Chapter 5 | Enneagram Type 1

Making Growth Real

Build your personal Growth Plan in four steps.

Growing with your Enneagram type can take all sorts of forms. We already touched some ways other types can help you broaden your perspective. In this last section we want to give you four practical exercises that can help you become more self-aware, self-accepting and self-loving of who you are and what it means to be a healthier version of the wonderful and fascinating personality that is you.

If you haven’t done so already, now is a really good time to get out your writing tools and put them to use. While most of what we have given you up until now is useful information, these next sections are there for you to reflect on yourself, write out your own realizations and thoughts and think about how you can put them into daily practice. Our tip: Take it slow. If you find that something really connects with you that you want to try out, only do that one thing. Try it out for a couple of weeks. Then, re-evaluate it, keep it if you like it, let it go if it didn’t help you. Then maybe try out something else.

We wrote this guide not as a one-time reading experience, but as a helpful tool that you can come back to again and again to find new ideas and insights. Allow yourself to take time and go slow, so you can unlock the true potential of this guide – and yourself.

Own The Good

If you read this as a Type One, chances are you feel a bit rattled at this point. A lot of times, Ones have the hardest time with the Enneagram. That’s because they work so hard every day to be the best they can be, and what they discover in the Enneagram sounds a bit like it still isn’t good enough.

But stick with us a little longer, because for one, we’re entering the magic space now where you will find out how to put these insights into practice. And if there’s anyone who’s good at putting things into practice, it’s you. On top of that, you might have already realized that the whole idea of this thing is not to tell you to try harder and be better, but to allow yourself to let go.

It can be especially tricky for Ones to think of things they love about themselves because their inner critic is so quick to point out everything that’s not okay yet. So we want you to try something else: Imagine you were in a relationship with someone who never compliments you, and when they do, you notice they feel uncomfortable doing so? Yet that partner of yours will always be the first to point out everything you still needed to work on. Would you honestly want to stay with that person? Would you want that person to be your mentor to help you make positive changes in your life? Pretty sure you wouldn’t.

We are all so much better at appreciating and validating others than appreciating and validating ourselves. So for this first exercise, imagine you were someone else who talks to a person they really love and admire – because that’s how other people see you.

To help you get started, we want you to remind yourself of a few things that are amazing about your type. For Ones, this is especially necessary, because you are so much better at recognizing the things that are still missing than the things that are already there. So don’t skip this part, but really take your time to appreciate what’s great about you:

Remember your strengths

To help you get started, let us remind you of a few things that are already amazing about you:
You are honest
You are a practical idealist
You listen to your conscience
You are great at thinking in the long term
You are dedicated to making things better
You offer others the chance to be better people
You are incredibly efficient
You have worked hard to acquire discipline
You aren’t fooled by window dressing because you have a sharp eye for what’s right and wrong
You are a genuinely good person

Now it’s your turn. This was just an introduction. There are many more amazing things about you. Take some time to think about and write down your personal strengths.

This is a self-love exercise: 

Talk to yourself about what you're good at, the same way you would talk to the person you love the most (your partner, a friend, your child etc.).

Write it down, then read it out aloud to yourself.

Face The Struggle

As a One, we want to give you a special introduction to this section. It might feel strange to read about your blind spots when we just told you this is not about fixing yourself. We know you already view yourself as a construction site that will never be finished, with a list of things you should be working on. This isn’t here to add more items to that list. Instead, we invite you to start from a different image: You are like a ball of light that, through no fault of your own, has been blinded in a few spots, obstructing the light from shining through. So take these things with grace and allow yourself to just be.

Your inner critic isn’t on your side

One thing every personality type does is identify with a certain voice inside themselves that tells them how the world works. For Ones, this is their inner critic. You may treat it like a parental figure – someone who „knows best“ and tells you when you did good and when you failed miserably.

The problem is, your inner critic doesn’t always actually know best. It doesn’t have final authority. And it’s not the same as your true self. That means you are allowed to distance yourself from it. Make a conscious distinction between yourself and your inner critic. Maybe give it a name. Draw it out on a sheet of paper. And then allow yourself to have conversations with it where you are the authority and your inner critic isn’t allowed to comment on your actions without permission.

