Many might find it surprising that Enneagram Eights possess a defense mechanism. Eights come across with great strength, confidence and outward flowing energy we might assume that Eights have no need to defend against anything.
However, Eights are no exception to the human condition of defense mechanisms. In fact, Eights do their defense mechanism much like they do the rest of their personality structure--strong and unyielding.
Enneagram Eights' defense mechanism may be the toughest to crack.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves too quickly. As a reminder, each of us has automatic defense mechanisms that we employ when our anxiety escalates. elevates. We use defense mechanisms to overcompensate for the anxiety we experience over what we believe is unacceptable about ourselves.
*What is your automatic response when you feel insecure? *What do you do when negative thoughts and feelings threaten your self-esteem? *What happens when you receive feedback from others that contradict the image of your self that you work hard to project and like to believe is true and accurate?
Welcome to defense mechanisms!
Defense mechanisms are automatic, often unconscious, responses we employ to cope and protect ourselves from feelings of anxiety, threat and guilt. They serve the dual purpose of warding off unpleasant feelings as well as amplifying and idealizing good experiences.
Each Enneagram Type has its signature go-to defense mechanism that coincides with the personality structure it forms around its core needs, fears and motives. The manner in which each Type exercises its primary mechanism provides useful information to the other Types on the inner workings of the defense mechanism at play.
The primary defense mechanism for Enneagram Eights is Denial.
Eights view the world dualistically. They see the world consisting of two types of people--the strong and the weak. They believe they must be strong in order to fend off injustice, being taken advantage of or being controlled.
To be weak is a character flaw.
Therefore, Eights are determined to be strong. They see themselves as such, and work to ensure others know their strength as well. Eights insist on determining their own course in life.
When Eights face their weakness and vulnerability, their strategy of seeing themselves as invincible is shaken.
Eights' defense mechanism of Denial then kicks in. Vulnerable feelings are pushed aside. Eights will "power up." They come on strong, push their position and access their anger.
Eights resist receptivity to outside sources and input because receptivity involves vulnerability. Eights choose to impact others rather than be receptive.
The strategy is to protect their innocence and essence--the child within that Eights believe no one else will protect.
The growth path for Eights calls them to relax this defensive structure--the walls they have erected around them.
Learning to become receptive and acknowledge their vulnerabilities introduces Eights to a new kind of strength--one that is able to embrace their tenderness and weakness. Eights can accept reality on its own terms, rather than exerting their will to change it.
This allows Enneagram Eights to come into touch with their essence of innocence.
Eights aren't the only Types to use Denial, of course. We all deny in certain situations. But, Eights provide us useful insight on how Denial impacts each of us.
How does Denial operate in your life?