How Do We Handle Endings and Change? Practical tips for Each Enneagram Type

Blog post graphic How do we handle endings and change? Practical tips for each type podcast episode 32

Hello, my friend. Welcome to this post! Today, we’re going to dive into Enneagram and endings; what it can look like for your type when you are going through a change, or a transition, or when something has ended. I realize that this can be kind of a difficult or uncomfortable topic, so if this isn’t something you’re ready to work through right now, because you’re going through or processing a difficult ending, I want to give you permission to skip this for now. We are going to be talking about what it looks like when your type has to deal with that transition and change that comes from something ending, and really whenever you are dealing with an ending, whether it’s one that you perceive as good, where something good has happened to lead onto the next thing, or something that you wanted to end is over now; or whether it’s a bad ending, something that you didn’t want to end is gone, or it was sad or tragic or difficult. Both of those things bring about change, and change can be difficult for each type.

I’m going to kind of come at this from the perspective that this is something that you didn’t want to end, but be thinking in the back of your mind some of the other things; like when you have a baby, your pregnancy has ended, and there is difficult change that comes with that, even though it was a change that you would see as progress. Or if you decide to make a move to further your career, or to be closer to people that you love, these are things that we perceive as good, and we often make those choices ourselves, but it still brings about change, and change can be uncomfortable. So that’s the perspective that I’m coming from, is when your type is dealing with change that is difficult, specifically change that comes from an ending. This will be more of a general overview, because I’d like to get through all nine types in this post, but I would love to know if you want me to do a full class on this inside Christian Enneagram University.

I was able to be a speaker in the Wholehearted Enneagram Summit, and we had a wonderful conversation about this with Amy Wicks of the Wholehearted Enneagram, who was hosting, and I love this topic. I think that it’s so important to know how we approach endings and how we move through them and process them from our Enneagram type’s unique perspective. This can give us insight into how to move through that in a healthy way and pick up on the things that we need to be aware of so that we can be our most intentional self, even when the changes that are happening in life are hard. I do want to just point out too, before I hop into Type One, that endings can really bring grief, even if we were the ones who chose it. So that’s where I’m going to be coming from. The feelings that come from endings aren’t going to last forever, but they are real and they are valid, and so is your experience of them. I hope that you have people in your corner who won’t just minimize or delegitimize what you are going through, and how you’re experiencing this transition or change, and I hope that I can be one of those people for you and that what I bring when it comes to your Enneagram type is encouraging to you and offers you some ways to move forward intentionally in your loss or changes. So let’s dive in.

Type One

How Ones Process Change/Loss

So Type 1, when you are going through a change that is difficult; when you have moved through an ending and are processing it, you might find that you are trying to find where to place the blame. “What is the post-mortem? Who gets the percentage of the blame?” You want to know how you can really quantify what every person’s responsibility is in bringing this about, or in making it a bad situation in whatever way that you perceive it to be. It’s important to recognize this tendency, because so often this is not helpful, to you or to the people around you or to the relationships involved. It actually keeps you stuck and stops you from moving through the emotions that are actually happening, and processing the things that did happen to you.

An Invitation for Ones

When we try and quantify and put blame on things, we can actually separate ourselves from the experience and invalidate even our own emotions in it. So I want to invite you to watch how often you use “should have”, or thoughts like “this was right, this was wrong.” “We should have done this.” “This is where it went bad.” There is more than one way to grieve an ending, and there’s most likely nuance to how it came about, so if you can, coach yourself on how to allow the gray, instead of just the right/wrong or the black/white.

Here are some questions to consider as you are processing:

  • What is the nuance in the situation and how do you feel about it?
  • What is your experience as you’re walking through it, not just what are the labels you can put on the things that happened?

Another thing to do is to make sure you are allowing the emotions that seem random or inappropriate (even though they aren’t inappropriate, as a Type One, they can feel inappropriate). Instead of jumping straight into anger or judgment or critical evaluation of the situation, really explore what’s going on with you right now and see if you can process the root of what has happened inside of you so that you can move through it with intentionality and not resort to label-making.

