Roland Legge, an identity coach at YourTango, helps us understand how to build a healthy and robust relationship with the help of the Enneagram.
Learn to love yourself.
When learning how to love yourself, all your flaws, and all your personality traits, the Enneagram is an excellent psychological-spiritual map that can show you how your inner critic tries to control you.
Each Enneagram personality type has a different message and relationship with the inner critic.
You have an inner critic and it will never go away. But, you have a choice to stay in control of your ego or risk following your inner instincts.
Your inner critic wants to be your friend. Your ego likes the status quo and your inner critic wants you to keep to the familiar so it can stay in charge.
The secret to self-love is to befriend your inner critic.
Let it know how much you appreciate its desire to keep you safe. Reassure it that you are now an adult and can take good care of yourself. Over time, your inner critic will quiet down.
The more you learn about your own Enneagram personality type, the more you can take charge of your life, freeing you from internal fear, regret, anger, and self-abuse. You can learn how to love yourself.
Using the Enneagram map to figure out the various personality types and their traits is the way to liberation. But learning to love yourself is life-long work. The inner critic will show up whenever you are under stress.
Just because you have it in check now doesn't mean it won't come back to haunt you.
Here are the nine different Enneagram types, and the reasons why they have a harsh inner critic (and how they can learn to love themselves).
Type 1: The Reformer
You have a strong desire to make the world a better place, whether that be your family, church, community, country, or planet. You know there is a better way to do things. At your best, you are a great teacher, helping people to live well in the world.
When you are under stress, you become a perfectionist. You are especially hard on yourself and the people around you. As you move more and more into fear, you become critical of others who don't do things precisely as you think they should.
Your stress arises from your inner critic. The inner critic message of the Reformer is"I am good or okay if I do what is right." As you become more self-aware, I invite you to become conscious when these thoughts arise.
If you are a type one, you will set high expectations for yourself and the people around you. Sadly, no one will be able to meet your high standards. It all ends in frustration, anger, disappointment, and hopelessness.
The only way out of this vicious cycle is to accept your humanness and know that you can't do everything correctly. Often, doing your best is enough.
I think of a comment from Brene Brown from her book Rising Strong where she talks about learning to accept that each of us does the best we can at the moment. Reminding myself of this gives me compassion towards myself and others.
Type 2: The Helper
You have a strong desire to help and care for others. Helping a friend or stranger in need feels good. While no one can know what another person needs, the helpers are the best at it.
As a type two, you have an intuitive knowledge of what other people need. It is not uncommon for you to see things in others that they can't even see in themselves.
When you are at your best, you can care for both yourself and the people in your life. As you get less healthy, you start to live through the lives of others.
Your increasing stress arises from your inner critic. The inner critic for this type is "I am good or okay if I am loved and accepted by others."
As you move into stress, you become more and more addicted to helping others because you are desperate to feel loved and accepted. As you get worse, you get angry when people don't take the help you offer.
Why? Because you feel unloved when they refuse your help.
The way out of this vicious cycle is to learn to accept yourself. It is building daily practices into your life that will honour you and help you to stay emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy.
It is learning to accept that you are lovable. It is about coming to the recognition that you are worthy of being loved. Love is a gift and not something to be earned.
Healing requires type two folks to take time for yourself, eat good food, get lots of sleep, and follow your dreams.
Type 3: The Achiever
You have a strong desire to mentor others at work and at home. You have a powerful drive within you to be successful. You want to bring your best to everything you do.
You are a mover and shaker. You are creative, playful, and you will get the job done.
At your best, you have self-confidence, a lot of energy, and ambitions. You have the natural ability to inspire others into success. People love to be around you because the energy is so high and positive.
As you move into stress, you start to lose who you are. You get more and more desperate to be successful. You begin changing your behaviour based on what you think others expect of you.
You become more concerned with how others see you, and you will go to extremes to pretend to be someone else. The more desperate you get, the angrier you get. The more upset you get, the more you will lie.
Your increasing stress arises from your inner critic. The inner critic of type three says, "I am good or okay if others think well of me, and I'm successful."
The way out of this vicious cycle is to accept yourself as enough. You are not the only person to make new initiatives happen. You don't always need to outdo yourself or others. A little vulnerability will carry you a long way.
When you are feeling exhausted, take a nap. It is okay to make it easy.
Type 4: The Individualist
You hunger to be your authentic self. You are eager to discover what makes you unique. You are sensitive and creative. You are emotionally intelligent, always desiring to connect with people on a heart-to-heart basis.
You can find beauty everywhere you go and can make any room appealing. You help all of us to value beauty often in the most surprising ways and places.
As you move into stress, you get caught in an inner battle of wanting to fit in versus showing the world how unique and different you are. You quickly get depressed, getting caught up in intense emotional states.
Your friends and family may avoid you through these rough times because they experience you as self-pitying, self-absorbed, dramatic, and temperamental. But, this is not the true you.
Your increasing stress arises from your inner critic. The inner critic for this type says, "I am good or okay if I am true to myself."
The way out of the vicious cycle is to become more observant of what is going on in your inner world. Your emotions and feelings are always changing. You would benefit from meditating to help you know what is going on inside yourself.
Meditating will help you to know the difference between what you think you are feeling and what you are experiencing at the moment.
Type 5: The Investigator
You are a fantastic observer. You see things that most of us miss. You love to learn and go deep into whatever you are learning. You help us all be curious.
At your best, you are playful and whimsical. You have the gift of staying focussed.