When you notice that you fear releasing your inner critic might lead to you becoming a bad person, don’t back away. The truth is that you can be a good person all by yourself. Giving your critic this much power over you will only lead to depression, anxiety and shame. Trust yourself. This voice doesn’t actually have your best interest in mind.

Give your critic a face. A personality. Who is it? What's their name? Are they male or female? Pretty or ugly? Tall or tiny? What's their deal? Why are they always so incredibly negative? Flesh them out, with words or with a drawing, whatever you want.
Sit your critic down and have an honest conversation with them. Treat it as a performance review. You're the boss. They're the employee. Not the other way around.
Dictate the terms: When does your critic have permission to speak, and when do they have to shut it? What are they allowed to say? Again: You are the authority here.

Everybody is doing their best

In order to be able to please your inner critic, you have developed a clear picture of what’s right and wrong, and your efforts to live up to your standards are what makes you such an upstanding person. On the flip side though, many Ones walk around the world thinking they also know what it means when somebody else is trying their best – and when they’re not. One of the most valuable lessons a One can learn is that, in fact, everyone at every moment is trying their best with what they’ve been given.

If that sounds like a direct assault on your worldview, take a moment or two to breathe. Then think about it like this: You are doing the best with what you have right now (if your inner critic is protesting at this moment – he’s wrong). The person who yelled at you last week was doing the best with what they could give at that moment. But we don’t choose the circumstances we are born into, the trauma and pain we pick up along the way. Everyone develops their own set of tools to cope with these things. But nobody wakes up in the morning and decides to be the worst version of themselves. Everyone’s trying their best with the resources they have at any given moment, even when that’s very little.

This might just be a long version of the truth that we are all human – but it is the truth. Taking on this perspective gives you the chance to let go of the need to supervise everyone’s behavior. They’re already trying their best, but the world is a broken place, and people are flawed. We all make mistakes every single day. The healthiest thing we can do for each other is acknowledge the pain, forgive, and keep walking with grace.

What would change in your perception of other people's efforts when you accept that everyone is doing their best?
Can you even agree to that, or does your inner idealist want to call bullshit?
In your next conversation with friends, ask them what they think about this. What does giving their best look like for them?

You’re not oversensitive – you are just stretched too thin

Many Ones are told they are hypocritical when they deal out what others perceive as criticism but have a hard time being criticized themselves. But we don’t believe that’s true. The reason criticism feels so hurtful to you is because you already are so hard on yourself that anyone else adding to it feels overwhelming and devastating.
The truth, however, is that neither the person who criticizes you is a jerk, nor that you didn’t put in enough effort. It’s that relentless slave-driver, your inner critic, who pushes you to constantly perfect everything, even in areas where it’s unnecessary. That means you are allowed to prioritize where you want to invest your energy – and where not. No one will be disappointed when you focus on the relationship that’s important to you and leave the dishes dirty for once.

What's something you could simply NOT do today – to have some more time to focus on yourself?
The next time someone legitimately criticises you, repeat this sentence inside of you: "I'm not a bad person because I got criticized. And they aren't a bad person for criticising me."

Putting pleasure on the backburner isn’t actually helping you in the long run

When you see the world as a place where there is always something to fix, many Type Ones naturally resort to putting work first and play second. But since there’s so much to do, the work often keeps going while the play never comes.

This isn’t necessarily bad in certain situations, but if it happens constantly or goes on for too long, it will ultimately leave you exhausted and full of resentment that will likely come out in unintended ways. You might become irritable with your loved ones and inflexible at work. Or, you might start pursuing pleasures in secret because you feel ashamed to do it in the open. Ones who don’t allow themselves to cut some slack are particularly prone to leading double lives, putting up an impeccable front towards the world while indulging in excessive, unhealthy or even illegal activities when nobody’s looking. Afterwards, the shame comes back, which only reinforces the whole cycle.

Your remedy for this is to actively seek out pleasure. Think back to what you read about your recovery point before and turn this into concrete action. You’re great at planning: Then plan your fun. Put in fixed dates in your calendar where you’re not allowed to work, prepare for work or even think of work. Put it this way: In the end, it won’t matter how much you accomplish if you aren’t also able to enjoy it.