Type Two

How Twos Process Change/Loss

Type Two, when you are moving through an ending that can be difficult or challenging, you might focus more on other people, maybe even more than you do on a good day. This can cause you to let down any healthy boundaries that you have set up; any ways that you gauge whether you should be saying “yes” or “no”; you might let go of all of that and turn back into a “yes” person who really craves that connection, almost at all costs. This can lead to loss of boundaries, but also, when other people hold to their boundaries or don’t do the same thing as you do (maybe they don’t lean into you as much as you’re leaning into them); in that moment, it can cause you to feel greater feelings of rejection, because you are craving that connection more. It’s absence, or the perception that it’s absent, can feel like a deeper wound when you’re going through an ending.

An Invitation for Twos

My invitation to you is to really pause before giving, in a generous way, when you are working through something; when you’re processing through something that has changed drastically, or just straight up ending ended.

Some questions for you to ask yourself in this processing time:

  • Is this for me to do?
  • Am I avoiding something by saying yes, or doing this thing?
  • Am I looking for connection to avoid being with myself and processing what I’ve gone through?

I also want to invite you to really revisit your boundaries. Sometimes they do need to shift and change; sometimes they do need to be made more pliable and moveable in a time of flux, and that’s valid and can actually be very healthy! But make sure that you are evaluating them with wisdom and discernment and intentionality, and not just throwing everything to the wind in that pursuit of emotional and relational connection. Do you need to rethink them? And how do you need to do that in order to be most healthy and intentional in this current situation? Often, changes lead to a transition to something that’s new, and these boundaries right now might change soon; but I do want to invite you to revisit them now and figure out what it looks like for you right now.

Type Three

How Threes Process Change/Loss

Type Three, in times of change, you may find yourself defaulting to an “I’ve got this” attitude, or telling yourself, “I don’t need to sit and process; I can move through and be as productive as I was before, or more.” This can all come from that default mechanism of wanting to do, wanting to be busy; because it can be difficult having so much going on inside you, and having so much to process. It can be easier to push that away in times of high stress or difficult emotions, like what can happen with endings. You might feel the need to grieve that ending, but are maybe pushing it away and putting on this facade to yourself and to other people that everything is okay, and that you can continue doing everything that you are are used to doing.

An Invitation for Threes

I want to invite you to notice that compulsion to kind of overdo and be busy, and instead find a safe place to slow down and just be for a while. The goal of being a healthy Type Three is to notice the times when you need to slow down, and often in endings, this is a time to slow down and let yourself be instead of pushing yourself to do. Another thing I invite you to do is to find a person that you can really connect with and open up to about what’s really going on inside. This will likely be an uncomfortable thing to do, but I want to invite you to find a safe person to do that with.

Type Four

How Fours Process Change/Loss

Type Four, you might find yourself getting lost in the feeling of a “missed ideal.” When there is an ending, you might find yourself being nostalgic for what could have been, and that can cause you to be stuck there, lacking motivation to create a new ideal or a new normal that is joyful and fulfilling.

An Invitation for Fours

I want to invite you, when you are grieving an ending as a Type Four, to let yourself feel those moments of joy and levity that come. You might find yourself wanting to stay “down” in the feelings of grief and sadness and despair because of that nostalgia (and because it can feel like the “right thing to do” even!), but when you allow yourself to have those natural uplifts of emotion, you’ll see that life itself is fluctuating emotions, and equanimity is a beautiful thing. Moving back and forth on the waves of emotion with intentionality, and knowing when you are too high for too long, or too low for too long, can be really, really helpful as a Type Four. So recognize that those moments of joy and levity don’t diminish what you went through or your experience; it’s a sign that you are a whole person who experiences all of life, and that’s a beautiful thing. I also want to invite you to find ways to connect and interact with other people, and be spending time inside other people’s experience, especially their emotional experience or their perspective on what happened that caused this change or loss. Again, this doesn’t diminish your experience or your perspective; it just gives you more access to the fullness of what happened, or the fullness of the availability of the emotional experience that’s available to you. That co-regulation of emotion and that added perspective on what happened can be really, really helpful as a Type Four.

Type Five

How Fives Process Change/Loss

Type Five, when you are going through an ending, you might find that you take a while to process, maybe much longer than other people would expect you to, which can create some added discomfort in relationships. Another possibility is that you are processing on a long and slow fuse that other people might not notice. So you might find one of those two things are happening, depending on what happened with that ending.

