How Each Enneagram Type Is Struggling (and Thriving) During the Pandemic

How is your Enneagram type struggling and thriving during this crazy season? How can you continue to grow in grace? What does it look like to become more fully yourself in a season of shelter-in-place and quarantine? Have you formed any unhealthy habits? How can you be kinder yourself during this pandemic? 

What I present to you is based on my own research, feedback from men and women of each type and peer review. If you’d like to hear this content, listen here. If you’d like a free Enneagram e-book all about what the Enneagram is, what it isn’t and how it impacts your spiritual growth, go here

The Eights: The Challengers

There is nothing Eights like less than being told what to do and that’s exactly what’s happening in this pandemic. Your movement of where to go is restricted and your options of what to buy at Target are limited. 

To cope, you may feel like you can make up your own rules because you don’t agree with the rules in place or deny the news you don’t like. If the experts say to limit your movement, you’re going to the grocery store once a day.

You also are focused on controlling what you can, like your schedule and routines. 

This is also a tremendous time for growth as God slowly and gently teaches you about His sovereignty and matchless power. This is the perfect time to really learn, way down deep into your bones, that He holds the whole world together and you don’t have to. 

You’re struggling in three areas.

  • You’re struggling with the reality that you have limited freedom right now and feeling out of control. 

Your MO in life is to live big, but you’re not able to live that way. There are no good restaurants to enjoy, challenging conversations to start, travel to exotic locations. You feel stuck and suffocated.

  • You struggle with the fact that life feels so boring and that you’re stuck in the minutiae of daily life. Dishes. Cleaning toilets. Folding laundry. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. You feel the full force of a lack of an outlet. 
  • And as a likely extrovert, you miss people. It’s no fun to verbally spar with yourself. You need your people to enjoy a good drink over chips and salsa. 

You may have formed these three unhealthy habits.

  • Brainstorming projects to stay busy because you can’t stand doing nothing. Being in control of a project at least keeps the boredom at bay and keeps your hands busy.
  • You’re focused on tasks more than people. People are unpredictable and messy while tasks are controllable and don’t hold you back.
  • And finally, staying up too late, believing that you have no limits and that your body doesn’t need the rest doctors tell you it does. 

But you’re also thriving.

You are a generous protector and ally. When you see a need, you have the energy, ability and charisma to get people what they need by using the resources at your disposal.

You care about others. You will help and serve as best you can for as long as you can. 

So how can you offer yourself grace right now? What are some practical things you can do?

  • Spend time alone to critically think about how you can help and who you can help. Instead of rushing into a situation, analyze it and think through the best way to marshal your resources.
  • Acknowledge that you are a tremendous advocate for others and you have a gift. Harness your gift for good.
  • Memorize Philippians 4:19: “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

The Nines: The Peacemaker

You love connection and, boy, are you getting a chance to connect during this season. You are excellent at giving support and you love being with your people.

While you are experiencing unprecedented access, time and memory-making with your people, you feel the tension rising as your people argue, fight and complain. Tension you could live without.  

To cope with this tension, you forget your own preferences and plans so you can focus on your people, which means there’s harmony and comfort, even if it’s a false connection. 

You would rather have a false peace than tension any day of the week. You are neglecting yourself at a time when self-care is essential. 

This is also a time of tremendous growth for you spiritually. God grows us through change and adversity and you have an opportunity to share your preferences and express your anger knowing your people still love you. It may be awkward, but in the end, working through what’s frustrating you will be worth all the effort and deeper connection you crave.

You’re struggling most with four ways, all related to disconnection:

  • You feel disconnected from your normal routine or any routine at all.
  • You feel disconnected from your people when there’s tension in the house.
  • You feel disconnected from the world because there doesn’t seem to be an exit strategy. 
  • And finally, you feel disconnected from certainty because there are so many unknowns and unanswered questions. 

You may have formed these two unhealthy habits.