Put something in your calendar for next week (we know, this week is already packed) that you want to do purely for your own pleasure.

Anger is not your enemy

As part of the Body group, Ones have a special fixation on anger, just like Eights and Nines do. Ones do this by constantly denying their anger. Because directly addressing it feels like losing self-control and doing something bad, they push it back and hope it goes away. But like we said before: Anger only goes away when you release it. Storing it away will only make it fester, until it eventually comes back in one way or another – sarcasm, snide remarks, secret indulgences or an unintended and all the more hurtful explosion.

So as a One, you need to find ways to honestly release your anger. This doesn’t mean yelling at the people you’re mad at. Go boxing. Take a run while listening to Rage Against The Machine. Or, easiest of all, just write it all down on a sheet of paper. We often underestimate how much power writing can have. You can do it on a screen too, but trust us, it’s more cathartic to take an actual pen and feel the anger flow out through the ink onto the paper. When you’re done, throw it away or burn it. Actively let it go. Anger is a passing emotion, but you need to allow it to pass through you. Try it out for a week, every morning, at lunch or in the evening. See for yourself how it makes you feel.

Which of the healthy outlets for your anger you just read about sound the most appealing to you? Maybe you have an even better idea?
Are you actually angry at someone right now? Write that down for later. We'll come back to it.

Build Your Everyday Game Plan

Now that you are aware of your strengths as well as your blind spots, let’s talk about how to actually implement useful habits that will help you create a healthy relationship with yourself and life. Don’t think of these as homework. Think of them as gifts: From now on, you are allowed to do these things that will make your life better.

For Ones, this part can be a bit tricky because they are so often caught up in doing the „right“ thing. But as we pointed out before, what your inner voice is convinced of to be „right“ doesn’t necessarily serve you in living your healthiest, happiest and most true-to-yourself life. So we propose another approach: Every time you practice a certain habit or think about learning a new one, ask yourself: „Is this helping me be more accepting, relaxed and gracious?“

Below is a list of a few things that we think may help you with that:

Actively seek out ways to practice openness and kindness

This might sound like we’re just saying „become nicer“, but that’s not what it is at all. What we mean here are concrete practices to open you up and help you lay a foundation for all the other things that help you. That’s why we’re putting this first. There are many forms of spiritual and meditation practice that can help you with that: Practicing non-attachment, loving-kindness meditations, listening to podcasts about openness or various forms of yoga, just to name a few. Make sure you’re not trying to be the best at whatever you choose, but simply get curious and see what happens.

You just read a broad list. Did you find anything that peaked your curiosity? Let’s go through it again:

  • Meditation?
  • Yoga?
  • Podcasts?
  • Anything else that you feel would help you in your daily life

Make it practical: “Starting next week, I want to look into/research/schedule/begin with…”

Detach from your inner critic

We already touched on this in the previous section, but it’s so crucial for Ones that we really want to encourage you to turn this into a daily practice. Your inner critic and your true self are not the same thing. If it can talk to you, then you can also talk back at it. Give it a name. When you realize that its demands are ridiculous, give it a funny voice. Cast a „Riddikulus“ spell on it to break its hold on you. You get to decide what is best for you, not your critic. Each time you find yourself thinking „No, not good enough yet!“, take a deep breath, then ask yourself „Who’s talking here.“ You will quickly recognize how to separate your critic from your true voice.

You did the groundwork in exercise 19 (“Hello, Mr. Critic”). Now it’s time to turn this into daily practice.

  • Start by taking one minute every morning before you get out of bed to say hello to your inner critic. Remind them of the terms of your agreement, and consciously remind yourself that your true self gets to be the judge – not your critic.
  • Every evening, write down when and where your inner critic still judged you during the day. Then have another talk with them. Identify where they were wrong. Remind them who’s boss.
Ask before judging

Whenever you feel yourself getting frustrated with others for not doing things the „right“ way, stop yourself and ask instead: Why are they doing things the way they do? If you can, ask them directly. If that feels inapproriate, start by asking yourself. The only answer you shouldn’t accept is „There’s no reason, they’re just doing it wrong!“ Everybody has a reason. Maybe it feels irrational to you (and maybe it even is!). But nobody chooses to be irrational. There’s always a deeper reason why people choose a certain option. Treat it like the discovery of a foreign land: The more you explore, the more you will find!

