Exploring Enneagram: What It’s Like Being a Nine

woman with glasses with post it with question mark on her foreheadFrom what I understand, Enneagram Nines, also known as the Peacemakers, may have a harder time figuring out their number than other types. 9s by nature tend to be empathetic, open minded and self-aware and thus often identify easily with many traits associated with other Enneagram types too. Personally, I felt stuck between the Helper type {2} and the Peacemaker {9}. I admire how helpful and nurturing 2s are, and found myself hoping that was my number. However, when I realized in times of stress, I basically ghost all of my friends instead of leaning into them, I felt fairly confident in my 9-ness. I found listening to other 9s describe how they think, feel and behave in both times of stress and health to be the most useful tool in discerning my number.

Enneagram 9s in Growth

The Enneagram Nine is known as the “peacemaker.” At our best, Nines can be effective problem solvers, mediators, and can get along with almost anyone. Empathy tends to come easy to us. We can bring people together for a worthy cause. We go with the flow and are indifferent 95% of the time. We tend to be attentive listeners, reliable friends and committed partners. We value and strive for peace and harmony in our relationships and the world around us. When we’re healthy, we can use these gifts to the benefit of others, and ourselves.

As I’ve gotten to know other 9s, I’ve found that we often are the friends who people come to for advice and support. We gravitate towards helping professions, are people pleasers, and motherhood is sometimes the first time in our lives where we can’t keep our anger in check. Sometimes we have friends who feel closer to us, than us to them, because we tend to genuinely be content to be the supporter without asking for support in return. We tend to shy away from vulnerability and addressing things that bother us in relationships. Often, we avoid speaking up because we really do just get over most things, and sometimes because we are that afraid of conflict.

Healthy and integrated 9s present with characteristics of average 3s. We feel more confident in ourselves. We recognize the worth we bring to our relationships and whatever roles we fill. When we’re healthy, we can identify and name our own needs and wants without worrying that doing so is somehow a threat to stability in our relationships.

Enneagram 9s in Stress

sloth hanging from tree branchHowever, at our worst, 9s can become anxious, avoidant and sloth like. When I’m not coping well, it’s not unusual for me to go weeks without talking to my closest friends. Tension and disagreement are threats to the peaceful status quo 9s strive to maintain. We hate conflict and will go to great lengths to avoid it, including ignoring our own wants and needs. Sometimes when we’ve neglected our own needs, for the sake of maintaining peace for too long, we can feel dissatisfied and frustrated. We can become reactive, passive aggressive and angry. When that happens, it’s really hard for us to talk about how we’re feeling because we worry if we say how we really feel, we will be rejected or abandoned by those we love.

In stress, 9s tend to exhibit characteristics of average 6s. In my experience, this is where 9s can get rage-y. I tend to keep a really tight lid on my anger in professional and public settings. But there is very little peace and harmony for most moms raising young children. Constantly trying to meet everyone else’s needs, frequent sensory overload, internal and external pressure to never lose my cool. Sometimes it just feels like too much. In these moments my fuse feels short. I get snappy, mean and loud. My patience and my manners go out the window. And my people are often left feeling hurt, bewildered and confused. And I’m left feeling guilty, ashamed and terrified I won’t be able to repair the hurt I’ve caused.

In addition to sometimes having quick tempers, 9s can be excessive worriers. Think doomsday preppers without the prepper part. In stress, 9s will mentally obsess over all of the possible worst case scenarios but you won’t find us stock piling supplies or running through drills like a 6 may be prone to do. Instead, you will likely find us anxious, worrying, curled up in bed binging the latest trash reality show, a bag of potato chips and not responding to any of your texts.

Leaning into my 9ness

Through a lot of self-reflection, professional therapy and feedback from family, friends and my partner, I think I’m growing into a healthier 9. I’m learning to look at the unhealthy parts of my type as warning signs that something needs to shift or change. If I’m feeling anxious or angry, I can engage a coping skill or make a plan to meet an unmet need. I’m giving myself permission to make decisions, to state my opinions and to speak my mind more often, and experiencing more connectedness in my relationships as a result. The ability 9s have to see things from many perspectives, and to get along with people who are very different than ourselves, is a gift. There is value in using our gifts to try and make our community and world a better place.

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Anne R
Anne has spent most of her life living in Katy, Texas or finding her way back to it. After several years in Houston, Anne, her husband, two daughters and their dog migrated back to Katy. Years spent trying to juggle full time motherhood and full time community mental health jobs led Anne to open her own counseling practice. Anne Russey Counseling provides online therapy for moms, anxious adults and LGBTQ+ people throughout Texas. Anne is at her best as a mom when she is on the go {with or without her kids} and would take a dentist appointment over imaginary play any day. Anne is learning to accept she will never get it all done and to embrace the joy she finds in reheated cups of coffee while her kids play independently for a few precious moments. You can find Anne’s thoughts, usually related to mental health, on her blog.


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