Hi! My name is Jacob Pannell. I am not an Enneagram expert. I am a me expert, and me is an Enneagram Type 5 with a 4 wing and a self-preservation subtype. My wife is an Enneagram Type 1 for reference.
Earlier this year, I wrote an article on my discovery on the Enneagram (here). It has since become my most visited article this year. Many people have reached out to tell me how much that article helped them. Some even asked me to write more for them, so I am. After a little time of reflection and research, I realized that I couldn’t write about the Enneagram with the substance many of the coaches, authors, and mentors can.
So, I asked myself “why did my article resonate with people?” I think it resonated because I wrote about me. I wrote about my experience as a Type Five. Many people have trouble connecting with their Enneagram Type because it is talked about in such broad strokes that a natural disconnection exists. I am not talking in broad strokes when I talk about my Enneagram Type 5. I am talking with personal detail. Sure, this limits my approach, but I also think it is much more identifiable. It also makes it easier to take or leave certain aspects of my Type 5-ness.
My experience as an Enneagram Type 5
So, here is the deal: I am going to write about my experience as an Enneagram Type 5 vs. the other Enneagram numbers. This means that both my experience of the other numbers and my own experience is limited. Take it or leave it. It’s my truth. Each article will contain an introduction to the Enneagram Type, how we help each other, hurt each other, and a parenting thought. Finally, I want to wrap up by helping you to imagine your relationships in your life. What has my article helped you see, understand, or change within yourself? Imagination is the key to success from these articles because there are no cookie cutter solutions because there are no cookie cutter people.
Here is the additional reading for you other Type 5’s with the itch research more. It is also where I pull most of my information from.
Type 1: The Perfectionist
I might know Enneagram Type 1’s the best of all the other numbers because my wife is one. However, I tend to attract them in general because I don’t mind their major tendency for perfectionism. In fact, for the most part, I thrive on it.
Type 1’s are known for their external perfectionism, but what really drives them and that external behavior is an internal inner critic. The inner critic is what makes an Enneagram Type 1. The inner critic is not the same as the Type 6’s inner committee. The inner critic assaults our Enneagram Type 1 friends with imperfections. These imperfections can be either external or internal. An experience didn’t go this way or that way and it’s perceived as their fault. I could have said it this way or that way better, more perfect. This part of the house isn’t clean, or my life is not organized, so I cannot rest. Because of the inner critic, Type 1’s will often cast that stress onto others.
Most people have experienced this stress displacement, and it makes for an obvious Enneagram Type 1. What I want you to know though is that our stress is momentary when it is displaced. They have the inner critic always. The inner critic is not their friend. I have even heard some Type 1’s call is the voice of the Satan.
However, I see the value of the inner critic. How can you make things better without someone being willing (or forced) to criticize? I would no more banish the inner critic of a Type 1 than I would my own need to research and know just about everything. It is a big part of who that person is, and God has redemption for everyone’s full being, inner critics included.
Type 5 Healing: Cold Logic
My cold logic is oftentimes the best thing I can offer my wife. Enneagram Type 5’s can detach from the emotions of almost any situation. When Type 1’s are all stressed out with their inner critic, they need a trusted voice of detached critical reflection to calm the situation. I’ve seen a lot of marriages between Type 5’s and Type 1’s, and I suspect that it is because the Type 5’s cold logic quiets the Type 1’s inner critic.
Battling the critic
When my wife has had a particularly important conversation or interaction with someone, she will have me “talk her down.” What that really means is that I am going into a battle with the inner critic. The inner critic is analyzing the interaction from all angles and she needs me to logic the inner critic to be quiet by telling her that she is good. She will sit across our sectional and ask me to argue her inner critic over and over again. The inner critic is relentless. It will beat the glue made from the dead horse.
The best healing I offer is when I acknowledge and re-direct the inner critic into things that it can change in the future because the past is done. Distraction doesn’t really work.
Type 1 Healing: Exclusive Knowledge
Enneagram Type 5’s also tend take the criticism better than most numbers. 8’s don’t mind it but don’t actually take it in because they feel challenged. 9’s feel the lack of peace. 6’s find it disloyal. It ruins the 7’s fun. 2’s and 3’s want to fix it. 4’s just dive into the melancholy with them. 5’s can choose to see the inner critic as a source of knowledge. How else would I know or note the smallest of imperfections without the Type 1’s inner critic? 5’s crave knowledge. It makes us feel complete, and the inner critic has exclusive knowledge. Instead of getting overly frustrated, we can choose to appreciate it. When we appreciate the inner critic, it is easy to appreciate the Enneagram Type 1 person. Appreciation is close to empathy and empathy provides some real healing to anyone especially those under assault of the inner critic.It makes me feel like I was actually there instead of observing from the outside and reading about it later. Click To Tweet
I love when my wife will help me critique things. She sees things I never would. That always makes me feel like I am getting the inside scoop. I crave the inside scoop because I perceive that I rarely get it. Enneagram Type 5’s tend to be outsiders in social gatherings, and I tend to play to that rule well. My wife notices so much more than I do with people. She can see what they are thinking and feeling and it’s awesome to get that kind of inside info.
It makes me feel like I was actually there instead of observing from the outside and reading about it later. That’s the way I feel most of the time when I leave social situations. That kind of healing is great for my soul and I think Enneagram Type 1’s are better at providing the color to the situation I crave as an Enneagram Type 5.
