Enneagram Type Eight ~ Polarities
Enneagram Type 8 has the Primary Polarity of “trying not to be weak.”
The Polarity of the Type shows a movement towards a set of qualities and a movement away from its opposites. Like a pendulum in an old clock, the Type is sustaining this duality. Once the Type grows to its highest expression, the polarities collapse into natural wholeness.
This means that Type 8 is resisting anything that threatens their strength or exposes them to weakness. Strength means Eights are trying to keep in control, stay in power and direct action according to their desires.
Weakness means emotional vulnerability, feelings of the heart and compassion.
A few Secondary Polarities for Eights at their lower expression:
- It’s often easier to armor up rather than to open the heart to vulnerability.
- Eights prefer to be in charge rather than be submissive.
- They prefer to hold boundaries rather than give in.
- They can be direct instead of diplomatic.
- At lower to medium expressions they find it easier to be vengeful than forgive and take rather than give.
A few Secondary Polarities for Eights at their highest expression:
- Instead of armoring up they now find strength through embracing vulnerability.
- Eights open to stepping down from being in charge and seeing the value of appropriate submission.
- They learn to relax boundaries and see the wisdom of when it’s time to give in.
- They can be direct and diplomatic.
- At higher to medium expressions, they find it easier to forgive and to step into benevolent giving.
Enneagram Type Eight ~ Personality Pearl
Type 8 has the InnerLifeSkills RED Pearl of Gut Instinct + Resisting Reality + Impact + Anger Continuum.
This means that Type 8 is operating from a combination of gut, an unconscious physical push back against the moment (think about the sensation of inertia), plus scanning for impact from the world and to the world and triggered anger (from irritation to rage) under stress.
Add this to the Polarities and you understand the REASON for the behaviors of Type 8.
Examples of reasons for behavior:
- Eights use their gut instinct to avoid weakness, resisting the reality of anything that threatens their strength.
- Eights impact through asserting power, control and directness.
- Eights draw strength from anger which infuses their presence.
If you understand the Personality Pearl + Polarities, you understand how the Type arises. This forms a part of the InnerLifeSkills 8 Step Coaching Typing Test Method, where we teach you to use a narrative style to coach your clients to understand all 9 Types, and using trademarked worksheets of the Pearls, Polarities and Types, you help a client to discover their type.
Infographic for Enneagram Type 8
If you look at our InnerLifeSkills Enneagram infographic, you’ll see the sword symbol for the sword of truth, and the military style emotional app that the type has.
You’ll see the war paint and body posture of assertion. Not to be confused with Counter Phobic 6, which has a very different reason for a similar stance.
The sword symbol is a reminder of the Primary Polarity trying to be strong, or as our Eights would say, they don’t try, they are strong.
Here are some voices for Type Eight (from our InnerLifeSkills Enneagram Coaches)
- “It’s my way or the highway.”
- “I know in minutes whether I like something or not, it’s pure instinct.“
- “I don’t like surrendering control.”
- “If you disagree with me be upfront about it, but show respect.”
- “When people are indecisive or weak it irritates me.”
- “Let’s get to the point already.”
- “If you betray me, you are dead to me.”
- “It hurts to feel compassion and care about people, but I grow that way.”
Enneagram Type 8 Map for Growth
At the lowest expression Eights create a false sense of strength by polarizing away from weakness and vulnerability.
“It’s only at my highest expression that I found real strength through embracing my heart. Even though it feels like losing control to feel suffering and to open to find compassion for others point of view, it has allowed me freedom through surrendering to truth.”
Eights Lowest Expression
When our Enneagram Type is at its lowest expression, it tends to have a CLOSED door to its opposite polarized Type, denying the balancing qualities of that type, to restore wholeness. And it tends to have only one OPEN door to the other type, which because of the lack of balance, adds lower functioning qualities to the primary type.
- At Enneagram Type 8’s lowest expression, the energetic door to Type Two, which is their polarity opposite is closed. This means all the healthy functional qualities of Type 2 like caring, sacrificing personal desires for others, giving generously and being compassionate are denied to Eights.
- Leaving the only energetic door open to Type 5 at its worst. This lets in the mind type anxiety, self-isolating, avarice, cold empathy and intellectual arrogance.
“At my lowest expression, I tend to access the worst characteristics of Type 5, which means I withdraw, overthink things, become anxious to the point of never being able to rest my focused mind.”
“As a Type 8, when I access 5, it’s a laser intense anxiety that borders on agoraphobia.”
“It’s all thinking, and intensity, hoarding and holding power instead of following my heart.”
“My instinct narrows to the present moment only, looking for an instant yes/no cold decision, instead of zooming out to see the bigger picture and add flexible options.”
Eights Highest Expression
When our Enneagram Type 8 is at its highest expression, it tends to have a OPEN door to its opposite polarized Type, allowing the balancing qualities of that type to restore wholeness. And it tends to then also have an OPEN door to the other type, which because of the balance, adds higher functioning qualities to the primary type.
