They are indulgent, they can come across as very juvenile. Like that Peter Pan like "I won't grow up, I refuse. I don't want to go to school." And they're irresponsible, and then they can become demanding because they do not want others to infringe upon their freedom. To have all the joy and all the excess that life has to offer.
Jesse: Yes, earlier, I just talked about Kevin Hart, but just in thinking about comedians, in general. Comedians, in general, probably, the highest type among them would be Type Seven. Now, the other thing that's common among comedians is addiction. There's a lot of overdoses that happen within the comedic community, and it's because the number one struggle for Sevens, they are the most sensitive to pain.
And, in fact, a lot of Sevens, and this is true, we will get complaints from Type Sevens, about our show, because they say "You're so negative about us." And we'll go back and we'll check the minutes, we'll check the notes, and it's, verbatim, the exact same as we've done for everybody else. It's that they feel it with a much greater intensity. They are terrified at an existential level of being trapped in pain, and that's why there's a tendency to over-indulge.
So too much of a good thing is almost enough for the Seven. It's a journey for them to learn how to live in reality. Without running off to the next exciting adventure in their mind by distracting themselves or distracting the people around them. So a lot of times if we do workshops we get to this, and Sevens, it's hard for them to not make jokes, to lighten the mood, because to them it feels cruel what we're doing.
Lindsey: Yes, I've heard a lot of teachers say, too, that as children or young people, that the Fours and the Sevens can often look really similar. Because they're these people with the big emotions, the big highs and the big lows. And somewhere, like you said, nature and nurture, we don't really know, it's like the forest land in the deep end of the pool
and they decide "This is where I'm going to stay. I'm really comfortable with pain." Anything that's not dark is inauthentic. And then the Seven say no, "We're going to completely put that away, we refuse to look at it."
Jesse: They're on the end with the water slides, and the squirt guns, and the pool floaties.
Lindsey: So those two can have a hard time with each other. A Four and a Seven, together, trying to work through something, but really they are what each other needs, to achieve balance
Jesse: Because one brings the gift of lament and we need that gift, and the other one brings the gift of celebration. And a lot of times what we see Christian radio is all about the Seven energy, it's celebration all the time. And Four is bringing energy that challenges some of that, but we also know we should not just sit, perpetually, in grief.
Jesse: We need to learn the discipline, this sounds strange to say, but the discipline of celebration, and Sevens bring that into the room and say, "We need to feast because good things are happening."
Alison: That's right, and sometimes we need to take a break. We need healthy escapes, I always say, we need healthy pleasure, we need healthy comfort. They can bring that to us, that's beautiful. You guys are amazing, it's super helpful.[00:41:09] < Music >
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Jesse: Well, we're going to round things out with the last two. So this is actually going into what I refer to as the body triad, some people call it the gut triad. These folks interpret the world through bodily gut instincts, street smarts, and it's at an instinctual level. And these folks are searching for freedom, autonomy, the ability to make their own decisions and live by their own convictions is really key for these folks. So these are types Eight, Nine, and One.
So Type Eight, these folks are called The Protector. These folks are driven by a deep desire to be able to protect themselves from injustice and to protect other people from injustice. They have a strong orientation around distribution of power and power dynamics, in a relationship. And when they are healthy and using this in healthy ways, these folks are strong. The rest of us are running on 1/10, they run on 2/20.
They need less sleep, they can go longer, they can do more. They're freaks of nature in that regard, they can just do so much. They are natural leaders because of their disposition. Their bodily chemistry, they tend to be broad-shouldered. They just stand their ground more, when they're there you know they're there. They're commanding, they're prophetic, they're assertive, they're self-confident, they're intense, tons of energy.
When they're healthy, and this is always an interesting one, when they're really healthy, a lot of type Eights become therapists. And when they're healthy, they are the exact opposite of the stereotypes of the Eight.
Alison: I heard Dan Allender say he's an Eight.
Jesse: He is an Eight. We had him on the show, and he's a great example of when an Eight really takes on empathy and joins in another person's pain and suffering. They learn how to harness their own strength. Instead of running from their own pain, they begin to make peace with it. And, so, strength doesn't become the solution to everything.
So when they become unhealthy, these folks become aggressive, they become domineering. They become bulls in a China shop. There's no reverence for other people's tenderness and there's no reverence for their own. Because tenderness is anti-strength, and strength is what will win the day.
So they don't do a good job when they feel slighted or attacked by others, they become vengeful. And because Eights are often very good at asserting themselves, it turns into an arm wrestling match and they do usually win. There's a pleasure in fighting. There's a pleasure in arguments. They can take it on, almost, recreationally. And the biggest thing is this, if someone has told you this over and over again, in your life, consider how much Eight you have. And here it is, "I don't feel heard by you."