Type 5 Hurting: Feed the critic info
The worst thing anyone can do to an Enneagram Type 1 is to feed the inner critic. Type 5’s are especially adept at this. Because our knowledge is cold and detached and perhaps most of all, logical, that is some great food for the inner critic. I love discussing new things that I am learning, but I need to be careful about discussing them with Enneagram Type 1’s. I can expose imperfections they never noticed before. Once I expose them, they can’t go unnoticed.
Enneagram Type 5’s fight Type 1’s better than most numbers because we can overwhelm them with our cold logic feeding that inner critic in the cruelest of fashions. We don’t fight them with our own emotions. We allow their own inner critic to destroy them. After all, it is a lot easier to let a person destroy themselves rather than us using energy to do so. I noticed that I am excellent at being this cruel for my own self-preservation.
For my wife’s birthday this year, I got her a book. The book is about tasting and seeing the Bible in new ways. As a Type 5, I thought that she would love learning a new way to read the Bible and connect with God. But, that is not what happened. As she read the book, the inner critic flared up with all the things she wasn’t doing in her life. She now knew how imperfect she was because she was reading a book about how to be better. That was hurtful of me. If you have an Enneagram Type 1 in your life, I suggest keeping the information of change directed away from them or really surface level and therefore not actionable or at least tread with caution. This keeps it from being food for the inner critic.The worst thing anyone can do to an Enneagram Type 1 is to feed the inner critic. Click To Tweet
Type 1 Hurting: Drain the Energy
The inner critic won’t shut up sometimes. Man is it an energy suck! I don’t know how Type 1’s get anything done. The worst is when it makes you feel like you don’t know enough. That is how you hurt an Enneagram Type 5 by the way. Make them feel invaluable and less than knowledgeable, and the inner critic of the Enneagram Type 1 can do this if you let it. The inner critic can poke right through every hole of knowledge you have, showing you just how weak and worthless you are. The inner critic responds to our cold logic with its own brand of truth as well. It may not be as dispassionate, but it is often just as correct. Picking yourself up after an inner critic battle isn’t easy, and it is draining.
Exposing the core of a Type 5 like that is something only a few can do because we let so few all the way in. When it comes from the inner critic, the evaluation and exposition is correct and painful.
So, I have weird baggage about cleaning that predates my wife and kids. That doesn’t help when you are the stay-at-home-parent because part of your job is keeping the house clean. And you know what? My definition of clean is vastly different than my wife’s. Our biggest fights have been when the inner critic outbursts onto the state of our home. I am the home-keeper/maker/defender. I don’t think I am great at it to begin with, but when the inner critic strikes cleaning, it hits very close to my core. So, I freak out. It isn’t pretty.
We don’t say the word “clean” unless guests are coming over. We say “tidy-up” which is somehow less hurtful for me (weird baggage right?). For many reasons the state of our home is tied to who I am. My wife is assaulted by all the flaws, and that means she hurts me just trying to de-stress herself. Enneagram Type 1’s will find the flaws in things if they look or think about it long and hard enough. Even the flaws and vulnerabilities in my soul. My wife doesn’t mean to hit me there, but the inner critic is always on.
Type 1 Parenting: Naming
I have two kids under 3. Take all this parenting advice with a grain of salt, but here you go.
Enneagram Type 1’s have an innate desire to be good. Obviously being good quiets the inner critic, and I am sure that there is a lot you can do to help your child sort this out. Here is the basic thing I do. I name them “good.”
One of the things I learned watching a lot of parents, listening to stories from people reflecting on their childhood, and reading the Bible, is that people grow into their names. Even when they reject their names, they still grow into their names in some aspects. Naming begins before the growth. Abraham had his name changed before he had any children. Simon became Peter well before he was anything like a rock. Jesus calls us salt and light while we are still quite dirty or poor tasting. You know what though? We gain flavor throughout life. Abraham is a father to many. Peter did become a rock for the Church.
What this means in a practical way is that I am constantly reaffirming my son’s names. He is Ezra the Helper. Ezra the kind, smart, handsome and good. Even when I discipline I start by saying, “You are a good boy. Why did you act or choose poorly?”
Can you see the difference in the affirmation of personhood, dignity, and the importance of a name? My son takes many of my wife’s Enneagram Type 1 traits. If he ends up being a Type 1, then affirming his goodness allows him to be less stressed, leading to better choices/actions, and ultimately growing into the “good” moniker.
By naming him, I teach him who he can be. I, in some ways, take over for the inner critic. If my wife’s inner critic is any indication, I am much kinder than her inner critic on the whole. That’s what kids and I imagine Enneagram Type 1s especially need, repetitive and affirmative naming.
I don’t know the Enneagram Type 1’s in your life. I imagine they are special wonderful people. They are certainly worth having around you. I hope that this article sparks a compassionate imagination for those under constant assault from an inner critic. To have empathy for them, imagine what it would be like to have a voice inside your head pointing out all that is wrong with the world. Imagine then what it is like to love them, and you will find that often the best thing we can do is quiet the inner critic. That happens differently for different people. Imagine the possibilities. Imagine how much you can do with an Enneagram Type 1. Imagine the fun you can have.
Thanks for reading. Share this article with your fellow Enneagram Type 5’s or maybe even an Enneagram Type 1 if it really helped you. Make sure to tag me. I am on all of the social media platforms, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I would love to discuss how this helped or what you wished I could have written about.
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