About the Enneagram
The Enneagram for those who do not know is a type of thought processing system. You might be tempted to call it a personality test, but it is a little deeper than that. It touches on things beyond raw personality traits and digs into the sacred, spiritual and emotional depths of our humanity. It is an ancient system of understanding people. There are a few Christian authors who have written extensively about the Enneagram. Richard Rohr might be the deepest and most famous, but Ian Morgan Cron’s book is an excellent entry point. Here are a few testing sites where you can get a quick overview. P.S. There is some updated info at the bottom.
The Road Back to You
Recently I began listening to The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron. My wife and I have made it our evenings to learn more about each other in between the toddler, holidays, family and sleep deprivation of being a new young author. It was easy for us to nail me as an Enneagram 5, the investigator.
The investigator is a kind word to describe what we really are: knowledge hoarders. Of course, my wife would tell you my hoarding is not just limited to knowledge (my ever-growing book and technology collection is substantial).
One time, newly married, she was attempting to set up a surprise picnic. Only the cooler was much heavier than expected. Yep, it was filled with books, not a few, but a few dozen. I am crafty in my stashing of books. Every nook and cranny of our home might contain a book or two. If you search there is an endless supply of knowledge in our home. There is one place my wife never suggests for me to go, and that is the used book store.
5: The Cold Calculator
Anyways back to type 5 the investigator. We are the cold calculating types. Able to move through life with seeming dispassionate objectivity. Everyone knows someone who is type 5 on the Enneagram but few actually know a type 5. That’s why I am writing this.
We might be the most misunderstood group because few other types can view the world with the same headspace and seeming lack of heart-space. While the head space might be true, I want to reveal that the heart-space is not so different from other types we are just better at masking it.The investigator is a kind word to describe what we really are: knowledge hoarders. #enneagram Click To Tweet
Type 5’s come from the fear triad in the Enneagram (Numbers 5, 6, and 7). Now, we haven’t gotten to the types 6 and 7, but for fives when I say fear I don’t necessarily mean like Indiana Jones’ fear of snakes. That type fear is irrational and emotional, and I don’t roll like that. Our fear is a more knowledgeable and comes out more critical and angry. That’s what makes us the worst.
What makes us the best is our collection We know and love everything. Everything has value to us. Even the most seemingly mundane thing has an optimal use case and deserves to have that use case met and achieved. That’s why we are hoarders. We fear that we and other people/things won’t get used optimally. So we keep accumulating because we know that
See we do feel just people rarely notice because it is so buried in knowledge which usually leaks as our worst, anger and criticism
The Worst Type of 5
Critical and angry is our knowledge used poorly. I can now recognize a tongue lashing from a fellow 5 a mile away. It usually surrounds the disconnect between action and data. Fives see hypocrisy as blatant as the ocean on the Titanic. We can’t miss it
We have all been criticized by a type 5 on the Enneagram. It’s the worst because they are right from an objective standpoint. Objectively looking into a situation weighing only the facts, fives have the data to crush their opponents with scathing criticism. My wife hates fighting with me because she will say something like, “I usually do X.” My response is often, “well actually you only do X about 30% of the time you actually prefer to do Y about 60% of the time.” Guess how many fights that wins me. Yep, still sitting at 0%.
You see I study my wife because I got that advice from someone. So I took it to heart and I live my life in a way that attempts to maximize her preferences and joy based on what she does. Which of course, is the only data I can gather from an external reference point. So, I get critical when she gets frustrated when I continue to act in a way consistent with the overall data and use that data to criticize her for going against the data. Again I still haven’t won any of these fights which ought to tell you how great my data is.I study my wife because I got that advice from someone. So I took it to heart and I live my life in a way that attempts to maximize her preferences and joy based on what she does. Which of course, is different than what she feels or thinks… Click To Tweet
Anger is the emotion most people feel from fives. It is the only time you can get us riled up enough to feel anything from us. Anger usually accompanies criticism from us. The problem is that anger is not usually what we would report feeling. Though again as my wife has informed me anger is the tone of voice I am using, so I get why people would feel that way. Our anger though is really just covering up what we really feel which is fear.
