The Enneagram - Type 8 (The Challenger) Knowledge for A Personal Development Plan
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The Challenger is personality type 8 on the Enneagram. Type 8s are determined, decisive and self-confident, but can also become controlling, intimidating and confrontational. They pride themselves in being protectors. When they are healthy, they protect those close to them, but when unhealthy, they protect themselves from vulnerability in potentially unhealthy ways. They have a huge amount of energy but can also have problems with their tempers.
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Challengers are tough. They have huge amounts of physical endurance but tend to be cavalier about their health and wellbeing. They can also be inconsiderate of others’ health and physical wellbeing and think that others should ‘toughen up’. They have little tolerance for weakness, physical, emotional or otherwise, in themselves or others, and can show little sympathy or empathy.
Straight-talking and resourceful, they enjoy being self-reliant and masters of their own universe. Fiercely independent, they do not like the feeling of relying on others and prefer to do things for themselves. If they must work with others then they will want to be the boss. They are always looking out for opportunities to prove their strength and importance. Taking on challenges and setting challenges for others is immensely enjoyable to a Type 8, though they feel losses and failures very deeply. Their wish is to dominate and prove their superiority.
Challengers can be charismatic leaders. They usually speak in a dramatic and intense way that reflects their inner alert to danger. Their passion draws others in to the causes they believe in and fight for, and they have enough energy to be the singular driving force behind huge movements and monumental changes in their communities and the wider world. Their willingness to defy social convention can be a help or hindrance to their wellbeing. On one hand, they are unafraid to stand up against any injustice, no matter what power they have to fight against, but on the other hand, Challengers may break social norms in quite shocking ways for no other reason than to exert control. They have a need to be unrestricted by public opinion, and will continue doing exactly they want to do, despite how others react to it, feeling no shame or fear.
The Neurotic Aspects
The truth is, beneath this domineering and powerful exterior, Type 8s are scared of being controlled by others in case they are emotionally harmed. Their worst fear is disempowerment. Their controlling and aggressive behaviors are strategies to keep others at an emotional distance. Afraid of their own vulnerability, Type 8s may push away those that love them, because love implies mutual reliance and tenderness, which this type finds very difficult.
The fear of rejection is haunting for a Type 8. If they sense a rejection is around the corner, in the form of a divorce, or being fired from their job, for example, they will detach first. This doesn’t necessarily mean they will initiate the divorce or actively leave their job, but that they will become hostile to the other party as if they were the ones in control and choosing to end the relationship. This gives them the illusion of control and helps them avoid the feeling of being a victim that they so dread.
The key to personal growth for a Type 8 is submission to a higher power. This can be very difficult for them due to their desperate need for control, but this submission speaks to an even deeper need. The true desire for a Challenger is to be vulnerable and cherished and loved, without being hurt. Because they are so emotionally sensitive to any form of criticism or challenge, it can be very difficult for Challengers to feel loved by others without deep feelings of betrayal when others inadvertently hurt them. The force of God/the Universe/a Higher Power is too powerful for a Type 8 to dominate. Challengers will often fight against submission, but if they get to know that this power will give unconditional love and guidance rather than hurting them, they will eventually submit. This will transform their lives.
Challengers who get to know a Higher Power in their lives experience near-miraculous personal growth and self-development. They begin to allow a place for honesty and vulnerability in their lives, and tolerate and support others in their weakness. Determined to protect the weak and vulnerable, Type 8s will become honourable leaders with sensitivity, a solid presence and a strong sense of duty. They are willing to go through immense hardship and difficulty to help those they lead, and will stick by what they know is right, despite anyone who stands in their way.