We promised we would come back to what you reflected on in exercise 23. Here it is:

  • Set yourself a new goal: At least once this week, when the way someone does something frustrates you, ask them directly why they did it this way. Listen to their whole explanation. If it’s not clear, keep asking for as long as they’re willing and comfortable answering.
  • Next week, ask the same question three times.
  • By the third week, try to ask it every second time it happens.
  • After three weeks, write down your results. How have those different perspectives influenced your emotions? What did you learn?
  • Of course, we strongly encourage you to keep the exercise going after those first three weeks.
Seek out contradiction

Your identity is so closely built around living up to what your conscience has defined as right and wrong, anyone voicing a different opinion can feel like a direct threat to your entire worldview. Now that you know that your worth and your goodness do not depend on a black-and-white version of right or wrong, open yourself up to different truths. Listen intentionally when people share thoughts that directly contradict your own views. Don’t discard them, but look if there isn’t something in there that you can actually agree with. Allow your views to be challenged and even changed. You only stand to benefit from it.

  • Pick something you have very strong and clear opinions about.
  • Now go on the internet and search for an article/a YouTube video/a book/a podcast that directly contradicts your viewpoint (we recommend you expose yourself to the highest quality arguments possible. Don’t be too easy on yourself).
  • Watch/read/listen to the very end. Take notes. Finally, compare: What convinces you? What doesn’t? Where do you want to learn more?
  • This exercise is not about changing your beliefs, but about getting used to different opinions than your own.
Pick up a hobby, the messier the better

We’re not saying Ones don’t have hobbies. It’s just that as a One the chances are high your hobby is either a) somehow work-related b) has grown to the point where it feels like another chore or c) is more about doing something the „right“ way instead of being truly just for fun. So the actual challenge is to find something that allows you to reconnect with your inner child. Something that rekindles the unbridled playfulness and light-heartedness that kids bring to everything they do. Throw paint at a wall. Go dirt biking. Pot some plants. Or take a pottery lesson and make the pots for those plants yourself. You don’t need to be good at it. This is simply about the freedom of releasing control, doing something for the love of it and creating things that are imperfect, but good!

Here is one way to find a hobby that helps you unleash your inner child:

  • What was something you enjoyed when you were a child that you have since stopped doing, even though you miss it? Maybe it was playing with Legos. Maybe it was playing soccer. Maybe it was drawing.
  • What ways are there to pick up that hobby once more?
  • When do you want to reserve some time for it?

These were just our ideas. If you find something here that you want to try out, go for it! But we know that every person is unique. Which is why we’re sure you will have some ideas of your own. Take your time to think about habits that can help you become conscious of your patterns in your daily life and help you open up to new alternatives.

Use your support system

You’ve come amazingly far! But we know the process of self-acceptance and self-awareness isn’t always easy. There will be days when you feel discouraged. When your awareness of your patterns just isn’t there. We want to encourage you to have grace with yourself. Awareness isn’t a goal you will arrive at someday and be able to say “Nice, I made it.” It’s a daily decision to work with the resources we have right now. You only ever need to think about the present moment. Not how aware and healthy you will be tomorrow, next month or in ten years. The work is only here, today, right now.

We know that you are already doing your best. So here, at the end, we don’t want to give you more advice. We simply want to offer you a few tools that can help you to stay merciful with yourself and keep going when things seem too difficult. You got this!

Tool #1: Gentle Reminders

Here are three soft reminders to hold on to each and every day on your journey to become a healthy and self-affirming Type One.

