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Have you ever wondered why some seem like just the unhealthy version of their type and others do not seem to display many unhealthy traits at all? That has to do with the enneagram Levels of Development!

Depending on a type’s Levels of Development they can look a little different from people with the same type.

Not drastically different to the point of looking like another type… but different enough that you’d notice.

This is why somethings we can easily related to characters on tv… and yet now want anyone to assume we are just like that character.

Yes, Angela from the Office is basically a 1 so I see some of myself in her…. but I don’t want people to think I’m JUST like her… Angela is an unhealthy 1. 🙂

What Are Enneagram Levels of Development?

Each enneagram type has nine Levels of Development (sometimes called Levels of Health).

Those nine levels are grouped into three bigger categories of Healthy, Average, and Unhealthy.
(Levels 1,2,3 are healthy, 4,5,6 are average, and 7,8,9 are unhealthy)

In this post, we will just be talking about the three main levels but if you want the nitty gritty on what each type looks like on each of the nine levels then I’d definitely recommend picking up the book Personality Types by Riso & Hudson.

Level of Development

How Do the Enneagram Levels of Development Work?

Most people will find themselves in the average category when it comes to Levels of Development. But it’s not quite as stagnant as that.

It’s helpful to think of your current Level of Development like a peg with a rubber band.

The peg is set in your general Level of Development but depending on what happens during the day or week, your rubber band can stretch up a level or down a level.

So if you are a level 6 generally, you may stretch down to a level 7 after a bad day but then you’ll likely snap back to 6 again after recovering.

Likewise, you may stretch up to a 5 during a really good season. This may catapult you to a full fledge level 5 but growth tends to take a lot of work so odds are you’ll spring back and forth from 6 to 5 for a while before moving that peg fully into the 5 spot.

Not sure what your type is? Learn how to find your enneagram type!

Difference Between Levels of Development and Stress/Growth

It is important to note that Levels of Development are different that Stress Numbers or Growth Numbers.

Levels of Development are based on your type and your type’s traits only.

As you reach the healthy levels, the traits are more positive but they are still positive traits of YOUR type.

Likewise as you dip into the unhealthy levels, the traits are more negative but they are still negative traits of YOUR type.

In Stress or Growth we do start out with our traits (the negative or the positive) but we will also take on traits of our stress or growth numbers. These traits are not characteristic of our type. We need them to help bring us balance but they are not unique to our type.

There is often an overlap of course, as being at a healthy level will likely mean engaging your growth number….or being in an unhealthy level might trigger your stress number. But overall they are different systems.

Enneagram Levels of Development

Enneagram Levels of Development

Type 1 Levels of Development

1s when healthy: bring their integrity and insight to the world without the perfectionism. They understand that their black and white thinking does actually have gray in it and that allows them to be more understanding of the differences in those around them. They still are hard workers but they also know how to relax and give themselves grace.

1s when average: have strict rules on how things should be, they can’t help but focus on imperfections and mistakes. Their inner critic is quite loud and they have to really work to recognize it and put it in its place. They suppress their “bad” emotions and “selfish” needs because they believe this is what a good person would do.

1s when unhealthy: feel they need to have complete control on how things are done by them and around them. Anger is much closer to the surface for them at this time because they have very little room for mistakes or different ways of doing things in this state.

Type 2 Levels of Development

2s when healthy: are thoughtful and compassionate. They are humble, altruistic, and provide unconditional love to others. Serving others is still important but it’s balanced with taking care of self. They are able to see the good in others and are very encouraging.

2s when average: are a bit more people pleasing as they need to be needed. They may meddle and control in the name of love. They are still givers but at this level they tend to expect something in return. They can often wear themselves out caring for others because they have a hard time saying no.

2s when unhealthy: feel entitled to get what they want from others as repayment for all that they have done. They can be manipulative and self-serving. Often using guilt to get others to do what they feel is warranted. Often unaware of how selfish they are being.

Type 3 Levels of Development

3s when healthy: are more authentic and self-accepting. They are competent and ambitious to improve themselves and consequently others are motivated by their example.. They are able to believe in their own value and are self-confident; not needing the admiration of others as much.