An Invitation for Fives

I want to invite you to be willing to ask yourself what you need. You might start to rely really heavily on self-reliance; not needing anything from anybody else, and just relying on yourself. This can hamper you from fully processing what happened, and kind of like what can happen with Type Fours, you may lose that perspective that other people can bring into the situation and into your life as you’re moving through this transition. Be willing to ask yourself what you need, and then to reach out and ask for help from other people. And then, Type Five, I want to ask you to look inside and think about what entering into life could look like right now. Are there healthy ways for you to lean into relationships, experiences, or events that don’t really drain you more, but actually fills up your cup a little bit? Are there safe ways to lean into life instead of leaning back from it because you are processing this thing? Taking that time to process is so important, but there are ways for you to take breaks from it, or continue to live that full life that you have, even though you are processing something very deeply (maybe more deeply than other people realize.)

Type Six

How Sixes Process Change/Loss

Type Six, when you have reached this point where something has ended, especially if you didn’t choose it or it was a surprise to you, you might start to question the loyalties of people around you, even if they haven’t really given you any reason to do so. This is kind of a defense mechanism to try to bring back that certainty that you are looking for after an ending that probably rocked your world a little bit. You might also stop trusting yourself and your ability to make wise decisions, because if you didn’t see this coming, then how can you trust that you’ll see the next thing coming? Or if this didn’t pan out the way you wanted it to, how can you trust that you can move through the next ending or keep the next thing from ending? All of that can really break down your trust of other people or yourself.

An Invitation for Sixes

Here are a few invitations for you as a Type Six, when you are moving through an ending and this loss of trust. I want to invite you to really think about what’s going well right now; in this present moment, what is not broken? What is not falling apart? What has not ended and is continuing to be something that you can look at and say, “I trust that that is going well”?  I want you to get really specific with this, like get granular! Label the things that are going well, because this reminds you that you are a person who can make wise decisions, and you are a person who has people in your corner. We do want to be aware of the feelings that come up, like feeling afraid because you are insecure. That is totally valid! But gaining that full perspective allows you to really notice the areas where you need to focus your attention and look for certainty if it’s available and really put your decision-making energy into. If you are constantly dividing that focus all around, it can be really difficult to know where to put your energy; so put a label on the things that are already good and going well, and then you know where to put your decision-making super power and energy towards.

Type Seven

How Sevens Process Change/Loss

Type Seven, when you are going through a difficult transition or ending, you can tend to go looking for the next thing, at what you can do next, which can keep you from fully processing what has happened. Some Enneagram types might get stuck in the processing, or put off going back into their lives until they’ve processed; you as a Type Seven probably have the opposite problem where you jump back into life without processing at all. This makes sense with your Type Seven motivations, but you need to be able to have that safe processing and know what has happened and how you feel about it so you can move through it.

An Invitation for Sevens

My invitation to you, Type Seven, is to really find a safe person that you can talk through everything with, and it helps if this person has a sense of humor like you do so that they get some of the ways that you might laugh at difficult situations. I don’t want to belittle that, because it’s a totally valid way to move through loss for you as a Type Seven. So find somebody that you can process with in the way you need to process, and share what’s going on in whatever way helps you get it out. And another important invitation for you is setting healthy boundaries for yourself. This is not limiting yourself, but is actually empowering yourself to focus on what’s important. You aren’t limiting the fun aspects of your life, but you are instead opening yourself up to some of the more uncomfortable parts of your life. For example, maybe you choose to sit down with another person to talk through something that’s hard for you to talk about, and you choose to do it for a set amount of time, and then you can put it down until you’re ready to pick it up and go again. This way you won’t be avoiding it; you will be giving it its proper time and attention, and then putting it down in appropriate and intentional way. I want to invite you to set some healthy boundaries with yourself in that way and free yourself to process without having to stay stuck, or feel like you’re stuck in that ending. As a Type Seven, it can feel like this will be a perpetual thing that you have to keep going back to and re-evaluating and talking about, but that’s not true; instead, giving yourself some time to pick it up and then put it down and move on can be really, really healthy.

Type Eight

How Eights Process Change/Loss

Type Eight, what you might do when you are faced with an ending or a transition, especially one that brings up some difficult emotions or is uncomfortable to move through, is to double down on your tendency to avoid looking weak or vulnerable. This comes from the defense mechanism called denial that a Type Eight has; you might even be denying that there is a problem that you need to deal with, and it can become really dicey because you might believe the denial; you might believe that this isn’t a problem that you need to deal with.

