Fives are cerebral, detached and sober. They want to understand the world and protect their privacy and independence so they can live on their own terms. They like to analyze the world, dissect it, go to the bottom of things and feel like they really understood everything there is to understand before they make a move.
Fives are great at looking at things rationally, but they struggle to leave their look-out posts and engage with life. Their instinct to withdraw, detach and keep things to themselves can make it hard for other people to know what’s really going on in the life of a Five.
Fives like to understand things. Like squirrels stockpiling for the winter, they collect knowledge and information with a boundless curiosity. They use their mind to observe and investigate whatever fascinates them. Fives always try to base their decisions on reason and knowledge. They don’t get easily overwhelmed by their emotions, but instead detach from them and analyze them to understand what’s going on.
Fives profit immensely from their ability to focus without their emotions getting in the way. They stay calm and collected when everyone else has already run up the wall. The other side of this coin is that they often have trouble sharing themselves. Naturally private, they are much better at taking in information than offering up anything intimate about themselves to others, fearing it will only allow others to make too many demands on them.
Fives want to feel capable of handling a world that feels overwhelming. They unconsciously think that the more they understand about the world, the more they will be able to meet the demands of life.
Fives belong to the “head group“ of the Enneagram, as do types Six and Seven. These types share a special relation to their mind, and to feelings of fear and anxiety. Sixes, for example, use their minds to scan and prepare for any potential danger in order to calm their anxiety. Sevens use their mind to distract themselves from anything they fear could take away their happiness. Fives try to analyze their fear of being drained, reduce the space they take up in the world, make themselves small and hope their objectivity will keep them from getting swallowed up by the world.
As children, each of us initially experiences the world as mysterious, fascinating and simply overwhelming. For Fives, this feeling never truly goes away. For one reason or another, they pick up the message that they are fundamentally ill-equipped to handle the complexities of life. Because of that, they try to make up for this lack by becoming extremely competent and knowledgeable in their chosen field.
Fives (unconsciously) believe that they can only fully join the world once they have figured out how to do things from the safety of their minds. They feel they only have limited resources to spend on social interactions and other people’s needs. So they ration their involvement and try to put as much distance between them and the world as possible, as soon as they feel their resources dwindle.
Yet as good as Fives are at acquiring knowledge and storing it away like a hamster, as hard it is for them to actually engage. Fives tend to sit on the vast treasures of their inner world like the dragon Smaug (you know, from Tolkien's "The Hobbit") on the riches of the Lonely Mountain. They can get stuck in preparation mode without the world ever seeing all the things that are locked away in their high-functioning brains.
Fives who are healthy know how much they have to contribute to this world and aren’t afraid to engage. They share what’s in their mind with confidence and clarity of thought and can acknowledge and express their emotions without getting overwhelmed by them. The desire to go beyond the common standards of healthy Fives gives them the ability to become visionary pioneers in their fields of expertise.
The message Fives are allowed to reclaim is that the world is actually a place of abundance. That means, you can share yourself without being afraid of losing something. Generosity makes you richer, not poorer. There’s no need to wait and prepare before tackling the world: You already have everything you need.
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 Fives.
On average, Fives are highly productive thinkers who, from time to time, simply need to be reminded that there’s a real world happening outside their brain. They try to learn the dance of life by watching and observing instead of actually stepping on the dance floor. When things get overwhelming, they withdraw into the safe space of their mind. Since knowledge is so highly valued by Fives, they build their identity around knowing things and having insightful and unusual things to say. They often look for a niche they can be competent in, believing competence to be the best way to gain confidence and independence.
Unhealthy Fives become isolated inside their head and fixated on their own thoughts. Instead of trying to solve the anxieties that prevent them from engaging in life, they obsessively keep collecting and developing the ideas they believe will make them competent – or get lost in completely trivial rabbit-holes of knowledge. Unhealthy Fives start neglecting real life, their relationships, and sometimes even their health and hygiene.
Healthy Fives lose their fear of engagement and give all the brilliant stuff they’ve collected in their minds back to the world. But not only that, they also become comfortable to share themselves – their feelings, their time and their resources – without fear of being drained. With their hard-working minds and their desire to go beyond the boundaries of established knowledge, Fives at their best often become visionary pioneers in their field of expertise.
The emotionally expressive Type Four wing allows Fives to better feel and communicate their feelings instead of simply analyzing them. They often become more interested in unique and creative ways to use their minds and like to tinker with things.
With a Type Six wing, Fives combine their observing skills with the foresight of Sixes. They are more social and find it easier to contribute to group efforts. Their thinking often becomes more practical and problem-oriented, and their social instincts are more family-oriented and on the lookout for stability.
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.
What happens most often for Type Fives is that they get confused with Type Nines. Sometimes, they also mistype themselves for Types Eight.
Since every type has two wings, you might also be unsure whether Type Four or Type Six, your wings, might actually be your main type.
You can learn how to safely tell Type Five 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!
You are more than your mind. You have a body, and it’s a wonderful thing. Try out what it feels to reconnect with it: Yoga, martial arts or any kind of sports that make you feel yourself and give your mind a much deserved break. Pick something you can integrate into your life on a regular basis.
No one has the answers to everything. Try to remember that your survival doesn’t depend on knowing everything, and action can be taken before you have answered every possible question.
When you give someone your little finger and they take your entire hand, that’s not necessarily abuse. Sometimes it’s just a handshake. Try to trust people not to use personal information against you. Your friends will love you even more, the more you’re willing to share with them.
What good does it do a dragon to sit on a vast pile of treasure if he never uses it? You have a wealth of things to give, and the world needs your knowledge and your skills. The reason giving is better than taking is because giving will ultimately only increase your options, while taking and keeping will eventually impoverish you.
You are allowed to have nice things. Buy yourself some new clothes. Make some new experiences. Travel. Every step out of your comfort zone will show you that the world is not as scary as you thought it to be.