1. Questions are always allowed

A deep part of the One’s worldview is a rigidity of thought: There’s only one way to do this right. There’s only one correct answer. It’s either flawless or a failure. To learn to release this all-or-nothing mindset, remind yourself that questions are always allowed. Treat it as if the „Why“-phase every kid has was cut short for you, and start delving back into it. „Why is this person doing things the way they do?“, „Why am I angry right now?“, „Why do I want to invest this extra energy into this thing?“
Of course, you don’t need to stop there. You can always expand your curiosity with other questions, like „How would it feel to just take a break and let this be as it is?“, „How can I treat myself with grace and kindness right now?“, or „What is the worst that could happen if I took these things off my to-do list today?“ This last one especially can help you to notice when your inner critic is gaining the upper hand again and gently tell them that your relationship with yourself is more important than any exaggerated expectations.

Put a reminder in your phone that asks you at least three times a day: "Why am I doing/feeling/thinking this?"

2. You can define what is „good“ yourself

As challenging as this might sound at first, this is one of the greatest sources of freedom for Ones. You are the only one who gets to decide what it means to be a good person. Read through the part again what thriving Ones look like, sit down with a pen and a journal and write down what kind of person you want to be. What do you believe it means to be an honorable, kind and good person? This is the only thing that counts. Your inner critic will try to interfere and claim it already knows what’s best for you. But by now you know that you don’t always have to listen to it.

Write down what a "good" person would look like if you were the one to choose. Revisit this list every three months. See what changes.

3. There is always time for play

This isn’t a lesson exclusive to Ones. In our modern, productivity-focused culture we all need to rediscover our child-like playfulness. But Ones especially are allowed to put a bigger focus on this. Just remember not to treat play-time as another chore or task. Yes, you can plan it if that helps you. But you are always allowed to just take a few minutes off to go exploring. There’s a whole world out there that’s been locked behind a cordon of what you have been told is „inappropriate“ or „indulgent“, and you may make time to find something that’s just for you in there at any moment.

Every morning, take one minute to reflect what will give you joy today. Every evening, take another minute to reflect on what gave you joy that day. Gradually increase the times you repeat the question.

Tool #2: Daily Affirmation

In addition to the three reminders mentioned above, we also want to give you an even shorter piece of advice that sums up the essence of the One’s struggle. Print it out, hang it on your fridge, tattoo it on your forehead or keep it anywhere else where it will remind you every day. For Ones, your affirmation is this:

An affirmation for Ones
„I am good without needing to be perfect.”
Make a creative version of your daily affirmation and put it somewhere you'll see it every day.

Tool #3: A Letter To Yourself

We have written many words about your type. But here, at the end, we want you to have something that is just for you. 

When was the last time you received a love letter from a person that was dear to you? Do you still remember how you felt? View these next lines as a letter written by the healthiest version of yourself – to yourself. This is not us talking. It’s the person you know is already inside of you, the one you are on your best and most aware days, telling you what you need to know. 

Every time you need some encouragement, take this letter and read it out loud to yourself. 

A letter to you
Dear ,

You are already a good person, did you know that? You are already right exactly the way you are. If there is anything you take away from this report, we hope it is the awareness that whatever you’ve been told you first must achieve to be „right“ is actually already right here and right now. By simply getting up each morning and doing your best with what’s available to you this day you’re already doing more than enough. Nobody expects anything more from you.

You are good.

Perfection is never found in flawlessness. There’s a reason nothing in nature truly adheres to any mathematical equation. There’s always some deviation that doesn’t make things less, but more beautiful. Being whole is not something to be achieved in the future , but something to be embraced in the now.

Life wants to give you the illusion that if you only try hard enough, you will someday arrive at a destination where everything falls into place. We know how tempting it is to think we can shape the world to be whatever we want it to be.

But that illusion in reality is a prison. It forces you to always be hard on yourself.

You don’t need to be.

You are allowed to just be. To rest. To let go, even for just a moment, and stay in the knowledge that nothing is expected from you. You are accepted just as you are.

You are loved.

You can breathe.

You are good.

Just as you are.

Print out this letter (or write it out per hand on a nice sheet of stationary), put it in a beautiful envelope and read it out loud to yourself once every month.
Whoops!

You need Permissions to access this page.

If you have purchased this product you can log in to your account and can access it from your account dashboard. If you haven't purchased this product yet, you can buy it here
back to top
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram