Exploring the Enneagram – The Number Eight.
Basic Fear: Of being harmed or controlled by others, of violation.
Basic Desire: To protect themselves, to determine their own course in life.
Superego Message: You are good or okay if you are strong and in control of your situation.
Eights love to take on a challenge as well as giving others the opportunity to do the same. They are a source of strength and determination, being charismatic they also have the ability to persuade others to follow them into all kinds of endeavours. They have tremendous willpower and bring vitality to the world leaving their mark in both positive and negative ways. Eights resist being controlled or letting anyone else have power over them which means they often have to be in control.
Eights are the individualists of the Enneagram, the most likely to “stand alone” and want to be independent without having any indebtedness to anyone. They are aware of what others think about them but are not swayed by those opinions. The Eight can be rude or offensive, trying to get a reaction out of people to see what they’re made of. When unhealthy they are intense – an intensity that’s aimed at everything. They hate bullies whilst being the biggest bullies themselves. They have strong opinions, are passionate and forceful and have a tendency to overdo everything in order to feel alive.
Beneath a tough exterior though, the Eight often feels vulnerable. Although they often feel hurt and rejected this is rarely talked about because they have trouble admitting their vulnerability for fear of rejection. They can become blocked in their ability to connect with people or love as this gives people power over them which awakens their basic fear. Unfortunately the more Eights build up their ego as a protective mechanism, the more sensitive they become which causes them to shut down emotionally and become hardened. However hard they can be on others, this is nothing compared to how hard they are on themselves.
The Childhood of the Eight was marked with a sense of needing to become adults at an early age. They may have had to deal with a dangerous environment or with a need to protect their feelings. They felt the need to be strong in order to survive. They can be intimidating to others but this often surprises them because inside they know they’re using their strength to protect the vulnerable child within.
When the Eight is emotionally healthy they have a resourceful, can-do attitude alongside a steady inner drive. They take the initiative and make things happen with great passion. They are natural leaders with a solid, commanding presence and use their abundant common sense wisely. They will look after the interests of the people in their charge without playing favourites.
The way home for the Eight is to consent to stillness. They will use their bodies to exert dominance over their environments. In coming home the Eight accepts the body as a gift whilst not allowing it to drive them to the edge of their limits which they are prone to do. Stillness invites the Eight to stop pushing and overdoing everything. It’s also a good antidote to their aggression and assertiveness. Consenting to stillness may however be hard for the Eight because in doing so they are letting go of control. If they are able to consent to stillness it will invite them to surrender their dominant controlling ways and open up space for healing.
Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson describe the emergence of Essence in the Eight:
When Eights give up their own willfulness, they discover the Divine Will. Instead of trying to have power through the assertion of their egos, they align themselves with Divine Power.
Eights also remember the omnipotence and strength that comes from being a part of the Divine reality. The Divine will is not the same as willfulness. As Eights understand this, they end their war with the world and discover that the solidity, power, and independence that they have been seeking are already here.
Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations
Don Richard Risso and Russ Hudson, The Wisdom of the Enneagram
Christopher L Heurtz, The Sacred Enneagram