On Being An Enneagram Type Eight

When I first learned about the Enneagram, there was very little written about it. The description of the 8 was the one I liked least, yet felt the most familiar. The 8 is often seen as the boss, leader, confronter, asserter, and protector, and described as self-confident, forceful, dominating, combative, and vengeful. Whereas, I had trouble relating to either the power-hungry, vengeful oppressor or the self-restrained, magnanimous hero, I did see myself as a rugged individualist and identified with the more average traits of leadership, confidence, generosity, self-sufficiency, forcefulness, and intimidation.

In the past, my issues centered around power - where it was, who had it, and was it used fairly. I also knew that I always felt provoked by the unspoken, respectful of truth, disarmed by vulnerability, and touched by innocence, which is generally the stance of the 8.

By nature, I did not seek out conflict, but I certainly never avoided it. While I never wanted to consciously overpower others, I was sensitive to betrayal and did feel the need to prevail, and if provoked I sought the advantage to avoid being vulnerable. In the past, when people wanted me to do something I perceived as controlling, I felt like I was being personally challenged and retaliated in a manner I deemed fair.

Generally, I say what I mean and mean what I way, and would rather receive information directly than indirectly. Thus, in the past when someone would phrase a request or criticism in an overtly nice way, couching constructive criticism in compliments, I felt manipulated. While there may have been good intentions, I felt provoked by what wasn't being said - I heard what was left out at a higher volume. Now, however, I no longer take it personally, for I know that the direct approach can be intimidating to others of a different style.

Another characteristic of 8's that struck me as accurate for myself is a respect for truth. I may have very strong views, but if you can stand up for yourself and for me and give me your truth, I can be totally open and change my mind.

On the higher side, I like to champion others, and it is noteworthy to mention that hidden beneath the stance of strength is a vulnerable and innocent heart that is deeply touched by and protective of the disadvantaged. With the knowledge of the Enneagram and my core dynamics, I am now more compassionate of myself and others and realize that we are all simply trying to survive within our own defense strategies -- Katherine Chernick