Now that I have discussed what the Enneagram is and how to find your type, I’m going to take a deep dive into each type to help you understand the characteristics and nuances of each type a bit better. Today, you’ll meet my friends, Sarah and Karyn, Type Ones on the Enneagram. I hope that what they share will help give you a more robust picture of what it is like to be a Type 1.
Defining Characteristics of a Type 1
Type Ones are the reformers, perfectionists, and idealists of the world. Ones want the world to be right and perfect. They have high standards and ideals for how things should be. Because of this, they have an innate ability to see flaws and are skilled problem-solvers. They are always trying to improve things, but are afraid of making mistakes. They are driven internally by a harsh inner critic that constantly judges everything they do in an effort to keep them from making mistakes.
Ones are often gifted teachers and social justice advocates. They want justice for all and seek to improve and reform themselves, others, and the world around them. Ones are conscientious and ethical and see things in terms of right and wrong. They are often orderly, clean, and structured. Ones are dutiful, responsible, and tend to be drawn to the beauty and perfection of nature.
To a fault, they tend be judgmental and critical. They believe there is one right way to do something and that their way is the right way. They feel a need to share their “right ways” with others. When they are healthy they contribute a great deal of positive change and social justice to the world.
Core Desire: To be morally good, perfect, or right.
Basic Fear: Of being evil/corrupt or defective.
Driving Motivation: Anger at the imperfections they see in the world and inside themselves. Yet, Ones are also ashamed of their anger so they repress it and aren’t always aware of it. Because of this low-simmering anger, they develop ways to censor themselves and control their responses.
Ones also want to stop their consciences from condemning them. They want to improve everything, to be consistent with their ideals, and to justify themselves.
Main Struggles: Resentment & impatience.
Avoids: Fault, blame, criticism.
Key Traits: Ones have an overactive inner critic. They seek to control themselves and sometimes their environment or the people around them. Ones have high ethical standards and are morally good. They are perfectionists, and highly critical or judgmental.
Superpower: High integrity, and passion and dedication for fulfilling their high standards and ideals.
Gifts to the world: High ideals, ethical standards, social justice advocacy.
Invitation to growth: To rest, relax, and play. To learn acceptance of imperfections. In The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective, Richard Rohr encourages Ones
to learn that there isn’t just one right way… make friends with [your] anger and acknowledge it… play, celebrate, enjoy life… go to school with lighthearted Sevens.
Instead of expecting things to be perfect, Ones need to adopt a growth mindset and learn to celebrate progress over perfection.
From the Source: Being a Type 1
To find out what being a type 1 is really like, I interviewed two of my type 1 friends, Sarah and Karyn. Sarah runs a website for work-at-home moms called Stand for Mom. Karyn is a water quality engineer and an avid gardener. I asked them a few questions about their personal experience as a type 1 and how they discovered that they are a type 1.
Describe how being a type 1 is for you.
It feels exhausting and relentless sometimes, because it’s this pursuit of ideals and perfection. I can’t handle myself sometimes! One of the things being a Christian has done for me is introduce me to a Person who can finally, utterly meet my need for perfection. That’s really the only place where that hunger in me is quiet.
Being a type one can be exhausting for me. I feel compelled to speak out when I see injustice or things I don’t agree with, and I am not content to just stay silent most of the time.
How did you come to know about the Enneagram?
Probably a podcast! Meyers-Briggs has always been incredibly meaningful and helpful to me, but I put off learning about the Enneagram because I just didn’t think it could be as helpful. It wasn’t until I read the book, Reading People by Anne Bogel that I finally understood and found my type.
My friend and spiritual formation pastor first introduced it to me. Our small group decided to all take a test and then read a bit about it and then share ourselves with the group. The goal being to better understand each other and be a better community.
How did you know you were a type 1?
It was glaringly obvious that ideals and perfection are big drivers for me.
I scored high on both 1 and 2. It took me reading a few books that described them for me to really see that I was a 1. I wanted to be a 2.
At first I was angry when learning about my Enneagram number. I didn’t like how it felt like other people knew me better than I did myself. I didn’t like that somehow I wasn’t a mystery anymore or unique. Slowly, I began to accept the good and bad with who I am and then embraced the Enneagram as a tool. The shame or exposure that led to anger was a strong first response though!
What bothers you about being a type 1?
My tendency towards legalism. The exhaustion that comes with always trying to do what’s right instead of doing what God is calling me to do in that moment or season. I can also get overwhelmed and then just want to quit and retreat.
What do you enjoy most about being a type 1?
Always noticing what’s not right is exhausting, but it’s also really powerful–I have real abilities to offer people. I can look at things and tell when there’s a problem so that we can avoid bad things later. There’s this balance between judging and analysis that I’m always trying to find, and of course sometimes people don’t want to be told there’s a problem. But teams that I lead and things that I do–they get better. They get really, really good because my brain can see the problems.
Passion for justice and affecting change. Making things right again.
How do you see your Oneness affecting your closest relationships?
A lot of arguments stem from the fact that I want to be right and win. I am quick to address things that aren’t right in my relationships. I assume that people are judging me even when they aren’t (probably because I am naturally judgmental). Mama bear comes out if someone is hurting one of my daughters (most of the time it is their sibling). It’s hard to choose which battles to pick sometimes as a parent because I want to pick them all (to fix everything that’s not perfect).
In what ways has the Enneagram been a useful tool for growth in your life?
I’ve been starting a business and it’s been really helpful to understand about these drives in me. I have to manage them, or they’ll cripple me and keep me from doing what I’m called to do.
By understanding myself I can better see when I am acting in an unhealthy way. I’ve been able to give myself grace in a lot of areas that I didn’t think I could before.
I hope that the peak inside my friends’ lives and understanding of a Type 1 has helped give some shape and form to the internal world of a Type 1.
Finally, I leave you with a song by Sleeping at Last that captures the struggle and the invitation for a Type One.
Are you a Type 1? Leave me a comment at the bottom of this post and share what resonates with you or what you would add.
A quick thanks to my contributors and friends.
Sarah Guerro is a writer and blogger at Stand for Mom. When she’s not trying to do something perfectly, she’s writing humorous essays about women, motherhood, and work that matters. You can find her on Instagram or follow her blog on Facebook.
Karyn is a daughter of the King, a mother of 2 beautiful daughters, a passionate water quality engineer, a loving wife, and a dedicated gardener.
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