Can I be more than one Enneagram type?
Updated: Jun 15, 2022
One of the most common questions we receive from clients who are just starting to dip their toes in the Enneagram is: “Can I be more than one type?”
It’s tempting to think so. As humans, we love to be recognized for all the ways in which we’re talented and unique, so we attach ourselves to many of the positive descriptions of each Enneagram type. Pioneering? Of course! Emotionally in touch? The most emotionally intelligent person I know. Creative and inspiring? Not to brag, but so I’ve been told many times…
Despite our rose-colored lenses, the Enneagram only permits one base type. Your type is represented by a number ranging from One to Nine, each of which is uniquely endowed with a certain set of characteristics, and one of which most closely describes how you tend to view and interact with the world.
Within each type is a range of different emotions, motivations, and behaviors that characterize much of what makes you “you.” Your Enneagram type is a baseline, a comprehensive (but not 100% full) explanation of how you’re wired. As far as personality summaries go, your Enneagram type is likely to be the best Wikipedia plot summary about your mind that you’ve ever read.
Even if your Enneagram type test results (within our Blueprint app or elsewhere) come back ambiguous because you test highly as multiple types, it doesn’t mean that you are multiple types. Certain Enneagram types have fundamental overlaps that make mistypings somewhat common.
For example, Threes are often high-energy and optimistic, so they may mistakenly believe they’re a Seven, the type that shares those same qualities. Similarly, a Six may read about the strength and aggressiveness of an Eight, and because they occasionally dip into those traits, mistype themselves as an Eight. It’s important to remember that overlap or correlation does not mean you’re both types. The Enneagram allows you to be only one type, full stop.
The best advice we have for people who are unsure about their type even after taking our test is to read about each type thoroughly. Be honest with yourself about your virtues and your vices, focusing on how you’ve been most of your life (who you are naturally) rather than who you’ve been lately or worked to become.
Oftentimes we find that reading about each type’s levels of development can be an excellent cheat sheet if you’re still finding typing to be difficult (within Blueprint: tap the “Reference” tab, select a type, then tap the “Growth” subtab).
Pay close attention not only to how each type behaves when they’re healthy, but also when they’re unhealthy. People face stress, uncertainty, and challenges differently and self-destruct in unique ways. How happy to think about! Some types isolate themselves and turn inward, wanting to be alone with their stress. Other types explode outward and take out their negativity on others. Your behaviors in low health can be a shortcut for determining which type you are if you’re deciding between two or three finalists.
Remove the shame here; every type has both inspirational and less desirable parts of their personality. Own them all. One of the major use cases of the Enneagram is to learn about yourself on a deep level, so you can make positive changes and become the best version of yourself.
Unique, yet part of something bigger
We find it extraordinarily rare that someone doesn’t eventually identify strongly with one type/subtype combination. If the idea of bucketing yourself into a standardized personality type pains you, just remember: there are as many personality types as there are people in the world, and the Enneagram is merely a model. A good one, for sure, but still just a model.
Being a Five doesn’t mean your value on this earth is as a Five; it merely gives you and others a fast understanding of how you think and behave to enable smoother relationships and interactions.
Fun fact to end on: Enneagram theory states that the higher your health, the more you take on the positive characteristics of all the other personality types. As you ascend in psychological health, you begin to release your stresses and become a well-integrated, balanced human being: more objective, more kind-hearted, more creative, and more altruistic. You may still be a Five at your core, but you become three-dimensional in a host of other ways, filling out your blindspots and removing barriers standing between you and a sense of inner peace. Don’t strive to type yourself into somebody you’re not. Instead, seek to grow towards it.