  • Nines are notorious for numbing out and what better time to numb out than during a global pandemic? You’re scrolling IG and FB. Binge-watching Netflix. Overeating. 
  • Staying stuck in indecision. When you don’t know your own priorities or preferences, it may be hard to move forward, which keeps you stuck.

But you’re also thriving.

You are making family connections like nobody’s business. Your people are your favorites and you are beyond thankful that you get to spend time with them, making connections that will last a lifetime.

Your adaptability is coming in handy right now. You can change direction easily and quickly. Nine friends, you can easily make the mundane fun and you look for ways to keep your people engaged. 

So how can you offer yourself grace right now? What are some practical things you can do?

  • You need time alone. Time to figure out who you are, what specifically is stressing you out, and what your priorities are for the next day, week, month and year. Put time in your schedule to sit alone in the presence of Christ.
  • Acknowledge that you are really good at connecting, which is an invaluable skill our world needs right now. Please know, you are doing a great job. 
  • Memorize Zephaniah 3:17: “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

The Ones: The Reformers

Is it OK to say that you find this season a bit challenging? You feel incapacitated and unable to help. 

Here are all the ways that Ones feel out of control:

  • You have no control over whether others follow the rules and best practices put in place like social distancing and wearing a mask.
  • You’re not in charge of where you go or what you do. Much of what you want to do is closed.
  • You feel as if you’re doing nothing well because you didn’t have time to plan and recalibrate for a change you didn’t initiate.

To cope, you typically resort to rules and routines, but that rug feels like it’s been pulled out from under you. In your anger and frustration, you may be overly scheduling and color-coding any bit of daily life. And you’re probably on your 17th schedule by now.

This is also a time for growth. You may — emphasis on may — now have more time to do what you typically neglect: play, be silly, have fun with your family. 

God can use this time to strip you of some of your busyness so you can slow down and realize how much you enjoy this slower pace and how truly special your people are. 

You’re struggling in six areas:

  • The rules and structure that kept you safe have been replaced by patched-together workarounds that feel half-hearted and thrown together. 
  • Nothing in the world feels as it should be. And there’s not much you can do to fix it. 
  • You’re resentful that your well-laid plan for spring has been shot so you’re frustrated with your people, the virus and yourself. 
  • You may also not agree with the rules put in place so you feel frustrated and helpless.
  • The stops & starts and the constant interruptions are driving you up the wall. 
  • Finally, you feel internal pressure to maximize this time and use it to accomplish tasks and projects. You’re really concerned that you’re wasting this time. 

You may have formed these three unhealthy habits.

  • You’re micromanaging schedules —and not just your own, but that of your kids, the dog, anything that comes near. 
  • Scrolling through Instagram and Facebook to zone out and numb the helpless feelings.
  • And finally, you feel full to the brim with bad news so your empathy tank is running low. You can’t find it in you to feel any more than irritation, resentment and frustration about the entire situation. 

But you’re also thriving.

You have time to play, and this is a gift not to be squandered. 

You have freedom and permission to decide if you liked the rules and routines from your pre-COVID-19 life. You can assess and evaluate if that pace worked for you. If it didn’t, you have the time and creative energy to create a brand new system and plan that does work for the type of family life you want. 

Your ability to analyze data and bring it into focus is a gift you need right now to make sense of all the data being thrown in your direction. 

So how can you offer yourself grace right now? What are some practical things you can do?

  • Play! Be outside with your people. Take the dog for a walk. Deliver chocolate chip cookies to your neighbor. Eat your lunch on the patio. Push your daughter on the swing. Give yourself permission to play just like you give yourself permission to produce. 
  • Acknowledge that you are doing a great job. It’s true — you may not be producing at maximum capacity, but you are doing it. God sees your hard work and loves you so much.
  • Memorize Galatians 5:1: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

The Twos: The Helpers

The pandemic is both a blessing and a curse. You love helping others and people need help and support the most during a crisis. You’re the one checking on other people, sewing face masks and picking up groceries for neighbors. Because of your ability to genuinely listen and care for others, people are drawn to you. 

