Type 8: The Protector

The Protector is a bold, assertive, action-oriented personality with a strong belief that vulnerability can be avoided by being strong and powerful. Protectors habitually focus their attention on power and control . The are driven by a lust for life and excess.  They possess a huge energy that fuels the personality. Challenges for this courageous and intense personality include being domineering, excessive and controlling. 

Each Enneagram type has its own idealization, avoidance and defense mechanism which holds the idealization in place.

For Type 8:

Idealized Self-Image: “I am powerful”.

Avoidance: Vulnerability, weakness

Defense Mechanism: Denial

The Eight’s ability to deny the reality of our vulnerability allows them to leave the present moment with its painful thoughts, feelings and events.

What to expect if you are in a relationship with an Eight:

  • Expect to be tested. Eights want your strength, vitality and independence in relationship.
  • Contact is essential. Bonding through high adventure and shared difficulty.
  • Anger flares quickly, is easily expressed and is just as easily forgotten once its protective function is served.
  • Anger may be a request for deeper connection. Anger clarifies a confused relationship by surfacing authentic emotions. The truth comes out in a fight.
  • Eights can retreat into an all or nothing world. Your ambivalence feels threatening.
  • Make sure that Eights are fully informed. Put all your cards on the table. Misinformation turns your small oversights into major betrayals.
  • Expect periods of strict control followed by disobedience bouts. Eights make the rules and they get to break them.
  • Your Eight can be a rallying point, a tower of strength under pressure.

Learning to recognize the patterns of type, accepting them with compassion and learning to relax them brings us to the present moment where life can be experienced more fully. Recognizing these patterns in others helps us understand and relate to them.

The practices for  growth for the Eight:

  • Reclaim innocence
  • Learn how much force is necessary
  • Moderate impact on others
  • Appreciate others truths
  • Allow personal vulnerability
  • Leslie’s mediations for Eights

Feeling grateful for something helps keep our focus and energy on it. This is helpful when working with the Enneagram because gratitude automatically shifts focus away from those things which habitually grab attention to perhaps more productive or nourishing things.  Intentionally cultivating a gratitude practice is an excellent way to broaden our focus of attention.

For the Eight, a different point of view that you had not considered.

Sources: Helen Palmer; Type Eight panelists; Enneagram Studies in the Narrative Tradition

8s in Leadership: Here, I have a conversation with Susan, an 8 who describes her experience as a leader. Often, people say that someone can’t be an 8 because they seem to “shy.” Not true. Many 8s are introverts (particularly if they operate out of the Self-Preservation instinct) and you can see that here with Susan. Their directness is in service of getting to the truth.


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