Enneagram Seven: The Enthusiast
Welcome to Week Seven of the Brightly Alex Enneagram Series! This week we get to hear from Bob Hedge, a new friend of mine who brings a lot of wisdom and introspection to the table.
Enneagram Sevens are nicknamed The Enthusiast. Their basic motivation is to be satisfied and content. This can often look like avoiding pain anything uncomfortable. As Bob puts it, "I’m always wanting to be engaged in fun...this desire comes from pain avoidance, both emotional and physical." Type Sevens are really great people to spend time with, they often help me to have fun and dig myself out of my Type Four heaviness and into a lighter, more joyful way of life.
If this is your first time hearing about the Enneagram, check out this post for an overview. If you've been here for the whole series, read on to hear from Bob!
1. When and why did you first learn about the Enneagram?
"A friend of mine told me about the Enneagram about five years ago. He was challenging me to learn more about who I was in response to a work relationship crisis I was involved in. He shared a book with me, Richard Rohr’s The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective. I honestly wasn’t able to delve into it much at that point.
"It wasn’t until recently, maybe two years ago, my wife and I began digging deeper into the Enneagram; figuring out our types and what it means for us. The main reason why I wanted to look at the Enneagram is the premise that it deals with understanding my core motivations, rather than describing my actions. I love growth, and believe I am on a journey of constant change, growing in Jesus, and living a life sold out to him. Understanding my motivations is the beginning stage of growth, in my understanding."
2. How has the Enneagram impacted how you see yourself?
"I see myself being more empowered and confident in who I am.
"Through the enneagram I have felt more validated and simultaneously challenged to not excuse my actions as 'well this is just the way I am'. As a Type Seven, I have been able to embrace some areas in my life that I had previously thought were negative traits about me.
"One of these areas is my spontaneity. This desire for something new and different, when left unchecked, can lead to unnecessary and hurtful changes in my life. I have felt this in my past, missing out on experiences I wish I had but left too soon. Understanding this desire, I can now filter my feelings through this lens and be able to better assess if getting out of a situation or trying something new is healthy or just because I want to avoid pain. If it’s the latter, I can appropriately stay in my situation, many times, in the trials of my life, and come out victorious on the other side, instead of running. I now use my desire for being spontaneous to my advantage and when I feel this need, I’m empowered to embrace in a healthy way. I better know when to go with the flow and enjoy spontaneous experiences."
3. How has the Enneagram impacted the relationships in your life and how you view others?
"I’ve seen the Enneagram have great influence over how I receive others' actions, and honor people for who they are and understanding their own motivations. One of the greatest impacts is in my marriage. My wife is a Type Nine, and a core motivation for her is being at/having peace. Being spontaneous, if unrecognized or unfiltered, has caused great stress in my wife’s life. Through the Enneagram and understanding not only my, but my wife’s motivations, I can better be in a mutually loving and honoring relationship. I can be spontaneous, but in a way that allows her to be edified in the experience. Likewise, I can evaluate if my motivation is warranted or valid in the moment, and be more attentive to her needs.
"I have seen the Enneagram become common talk in my relationships and gatherings with people, at times it feels funny to hear someone inevitably ask, 'what’s your Enneagram?' I’m guilty of this as well, but I’m learning so much about myself and my friends and co-workers, and I can better care for people as a pastor.
"I think what it all comes down to is that when you deal with the Enneagram, it’s not just self discovery, it’s communal learning and empowerment to love each other through difference, and to do that well."
4. How do you most relate to your Enneagram?
"Gluttony - and not just with food - has always been a temptation of mine. Through the Enneagram, I’ve come to understand this is my core weakness. I feel it’s a driving motivation to be cared for, or completely whole. And who better to care for me, than me!
"I remember early in my marriage, with Christmas a few weeks away, I wanted this new shirt. I had mentioned it to my wife in passing, and later that week, I went out and purchased my shirt. I was excited and felt cared for. When I arrived home my wife was upset when I showed her my shirt. We began to argue about why I shouldn’t have purchased the shirt, not because of money but because of the time of year! Christmas was right around the corner, and after a little while, my wife revealed that she had already purchased the shirt for me as a Christmas gift. Immediately I felt horrible. I had ruined her gift to me, robbed her the joy of caring for me, and I had the need the shirt filled for me returned. Since that argument we have an agreement in our house, don’t buy anything for yourself within 6 weeks of Christmas!
"On a serious note, I don’t like to do delayed gratification. Gluttony is filling your needs or wants with your own power in the moment. Removing any need to rely on anyone, let alone God. When I’m healthy, I am leaning into the provision Jesus has given me through the Gospel, and my relationship with him can be wonderful and very fulfilling. I am able to set aside my personal wants and trust he is caring for me, and allow those in my life to be able to care for me as well. Honestly, during these times, my experiences are richer, and longer lasting.
"When I’m unhealthy I go back into shirt buying mode. If I have the need or want I meet it myself. The danger for us Sevens in gluttony is that we elevate our needs and wants above those we are called to love, and can easily end up hurting those around us for fleeting and shallow happiness in life, missing out on the everlasting Joy we find in Jesus, and connected to community with others.
"Something I’ve learned to do in response to understanding how to keep my Enneagram type in health is to establish 'feasts'. Feasting is a good thing in moderation and done when we should be celebrating life. So I look for life moments to celebrate and feast. I don’t set these up in isolation, so I can keep them in check. Feasts can easily become gluttony. But this allows me to appropriately honor times in my life when I should celebrate and just embrace what I’m feeling. The second thing I do is ask myself on a regular basis when have I lost so someone else could win. Pain is not something I enjoy, and most of the time that keeps me safe. But it also can keep me from honoring others because I must win to avoid pain. But honestly, it can be good for the soul to lose also."
5. What's the biggest misconception about you or your type?
"Sevens are known to pursue fun, right? I agree, we do. I’m always wanting to be engaged in fun. And yes, I’d agree this desire comes from pain avoidance, both emotional and physical.
"But I feel a misconception about me is that because I am having fun, I am ok emotionally and spiritually. This can lead to feeling very lonely, even in the midst of many friends. I would say, while I don’t like pain, I see greatly the pain in the world, mine and others. This causes great inner turmoil, and many times this leads to feeling trapped internally. I'm outwardly engaged in fun and happiness, but internally, wrestling with the weight of the world. But I don’t always know how to deal with my inner turmoil. If you know me, or another Seven who identifies with what I’m saying, I would encourage asking us open-ended questions that give space for us to process. Be ok with us processing out loud and the freedom to change our answer later if needed. And, if I say I don’t know what I'm feeling or thinking, it’s because I don’t. I can’t put my finger on it yet, but when I do, I would love to share with you."
6. Answer the following: I feel loved when ____. I feel unloved when ___.
"I feel loved when you get excited about my idea and just say yes. I feel unloved when I’m told I use too many words and you don’t let me explain the details."
Can you relate to Bob's experience as a Type Seven? Do you know of an Enthusiast friend that would benefit from reading Bob's insight? Please share this article! I've put together this series to help people better understand themselves and each other, so please pass it on to someone it could be helpful for.