Break Out of the Box: Enneatype 8: Delay When Angry

“The greatest remedy for anger is delay.”  ~ Thomas Paine

This series is dedicated to illustrate and explore every day human communications.  It is my desire by hearing breakthrough experiences of others it will present an insight or opening in how you can create conscious communications with everyone in your life.

In working with clients who have the Enneatype 8: The Protector, the dominate energy is anger and this type expresses it in a manner that is easy and natural.  And this is where the challenge and the misunderstandings happen for others, where anger is not so easily expressed or tolerated unless it is constructive.  What others remember is the intimidation and control they feel when the anger is unloaded either directly or indirectly on them.

An 8 has their radar up for anything that looks like control…  when it is present it can make them feel vulnerable, afraid, stressed, sad, or guilt, it will appear as anger and it is only relieved when it is vented outward.  Excessive behavior is a common trait for the 8; they can eat too much, drink too much, or drive too fast.

It is not in their makeup to trust in the natural unfolding of events and they do not recognize that people are there to support and accept them.  The 8 has difficulty in expressing their feelings as it exposes their vulnerability and this is what is feared the most.  Imagine a ferocious bear with a tender, fragile heart.

The tendency is recklessness and impulsive action rather than allowing others to lead or to wait until the right timing and take action in stages.  Because of this, the 8 feels safe when they are in charge, making the rules others must follow, though not always following their own rules.  They have the tendency to rebel against all rules in general.

An 8 client of mine already identified his type very accurately, “I get angry when issues come up and I lose control,” he shared.  He had grown up working in the family business from the time he was a young child till the age of 18.  His father ran the company with a hard hand and was abusive in how he managed the business and the family dynamics.  My client did not have a strong model growing up who was calm and rational when problems arose, nor did he learn healthy coping tools.  Instead, he was exhibiting the same behavior as his father and it was getting him into trouble in how he was communicating with those around him.  He found himself making amends from the consequences of his behavior and it was taking a toll in his primary relationships.

When we came together he shared he wanted to release the need to control and instead communicate with passion and calm composure.   Each of the nine Enneatypes has two wing types.  The behavior traits of one of them is more dominating and complements the main type.  My client described his 8ness with the traits of the Mediator (9 wing) which makes this 8 type softer in tone.  He cherished peace and tranquility and sought a strategy for lasting results.  He was already half way there with his clarity, focus and commitment for change.

In coaching where there are two people in a relationship, having the partner determine their Enneatype is extremely powerful in getting a clear picture of the emotional behavior patterns occurring when communication breaks down.

My 8 client was married to a type 3: Performer and it was due to the strain in their communications that brought him to me.  These two types compliment each other in their confidence, assertiveness and persuasiveness.   Of the two types, the 8 is more openly controlling while the 3 can feel easily used and devalued, not adequately appreciated for their contributions.  Both types are not skilled at talking about their real feelings or needs and they don’t like and avoid being vulnerable.  In this scenario, when one or the other was stressed they fell into an automatic pattern of retreat where they each would privately struggle with how to communicate what was happening and what they needed from each other.  The mismatch occurs as the 3 is focused on developing themselves and the need to be admired for their qualities while the 8’s intention is getting to the truth and are surprised when the other person is hurt by their directness.

Once we exposed the behavior patterns of the 8 with the dynamics of his 3 wife, he was able to quickly recognize the triggers and the immediate reactions of feeling either controlled or out of control.  Unlearning a set behavior pattern takes awareness, time and a consistent practice.  Daily meditation taught him how to relax and remain grounded when the “control trigger” surfaced and interrupt first then halt altogether the auto anger reaction.   By developing this one ability, he was able to put space between the trigger and his old immediate reaction of anger, and it carried through to applying this practice to other areas of his life.

This was an example of just one area where the Enneatype 8 can practice tools for a more satisfying, successful and fulfilling life.

Here are some practices to support developing to your higher self:

  1. Be open to different ways and options from others.  Choose to go with what works more than having to win, control, or be right.
  2. If you struggle with impulsive choices, float your ideas first, get some feedback and think about the future before acting.
  3. Take an inventory on where there is destructive excessive behavior, define and practice a value limit, like not going back for second helpings for food, or keeping an average speed when driving.
  4. Know that everyone feels insecure and afraid at times.  Trust that others want to support you and will as you practice releasing the need to always be in control.

You can find a written copy of this Break out of the Box at my website at and for others in the Break Out of the Box Series, plus resources like determining your own Enneagram Type, to get you started.  While you are there, drop me a note.  I would love to hear from you.  Till next time, be well.

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