However, because of social distancing, the ways you are able to care for others are limited, which you find really irritating. 

To cope, you find yourself repressing your needs to meet the needs of others. Right now is all about others and very little about you. 

This is a prime opportunity for growth for Twos. What an incredible time for God to strip away the false belief that expressing your own needs and asking for help is bad. He longs to hear from you and for you to grow in real connection with others. 

You’re struggling in four ways:

Virtually every struggle you’re experiencing centers around the concept of needs:

  • Your belief in your competence and ability to help all people at all times is crashing into the reality that you cannot meet every need. There are simply too many right now. 
  • You also struggle with the reality that there are limited ways you can help people so sadness is creeping up. 
  • Or, on the other hand, you feel overwhelmed by helping your people at your house and you don’t feel sad — you feel depleted and may suffer from “compassion fatigue” when others don’t reciprocate. 
  • And finally, as a Two, you’re a total people person so the fact that you haven’t hugged, laughed with, or shared coffee with someone is driving you crazy right now. You feel alone, which is an emotion you don’t have the chance to feel often.

You may have formed these three unhealthy habits.

  • You’re repressing your own needs. In the face of a tsunami of needs — from doctors to the stockboy to single moms running non-essential businesses — you believe your needs aren’t important. When you have so much, how can you not help? 
  • You are more bossy than usual. When you’re stressed out, the bossy, aggressive side can come out.
  • You aren’t setting boundaries. Anyone who needs anything from you at any time has an all-access pass to you. 

But you’re also thriving.

You are a leader and you are rallying the troops to get help where help is needed. 

You are making masks, setting up childcare schedules for health care workers, volunteering at the food bank, picking up groceries for your friends. You are doing it and it feels so good.

So how can you offer yourself grace right now? What are some practical things you can do?

  • This is the perfect time to practice boundary-setting. You cannot do all the things: make all the masks, deliver all the cookies to the fire station, donate hand sanitizer to every police substation. Say yes to what you can. Say no to what isn’t reasonable or healthy.
  • Acknowledge that you bring so much to the table. You are keeping an eye out for the least of these. Jesus is so happy that He made you. And He is just as willing to help you as you are willing to help others.
  • Memorize 1 John 4:16: “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”

The Threes: The Achievers

As one Three to another, this time is a gift. This is an ideal time for spiritual growth because you have fewer places to go, expectations to meet and people to impress so you now have the opportunity to let Jesus tend to the emotions you’ve neglected for so long. 

For a Three, this is a time of lightness. 

Normally, you cope by conforming to expectations and achieving, but now you have the amazing opportunity to discover who you are without external noise, input and ways to prove your worth. You’re a girl on lockdown who gets to come home to herself. 

But as sweet as this time might be, you aren’t without struggles. 

You’re struggling in two areas:

  • You’re struggling with your identity:

 

    • Without people to impress, how do you measure your worth?
    • With fewer commitments, are you important at all?
    • Without the busyness, what do you do with these emotions?
    • Without expectations to meet and goals to achieve, who are you?
    • Without productivity and metrics, how will you earn love?

 

  • You are also struggling with a lack of routine. Every day feels odd — in that it’s new, but simultaneously feels the same as the day before. You’re struggling with knowing how to plan not just for today but for next week, next month, this summer. 

As an efficiency superstar, it seems so inefficient for everyone to share one computer, but you’re finding it hard to put a routine in place. 

You may have formed these two unhealthy habits.

  1. You may be busy for the sake of being busy. You’re making up unnecessary projects so you can check-off to-do’s so at least the day doesn’t feel like a waste. (Any day that isn’t productive feels like a bad day to you.)
  2. You’re stuffing down the anxiety, worry and fear that are creeping up by binge-watching, binge-eating, or in my case, eating Skittles by the handful. 

But you’re also thriving.

You are knocking off a lot of work around the house, things you never were able to find the time to do before.

You are enjoying this new pace of slower days with less on the schedule. It feels shockingly good. 