As you move into stress, you become more fearful of sharing what is going on in your mind. Your worst fear is that other people will think you are stupid.
Your easy way out of stress is to avoid sharing what is going on in your mind until you feel that whatever project you are working on is complete and perfect.
One way you hide is by being provocative — nothing like an argument to keep you from feeling your body and dealing with your issues.
When you hold back for fear of looking stupid, we are all at a loss. Your imperfect ideas are essential for the world.
Your increasing stress arises from your inner critic. The inner critic for the type five says, "I am good or okay if I master something."
The way out of this vicious cycle is to build body consciousness. You can be so busy mastering something you forget your own physical needs.
Take the time to slow down and listen to what your body needs. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, food, and playtime.
Type 6: The Loyalist
You are a master problem solver. You can see problems well before they happen and make sure they get resolved.
You are courageous. If a project is important enough for you, you will confront your anxiety.
When you trust a person, you will be loyal to them through thick and thin.
When you start feeling stressed, you begin to lose your confidence. You feel like something has abandoned you — God, a parent, a spouse, or an organisation. You feel more and more lost and alone.
The more alone and unsure of life you are, the more anxious you get. When you are anxious you feel out of control. You feel like your body and mind is in overdrive.
As you lose your inner confidence, you become dependent on what other people think you should do.
Your increasing stress arises from your inner critic. The inner critic of the type six says, "You are good or okay if I know what is expected of me."
The way out of this vicious cycle is to find a practice to quiet your mind, such as meditation, yoga, exercise, and anything else that will ease your mind.
As you quiet your mind and question the truth of your fears, you will discover that most of them have no reality.
And as your mind quiets down, you will find your inner strength, which is courage.
Type 7: The Enthusiast
You love life! You want to get the very best out of every moment. You love adventure. You will try anything new at least once.
You are a big-picture person. You can envision all the components to make something big and complicated happen.
You are fun to work with at work or at home. You are spontaneous and respond to whatever you need to with creativity and ingenuity.
As you move into stress, you find yourself getting bored faster and faster. It becomes more and more difficult for you to finish projects that you began.
The type seven will push themselves into riskier and riskier behaviour to keep the adrenaline going so they can avoid their internal pain.
Your increasing stress arises from your inner critic. The inner critic of this type says, "You are good or okay if I get what I need."
The way out of this vicious cycle is to find safe places for you to face your internal pain. Your inner pain could arise from unresolved childhood issues abandonment issues and or could be from relationship challenges in your marriage.
Slow down and take time for yourself. Find a friend to share what is going on in your body, mind, and heart. Don't be afraid to go for professional help with a coach or counselor to help you to move through your pain so you can release it.
Type 8: The Challenger
You are big-hearted, compassionate, energetic, and assertive. You are not afraid to be who you are.
If you see someone having a rough time in their life because of circumstances such as prejudice, poverty, and racism, you will support them through thick and thin.
You are very intuitive and you know within yourself what you need to do. You don't waste time moving ahead.
People always know your point of view because you are not afraid to speak your truth and you don't care what other people think.
As you move into stress, you put on more and more armour around your heart. You will push people over emotionally, mentally, and physically to get your way. Many people find you intimidating.
The angrier you get, the more desperate you are. The more desperate you get, the higher the risks you will take to get your adrenaline rush.
Your stress arises from your inner critic. The inner critic of this type says, "You are good or okay if I can impose my will and be strong and just."
The way out of your vicious cycle is to find safe places to share your inner world. The more you can get in touch with your emotional "yuck," the healthier you will get.
You need a place to let down your guard and open your heart to be healed.
You will also benefit from opening yourself up to hearing other people's thoughts and concerns, especially when they disagree with you.
Type 9: The Peacemaker
You have the gift of being able to understand different perspectives from many people. Understanding different points of view make you good at helping individuals, groups, and governments to work through conflict.
You are a remarkable observer. You can see ways to bring people together, beyond their conflict.
You are so patient. You can wait, however long it takes to work through differences of opinion.
As you move into stress, you start to ignore your own needs. You begin to think that you have no worth. You will avoid any form of conflict no matter what the cost is.
You become passive-aggressive. You will appease others to keep the peace until it gets so bad that you have an emotional blow-up. The breaking point happens when your soul can no longer put up with the ignoring of your own needs. Your anger is a cry for help.
Your increasing stress arises from your inner critic. The inner critic for type nine is, "You are good or OK if everyone around me is right or OK."
The way out of the vicious cycle is to practice self-care every day. It is also about letting others know what you need.
Your goal is to find your inner peace, which will help you through chaotic times.
Discerning your Enneagram type can help you to notice every day when you are getting stuck in your inner critic.
The various reasons why you have a harsh inner critic, according to the Enneagram, are both similar and diverse.
Loving yourself is all about becoming more and more present and open. It is all about keeping your belly (body) centre, heart (emotional) centre, and head (mind) centre open.
It is about being about what your three energy centres are telling you. Your three brain centres have much to teach you.
It is about being honest with yourself. Ask yourself daily, "What I am I experiencing right now? What is real? What is in my imagination?"
It is learning to know the difference between what you think you feel and experience and what you do.
Your inner critic will never go away, but with practice, you can help to quiet it down to the point you will rarely know that it is even there.
Roland Legge is an identity coach who is here to help you build a healthy and robust relationship with the help of the Enneagram. You can join his private newsletter list for free monthly advice and get your free Enneagram test and sign up for a free 30-minute discovery call.