Types 7s look to the positive, seek new experiences, and avoid (either consciously or subconsciously) negative emotions. An assertive personality, Type 7s consider personal freedom a core value.
In contrast, Type 4s feel the full range of emotions intensely, have a sense that something is always missing, and are a withdrawn type that value authenticity. They like to keep it real and if that means they need to go into some dark spaces, they are more than willing to go there. It can seem as though it would be impossible to have mistypings between the sunny Type 7 and the emotional Type 4, but if you understand the subtypes, you’ll see how confusion can arise.
In the Type 4 Individualist, the subtype matters a lot, and there are three distinctly different “flavors” of Type 4:
- Self-Preservation is called “Tenacity” and is sometimes referred to as the “Glad” Type 4.
- Social is called “Shame” and referred to as the “Sad” Type 4.
- Sexual is called “Competition” and is thought of as the “Mad” Type 4.
If you see these three subtypes together, their behavior may be so different, they don’t even seem like the same Enneagram type. But don’t be fooled - they share a habit of attention around what is missing, a sensitive issue around shame and sadness, and the same growth path from longing and envy to equanimity. Let’s take a closer look at the Self-Preservation Type 4, the “glad” Type 4 who is most often confused with Type 7.
With a title of Tenacity, the Self-Preservation Type 4 is the sunny Type 4. This is a person who masks their darker emotions and can present as a joyful person. They have an internal sense that if they suffer enough, they will eventually solve their discontent, so these are people who can subconsciously put themselves in difficult situations and endure pain stoically. They are often unaware of their underlying melancholy and envy and instead move against this energy by working hard and taking action to resolve their longing. They may suffer without complaining as a subconscious strategy to “earn love,” and they have a high tolerance for frustration. Because their external energy is so counter to the typical Type 4, they can present like the Enthusiast, Type 7.
And which Type 7s get confused and think they are a Type 4? Most often, it is the Sexual Type 7 named “Fascination/Suggestibility.” Like all three Type 7 subtypes, this is a person whose mind focuses on the positive, who is attracted to variety and new experiences, and whose growth path is to move from gluttony (for new experiences) to sobriety and discernment. This Type 7 can have a restlessness and a feeling that something is always missing. The least grounded of the Type 7s, this may be someone who has magical thinking and whose internal world is much more interesting than the worldly plane their body inhabits. While they don’t necessarily dwell on the negative emotions, they can feel longing and intense dissatisfaction.
Not sure if you are a Type 4 or a Type 7? Ask yourself these questions.
1. Do you remember your childhood as happy?
Type 7s have something called the 7 “reframe” whereby they reframe a negative situation as a positive one. This means that even if a Type 7 had an objectively difficult childhood, they won’t remember it that way. Instead, their mind gravitates towards the things that were working well when they were young, and those memories take center stage. Telling a Type 7 they had a hard past will often confuse them, because they don’t remember it that way.
By contrast, Type 4s may focus deeply on a childhood in which their emotional needs were unmet. They may strongly identify with these feelings of neglect, feeling overlooked, or being ignored. Replaying childhood scenes may take up a lot of space in their mind, and a painful past can become a basis by which they define themselves. Not only do they remember difficulty, it leaves an indelible mark on them.
2. Do you feel comfortable sitting with negative emotions for extended periods of time?
Type 4s have full command of the emotional spectrum and while they feel the complete range, the darker emotions can seem the most familiar to them. As such, they can hold negative emotions for extended periods of time. They have a deep and nuanced understanding of human suffering and can create space for both their own and the pain of others.
Type 7s gravitate towards the brighter emotions and have an unspoken sense of “why feel bad?” They may not have access to the full range of feelings and tend to tilt towards the bright side. Even Type 7s with high self mastery will say they prefer to stay positive and upbeat. The brighter emotions come easily and naturally to them. Darker emotions feel threatening and are generally avoided.
3. Is your inner voice friendly or harsh?
By and large, Type 7s like themselves and aren’t overly self-critical. They typically have solid self-esteem and a happy-go-lucky attitude. Even when they make big mistakes, they can rebound with relative ease. Their inner voice is friendly and while they might have moments of self-criticism or insecurity, these usually pass quickly.
Type 4s are much more self-critical and can beat themselves up for long periods of time over seemingly minor things. They believe the worst about themselves and can suffer from feelings of inferiority and low self-esteem. This is someone who might read deeply into a passing comment from a friend or co-worker and who can have chronic feelings of inadequacy. Their inner voice is harsh.
4. Can you advocate for yourself easily?
Type 7s are a self-referencing type who hold the subconscious belief that they need to go out and find their own happiness. As such, most Type 7s have little difficulty saying what they want, advocating strongly for their position, and maneuvering the needs of others to make sure their own needs are met. They don’t see themselves as insensitive, but rather they assume that everyone operates the way they do - saying what they want and advocating hard to get it.
Type 4s often have a sense of inferiority and are much more likely to suffer in silence and to subjugate their own needs. This is someone who can have difficulty believing they deserve to have good things come to them and who may defer to the more assertive, self-referencing people in their lives. Interestingly, while Type 4s may not advocate for themselves, they are deeply sensitive and may advocate fiercely on behalf of others.
As you can see, the inner worlds of Type 4 and Type 7 look radically different. That said, I’ve met a surprising number of people who become confused about which of the two types aligns with their own habit of attention. If you’ve read the questions above and are still unsure, a deeper dive into the wings and subtypes of Type 7 and Type 4 can be a useful exercise. You can learn more about Type 4 here and Type 7 here.