- At Enneagram Type 8’s highest expression, the energetic door to Type 2, which is their polarity opposite is open. This means all the healthy functional qualities of Type 2 like compassion, opening the heart to others suffering, generosity, love and being free of the war zone to make relationships are available to Eights.
- The other energetic door being open to Type 5 now adds its best. This lets in clear objective thinking, dispassion, strategic decisiveness, depth of understanding and the pursuit of knowledge.
“At my highest expression as an Enneagram Type 8, I include care for people in my strategic thinking, using my heart, gut and mind.”
“As a Type 8, when I access 2 I feel love.”
“I can open to see more than the battlefield moment, I include my feelings of care for my relationships.”
“I still feel strategic and objective which helps me to make informed decisions.”
Enneagram Type 8 Keywords & Voices
- I know what I want and am clear on my desires.
- In order to not be impacted by weakness, I might assert power to sustain my position of strength.
- I might use anger as a source of intense presence and struggle to understand others’ feelings.
- I tend to be intolerant of other people’s weaknesses and mistakes.
- I don’t mind being intimidating. In fact, sometimes I prefer it.
- I can be in denial about my love and care.
- It’s my way, what’s wrong with that?
- I use solitude to retreat and sometimes to protect others from my rage.
- I’m not a patient person and can be quick to judge.
- I can’t forgive absolute betrayal.
Enneagram Type 8 Common Mistyping Misidentifications
Because Enneagram tests are limited, they are often unreliable, with a 50-60% accuracy. This is why we prefer a narrative, coaching approach to helping people to discover their types. Types share common behaviors, but differ in their Personality Pearl “grain of sand” hidden reason for behavior.
Here are a few common Type 8 mistypings showing what is in common and what ultimately separates the types. We train our Enneagram Coaches to use this type of thinking as a framework to ask clients enlightening questions so that clients can weigh in on the coaching session to find their type (with the expert guidance of their InnerLifeSkills Enneagram Coach).
- TYPE 1 vs. 8: Both correct others to enforce, Ones in favor of the ‘right’ thing to do and Eights in favor of ‘my way of doing things. One looks to the world for the ‘way’, Eight follows their instincts. One can be critical and pedantic, Eight can be bossy and aggressive. One is an anger type who is learning to relax and let go, Eight is an anger type who is learning compassion.
- TYPE 2 vs. 8: Both can get intensely angry, Two when their pride is wounded and Eight when they feel betrayed or disrespected. Twos needs an emotional connection to others, Eight needs to feel strong and in charge. Two spends time choosing kind words, Eight can be direct and harsh. Two is a self-worth type learning self-love, Eight is an anger type who is learning compassion.
- TYPE 3 vs. 8: Both focus on strategy and winning, Three to prove their worth Eight for power and to win the war. Three cares about the opinion of others Eight cares less about how others see them. Three can be charming, Eight can be harsh and direct. Three is a self-worth type learning humility and service, Eight is an anger type who is learning compassion.
- TYPE 4 vs. 8: Both feel things intensely, 4 feels all subtle emotions and 8 feels anger and power. 4 needs to be vulnerable, 8 needs to be invulnerable. 4 can be stuck in victim drama mode, 8 can be stuck in mafia domination mode. 4 is a self-worth type learning to be functional and ordinary, 8 is an anger type who is learning compassion.
- TYPE 5 vs. 8: Both are intense, 5 asks questions with laser intensity, seeking understanding and 8 has intense presence, an aura of power. 5 needs space and isolation, 8 needs power. 5 can be aloof and distant, 8 enjoys physical engagement. 5 is a fear type learning to be engaged and confident, 8 is an anger type who is learning compassion.
- TYPE 6 vs. 8: Both are loyal, 6 in favor of the underdog and powerless, 8 in favor of loved ones and those they respect. 6 needs support and feedback, 8 needs to feel strong and independent. 6 can be indecisive and anxious, 8 can be decisive and harshly direct. 6 is a fear type who is learning faith in self, 8 is an anger type who is learning compassion.
- TYPE 7 vs. 8: Both are independent and seek pleasure, 8 seeks the indulgence of their likes and 7 seeks entertainment and fun. 7 needs to be happy, 8 needs to be powerful. 7 can be manic and careless, 8 can be bossy and direct. 7 is a fear type who is learning focus and content stillness, 8 is an anger type who is learning compassion.
- TYPE 8 vs. 9: Both have strong instincts, 8 is tuned in to strategy and their desires and 9 is tuned in to bring peace. 8 needs to be in charge, 9 needs to go with the flow. 8 can be direct and harsh, 9 can avoid conflict. 8 is an anger type who is learning compassion, 9 is an anger type who is learning to be assertive and present.