Eights are people with high levels of energy, intensity and willpower. They project power and toughness and take challenges as an invitation to prove their strength. They enjoy open confrontation and don’t back down easily.
Eights often have a fierce passion to protect the vulnerable and weak, but they have trouble admitting any kind of weakness or vulnerability themselves.
With a natural confidence and the charisma to get things done as well as their disinterest in taking no for an answer, Eights often automatically end up in positions of leadership. They find it easy to take care of things nobody else would, and are honest and upfront in their communication.
Eights have the ability to inspire strength and endurance in others and can push through things that other people simply lack the will, energy and grit for. But their straightforward all-or-nothing approach often intimidates other people, and it’s hard for Eights to admit they’re wrong and respect people that aren’t as tough as them.
Eights want to feel strong and in control so they can protect themselves and those they love.
Eights belong to the “body group“ of the Enneagram, as do types Nine and One. All of these types have a special relationship to what is often called the “gut“, and in particular, feelings of anger and rage. While Nines have fallen asleep to their anger and pretend it doesn’t exist, Ones repress their anger. Eights, on the other hand, use their anger to stay in control and defend themselves against anyone who they feel wants to dominate them.
The message Eights internalized during childhood was that the only people they could truly rely on were themselves. If they showed any weakness, life would beat them up – literally or emotionally. This gave them the perspective that it’s a “dog-eat-dog world” where only the ones with power survive. Eights from thereon lock away the frightened and scared inner child that lives in all of us and put on a tough layer that makes them appear invulnerable.
Eights (unconsciously) believe that the world is a place where only the strong survive. Deeply afraid of being powerless and weak, of being manipulated and taken advantage of, Eights build up a tough exterior that promises them to make them invulnerable against any threat.
The main struggle of Eights is the risk of going too far and overdoing things. Their desire to dominate and win, for having absolute control over themselves and their surroundings at all times, keeps them from admitting weakness and puts them in danger of pushing themselves over the edge.
When Eights get healthy, they learn to let down their guard and release their need to be in control. Healthy Eights can admit when they’re wrong, weak, and scared, which allows them to give up their black-and-white view of the world. They protect themselves by being generous, forgiving yet still strong and capable.
The message type Eights are allowed to reclaim is that true strength does not come from trying to be invincible, but from making yourself vulnerable. They can learn to trust and show their gentle and kind side without fear of being betrayed.
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 Eights.
Average Eights build their identity on their strength and toughness. They like confrontation, especially since they are used to winning. They usually only respect people who meet them eye to eye. Their urge to stay in control, their competitiveness and intimidating aura are all there to make sure no one can take advantage of them. That’s why average Eights feel such compassion (and rage) when they see other innocent and helpless people being the victims of injustice. At the same time, they can get carried away by their own aggression, especially when they overreach, thinking they have unlimited energy resources.
Unhealthy type Eights reflexively push back against anything that seems threatening to them. They are quick to resort to violence – physical or verbal – to defend themselves. When their methods reach their limits, they retreat and start rejecting people in an attempt to not be rejected first. Their fighting spirit turns into cynicism and brooding contempt. Unhealthy Eights become increasingly sensitive to any perceived violations of their self-respect and authority and shut down or lash out in their desperate attempt to stay in control and protect their inner child.
When Eights are healthy, their strength turns into honor and groundedness. They start seeking justice not only for themselves, but for others, too. They no longer fear that control will be taken away from them as soon as they stop fighting, which gives them the ability to surrender it willingly. Making themselves vulnerable is no longer a threat, but a gift that allows them to become gracious with themselves and others. Healthy Eights use their commanding presence and assertiveness to battle injustices and build a better world for everyone in their lives and beyond.
The extroverted, playful and life-affirming Type Seven wing gives Eights even more vitality. It also makes them more social and outgoing. These Eights find it easier to enjoy things and often want to invest their energy into causes that have a positive impact.
With a Type Nine wing, Eights become more measured and approachable. They are less confrontational and more willing to mediate and negotiate. These Eights often add a quiet groundedness to their confidence, are warmer and more family-oriented and lead by protecting rather than by intimidating people.
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 Eights is that they get confused with Types One and Two. Sometimes, they also mistype themselves for Types Three and Six.
Since every type has two wings, you might also be unsure whether Type Seven or Type Nine, your wings, might actually be your main type.
You can learn how to safely tell Type Eight 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!
It might be a surprise to you, but your presence is usually twice as large as you think it is. What feels like passion to you often feels like intimidation to others. And no, that doesn’t make them weak. Learn to accept that you have a unique personality and offer an apology when others report that they are overwhelmed by it.
Whatever it is that convinced you to equate weakness and vulnerability, make an effort to find out what that is. Befriend your inner child. If this sounds like a waste of time to you, you know you’re on the right path. Take it as the ultimate challenge: Making yourself vulnerable takes real courage. On the other side of it you will find real intimacy.
Not everything in this world is black or white, win or lose, strong or weak. The middle ground is an actual thing, and compromise is not the equivalent to defeat.
When you feel your blood starting to boil, stop and ask yourself what’s truly firing up those engines. Are you trying to hide or deny a vulnerable feeling? Check if you’re really angry at someone else or if your aggression is just a way for you to hide that feeling.
You have a lust for life that can take you overboard. Allow a friend or your partner to remind you when you ignore your own or other people’s boundaries again. “Everything in moderation“ might sound like a cliché to you, but when you think of all the Eights who have died of heart attacks, you realize that it can be a literal life saver for you.