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Knowing the enneagram types under stress can help us understand when we are stressed, predict when we are stressed (or moving towards stress), and even know better ways of handling stress.

Some people get angry, some need isolation, some get moody, some get indulgent… we all get stressed from time to time but we all handle stress differently.

Every person is different and thus responds to stress differently but each enneagram type under stress follows a path so there are nine main ways that each type responds to stress.

If you’ve ever wondered what those lines connecting the numbers on the enneagram symbol mean… this is it! (well part of it anyway… more on that in another post!)

Each enneagram type goes towards and takes on some of the average to unhealthy traits of another type when they are stressed.

Each number on the enneagram symbol has two lines attached to it. One of those lines shows where you are prone to go when under stress (the other for growth). This line is often called a “stress line” or “line of disintegration”.

For a quick example, you can see that type 1 has lines connecting to types 4 and 7. Type 1’s go towards 4 in stress.

One of the important things to keep in mind with your “stress number” is that it is NOT a bad thing. Your stress number is there to act as a sort of safety rail to help you notice when you are getting close to the edge and help keep you from falling off the track.

Your stress number can be used poorly (where we tend to default when stressed) but it can also be harnessed to help you get through stress in a more healthy way.

Not sure which enneagram type you are? You can check out my posts on how to find your enneagram type and how to confirm your enneagram type to help figure things out.

Enneagram Types Under Stress

Type 1 Under Stress

When 1’s are stressed, they first dip into their unhealthy traits as a 1 (critical, judgmental, perfectionistic). However, after that level, if they are still stressed or the stress increases they will move towards type 4 and pick up the average to unhealthy traits of 4.

Average to unhealthy traits of 4 include: moodiness, irritability, melancholy, envy, withdrawing, and escaping into daydreams.

Type 1’s can use their stress number in healthy ways by making use of the healthier traits of 4. This can mean being creative and making use of art, authentic with your feelings (no suppressing them because they seem “bad”), being introspective so you can figure out what exactly you are feeling.

Quick tips for 1’s in stress: Get in touch with your feelings through listening to music or creating art. Take a walk in nature. Journal to get all your thoughts and feelings out of your head.

Type 2 Under Stress

When 2’s are stressed, they first dip into their unhealthy traits as a 2 (prideful, manipulative, martyrish). However, after that level, if they are still stressed or the stress increases they will move towards type 8 and pick up the average to unhealthy traits of 8.

Average to unhealthy traits of 8 include: being aggressive, demanding, argumentative, controlling, and blunt.

Type 2’s can use their stress number in healthy ways by making use of the healthier traits of 8. This can mean being more direct with their needs (no being the martyr), being decisive on what they need, protective of what is important and needed for them.

Quick tips for 2’s in stress: Be direct and ask for some self-care time just for you. Do something alone just for yourself. Do some kick boxing (or other physical activity) to get some of the pent up aggression out.

Type 3 Under Stress

When 3’s are stressed, they first dip into their unhealthy traits as a 3 (vain, inauthentic, validation needy). However, after that level, if they are still stressed or the stress increases they will move towards type 9 and pick up the average to unhealthy traits of 9.

Average to unhealthy traits of 9 include: being complacent, apathetic, self-doubting, disengaged, and retreating.

Type 3’s can use their stress number in healthy ways by making use of the healthier traits of 9. This can mean being open-minded about the situation, being non-judgmental about their situation (give yourself credit even if you aren’t succeeding or nobody is patting you on the back), going with the flow instead of striving so hard.

Quick tips for 3’s in stress: Connect with people without goals in mind. Make lists of what you appreciate about others and let them know. Work in the garden where things will grow but at their own pace.

enneagram types under stress - 4

Type 4 Under Stress

When 4’s are stressed, they first dip into their unhealthy traits as a 4 (moody, temperamental, withdrawn). However, after that level, if they are still stressed or the stress increases they will move towards type 2 and pick up the average to unhealthy traits of 2.

Average to unhealthy traits of 2 include: people pleasing, trying to “buy” others’ love, testing the strength of your relationships, flattering others (in hopes of them returning the favor).

Type 4’s can use their stress number in healthy ways by making use of the healthier traits of 2. This can mean being friendly and spend time with those you love, giving with normal boundaries (don’t go broke trying to love others), love others with your own natural talents (loving them with things that aren’t unique to you can quickly tip you into the negative trait of two).

Quick tips for 4’s in stress: Give to others what you are naturally talented in (if you love baking bread then bake bread like crazy and give it to loved ones). Share your love of creativity with your kids or friends. Volunteer for those in need without expecting anything in return.