"You don't listen to me." When an unhealthy Eight gets going, their energy is so blinding to them that it's impossible. It's Mount Everest for them to think that the other person's point of view has any validity, and that the other person isn't just whining and complaining. So the Eight has got to learn how to harness their strength. And my pastor always says, "Meekness is not weakness, it's controlled strength." And that's the journey for the Eights.
Alison: It's so interesting because, to me, what I hear in some of the unhealthy is classic features of narcissism. But I would recommend, there's a wonderful book When Narcissism Comes to Church by Chuck DeGroat a wonderful friend of mine. And he actually talks about narcissism, the faces of it because the Eight is the stereotypical, I think the Threes in the Eights. But he says, "Mm, actually, it shows up in just subtler forms in other types." It's just the most stereotypical form in the unhealthy Eight. Is that fair to say? Would you agree with that?
Jesse: Yes, it tends to be that Eight and Seven energy, both. Because the Seven, when they're really unhealthy, they have a narcissistic view, that's about, "Well, how does this affect me?" And, so, when it merges with that Eight's appetite, Eights just have this big appetite for intensity, especially, like "Let's go skydiving, and go whitewater rafting, and go run the meeting, and start a new business."
Lindsey: Eat a whole cake.
Jesse: It just their appetite is just so massive. And, so, the big journey for the Eight really is in childhood they often had to be bigger than they actually were. Something happened where they weren't big enough to handle the problem but they had to become. So sometimes people had severe illness, they were hospitalized a lot as children, sometimes, they grew up in families where there was a lot of fighting.
And, so, what happened is that, that child ate, had to sacrifice their own childhood innocence to be bigger than they were. And what happened is that the byproducts of innocence are things like tenderness, things like vulnerability, things like gentleness, those are the things that come out. And because the Eight sacrifices in their childhood, those things tend to be underdeveloped.
So the journey for the Eight is to go back. When you see an Eight around a baby, or you see an Eight around a puppy, or you see an Eight around some situation where they perceive innocence in the other. You see that come out in the Eight, but the Eight has to also learn they deserve that as well. That same kindness and tenderness, and then out of that a sweetness can begin to emerge that is such a gift to everybody.
Lindsey: Like I told you at the beginning, my original story with the Enneagram was learning that people had these other lenses. And the hardest number for me, at that time, were these type Eights. That I was so focused on being appropriate in every situation. Always being the good girl, being very restrained, keeping my anger in. And then here are these people just living life without a seatbelt.
And I really thought, "Oh, those people are, literally, just choosing to be quote-unquote "Bad people". And when I read about The Eight, in an Enneagram book, I cried because I just understood. And a lot of people struggle with that, with The Eight, if they don't have an aggressive energy about them. That it feels like "Well, why do you get to come in here and suck out all the oxygen in the room?"
"Why do you get to always be at the head of the table when the rest of us are waiting for someone to give us something." And to understand where the Eights are coming from really helps me appreciate, and then want to dig deep and find some of that Eight within myself.
Maybe there are times where you could take initiative, you could be more assertive. You could care more about justice and speak up, that we can learn so much.
Jesse: And we need to be mad about some things. There are things in this world that deserve our anger, and it is a holy, and good, and appropriate thing to be mad about those things.
Alison: Isn't it hypothesized that Martin Luther King Jr., was probably an Eight?
Lindsey: I've heard Eight and I've heard One.
Jesse: Yes, I've heard both of those, too, yes.
Alison: And then I wonder, just listening, I wonder if Paul, the Apostle Paul, who knows, I mean, that's just speculative.
Jesse: Paul is long-winded, I'm going One.
Lindsey: I also give him the One, yes, because he's all about "Don't do this. Don't do this. This is the way." Follower."
Jesse: Eights tend to be pretty to the point and sometimes I'm like "You know Paul, I know the Word of God." I understand, but come on man.
Lindsey: I could see Peter. I could see Peter being an Eight. You know like cut off the ear.
Alison: That's a good point.
Lindsey: "I'm just going to speak my mind."
And Jesus is like, "Whoa, no, that's not it."
Or "Yes, that is it." He was very impulsive. Okay, well, we've talked about the pendulum swing between the Three and the Four, even though they're in the heart triad. Well, I think this is an equal pendulum swing in the gut triad between the Eight and the Nine.
So you have someone who's constantly stirring the waters, and then we come to The Nine and these are The Peacemakers. They want the waters to not have a single ripple internally or externally. These people are driven by a desire for peace within themselves and within the world. A wholeness that comes from a harmony of humanity.