So how can you offer yourself grace right now? What are some practical things you can do?

  • Leave time to be with yourself without achieving anything. Read a book. Paint for the sake of painting. Swing on the swingset. 
  • Acknowledge that doing isn’t bad. God created you with good works in mind. He sees you working hard, loving your people well and making a difference. He is so thankful you are in the world right now.
  • Memorize Colossians 1:17: “He is before all things, and in Him, all things hold together.”

The Fours: The Individualists

This is a time that you can shine, Type Fours. You are the most naturally empathic of all the types, which means you can understand and almost feel the feelings of those around you. You have the ability to understand the pain and hurt of others, and there is certainly a lot of pain right now. 

To cope, you’re focusing on what you’ve lost. You think about what you had before and it’s gone. But you’re also focusing on the beauty in the pain. 

You see — more than any other type — that through our woundedness and brokeness there is still an undefeated human spirit. You see the generosity, sacrifice, hope and healing even in the hard. You hope that all of us will gain perspective and meaning during AND on the other side of the pandemic. 

You’re struggling in five ways:

  • You’re feeling all the feelings right now:
    • Grief
    • Burnout
    • Sadness
    • Fear
    • Exhaustion
    • Disappointment
    • Frustration

Because you have a lot of input and you see no end in sight. You also feel the feelings of others. In a word, you feel overwhelmed. 

  • You also struggle with envy. 
    • Maybe you’re envious that other people have more resources — more devices, better WiFi, a more flexible job, more money in the bank
    • Or you’re envious of the way your fun-loving Seven friends are making homeschooling so interesting and creative.
    • Or you’re envious that other people seem to be taking all this in stride while your thoughts are spiraling.
  • You’re also struggling with the fact that as someone who appreciates beauty, you’re not finding a lot of it in your home space. You see the clutter, the mess, the disorganization. And it’s driving you a bit crazy.
  • You’re struggling with the reality that every day feels like the day before. Nothing feels special or fun or interesting or challenging. It all seems mundane and monotonous. 
  • And finally, the lack of alone time doesn’t alone you to process your feelings, which is something you need to do. 

You may have formed these two unhealthy habits.

  • You’re creating or adding drama to your house to overturn the boredom you feel by picking fights or challenging your spouse.
  • You’re procrastinating on getting work done because you feel so many feelings.

But you’re also thriving.

Your friendships are thriving. You are a great friend with a good listening ear. You can see what’s going on beneath the surface so your friends need you now more than ever. 

Your friends need your insight and wisdom to help them see what’s rumbling around in their hearts right now. They also love your authenticity — that you aren’t sugarcoating that this time is hard.

Your envious spirit gets a break. In a way, there’s not a lot to envy: no amazing vacations, no straight-A kids, no fabulous date nights, no fun girls nights out. We’re all living about the same life. And that feels like a level-playing field to a Four.

And if you’re a Four, this is a prime time for you to have time and space to think and create. The forced break may energize you.

So how can you offer yourself grace right now? What are some practical things you can do?

  • Reach out to others so you don’t stay stuck in your own emotions. You have a kind heart so put your hard-working hands and feet in action.
  • Acknowledge the beauty around you. Fours find this so easy to do. What is sweet and lovely and wonderful in this moment? 
  • Isaiah 43:1: “But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” 

The Fives: The Investigators

The pandemic feeds into your world view that it’s best to be self-sufficient, that the world is a hostile and harsh place, and your home is your castle so it’s best to retreat there. 

To a certain extent, you are living isolated because you’re not going anywhere and there are fewer demands for your time, but your people are depleting your energy reserves. You feel the most at peace when you have limited obligations and are on your own schedule, but that’s not your life right now. 

You love collecting, organizing and analyzing information and you certainly have a lot to plot, chart and graph during this time. 

To cope, you’re withdrawing into yourself, which can be helpful at times, but also unhealthy when you aren’t letting anyone into your emotional world. 