Type 5 Under Stress

When 5’s are stressed, they first dip into their unhealthy traits as a 5 (withdrawing, cynical, stingy). However, after that level, if they are still stressed or the stress increases they will move towards type 7 and pick up the average to unhealthy traits of 7.

Average to unhealthy traits of 7 include: becoming restless, dissatisfied, indulgent, distracted, distracting yourself from fears by bouncing from activity to activity (or from idea to idea).

Type 5’s can use their stress number in healthy ways by making use of the healthier traits of 7. This can mean being more adventurous (try something out of your regular routine), imaginative, future thinking (think of solutions that reach into the future), confident that everything will work out.

Quick tips for 5’s in stress: Go ahead and indulge in healthy ways (order in food for dinner, buy a new video game, spend a day reading) but don’t allow that indulgence to keep you from living life. Brainstorm with trusted people on how to conquer problems. Connect with friends and doing something fun.

enneagram types under stress - 6

Type 6 Under Stress

When 6’s are stressed, they first dip into their unhealthy traits as a 6 (self-doubting, anxious, hyper vigilant). However, after that level, if they are still stressed or the stress increases they will move towards type 3 and pick up the average to unhealthy traits of 3.

Average to unhealthy traits of 3 include: afraid of failure, dishonesty, image-conscious, keeping busy (often not even on the problem but keeping busy to distract from the problem), boastful.

Type 6’s can use their stress number in healthy ways by making use of the healthier traits of 3. This can mean looking at the problem in more optimistic ways, efficiently working on projects, motivating talk (to self and others), creating goals and checking them off.

Quick tips for 6’s in stress: Create a check list of things you want to accomplish that day (or week) and tackle them. Journal all your fears and then write optimistic responses to them. Talk to trusted people to come up with a game plan to tackle the situation.

Type 7 Under Stress

When 7’s are stressed, they first dip into their unhealthy traits as a 7 (unfocused, indulgent, escapist). However, after that level, if they are still stressed or the stress increases they will move towards type 1 and pick up the average to unhealthy traits of 1.

Average to unhealthy traits of 1 include: becoming rigid, perfectionistic, critical, pessimistic, angry when things don’t go the way you want, feeling like only you can get the job done.

Type 7’s can use their stress number in healthy ways by making use of the healthier traits of 1. This can mean rationally looking at the problem (no reframing), creating structure to follow through with plans or chores, dedicate yourself to solving the situation, honestly feeling all your feelings (not just the good/happy feelings).

Quick tips for 7’s in stress: Set a timer for a manageable time (5, 10, 60 mins) and set to finish a chore or plan. Break down your goals or plans into small steps so you can accomplish them. Use fun to explore your feelings (think art therapy) and use an emotion wheel to help pin down what emotions you actually are feeling.

enneagram types under stress - 8

Type 8 Under Stress

When 8’s are stressed, they first dip into their unhealthy traits as an 8 (controlling, intimidating, rebellious). However, after that level, if they are still stressed or the stress increases they will move towards type 5 and pick up the average to unhealthy traits of 5.

Average to unhealthy traits of 5 include: withdrawing, being secretive, detached, cynical, stingy, critical of others.

Type 8’s can use their stress number in healthy ways by making use of the healthier traits of 5. This can mean observing your emotions. Looking at the problem objectively and slowly. Insightfully looking at all the angles to the problem.

Quick tips for 8’s in stress: Sit down and list all the emotions you are feeling. Research ways to solve the problem and then try some. Make use of physical activity to release some of that pent up energy. Share your issues with someone you trust and work through it logically with them.

Knowing the enneagram types under stress can help us understand when we are stressed and even know better ways of handling stress.

Type 9 Under Stress

When 9’s are stressed, they first dip into their unhealthy traits as a 9 (indecisive, passive aggressive, forgetful). However, after that level, if they are still stressed or the stress increases they will move towards type 6 and pick up the average to unhealthy traits of 6.

Average to unhealthy traits of 6 include: becoming anxious, suspicious of others, overcommitted, worried, self-doubting, and defensive.

Type 9’s can use their stress number in healthy ways by making use of the healthier traits of 6. This can mean responsibly figuring out what tasks need to be done and do them, think about all the future “what if’s” but then come up with potential solutions, loyally sticking to your routine, supporting yourself as well as others, commit to taking care of yourself.

Quick tips for 9’s in stress: Make a list of  your “what if’s” and then think of potential ways to solve them. Take a walk alone to help you process all that you feel and what you truly think about the situation. Ask people you trust how you should solve a problem and then try out their suggestions.