The Enneagram offers a wide range of uses but one of its most powerful applications is as a tool for personal growth. At the most basic level, the Enneagram outlines nine distinct habits of attention along with specific guidelines for how to relax these habits to come back into balance. Knowing your Enneagram type offers a quick path to deeper self-knowledge.
But for those who immerse themselves in the system, these nine personality styles are just the tip of the iceberg. The Enneagram has many facets, and one of them is the concept of “subtypes.”
This rich topic outlines three instinctual varieties for each type, offering us 27 personality profiles to choose from. And while there are several ways to interpret the subtypes, Claudio Naranjo’s theory, codified in Beatrice Chestnut’s book The Complete Enneagram, gives us a distinct action plan to help each of the 27 subtypes along their path to personal growth.
If you’re new to subtypes, start with the following guides here and here. As a quick summary, there are three clusters of instincts called Self-Preservation, Social, and One to One. Everyone is wired towards one of these instincts, which fuses with your main Enneagram type to influence your experiences and behavior. The word in brackets in the rundown below (e.g. “Worry” for self-preservation Ones) is the name Chestnut gives to that particular subtype.
Self-Preservation (Worry): The true perfectionist of the Enneagram, this person focuses their drive to improve on themselves. They can be very anxious about making mistakes and very concerned about being blamed for errors.
- Personal Growth Path: Become aware of your desire to control all the details—could it be to avoid blame? Work hard to identify the root causes of your anxiety. Relax more and make room for fun in your life.
Social (Non-Adaptability): This person focuses their drive to improve on their environment and society. They strive to be a shining example of correct behavior and may have a “teacher” mentality.
- Personal Growth Path: Remember that true power comes not from correctness but from the desire to offer goodness to others. Focus on your core intention and regulate your need to be right.
One-to-One (Zeal): More of a reformer than a perfectionist, this person feels the right and responsibility to correct those they care the most about. The least self-critical of the Type Ones, they have high standards for others and an idealistic view of how things should be.
- Personal Growth Path: Shift your focus from correcting others to deeply knowing yourself. Inquire about your need to correct others and how you might be linking it to your own self-worth. Could you be worthy without correcting others?
Self-preservation (Privilege): This person strives to get their needs met by adopting childlike behavior. They may seek to be taken care of by others. They can be coy and charming as a way to gain attention and approval.
- Personal Growth Path: Stop playing small and start taking charge of your own life. Learn to be more resilient in the face of emotional hurts. Cultivate self-love so you can step into your power.
Social (Ambition): This person strives to get their needs met by creating bonds with influential people and earning recognition. They are sensitive to group dynamics and can be more comfortable in the limelight or in leadership roles than the other Twos. They love feeling connected and influential.
- Personal Growth Path: Become more aware of the strategic intent behind your helpfulness and look for signs of subconscious manipulation. Work on creating more balance in your relationships. Share more of your vulnerability.
One-to-One (Seduction): This person strives to get their needs met by building and attracting strong intimate relationships so they can feel supported in return. Their subconscious strategy is often to be everything to one person so that person will take care of them in return.
- Personal Growth Path: Engage in honest self-reflection about how you are presenting yourself. Are you projecting who you think you need to be to be loved? Risk showing up as yourself.
Self-preservation (Security): More understated than the other Threes, this is someone who has a drive to be seen as the best but considers it bad manners to brag. Instead of flaunting their strengths and successes, they avoid the spotlight and self-promotion. This person places a big emphasis on security and can be prone to workaholism and anxiety.
- Personal Growth Path: Slow down and notice your tendency towards self-reliance and working harder when you become anxious. Make an effort to stay still instead of moving into action. Share more vulnerability with others.
Social (Prestige): The most attention-seeking of the Threes, this person is competitive, proactive and skilled at self-promotion. They are more open in their bid to be seen as the best to those around them, and their focus is on achieving high status and material success.
- Personal Growth Path: Work to relax your efforts to gain recognition and admiration. Challenge beliefs you have about failure and rejection. Practice being still.