The pandemic also gives you a tremendous opportunity to grow: to give God the time and space to remind you that you do need His love and the love of others. He is your faithful provider and wants you to know how many resources you do have — in Him and in your physical world. 

You’re struggling in three areas: 

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  • Your people are with you all the time. You don’t like to be interrupted or have your personal space or energy invaded, and that’s all that’s happening right now. It seems like the mission of your people is only to pester you. 
  • You’re struggling to find a moment of privacy so you can regroup.
  • And finally, you are having a hard time being in a routine that isn’t of your own choosing. You may have created your own routine, but the fact that you’re limited on going where you choose, when you choose is frustrating.

You may have formed these four unhealthy habits.

  • You may be withdrawing and isolating yourself by avoiding other people in your house or the conflict that may naturally occur. Withdrawal may look like going silent or reading a book and playing games. 
  • You are hoarding. Not necessarily toilet paper or supplies, but emotional energy, which leads you to create too many boundaries that your little people just can’t keep. 
  • You’re growing in resentment and exhaustion. The intrusions, lack of space and interruptions have you at your tipping point and you’re taking it out on your people through your tone of voice. 
  • And finally, you may also be compartmentalizing your life into different quadrants so you don’t allow the mess of one area to spill into another one. 

But you’re also thriving.

Fives are one of the most introverted types so you need less time and attention from other people. So it may be a bit easier for you to not see people. 

You are already a minimalist — except in the case of all that data you collect — so not having an abundance of options at the grocery store really doesn’t phase you. You’ll make do with what you have. 

You love your home and it’s your sanctuary so you are truly thankful for getting to spend more time at home. 

So how can you offer yourself grace right now? What are some practical things you can do?

  • Start by taking a deep breath. Pray for the peace of God’s presence. Remind yourself of how much you love your people. Then engage with them, knowing that human connection doesn’t always have to feel like a burden, even if it does right now. 
  • Acknowledge that you are so gifted at synthesizing information so it’s clear. The world needs you right now — to make confusion, clear; to bring order to what feels chaotic.
  • Memorize 2 Corinthians 9:8: “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

The Sixes: The Loyalists

The pandemic feeds into your worldview that the world is unsafe and you must be on your guard. This season may be the worst-case scenario you’ve ever thought through.

Your superpower is thinking about what might go wrong, strategizing ways to solve it, then preparing for it. In other words, Sixes, you have the potential to be the calmest in this crisis because you’ve already thought through all the options and scenarios. This may be your finest hour because you’ve planned and prepared. 

But for some Sixes, it also may be the time of most anxiety because you’re worried about your health, safety and the health of those in your family. You wonder if you’ll ever be safe again. 

To cope, you absorb and sort information and then imagine what might happen next. On one hand, this might be helpful to take data and act on it. 

But for most Sixes, this just means you become preoccupied with research then formulating a plan then doubting that plan and doing nothing or frantically doing a lot of inconsequential activities. 

Yet this is also an opportunity for you to grow by trusting in God’s sovereignty, that no matter how much data you have, only God can make you feel safe and confident. 

This may be a time when God strips away the blinders that keep you from seeing how capable, competent and smart you are and how much agency you have to act on your behalf. 

You’re struggling in three areas:

  • Let’s just talk about the elephant in the room: You are experiencing so much fear right now. You find your mind in an endless loop of research, decision, doubting the decision, doubting yourself and back to researching again.

It’s hard for you to stop worrying about all the scenarios that might happen and how the pandemic will play out. You wonder how to keep your people safe. You worry about the sick, the medical teams, the leaders, etc. 

  • You also struggle to turn your analytical brain off. It’s difficult for you to turn off the flow of thoughts, ideas and solutions so it may be hard to sleep.
  • Finally, in normal circumstances, your home is your refuge, but now it feels like it’s invaded by screens, noise, people and activity, which is upsetting to you. You feel as if you never have a quiet minute, 100% to yourself. 

You may have formed these two unhealthy habits.

