Enneagram Type 8: The Challenger

Sat Feb 18 2023

Type 8s, are known as "The Challengers."

They embody assertiveness and self-confidence and they need control.

They are the quintessential rugged individuals.

They are direct and can be perceived as domineering. Their go-to coping mechanism is to control the situation (and it has served them well since childhood). At some point in an 8’s childhood, they learned to never show weakness because when you do you will get crushed.

8s learned to develop a shell. They learned that in order to survive they needed to be strong.

Their chosen life strategy is to get stronger and gain power in every aspect of life so that they never have to feel vulnerable again.

Table of Contents

Enneagram 8 Description

Enneagram Type 8 personalities are marked by strength, protectiveness, and a straightforward approach to life.

Their assertive nature is complemented by a deep-seated sense of justice. They recognize vulnerability a mile away and often seek to defend those they care about. This often positions them as both protectors and natural leaders.

Distinct characteristics of Type 8s include:

  • Challenge Seeking: They are naturally drawn to overcoming challenges, using their resilience and strength to navigate through obstacles.
  • Direct Communication: Honesty and directness are key in their communication style, valuing straightforward interactions even if they sometimes appear confrontational.
  • Independence: A strong desire for independence and control characterizes Type 8s, as they strive for self-reliance and often resist showing vulnerability.
  • Intensity: They approach life with intensity and passion, fully investing themselves in their endeavors and relationships.
  • Difficulty being vulnerable:8s are known to unintentionally intimidate people. They have a rough exterior, which sometimes makes it hard for them to make friends and build connections.

Their journey often involves learning to be vulnerable and sensitive. When they soften up, their lives are enriched by all the people who can now come to the 8 who let their guard down.

💪 Strengths of an Enneagram 8

One of the critical strengths of Type 8 is its ability to take action.

They are decisive and confident in their decisions and do not fear taking risks. Many 8s live by the motto, “Move fast and break things.” 8s are likely strong enough to handle any negative consequences that result from one of their mistakes. 8s have a natural charisma and often can rally others around a cause or goal. Additionally, Type 8’s can often see the big picture and think strategically.

Situations where 8s thrive

  • Crisis Management: Their strength and decisiveness are crucial in high-pressure situations.
  • Negotiations: Their assertiveness and confidence achieve favorable outcomes.
  • Leadership in Challenging Projects: Their commanding presence and protective nature guide teams through obstacles.
  • Advocacy or Activism: Their intensity and passion drive change and protect others.

🤔 Weaknesses/ Challenges of an Enneagram 8

Type 8s have a tendency to be overly aggressive and confrontational which can get them into trouble when it is inappropriate.

They can also be stubborn and unwilling to compromise. Additionally, Type 8’s can have a hard time expressing their emotions and often self-isolate rather than open up to someone about their struggles. 8s are also known to be impulsive, and it is sometimes difficult for them to be patient. Type 8s may struggle with giving up control or appearing weak in relationships. Understanding these challenges can help Type 8s work on personal growth and develop healthier relationships.

🧭 Motivations of an Enneagram 8

Type 8 individuals are driven by a need for control or having the most freedom possible.

They also have a desire to protect themselves and those they care about. Many 8s can point to a time in their childhood when they felt vulnerable and were taken advantage of. So the 8s are highly motivated to never let that happen again. They pursue ever higher and higher levels of freedom. 8s want to be so strong that they never rely on others for support. They value their independence and will do almost anything to avoid being in a vulnerable situation again.

😨 Fears of an Enneagram 8

The primary fear of Enneagram Type 8 individuals is the fear of being controlled or manipulated by others.

They may feel threatened by anyone or anything that could limit their freedom or power. This fear can sometimes manifest as a need for control and a tendency to dominate others to maintain their autonomy. Enneagram Type 8 individuals may also fear vulnerability, as they perceive vulnerability as a potential weakness that others could exploit.

This looks like an 8 working out really hard so that someone cannot physically overpower them. This looks like an 8 working long hours so that they can remain financially independent. This looks like an 8 sitting in a restaurant facing the door and reading the body language of everyone who enters the room. This looks like an 8 being a minimalist, so they aren’t weighed down by excess possessions and can “move fast” unincumbered.

🤯 Enneagram 8s Under Stress

Under duress, the normally assertive and action-oriented Type 8 may become uncharacteristically withdrawn, isolated, and detached.

A type 8’s stress number is 5. Type 5s are analytical, independent, and private. When an 8 is stressed, they become more withdrawn and self-isolated from others. They may become cold and distant in their relationships. They might also struggle to say exactly what they feel, fearing their vulnerability not being well received.

They may retreat into a world of intellectualization and analysis, becoming excessively preoccupied with their thoughts and ideas as a means of coping with stress. The stressed Type 8 might become more secretive and withholding, hoarding information and resources as a way to maintain a sense of control and power. They may also become more cynical and mistrustful, viewing others as potential threats to their autonomy and independence.