One-to-One (Charisma): This person expresses their drive to succeed by supporting others, and they see success through the lens of those whom they are associated with. They can be people-pleasing and while competitive, they can have a team mentality. Their focus goes to creating an image that is attractive to others.
Personal Growth Path: Work on discovering your true self. Redirect your focus from promoting others to finding your own sense of center. Share more of your true feelings with those who care about you.
Self-preservation (Tenacity): This person is more stoic about their suffering and does not outwardly project their pain and emotional experiences. They can have an almost subconscious sense ”If I suffer enough, that is how I will transcend my suffering.” They may have masochistic tendencies.
- Personal Growth Path: Resist the urge to work harder to prove yourself. Share more of your feelings with people who love and support you. Allow for more lightness, fun, and pleasure in your life.
Social (Shame): This is someone who is deeply attuned to their own suffering and chronically undervalues themselves. They may constantly compare themselves to others, always coming up short. Their strong desire to be understood may lead them to openly share their emotional experiences with others.
- Personal Growth Path: Work to relax your self-judgment and negative self-perceptions. Cultivate self-compassion. Take direct action to get your needs met and stop over-identifying with your suffering.
One-to-One (Competition): This person expresses their suffering through competition and an attempt to establish themselves as superior. Colorful and intense, this is a person who can fluctuate between high sensitivity and callousness towards others. They have a tendency to externalize their own pain.
- Personal Growth Path: Notice your drive to externalize your darker emotions onto others. Strengthen your ability to sit with your own suffering. Identify what you value in yourself even if you aren’t superior to others.
Self-preservation (Castle): The most guarded, remote and introverted of the Fives, this person is very protective of their privacy and boundaries. They try to avoid the material trappings of life and may live a very frugal lifestyle. Minimizing social contact, they have a small but intimate circle of close relationships.
- Personal Growth Path: Imagine ways you might grow if you didn’t feel the need to keep such high walls around you. Work to connect with others more. Share more of your feelings, even if it makes you feel anxious.
Social (Totem): This person is a more outgoing, socially engaged Five, but their engagement is done in a very structured, boundaried way. This person has a thirst for knowledge and a desire to master a subject. They align themselves with groups or individuals who share an area of intellectual interest and form meaningful connections.
- Personal Growth Path: Shift your focus from knowledge and information to emotional engagement with the people in your life. Notice and resist your tendency to connect with others only through shared ideals. Strive to share more of your day-to-day life with others.
One-to-One (Confidant): The most emotional of the Fives, this person has a desire to find one person they can trust completely. Highly romantic, they seek out strong and intense bonds with another person. Because their standards are so high, they can be easily disappointed in relationships
- Personal Growth Path: Consider that you may be holding others to unreasonably high standards as a way to avoid intimacy. Risk expressing your true feelings to the people in your life. Challenge yourself to let true, authentic connection happen, even if it is messy and unscripted.
Self-preservation (Warmth): This person expresses their drive for security by creating strong bonds with other people. Loyal and warm-hearted, they also tend to be self-sacrificing and indecisive. They seek a protective force, someone who they rely on for safety and decision-making.
- Personal Growth Path: Make clear decisions, be more direct, and break the habit of being so docile and submissive. Practice allowing yourself to be angry. Develop an awareness of your positive qualities so you can experience more self-confidence.
Social (Duty): This person expresses their drive for security by aligning themselves with an outside framework, institution, cause or mission. Dutiful and rule-following, they seek a clear and established role in the group.
- Personal Growth Path: Learn to let go of your system of thinking that aligns you with rules and reference points. Act more from your instinct. Develop the courage to pursue pleasure rather than duty.
One-to-One (Strength/Beauty): This person expresses their drive for security by moving towards the thing they fear. They come off as strong, assertive, and intimidating to others. Beneath the surface, this is a highly anxious person.
- Personal Growth Path: Recognize that aggression is not the same as courage. Notice how appearing strong masks your fear and other vulnerable feelings. Try to let your guard down with the people you are close to move often.
