How You Handle Change Based on Your Enneagram Type

Written By Emily Kassmeier
Posted on

How do you handle it when change comes your way? Constant stability isn’t a guarantee in life. Most of us go through our own share of ups and downs, but that doesn’t mean encountering change in our circumstances is always easy.

For some people, change can be intimidating. It can be painful. It can leave them feeling uncertain and anxious, or even trigger a fight-or-flight response in them. For others, change can be exhilarating and rewarding. Knowing how you respond to new circumstances can help you cope with it in your own life, along with give you more empathy and a better understanding into why others might behave in certain ways when dealing with a shift in their normal routines.

Here are insights into how each Enneagram type typically handles change, along with the core question they may ask themselves when encountering it.


“Does it make things better?”

Ones are promoters of change if it means improving the status quo or righting a wrong. They advocate for justice, fight to maintain accuracy and order, and hold themselves and others to high standards. Ones can be stubborn when they don’t see how a change will result in better outcomes. If everything is working well and appears to be “right,” they may drag their feet when others want to switch things up. Given some time, they will either adjust to the change or push for a better solution.


“Does it help others?”

Twos seek consistency, especially in how they relate to others. They feel most comfortable in stable relationships, where they feel accepted and valued. They may be resistant to change except in certain situations. If the change is likely to benefit others, Twos are typically more inclined to support it because of their desire to please people. When encountering change, Twos need some time to adapt.


“Does it improve efficiency?”

Threes often embrace the challenge that comes with change and take it as an opportunity to prove themselves. They readily accept change when it offers benefits that overlap with their values, such as increased productivity, results, and recognition. When this is the case, their persistence and flexibility help them adjust quickly to new situations. However if they anticipate the change may interfere with their goals, Threes might push back or dismiss the new circumstances altogether.


“Does it help me gain significance?”

Fours may not be overly concerned with change because their focus tends to be more inward on their own thoughts and emotions. If the change enables them to express their individualism, explore their purpose, or discover their significance, they’ll likely receive it well. However they can get defensive when they feel others might be trying to reshape their habits, values, or lifestyle.


“Does it disturb my space?”

Fives withdraw from change when it may impose upon their personal space or upset their peace. Protecting their independence and privacy is extremely important to them. When they feel as though they may not be adequately prepared for an upcoming change, it can cause them to resist as well. Otherwise if the change allows them to continue functioning comfortably, Fives often don’t express any strong reaction towards change.


“What could go wrong?”

Sixes are wary about new and ambiguous situations. Their anxiety often makes them jump to worst-case-scenario thinking and they tend to be suspicious or pessimistic about upcoming change. They fear being unprepared for or incapable of handling the new situation and they want to guard against things potentially backfiring. In response, Sixes may be extremely cautious about change or they might meet the challenge head-on with an aggressive or confrontational manner — or they could fluctuate between the two extremes. Sixes need time to process and adjust to change.


“Does it bring excitement?”

Sevens think optimistically and pursue pleasure. They are often drawn towards change and are enthusiastic about the positive aspects of it. They’re curious, impulsive, and have major FOMO. Their desire to experience it all pushes them to try new things and evade mundane routines. If change doesn’t find them first, Sevens will go out to search for it themselves. When faced with change that may have a negative impact, they might attempt to reframe it as a positive or simply avoid the situation.


“Does it restrict my independence?”

Eights like to be in charge and use their power to protect others and fight for justice. Any change that allows them to accomplish this is usually willingly accepted. They are self-sufficient people who push things forward and dislike relying on others. When change may impede on their autonomy, Eights are likely to be quite vocal about their dissatisfaction. They can be blunt and confrontational. They want to take immediate action to correct the situation.


“Does it interrupt my peace of mind?”

Nines resent unexpected changes and favor predictability and consistency instead. They feel most comfortable with familiar routines and peaceful relationships. Encountering change requires them to go outside of their comfort zone, which they don't enjoy. Nines might attempt to avoid it by being passively withdrawing from the situation. They try to maintain their internal tranquility by distracting themselves.

How do you usually react when encountering change? Have you found anything in particular that helps you cope? We’d like to hear your thoughts — share them with us @zaengle.

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