Read more about other types under stress

Type Characteristic role Ego fixation Holy idea Trap Basic fear Basic desire Temptation Vice/Passion Virtue Stress/ Disintegration Security/ Integration
8 Challenger, Protector Vengeance Truth Justice Being controlled, harmed, violated To gain influence and be self-sufficient Thinking they are completely self-sufficient Lust Innocence 5 2

🧸 An Enneagram 8's Childhood

  • Childhood Stereotype: Raised in environments where they felt they had to be strong and assertive to protect themselves or others.
  • Childhood Wound: Encountered situations where they felt vulnerable or powerless, leading to a focus on building strength and control. Developed a protective shell to shield their vulnerability, often by asserting dominance or independence.
  • Developmental Aspects:
    • Exposure to conflict, injustice, or the need to fight for their rights or the rights of others from an early age.
    • Learned to value directness, strength, and independence, sometimes as a response to perceived betrayal or injustice.
  • Typical Behaviors: Natural leaders often take charge in group settings and are unafraid to challenge authority.
  • Thoughts and Feelings: Strong sense of justice and protection, often masking a deep sensitivity and fear of being controlled or harmed.
  • View on Childhood: Often, it is a formative period where they learn to be self-reliant and strong but may regret not being able to show vulnerability or experience carefree dependence.

👫 An Enneagram 8 in relationships

Enneagram Type 8 individuals can be complex partners in relationships.

On one hand, they are fiercely loyal and protective of those they care about and can be generous and supportive. But they can also be dominant and controlling in their relationships.

Type 8s prefer direct communication in their relationships, which can be refreshing for some partners but be off-putting for others. They may struggle to compromise with their partners, leading to conflicts and power struggles. They have a tendency to avoid vulnerability can make it difficult for them to connect emotionally with their partners. Many 8 partners want the 8 to express their feelings and show more empathy.

However, for context, the Enneagram 8 partner may be one of the only people that the 8 has actually been vulnerable with.

Tips for an Enneagram type 8 in a relationship

To have a successful relationship with an Enneagram Type 8, it is essential to communicate openly and honestly.

8s need their need for independence and autonomy and their partners need to know that. It can be helpful to establish clear boundaries and expectations early on in the relationship and talk about what compromise will look like. It also may be helpful for Enneagram Type 8 individuals to be vulnerable early on so that later, when conflict does arise, being vulnerable will feel foreign. An 8s partner should try to gently coax out the softness in the 8.

If an Enneagram 8’s partner can get at the 8’s soft underbelly, it will be an excellent place for cuddles and warm feelings to come out.

Learn more about other types in relationships

💼 An Enneagram 8 in the Workplace

Type 8s can be powerful and influential leaders in the workplace.

They are natural problem solvers with a talent for identifying and addressing challenges head-on. They are also highly independent, self-assured, and unafraid to take risks or make tough decisions.

Enneagram Type 8 individuals in the workplace may struggle with authority figures they perceive as trying to limit their autonomy or control. They may also be quick to label instruction as “micromanagement.” 8s prefer a high degree of freedom and control over their work. They can be direct and forceful communicators, which can be positive or negative depending on their relationships with their coworkers.

To work successfully with an Enneagram Type 8 individual, it is essential to communicate clearly while respecting their need for autonomy and independence. Challenge them to tackle a tricky part of the business. The 8 will love the challenge. Establishing clear boundaries and expectations early on in the working relationship can also be helpful. This will help later when it comes time to collaborate and compromise. Additionally, it may be essential to provide Type 8 with opportunities to take on leadership roles and give them the freedom to exercise their problem-solving skills.

Learn more about other types in the workplace

Tips for Working with Enneagram Type 8

Your communication must be direct when working with a Type 8 individual.

These individuals value honesty and can tell when you are not being sincere. They respect those who are willing to speak their minds. 8s like to work quickly, so challenge them with deadlines. 8s love a challenge, so team up with them to accomplish a big and complex challenge. It is essential to work towards big goals because if you aren’t doing something significant and impactful, the 8 likely will stick around for a while.

🌱 Growth and Development for Type 8 Personalities

Enneagram Type 8s have significant opportunities for growth by learning to regulate their aggression and becoming more aware of the impact of their actions on others. Developing a sense of empathy for those around them is key for an Enneagram 8s development. They can benefit from cultivating self-awareness, understanding their emotions, needs, and fears, being more open to feedback, and being willing to make changes.

Specific strategies for growth include:

  • Cultivating Self-Awareness: Reflecting on personal experiences and seeking feedback can help Type 8s understand their emotional landscape better.
  • Practicing Vulnerability: Learning to share feelings and connect with others on a deeper level is vital. Learn to “hold space for someone’s feelings.” This involves finding safe spaces and supportive relationships for emotional expression.
  • Developing Empathy: Actively listening and striving to understand others’ perspectives and emotions can enhance Type 8’s ability to empathize.
  • Seeking Balance: Type 8s often push themselves and others hard, so prioritizing self-care and balance is essential to avoid burnout and maintain healthy relationships.
  • Building Healthy Relationships: Moving away from control and dominance towards relationships based on trust and mutual respect is key for Type 8s.

By focusing on these areas, Type 8 individuals can become more effective leaders, partners, and compassionate individuals, harnessing their natural strengths while addressing growth areas.

🤝 Enneagram eight's sharing their experience

In this Enneagram panel discussion, moderator Beatrice Chestnut welcomes a group of Enneagram type 8s to share their personal experiences and insights about this body-based personality type. The panelists include Suzanna, Jeanette, Connie, and Don, all of whom have studied the Enneagram in-depth and reflect on how the 8 archetype manifests in their lives.

Key takeaways from the video include:

  • 8s often describe having an early experience of needing to be stronger or more powerful than their actual age or size as a child, leading to a sense of inner intensity and a desire to take action.
  • 8s can come across as intimidating or aggressive, but this is often not their intention - they simply have a bold, direct communication style rooted in a concern for truth and justice.
  • Underlying the 8’s tough exterior is a vulnerability and sensitivity that they can struggle to fully express, sometimes resorting to overcontrol or impulsiveness as a result.

🌟 Famous Enneagram 8s

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