Self-preservation (Keeper of the Castle): This person expresses their gluttony for positive experience by striving to enjoy life with a close group of family and friends. Earthy, practical, and the ultimate networkers of the Enneagram, they can be very focused on getting what they want.
- Personal Growth Path: Notice how you stay alert for opportunities and consider if this drive is fueled by a concern you won’t have enough (resources, connections, etc.). Become aware of how your pursuit of your needs and your self-interest may impact others in negative ways.
Social (Sacrifice): This person expresses their gluttony for positive experience by working against their tendency to put themselves first. Rather than being self-indulgent, the Social Seven sacrifices their pleasure for the greater good. They strive to be in service to others and subconsciously want to be seen as “good” and selfless.
- Personal Growth Path: Try to become more aware of your desire to be recognized for your sacrifice or helpfulness. Challenge yourself to be honest about ways you might confuse altruism with self-interest. Give yourself credit for your good intentions while allowing room for all your intentions and limitations.
One-to-One (Fascination): This person expresses their gluttony for positive experience by embellishing reality to see it as much more positive and vivid than it actually is. The least grounded of the Sevens, they have a passion for life and a reality distortion, believing the world is better than it actually is. People can be drawn to their magnetic and charming energy.
- Personal Growth Path: Learn to distinguish between reality and fantasy. Strive to recognize when you are embellishing reality and consider if it is to mask fear, frustration, anxiety, or other darker emotions. Build up your tolerance for frustration so you aren’t as tempted to retreat into fantasy.
Self-preservation (Satisfaction): This person expresses a drive to feel strong and powerful at the most basic level, focusing on the material world and going after what they want in a very direct way. The most emotionally armored of the Eights, they have an instinct they must act to get their needs met.
- Personal Growth Path: Slow down your reactions. Learn to rely more on others. Cultivate your ability to communicate what you need and want, both in practical matters and matters of the heart.
Social (Solidarity): This person expresses a drive to feel strong and powerful by using their power and influence to be of service to others. Less angry than the other Eights, they are fiercely protective and loyal to their core group. However, they may have trouble accessing their emotional world and letting their guard down.
- Personal Growth Path: Focus more on self-care. Begin to recognize how your care for others is a way of acting out your own denied needs for care and support. Get more in touch with your inner innocence.
One-to-One (Possession): This person expresses a drive to feel strong and powerful by striving to take center stage and be the focus of attention. Emotional and rebellious, they are passionate about their beliefs and like to have influence over others or serve a worthy cause.
- Personal Growth Path: Explore your need to rebel and dominate the attention of others. Notice your drive to control situations and try to identify if a need to avoid vulnerability is at the root of it. Understand you are at your best when you offer center stage to others.
Self-preservation (Appetite): This person expresses a drive for harmony by merging into routines. They prioritize getting their physical needs met (sleeping, exercising, eating). This is someone who turns their attention away from their deeper needs and focuses on more basic, surface level priorities.
- Personal Growth Path: Become more proactive in thinking through and acting from your own self-interest. Focus on feeling and working through your anger instead of denying it. Be more direct about what you want, both with yourself and others.
Social (Participation): This person expresses a drive for harmony by merging through groups and group participation. This is someone who appears friendly, engaged, and social. They often devote a considerable amount of time and energy in supporting their chosen group.
- Personal Growth Path: Slow down. Share more of your true self with others. Notice any fear of abandonment, conflict or loss of peace you may be striving to avoid.
One-to-One (Fusion): This person expresses a drive for harmony by merging with the attitudes, feelings, and beliefs of significant people in their lives. Unassertive and more relationship-oriented, they struggle with personal boundaries and cultivating a strong sense of themselves. It can feel threatening for them to be alone.
- Personal Growth Path: Act to find your own sense of purpose and your own experience of being. Notice how blending in with others prevents authentic relationships. Recognize the ways you may have not honored your own boundaries.
As you can see, the personal growth path for each subtype is varied and rich. For more information about these personal growth paths, see the book The Complete Enneagram by Beatrice Chestnut.