Kristin Magaldi
Updated April 29, 2020
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As we continue to weather a global pandemic, any insights into coping strategies or methods to approach hardships can be useful. One option? Getting to know your Enneagram type. You may be new to Enneagram, but once you take the test and find out your dominant type, you can gain in-depth insights into your natural behaviors and reactions when it comes to handling challenges.

The Enneagram is a personality-typing system that finds patterns in how we conceptualize our surroundings and our emotions by separating people into nine distinct sections. According to the Enneagram Institute, it derives its origins from psychology, cosmology, metaphysics, and spirituality, and was first used in the 1970s as a way to help people attain self-realization. The nine personality types are derived from a person’s “ego,” or their personality developed before birth, and they’re based on Plato’s idea of the nine divine forms—a theory that claims that there are nine main qualities of existence that are interconnected but cannot be broken down into further parts. Most commonly, the Enneagram (which has a nine-pointed symbol) has been used in business to predict and unpack workplace dynamics, but it can also be used in spirituality practices to help users gain self-awareness.

Every person has one dominant type, represented by the numbers one through nine; that type is based on the pure essence of who they are, unaffected by the environment in which they grew up. The system posits that while your dominant type never changes, the type you most identify within on a day-to-day basis can, as you experience new emotions and new circumstances.

According to Stephanie Hall, certified Enneagram coach and founder of Nine Types Co., knowing your dominant Enneagram type can help you learn more about what drives you. “Often, we walk through life unaware of how we’re feeling, how others are experiencing us, and what is motivating us to move forward,” Hall tells HelloGiggles. “The Enneagram helps us wake up to those things that often stay covered in our typical personality patterns. Once we begin to grow our awareness, we become more empathetic, more connected, and more able to tap into our core purpose.”

This can include how we cope with difficult situations, like right now. To get more intel on how each personality type deals with challenges, we asked two Enneagram experts—Hall and Sarajane Case, founder of Enneagram & Coffee—to break it down.

1. The Reformer

If you’re a type one, represented by the first point in the Enneagram symbol, then you may be a rational thinker and somewhat of a perfectionist, which can come into play when you’re faced with a crisis. “Type ones tend to become very black-and-white thinkers,” Hall says. “You can get laser-focused on structure, order, and fixing everything you can.”

This can be a positive, she adds, but if you try to exercise too much control over a situation, you can wind up giving yourself more stress. The key for you is to harness your orderly energy without going overboard. “You can help yourself by discerning what you can control and letting everything else go,” Hall explains.

Case adds that your inherent generosity and propensity to work hard can offer others a lot in difficult circumstances. “In a season of crisis, others can look to you as an example of what guidelines to follow and how to maintain standards for being a good person, even when things are hard,” she says.

2. The Helper

Being “the Helper” is pretty self-explanatory; according to Case, “type twos are giving, loving and a safe place to land.” In a time of crisis, she notes that you’re probably the one “going above and beyond” to make sure everyone else is okay. But constantly being there for everyone else and not showing up for yourself can leave you feeling resentful or depleted if you’re not careful, so Hall says it’s all about finding a balance. “You can help yourself by turning your attention to your own needs and feelings and caring for yourself as you would a friend,” she explains.

To save your energy, you can use your connections to help people find other external resources they may need in the moment.

3. The Achiever

Case says that if you’re a type three, you’re likely “inspiring, driven, and motivated.” In a hard situation, she notes, you may be the one lifting everyone else up and making sure they’re thriving. Hall adds that your need to be productive can also come out during a crisis, which is something to be conscious of because it can lead you to neglect processing the emotions at hand.

“You can help yourself by giving yourself permission to rest and taking a break from your productivity,” she advises. “You can then help others by lending some of your natural ‘can-do’ attitude to those around you who need a little encouragement that they’ll make it through.”

4. The Individualist

Type fours are typically known as introspective, expressive, and creative. If you’re “the Individualist,” Hall says you might find yourself drawn inward to contemplate your emotions during a rough patch. You might also get nostalgic about the past, which can cause you to mentally live in a time that no longer exists.

Fortunately, if you notice yourself withdrawing from reality, there are actions you can take. “You can help yourself by connecting to the world outside your mind and creating something with your hands,” Hall suggests. “You can then help others by using your creative brain to find an out-of-the-box way to remind people of the beauty in crisis.”

5. The Investigator

Like Type Ones, Type Fives are likely rational, observant, and informed, Case says. People will come to you during rough periods if they’re looking for “a logical perspective when they’re having a hard time getting out of their feelings,” she says.

You’re also likely to absorb as much information as you need to rationalize your experience and prevent any anxiety, Hall adds. However, you may create more anxiety if you’re denying yourself feeling any level of stress. She says to fight this instinct by doing something active, like exercise or cooking, to help you “return to your body and experience the physical world.”

6. The Loyalist

If you’re a Type Six, you may notice that your dedicated, responsible, and security-oriented personality comes through for people in your life. “Others can trust you to have thought through all possible scenarios and to have a plan of action in mind,” Case says, adding, “you are the person they go to when they need help thinking of what they might be overlooking.”

That being said, Hall notes that Type Sixes can gravitate between fearing the worst of a situation and preparing for that circumstance. If you find yourself spiraling, your best bet is to find activities that help you think less. “[Get] some fresh air, call a friend, or do something active will help you let go just for a moment,” Hall advises.

7. The Enthusiast

According to Case, it’s your optimistic and engaging attitude that can help others get out of a negative mindset and see the positives in future possibilities. “You can also help to come up with lots of fun games to play when all else feels lost,” she suggests.

Similarly, Hall says that as a Type Seven, you have a knack for reframing a crisis, so your first instinct when things go awry may be to find silver linings to the situation. But it’s important to recognize that forcing a positive, instead of letting yourself process the negative, can eventually become unhealthy. “Accept all the real feelings of what is happening and lean into stillness and solitude,” Hall says. “Once you’ve found a healthier baseline, you can offer some of your trademark humor and fun-loving attitude to do what you do best: gather people (virtually) for a game night or party.”

8. The Challenger

As a Type Eight, Case says you’re likely the one who leads others when chaos arises. “You take action with confidence and can be a great teammate in any crisis.” Your need to control and protect can be beneficial to yourself and those around you, Hall adds, but your desire to not feel helpless can prevent you from feeling anything at all. “Recognize that intense control is actually you preventing yourself from processing your true emotions—which might sneak up and surprise you later,” she says.

Channel your inclination to lead by lifting up others and organizing support systems, but give yourself space to feel your own feelings, too.

9. The Peacemaker

“The Peacemaker” of the Enneagram types knows how to be diplomatic and laid back during hardships. You’re the one to let the little things go, Case says, and “help others gain perspective, to remind them that it’s all going to be okay.”

“You focus on securing the practical necessities to remain untouched by the chaos of the world,” Hall adds, which, in some cases, can mean isolating yourself to minimize the emotional toll a crisis takes on you. As hard as it might be, accepting that your inner peace may be off-kilter for a while can help you. “Move forward with the inner strength of knowing you will survive even if it’s uncomfortable,” Hall says.

By discovering your Enneagram personality type, you can learn more about your weaknesses and strengths, which can serve your growth and coping strategies during a crisis. “We can also begin to see the flaws and strengths in others so that we can interact with compassion and communicate more clearly,” says Hall. Now, you’ll be more equipped to show up for yourself and others when things get difficult.

What’s your self-care secret weapon? Take this quiz to find out.