3s when average: are more concerned with their achievements and how they appear to others. Still quite efficient and goal crushers but are not fully themselves or their authentic selves. May promote themselves and their talents in hopes of earning more admiration.

3s when unhealthy: are envious of others’ success and may even become vindictive. They can be deceptive in order that their short-fallings are not exposed. Very afraid of failure and humiliation and may do whatever it takes to maintain their facade of success.

Type 4 Levels of Development

4s when healthy: are introspective and compassionate. They are true to themselves, emotionally honest, and emotionally strong. They develop the ability to turn any experience into something of value.

4s when average: create aesthetic environments to enforce their feelings. They are try to stay connected to their feelings by internalizing everything. They think that they are different from others and can begin living in or retreating to a fantasy world.

4s when unhealthy: become ashamed of their self and tormented with self-contempt. They may become depressed and detached from themselves and others.

Type 5 Levels of Development

5s when healthy: are open-minded and view things in their true context. They are exceptionally perceptive and insightful. Master whatever interests them and often they will become an expert and pioneers in their fields of interest. They are more sure of themselves and freely share their wisdom.

5s when average: analyze things in their minds; preparing and gathering more resources so they are fully knowledgable. May become provocative and antagonistic towards things that may  interfere with their vision. Prefer to analyze and keep their feelings to themselves.

5s when unhealthy: remove themselves from their social communities. They become more fearful of threatening ideas and begin to lose their grip with reality. May hold onto a belief that they are superior to others intellectually.

Type 6 Levels of Development

6s when healthy: become trusting of themselves and others. They are affectionate and form lasting relationships. They are dedicated to others and activities that they believe in. Often becoming builders of communities since they are responsible, team players, and trustworthy.

6s when average: more concerned with being prepared at all times and putting their energy in staying safe and secure. Can become indecisive, cautious, and procrastinate. May become highly reactive and defensive especially when any sort of conflict is involved

6s when unhealthy: can become highly anxious and panic stricken. May seek out a strong authority or belief since they feel defenseless.  They can become paranoid believing that others are trying to fool them or harm them.

Type 7 Levels of Development

7s when healthy: are joyous and enthusiastic about experiences and life. They are lively, cheerful, multi-talented. They become more practical and productive as they’ve developed their ability to focus. They develop a healthier work/play balance.

7s when average: are more focused on always looking to the future and the next exciting thing. They are more restless and desire more choices and options. They are fun to be around and always up for spontaneous activities. Can be prone to reframing events or situations so that they don’t have to deal or focus on any pain.

7s when unhealthy: more cynical and critical of things around them. Annoyed at anything that holds them back from obtaining their satisfaction. More impulsive and escapist. May become narcissistic in their actions since they are concerned with only their happiness.

Type 8 Levels of Development

8s when healthy: are courageous and willing to place themselves at risk for their vision and those close to them. They are generous and loving with their loved ones. They make things happen and are a natural leader that others easily look up to.

8s when average: avoid showing vulnerability and weakness. Can be competitive and may compete against others in both the work and relationships. May be boastful and forceful of their ideas and opinions. Can become intimidating in order to get their way.

8s when unhealthy: become more ruthless and antagonistic. May become addicted to their power and strength and thus not willing to let anything stand in their way. They disregard others’ feelings and emotions and become hard-hearted.

Type 9 Levels of Development

9s when healthy: become more trusting of themselves and others. They are good at bringing people together, great listeners, and good mediators, They are more connected with themselves and thus can form deeper, more true relationships. They become more assertive and ambitious to better their lives and the lives of others.

9s when average: are more fearful of conflict and thus are accommodating and tend to say “yes” more than they truly would like. They tend to give everything equal priority and thus can not accomplish things in the needed order. May minimize problems and tune out reality.

9s when unhealthy: can feel incapable of dealing with issues and may become neglectful of themselves and others. They can become procrastinators and lose their ability to concentrate on tasks. May lose their ability to know themselves and lose their ability to function.