As we work our way through the Enneagram, we land at Number 4 today. Enneagram 4 is the most misunderstood enneagram type. They have a need to be understood, known, and loved while being considered special and different. As well, they want to be noticed and to fit in while being considered unique and extraordinary. They’re motivated by the need to experience their feelings and to be understood, to search for life’s meaning, and to avoid being ordinary. The bottom line, they need to feel special.
To prove they are special, they tend to come across as dramatic. Their attitude is “It is all about me.” Fours are creative and artistic, wanting to look unique and different from those around them. Hence, they tend not to be into “mainstream” type things. They are extremely empathetic and sensitive to others’ needs and can relate to others’ hardships like no other type.
An Unaware 4
If emotions take over an unaware 4 can take on some unhealthy qualities such as being moody, stubborn, self-absorbed, attention-seeking, and having a “woe is me” attitude. Fours can get stuck in melancholy – no one understands me is a typical thought. When good things do happen, they are too ordinary. They feel a sense of deficiency about their own worth and seek idealized experiences of qualities they perceive as outside themselves.
Fours often focus on what they don’t have. This can show up as envy of what they perceive others to have. They often don’t measure up to an ideal of what they should be, and over-identify with emotions. Their emotions are who they are, often focusing on past hurts and wounds. It is important for fours to see the good in themselves and realize life is not a competition. They don’t have to stand above others, just side by side.
The wings are three and five. Fours with a strong three wing tend to be more extroverted, upbeat, ambitious, flamboyant, and image-conscious. They are more pragmatic, less emotional, and better able to focus on tasks and goals. Fours with a strong five wing tend to be more objective and balanced, more introverted, intellectual, idiosyncratic, and reserved. At their best, fours are inspired, self-renewing, and giving generously. They are able to transform all their experiences into something valuable.
The movement for fours is towards one and two. The move to the positive side of one, helps them become more self-disciplined and grounded in the here and now; do more problem solving and become more practical. They accentuate more of the positive and less of the negative, and become less controlled by their feelings. The positive move toward two helps them to connect with people in meaningful ways, become less self-absorbed and meet other’s needs with healthy detachment.
This, like the others in this series, is only a quick overview of the different Enneagram types. Knowing the characteristics of the different types can really be helpful in understanding yourself or perhaps your partner or children or co-workers. For more information please check out my wife, Crystal’s, website Journey to Inner Wisdom. She has an upcoming workshop in June on the Enneagram for anyone who would like more information.