So when these people are healthy, they are seeing all sides. They can listen to an argument and say, "Oh, that makes sense." And then they hear the other side and they're like, "And that makes sense, too." And the two people arguing are like "Wait, what? You can't agree with both of us."
And they're like, "No, I can." And they're easygoing, they're friendly. These people are flexible and calm. They're very receptive, they're great listeners. But the flip side is, is they can be passive to a fault. Listening without ever, actually, saying what they think or knowing what they think. They're stubborn, but it's a silent stubbornness, often, of digging in of heels.
They are conflict-averse, so even when there needs to be some of that healthy conflict, they will resist and they'll procrastinate. Partly because they have a hard time prioritizing because they see the value of all the things that need to be done.
And, so, it's hard to choose what I'm going to do in this moment, and then they can become lazy. That it's like, "Well, I don't know what to do so I'm going to just do a quick social media check, or I'm going to play game on my phone or take a quick little nap." And they can be really indecisive about deep things. About "What are my desires? Where do I want my life to go?" And indecisive for the people around them as well, about their goals and where things are going.
Jesse: Or even, "Hey, where do you want to go to dinner?" And if you've ever immigrated to a new country, it takes less time to do that than it does for a Nine to decide what the dinner plans are.
Lindsey: It's true, they can end up really sleepwalking through their entire life, and that's not good.
Alison: And so pleasant to be around.
Lindsey: They're so wonderful to be around, yes.
Alison: And when you love a Nine, just to be really mindful of not taking advantage of that illusion. I think this is true of the Twos, too, not taking advantage of their helpful nature. But learning to love a Nine and a Two in a different way. But trying to learn to, actually, invite them to speak their mind, to be a little bit walking into conflict. Because it's so easy, they're so nice to be around, you can just take advantage of that, almost, and subtly reinforce what they actually need to work through.
Lindsey: Yes, I always say if you, I actually learned this the hard way because my husband is a Nine. And when I was pregnant with our secondborn, I had lots of cravings. I always have cravings. I'm always like, "I know exactly what I want to eat. I know where I want to go." But I'll be nice and say, "Oh, well, where do you want to go?"
Jesse: Which you don't really mean?
Lindsey: No, but for the majority of our marriage, he doesn't care, I get to go wherever I want. But we were on this Enneagram journey, so he's trying to cultivate some desires and starting with the easiest, the lighter things. And, so, I really wanted pizza and I gave him three options because that's a great way with Nines. Like "Do you want this, this, or this?"
"Does any of these sound good or not good?"
And he was like, "Not pizza." And it took so much, because I was pregnant so I deserve to have my pizza. But I was like, "No." The one thing that you can do, if you're loving a Nine in your life, is when they do speak up a preference, you give it to them."
Lindsey: You don't have to make a big deal about it. But you just do it because they need the practice.
Alison: That's right.
Lindsey: And they really don't mind. If I had said, "Oh, I really wanted pizza."
He'd be like, "Oh, yes, that's fine, I like pizza, it's good." But that would've been a step backward, in him trying to cultivate an assertiveness to his own needs and desires.
Jesse: And I always say there's two sides to this. So for those that are not Nines, but in a relationship with a Nine, understand they need a long runway. They need a longer runway than most people because it takes them a while to figure out where are we going. What are the words I'm looking for? There's a meandering, kind of, style that they have. Don't cut off the runway.
You got to give them the runway, and that means the rest of us have got to hold back our energy to give them the space they need to get there. And, also, to the Nines, it is wrong to make other people live your life for you. And that's the thing that so many Nines end up settling for is, "Well, I'll let everybody else make all the decisions." And that's a huge burden to put on others.
And the fundamental belief of the Nine is, "I don't have what it takes. Everybody else has it, I don't have it. It doesn't matter, I can't change outcomes, I can't influence where things go. I don't have the energy, the strength, the clarity." And all of that is not true.
Jesse: Nines are such a gift, but it does require the Nine to exert themselves. And that will require the Nine to wake up out of the trance, that so many of them are in. The cheap version that Nine settles for is comfort. The real thing they want is Shalom, and Shalom often requires a struggle towards ultimate peace.
And so many of us just settle for this synthetic, junkie, version that is we wake up one day and we went, "Oh, my gosh, I literally just wasted away these different days that were so important." So to all the Nines listening, your presence matters. Aim for Shalom, don't just aim for comfort.
Alison: I love that. You guys are amazing. This is so rich and I hope, I know my listeners are just going to be wanting more, and I can just hear the wheels churning. "Well, what does this mean?"
"What if I live with this type?"
