Enneagram Type 8 Personality - The Challenger - Active Controller
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Enneagram 8 - Active Controller Description

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Enneagram Eights have a motivational need to be strong and avoid showing vulnerability. They value having a sense of control and being direct and impactful. Eights love challenges and will embody a need for justice which enables them to protect others. Healthy Eights are experienced by others as strong, deeply caring and approachable. They offer the gift of innocence to themselves and the world around them when they align with the flow of reality. At their worst, others will experience Eights as domineering, aggressive and lustful, an image that stems from the Eight strategy to express themselves as larger than life in a threatening world.

“The world is a tough and unjust place - only the strong survive. I am a rock; I must not be weak. I must be in control. Do it my way! ”
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The gifts of the Enneagram Eight include:

  • Assertive: Eights are confident and direct, say what they need to say and get on with things.
  • Decisive: Eights are quick to respond and willing to make decisions. They trust their gut instincts and will move things forward.
  • Protective: Under their toughness, Eights are bighearted and take people under their wing. They protect the people and things they care about and will fight against injustices.
  • Independent: Self-sufficient Eights dislike being dependent on others and maintain their autonomy.
  • Influential: Eights have their own way of taking charge and influencing others, which includes the capacity to influence the bigger picture.

Typical Action Patterns:

The Eight sits in the action Center of the Enneagram - acting on gut instinct and making things happen are, therefore, second nature to this type. Eights find it easy to influence the external environment and they tend to believe that almost any action is better than doing nothing at all. Eights project themselves as direct and intense. This is likely to come across through the way they speak, their choice of words, decision-making style and body language. They assert their independence and want to be able to choose to do things. Eights are less likely to co-operate out of a sense of obligation. Being in control is very important to an Eight, who will not only manage the big picture, but also micromanage. When under pressure or when others seem to be dropping the ball, Eights will quickly step in to sort things out. Having to micromanage irritates Eights and probably feels like a waste of time but to stay in control and ensure results, they will do what they have to do. Even though they dislike weakness and incompetence, Eights will be highly protective of people they feel responsible for. When people under their care are being exploited or treated unjustly, Eights will defend and protect them, as long as they don't act like victims. They will pursue justice and will actively work to correct wrongs.

Typical Thinking Patterns:

Eights will tend to mentally assess people as either "strong" or "weak" and will treat them accordingly. This may lead to an "all or nothing" assessment of people and way of paying attention to others. Eights want to know the truth and dislike ambiguity. They are comfortable if the truth only comes to light in a conflict situation, as they want to know what is going on and hate being "out of the loop". The more information they have about progress, updates and what is going on, the more the Eight is able to focus on the bigger picture. Eights don't like getting involved in the detail as their preference lies in working on a macro- and big picture level with information. The mind of an Eight moves towards their own goals and needs more so than those of other people. They don't respond well to being forced, bribed or charmed into doing something that they don't want to do or seems dull and unimportant.

Typical Feeling Patterns:

Eights tend to be quick to anger and then try to channel this anger into immediate action. After having expressed their anger, Eights tend to be quick to move on. Emotions like sadness and fear make Eights feel vulnerable and weak. As they want to avoid feeling or showing weakness, Eights use denial as a defence mechanism to help not show weakness to others. Some Eights are aware of when these feelings are occurring, but will very rarely choose to show these feelings to others. Their softer emotions will only appear when the Eight feels safe. They express their love through protection and power.

Blind Spots

  • Because their energy may be stronger than they realise, Eights may not be aware of how intimidating it may seem to other people. Contrary to what they believe, not just timid people may feel threatened and overawed in their presence. This may be the case even when they are holding back.
  • Eights tend to move towards conclusions and action swiftly and decisively. Other people may need a lot more time to see the big picture and decide what to do about it. The force with which Eights initiate and drive may, therefore, leave people feeling unprepared or overwhelmed.
  • Even though Eights may be working hard to keep their vulnerability from others, they may show it more than they realise, especially in moments of reflection or when anticipating future challenges.
  • When people are unable to assert themselves or take control in a clumsy way, Eights will quickly take charge of situations. Their assessment that someone is weak may lead to them disregarding what others are saying or offering.
  • Eights don't react well to dishonesty or being blamed by others.
  • Eights don't conform to rules and hate any attempts at being controlled. At the same time, their tendency to take control assumes that others will comply and conform to them. This can create tension in relationships.

Growth through the wings

Click below to explore the Wings

Type 8 Wing 7: Lighten up, have choices   Type 8 Wing 9: Combine strength with kindness

Enneagram 8 Subtypes

The Enneagram Eight's drive to assert their strength and avoid being controlled is expressed differently by the three Subtypes.

Self Preservation
Self Preservation
Subtype Key:

The SP Eight is strong, direct and productive and appears powerful and effective. Confident in even the most challenging situations, they are survivors and are pillars of strength for many as they take the role of guardian, father or mother figure. They are driven for material success and behind the strong but indirect influence. When their needs are not satisfied, they become frustrated and intolerant, and tend to take a direct, no-nonsense approach to get what they want, without guilt or apology.

(Sexual) Instinct
Subtype Key:

This subtype is the most rebellious Eight, provocatively breaking rules and standing out as a rebel, iconoclast or trail blazer. Their impulsiveness and desire for intensity may seem like Four characteristics, but these are rooted in an unapologetic drive to create change, willing to provoke and disrupt others to accumulate power and influence. They have a desire to serve a worthy cause, but prefer to do so from a central or leadership position. They use their self assertion and magnetic personality to possess others.

(Or Group) Instinct
Subtype Key:
Solidarity (countertype)

The social dominant instinct Eight countertype uses their power and influence in the service of others, making them appear Two-ish in their drive to support others rather than asserting their own needs. Sensitive to injustice and unfair social norms, they are loyal and protective and shield ‘their people’ from harm, unjust authority or abuse of power. Even though they prefer not to be too vulnerable, they invite and appreciate tough feedback from close allies.

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