Coping with Crisis on the Enneagram Scale

Last week I received an email from an organization in Greenville and directly under the subject line it read, “We promise this e-newsletter is NOT all about COVID.” I immediately thought, “Whoever sent this email must lead with type 9 on the enneagram.” Then I proceeded to open the email and read the entire thing. That was marketing genius, in my opinion.

As someone who leads with type 9, I was appreciative of the recognition that it is difficult for many people to be constantly reminded of the reality that we are living in right now. I find that I often need to escape from talk of the coronavirus pandemic in order to have harmony in my life. It’s not that I completely ignore the news or avoid reality altogether, but for my peace of mind I know I must limit the amount of COVID talk I hear, lest I might shift to the stress type of my enneagram 9 and become more like an unhealthy 6 who is anxious and fearful. This, unfortunately, has happened several times over the past few weeks, so I’m still in the process of learning how to adjust.

I’m married to someone who leads with type 7 on the enneagram and it has been fascinating for me to see how differently we are handling this time of “sheltering at home.” For example, while I don’t mind staying in my pajamas until after lunch most days (unless I have a zoom meeting – then I at least put on a nice shirt), he is often up and dressed and working in the yard before I have even finished my second cup of coffee. In fact, he has done more yard work in the last six weeks than he has during the entire fifteen years that we’ve lived at our house. (I’m not complaining!) He has embraced this time at home and most days he seems to shift to the security type of his enneagram 7 and is more disciplined and focused as a healthy type 5 would be.

Because most of my friends know how much I love the enneagram, lately I have received numerous texts that include memes about how different people might be reacting to life in our current situation. These messages show examples of the nine types as they are working from home, or trying to use zoom, or homeschooling children, and each one causes me to smile; plus, I am typically able to relate somewhat to the behavior(s) listed for type 9. The most important thing, though, that these messages remind me is that everyone is handling this unfamiliar period of our lives differently – if my husband and I weren’t evidence enough of that already. I think it helps to remember that just because a family member, friend, or colleague isn’t behaving or reacting the same way we are, it doesn’t mean that they are right or wrong or even better than we are. It means that we are all trying to do the best we can to survive something unlike any situation we have ever before experienced.

So, how are you dealing with the circumstances of COVID-19 according to your enneagram type? This week I reached out to a handful of people and asked them to reflect on that question. Here are their responses:

Type 1: I’m checking the news often; worried about people doing the right thing/following the rules; lots of cleaning/organizing/house projects to distract; concerned for systems/access to healthcare; disinfecting everything.

Type 2: It’s killing me that [I can’t help others more right now.] There are things in my life that are coming to an end and they’re not ending like they’re supposed to, so I’m just really sad. The unknown of all of this is very difficult for me.

Type 3: I’ve been relying heavily on my planner, more than normal, even. Checklists for things I need to do every day and planning out time to work on different projects. Focusing on the current week helps me not worry as much about the long stretch of time in front of us because that feels too stressful! It’s harder to have long periods of time with slower projects to do.

Type 8: I’m taking charge of anything I can control – everything from making my bed daily to constant tasks and projects. I cannot sit and read at all. I can watch TV some, but mostly I have to be doing. I have also become much more directive, always giving people (like my spouse and kids) stuff to do. Hope they still like me after this! Lol.

I encourage you, too, to take some time to reflect on your enneagram type – I’d love to hear your thoughts. Are you recognizing your strengths and challenges – your healthy and unhealthy tendencies? How are you noticing your stress and security types showing up? What about your wings? (And, if all of this is confusing to you because you don’t know anything about the enneagram, I’d love to chat about that with you as well!) Most importantly, though, don’t forget to give yourself and others some grace. Remember that none of us has ever lived through circumstances like this before and we’re all doing the best we can. I leave you with this helpful Instagram post from @enneagramandcoffee. I guess I need to start changing out of my pjs earlier than I have been! 😉