Ones are idealistic, conscientious and have a lot of integrity. At their core, they are defined by their perceptions of right and wrong, and their commitment to doing things “right”. Ones act with self-discipline, determination and the ability to delay gratification for a brighter tomorrow.
Ones are great at improving what they feel needs improvement, but they have difficulties relaxing and allowing themselves, as well as others, to not be perfect at all times.
Ones are pragmatic and serious people who work hard to ensure they are the best version of themselves they can be. They put a lot of effort into making sure they’re doing the right thing at all times and are great at seeing how to improve and perfect things.
Organizational skills, self-discipline and honesty come easy to Ones. They have an awareness of what the world needs, are dedicated to the causes they pick up and persistent in the face of struggle. The high standards Ones have for themselves and others can make it hard for those around them to live up to the One’s expectation of what it means to do something “right“. It can be hard to change a One’s mind on something, since their identity is tightly connected to their need to be seen as a good person.
Ones want their actions to be consistent with their beliefs and principles. They want to be people of integrity, justice and honesty, who are recognized for their impeccable character.
Ones belong to the Body group of the Enneagram, the same group as Eights and Nines. The types of this group have a special relationship with anger and control. Eights freely give in to their anger and control through aggression, while Nines fall asleep to their anger and give up control. Ones however try to control themselves by repressing and denying their anger, which makes it hard for them to adequately process it.
As children, Ones internalize the message that in order to be okay, they need to be “good“, which is defined by the people of authority in their lives. They consequently try to live up to those standards and develop fine antennas for where the border between “good“ and “bad“, “right“ and “wrong“ lies, and in doing so they forget that the world isn’t as black and white. Ones grow up with a strong internal set of morals and principles, which they naturally assume must be true for everyone, not just themselves – otherwise they wouldn’t be truly “right“.
Ones believe that the world has an order that must be maintained and, where it was lost, restored. They are driven by a harsh inner critic who judges not only themselves, but by extension also the actions of others. They can’t help but see what is amiss in the world, and find letting things be, even if it’s just a tiny detail, challenging. In the eyes of a One, there is little breathing room between “perfect“ and “bad“.
The negative emotions Ones learn to repress in order to not misbehave“ never go away, of course. Instead, they find other outlets. Ones can often feel cold, resentful and hypocritical – they pretend they’re not frustrated, but everyone in the room feels it. The person their hidden anger is usually directed at, however, is themselves: Because of course they are only human and therefore fail to meet their own standards just as much as anyone else. It’s just terribly hard for Ones to admit that.
When Ones become healthy, they learn to dethrone their inner critic as the unchallenged authority in their lives and suddenly find the freedom to relax, take it easy and let things be once in a while. They become wise but compassionate teachers and reformers with the strength to fight for what’s right and truly make a difference in the world.
The most important message for Type Ones is that their own and everyone else’s flawed nature is one of life’s normal components, and that no amount of work will ever make anyone “perfect“. Wanting to improve is good, but having grace with yourself and others is even better.
Your personality isn’t a fixed thing. People grow. While we don’t change our basic personality, we all can become more mature and healthy inside our personality. But at times, we also revert to less healthy behavior. This looks different for every personality type. Let’s see how it unfolds for Ones.
On average levels of psychological health, Ones have a super acute sense of right and wrong, and their life is strongly shaped by this inner compass. This applies to themselves more than anything. They feel the need to always do the right thing, so they are usually pretty disciplined, reliable, hard-working and try to have those pesky emotions under control. But because they put in so much effort into improving themselves, average Ones have a hard time seeing almost everyone else being irrational, undisciplined and lazy - in their mind. Because they can’t just scream at people – that would be wrong – their anger often turns into quiet resentment that’s boiling away under the surface.
When psychologically unhealthy, calm and rational Ones become surprisingly emotional, irrational and hurtful. Their inner resentment towards themselves and everyone else starts boiling over. Sometimes they manage to keep the outer appearance intact, only to indulge in all their “evil“ passions in secret, which they then are ashamed of and angry about, possibly leading to self-hatred. Every type can fall victim to a vicious cycle, and this is theirs.
Healthy Ones make for incredibly wise and discerning teachers. It helps that their inner drive allows Ones to work so hard. They have it easier than others to postpone immediate pleasure for later rewards. Healthy Ones are the great educators and makers of this world. Think of famous Ones like Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Ghandi: They become people who freely share their gift of teaching how to become a better version of yourself.
The peace-seeking Type Nine wing makes Ones more laid-back and relaxed. They are kinder to themselves and others and add a gentler touch to their need to improve. These Ones find it easier to back down, to listen and to explain their ideas and not be as resentful, but they can also have a harder time with procrastination and retreating from people.
With a Type Two wing, Ones become more caring and concerned for the well-being of others. Their Two wing gives them more compassion and empathy, but it can also increase their need for control. They can be more selfless, but also more manipulative in trying to turn people into who they think they should be.
It’s not unusual that people are not sure which Enneagram personality type they really are. If that’s you, don’t worry, it’s totally normal. The Enneagram doesn’t just look at your behavior, but at the motivation behind your behavior. This means that some Types can look similar on the outside.
You can learn how to safely tell Type One apart from all the other Enneagram types here.
Finding out about your Enneagram type shouldn’t be the end of your journey of discovering your personality. The Enneagram is an amazing tool to help you on your journey to become more self-aware and self-accepting.
These five ideas are only a first step to get you started. Get your premium profile to find out much more about how you can use the Enneagram to become your healthiest self!
The next time the accusing and berating voice in your head tells you that you failed again, don’t hate yourself or try to repress or ignore it. Thank that voice for trying to help you improve and avoid mistakes, but let it know that you are on a better path to accepting yourself and don’t need its constant criticism anymore.
When you feel that familiar anger over an injustice or a mistake someone made, take a second and reexamine where that anger comes from. Is it really this situation that’s bothering you, or is it something else that’s taking a side-door to vent?
Pick a hobby you like even if you’re not very good at it - not to become better at it, but just because you enjoy it. If you find yourself procrastinating over something for fear of delivering anything less than perfect, ask yourself if this particular thing couldn’t be beautiful even if it’s just average.
Everyone makes mistakes. Forgive yourself for them, even learn from them, but don’t hate yourself when they happen. This will make it much easier to receive criticism from others, too. When you accept that you’re not perfect, you don’t need to become defensive when others point it out to you.
Each person is on their own path to their true self, and most of them will have views and standards that are different from yours. Try not to measure them against your own, but appreciate them for what they do right and let them know.