Fear is our major emotion. It is the lens with which we view every conflict. When we are healthy we tend to act like 8’s or challenger whose major emotion is anger. This means anger is not far away and is easily our best defense mechanism to cover our fear.
For the longest time, I thought I was a very angry person. Turns out I am a very fearful person. My anger covers my innumerable fears. Because I am a 5 on
5: Fear or Love?
I am afraid
Looking back at my life, I can see the pile of fights in which people thought I was negative only for me to not have negative feelings at all. They were actually positive feelings covered up by fear and then covered again by anger. This realization has been a life-changer for me. I don’t know how to communicate better yet; I will get back to you when I do, but the possibilities it opens up extend to every conversation I will ever have moving forward. It will make me the best I can be.Looking back at my life, I can see the pile of fights in which people thought I was negative only for me to not have negative feelings at all. #enneagram5 Click To Tweet
The Best Type of 5
Most people look to fives for their data and objectivity. Those are certainly valuable traits but the most overlooked trait is that we can find value in anything or more importantly anyone. We are more than our mind. We are a heart too. If you miss that you have missed perhaps the most profound part of a 5. We feel everything others feel we just rarely show except through the lens of fear. When we are at our best the fear has been lifted and only our strengths remain.
I think we all miss something that most fives can do better than almost anyone else in an incredibly unique way. We might be the best
All of this makes us awesome at giving advice. When a 5 is giving advice, he/she is at their best. We feel useful. We don’t feel afraid. Even better, our objectivity allows us to sort through the data and give advice that might even be personally painful. Asking our advice is that awesome for us. We feel great about giving it. So do it next time you see a 5, but get ready for a barrage of questions and a lengthy explanation of the data. Though you will certainly be rewarded with some excellent advice.If you want somebody to pick you up and give your life meaning and purpose fives might do it better than anyone else. Why? Because we see (like really deeply see) everyone. We see their unique and valuable qualities. #enneagram Click To Tweet
See, we do have feelings. Next time when you see the dispassionate 5 realize that he or she is stuffing emotion down to mask something. When the Bible talks about drawing people out the fives might be the most difficult, but the most rewarding because what you see is only the tip of the iceberg.
3 Tips for Working with a 5
So now that you know we have feelings. Let me sum up some tips for working with fives. Despite our attempts to never show our feelings we do have them and they do control us more far more than we wished. Which makes the realization all the worse.
- If we are showing feelings, then we are likely afraid. – We aren’t going to show feelings except through the lens of fear. This is most often because there are no books and few examples of how to feel. The data is simply lacking on emotional maturity for a 5. Maybe we will get there one day, but not without a lot of effort on our part and from those around us.
- Our fear is linked to love. – You more emotionally mature people should have some compassion with us because if we are acting emotionally its actually out of love. We actually care a lot about you.
- Reframe the data – a mature 5 will understand that data can be viewed through a variety of lenses. By reframing the data, you are doing two things. 1. Validating their thoughts, information, and usefulness (The first key). 2. Broadening their view of what the data means to you. We are perfectly fine accepting your view of the data. You just need to let us know that we are communicating on the same terms.
A quick story
Let me tell you this story I heard about a fellow 5.
He got in the face of a fellow church member, criticizing him for hypocrisy and challenging others to debates. My first thought after reading The Road Back to You was how much this fellow Enneagram 5 must love those church members. See he was willing to be ridiculed and shamed (a very fearful prospect to a 5) so that those members would see the error in their ways and change to be saved. The 5 loved them so much that he would denigrate himself to help them. That’s how our thinking and love works when we act immature.
The Enneagram journey has been revealing to me. My wife and I do every personality thing we can get our hands on because every time it reveals a little more about each other. My wife has more grace for my angry outbursts, and I check my fears a little bit more. Ian Morgan Cron’s book is an excellent entry point to the road back to you.
I have been getting a ton of great feedback from this post. I am currently about to start working through some further articles diving in a little deeper to specific interactions between other numbers from the Enneagram Type 5 point of view. Here is a link to the first 1.
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