  • You may be frantically acting for the sake of acting. You’re tired of being in your own brain so you impulsively make a choice just so you can stop thinking. This may look like stockpiling the pantry or trying to finish every project you’ve ever started. 
  • You analyze to the point that you’re paralyzed. It’s the whole loop we talked about earlier.

But you’re also thriving.

You are excellent at asking questions and not following instructions blindly. You have a gift for analyzing information and pulling out the truth. 

Of all the types, you might be the most prepared for this situation, which helps you feel safe and secure.

You love spending time alone. So if you’re single or married without kids, this may feel like a vacation from all the obligations and required activities. And even if your house is full, you are thriving in the fact that there is nowhere to go and no external obligations. You may feel more peace than you have in years.

So how can you offer yourself grace right now? What are some practical things you can do?

  • Get out of your head and move your body. Your brain needs to think about yoga or worship music as you run. Give it a break and move, preferably by getting outside. 
  • Acknowledge that you are a good planner who was born for such a time as this. You are a good decision-maker. Remember this!
  • Memorize Philippians 4:19: “God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

The Sevens: The Enthusiasts

A home-bound pandemic is a worst-case scenario for most Sevens. 

Where is the fun? 

How much more bored can you get? 

When can you see people again?

You’re coping by reframing the negative of the pandemic into positives: 

Look at all the new recipes I’m trying! 

I’ve always wanted to coordinate a Zoom happy hour and now I had a chance!

You also cope with the fear and stress of the pandemic by procrastinating on projects and chores in the pursuit of doing something more fun, a la baking and happy hours. 

You love to brainstorm so you’ve come up with 12 new ways to have fun at home and you’re sharing them with all of us online. 

(But let’s be honest: brainstorming them can be more fun than actually following through on them. Shopping for supplies for your backyard ballon-a-palooza is boring.)

Your imagination is in overdrive as you think of all the ways this pandemic could be really good in the long run and not as bad you as you imagine. 

This time also provides an opportunity for you to grow when you realize you are fun all on your own. And your people are pretty awesome too. You may come to find that routines and rhythms aren’t as restricting as you initially thought and that you can do this. That this is hard and painful, but it hasn’t killed you yet. 

You’re struggling in five ways: 

  • You cannot stand rules, restrictions and a lack of freedom. Your inability to do what you want when you want to do it feels suffocating right now.
  • At a certain point, you’ve slowed down enough where you can’t out-busy or out-run or out-plan your feelings, so you’re struggling with fear, anxiety and sadness.
  • You are so. bored. so. bored. You feel as if you are actually living Groundhog Day but minus the awesomeness of Bill Murray. 
  • You’re pushing up against routine, paperwork and housework. Staying focused on basic activities is hard right now.
  • And finally: As an extrovert, you get your energy from others. And you’re tanking right now. You’ve pulled all the energy you can from the three other people in your house and you feel like you’re ready to climb the walls. 

You may have formed these two unhealthy habits.

  • You’re distracted and avoiding others — planning that next vacation or searching for open state parks, but you’re not engaging with your people. One of my seven friends shared she just booked a flight this week.
  • You’re whitewashing over the hurt, anxiety and stress of this season and putting on your best face because aren’t you supposed to be the “fun” one?  

But you’re also thriving.

Because if there’s one type that can make a pandemic less painful, it’s you. You’re dreaming up new games, trying new recipes, creating contests for yourself. Your imagination is getting challenged and you are up for it.

You also are trying new projects at home that you haven’t been able to do before because, well, you were never home for this long at one stretch before.

So how can you offer yourself grace right now? What are some practical things you can do?

  • Share with Christ and someone close to you how hard this time is for you. That you’re frustrated. That you think this is too much for you to handle. Listen for the God of all comfort to remind you that He will comfort you and has provided good things for you.
  • Acknowledge that your joy is needed and a gift at this time. It’s OK to have fun, to laugh and to fling happiness. Our world needs your smile.
  • Memorize 2 Peter 1:3: “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

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