An Invitation for Eights

My invitation for you, Type Eight, is to think about what compassion would look like for someone going through the situation that you’re going through, and then apply that to yourself. How can you give that same compassion to yourself that you would want to give to somebody that you love who’s going through the same thing? This can help you bypass that defense mechanism of denial, and keep the reality of what has happened in front of you. Because as a Type Eight, you have a deep, protective instinct of “your people”, and you know that if the same difficult thing that happened to you happened to them, objectively you would know how to show them compassion and some of the things that they may need. You can mirror that back on yourself and realize that you may need some of those things, even though you are convincing yourself that you don’t. What does compassion for yourself look like right now? And try to avoid denying that you need help, time, space, rest, or processing space with another person. I also want to invite you to follow where the joy is taking you, and be intentional not to just follow that need for intensity that you might have. As a Type Eight, when you’re going through something difficult and you’re trying to avoid looking weak or vulnerable, you might become a little more impulsive in the intense parts of your life, whatever that is for you, and so I invite you to really look at where you can find levity and joy, or rest and rejuvenation, and not necessarily leaning into that tendency to go after intensity.

Type Nine

How Nines Process Change/Loss

Type Nine, when you are going through a difficult transition, an ending, or a change that is hard, you may fall into one of two camps, and it could be different depending on the circumstance, or you can even go back and forth between them. You might find yourself releasing anger that kind of surprises you, having a volcanic eruption because you hit your last straw; or you might shrink away, become smaller and sort of withdrawing from the situation. Both of these can lead to feeling better, either by getting it all out of your system in one go or by avoiding it a little bit and maybe going to your inner happy place.

An Invitation for Nines

Now my invitation to you, Type Nine, to help you process with intentionality whatever has happened that has been difficult, is to give yourself permission to be affected by it. Even the eruptive anger that you might experience as a Type Nine occasionally doesn’t necessarily help you process what has happened, and often a Type Nine might shift the blame to an outside circumstance that caused the eruption. Allow yourself to be affected by what happened, and allow yourself to label how you feel, why you feel that way, and what your responsibilities for processing how you feel are. This can allow a deeper emotional experience and help you move through in a healthy way instead of avoiding the situation, either by getting angry or getting quiet (but stubborn.) I want to also invite you to connect with other people on your terms, beyond accommodating them. This doesn’t mean becoming suddenly selfish, but if you’re going through a difficult ending, you might have to take up some space that is yours, that you’ve maybe allowed other people to occupy before this. This is not bad, or unfeeling; this is simply saying “I need my bubble back, or a portion of my bubble, because I am going through something.” One thing that I shared inside Christian Enneagram Club recently was that when we are injured (and change, transition, and endings are a type of injury), we take up more space and we have less ability to accommodate. So, Type Nine, that’s my invitation: give yourself permission to be affected by what’s happened, and recognize that being affected by what’s happened means that you’re going to take up some of your own space that you’ve allowed other people to occupy, and that’s a good thing. This can be done in a respectful way that honors relationships, and respects the relationship enough not to try to accommodate when you lack the capacity or are processing something that is equivalent to an emotional injury, which is very real and very valid. It’s important to validate your own experience as a Type Nine, so that’s what I’m giving you permission to do with this invitation.

Okay. We made it through all nine types. I hope that you enjoyed this episode! This is a topic that is very important to me; I think it’s so important to know how we tend to process endings, and I wasn’t able to cover it as deeply as I would love to here in this post, but do let me know if you would love to see this as a full course inside Christian Enneagram University. It would be, I think, a really important thing for us to look at using the lens of the Enneagram, because we are all dealing with stuff and we all process in different ways. When difficult things happen and endings occur, we are more likely to constrict back into our types, so being aware of what might happen and some practical ways to move through that in intentional, health-oriented ways are going to be really important. So let me know if you want to hear more about this topic sometime in the future!

Enjoy this post? Have a question? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below or over on Instagram where I hang out the most. If you haven’t yet, grab a copy of The Enneagram for Beginner’s book (affiliate link, thank you for your support!) or you can shop through my favorite books and resources for using the Enneagram in the Amazon Storefront.

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