"What if my kid is this type?" So how do people find out more? Tell us where we can find you, and learn more about how to use this in our lives.
Jesse: Well, so there are a few options. So the first thing is this is that Lindsay and I do co-host, together, a podcast called The EnneaCast. And, so, wherever you get your podcasts you can go and check that one out. And, so, it's Ennea, like Enneagram, and then cast. And then the other thing is this is that, literally, this week we are actually in a process of launching a brand new website called relatebetter.com.
And that is going to have a bunch of different tools with the ultimate goal being this, our conviction is that the purpose of life is relationships. Jesus says "Love God, love other people as you love yourselves." Which is to say everything in the totality of our life comes back to that. That's what we're going to care about on our deathbeds, it's what we care about when we go to sleep every night.
And, so, our new website is going to slowly add increasing amounts of tools to help people, hopefully, experience better relationships. So we'll kick things off with a whole bunch of Enneagram stuff and wave one of those tools. And then we've got some life mapping stuff that's coming down the pipeline, and we got some surprises coming. So whether you're a therapist or whether you're somebody that is just, "I just want to learn how to have more relational intelligence." We want to help you with that, so go to relatebetter.com.
And, then, if you want to know about our parent organization, it's called Love Thy Neighborhood, and we say we're like the Peace Corps with Bibles. And, so, you can go to lovethyneighborhood.org. We also have a podcast also called Love Thy Neighborhood, and if you're baptized NPR that's our show. And, also, I do have a book called How We Relate: Understanding God, Yourself, and Others Through the Enneagram.
So if you're looking for an approach to the Enneagram, that is deeply infused into the character of Jesus, into the heart of the gospel, that is this book. It's the book I wish I had when I first came across the Enneagram. So you will definitely encounter the gospel, in addition to Enneagram theory.
Alison: You were both referring to that a little bit and I was like, "Oh, I need to take a look at whatever you guys are looking at." It was your book Jesse?
Jesse: Yes, and I wrote it for all folks. So a lot of Enneagram stuff, sometimes, is pretty high brow and you've got to have a certain acumen. This is a book, literally, written for blue-collar folks all the way up to people that are trained psychologists. It is a very accessible book on purpose.
Alison: What about our teenagers; young adult and kids?
Lindsey: Mine is reading it right now.
Alison: Oh, cool.
Lindsey: Yes, she read a little, tiny, primer and wanted more. And, so, I gave her Jesse's book and she's 13, she's almost 14, I guess. No, she's 13. She loves it, it has a lot of graphics in it, images, and she can really understand it. The language is accessible to her. She's really loving it and I'm loving it because I've been restraining myself from telling her, her number for all these years. She goes, "I think I might be a four."
And I was like, "Oh, really? You think that, maybe?"
Alison: Oh, I do the same. I just, I cannot keep stuff back from typing everybody in my family.
Lindsey: I know.
Alison: That's great, well, that's a great resource, thank you so much. And is there anything else?
Jesse: Lindsay and I also lead workshops and, so, we lead workshops everywhere from you can come to our office and we have public workshops that we do. We also do things for church communities and we also do things for corporations. So we, actually, do work with a Fortune 500 company, and we modify our workshops in those contexts to be appropriate for a diverse audience.
But we offer a free one-hour study, at the end, for anyone that wants to stay where we talk about the character of Jesus and what He does with all these giant existential questions. So, yes, you can learn more about our workshops as well also by going to relatebetter.com.
Alison: Cool, so you'll go into churches and do workshops on this?
Alison: Very cool, awesome. You guys, it's just so rich, I can't say more. First of all, I just think that Enneagram is so rich, and then when you bring it together with a Christ-centered approach and make it a tool of spiritual formation, as you guys are doing, in such a deep, and nuanced, and life-giving way, it just brings real change.
Not only, again, to your life, it's not just naval gazing, to your relationships, and I love that you guys are doing this. Thank you so much for taking the time. This is one of our longer episodes, but it's just so rich. Everything you say, all the words you're saying, I'm just hanging on. You have such a great way with this. Thank you for taking the time to be here.
Lindsey: Thank you.
Jesse: Well, it's our pleasure, thank you so much.[01:01:28] < Outro >
Alison: Thank you for joining me for this week's episode of The Best of You. It would mean so much if you'd take a moment to subscribe. You can go to Apple, Spotify, Amazon Music, or wherever you listen to podcasts and click the Plus or Follow button, that will ensure you don't miss an episode and it helps get the word out to others.
While you're there, I'd love it if you leave your five-star review. I look forward to seeing you back here next Thursday. And remember, as you become the best of who you are, you honor God, you heal others, and you stay true to your God-given self.
4th May 2023
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