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FAQ Series: Can My Enneagram Type Change?

Can your Enneagram Type change over your lifetime? The short answer is, no. The Enneagram, like many other personality systems, operate under the assertion that people come pre-programmed with ego structures that are then nurtured to express in particular ways and are resistant to change. This isn't just a preference or a passing mood, but a complex ego structure that was wired pre-birth and shaped into this particular expression through life. Not only that, but the he ego structure by which we operate has deeply ingrained fears, beliefs, and longings that have acted as navigational points for our lives since the beginning--driving most (if not all) of our decisions throughout our lives. Some experts argue that even trauma will not change this ego structure, but will just change the expression of our ego structure. In other words, even when the worst things happen to us, we will hold the same fears, longings, and desires.

All this being said, there can be a few factors that make us THINK we have changed our Enneagram Type:

  • Family and Cultural Overlays: When we are young and living under the roofs of our first families, we are highly susceptible to taking on and mirroring the fears, desires, and values of that first family. These values, desires, and fears that influence all members of a society or family are called overlays and they shape the expression of our Enneagram Types while they remain influential in our lives. It is not an uncommon occurrence for children leaving their first homes and living situations to gradually (or suddenly, depending on how indoctrinating the overlay was) break from the overlay and strengthen other traits unique to themselves.

  • Initial Mistyping: Mistyping in the Enneagram is painfully common. Part of this reason is that tests are notoriously inaccurate and settling on a Type requires a bit of self-awareness. Sometimes when a person's Type "changes" dramatically later in life, they didn't really change their Type, they just discovered their real Type for the first time. Some experts even argue that you can't really know your Type until you've lived a little life already, either from spending decades on this planet or going through some hard stuff. Though this can feel discouraging, it's important to note that mistyping is just a part of the journey toward self-awareness and self-discovery and not a marker of some kind of failure to "figure it out".

  • Increase or Decrease in Self-Mastery: We all have moments, months, or years, when we are growing in our self-mastery--or our ability to live more consciously of our strengths, hang-ups, and tendencies--and moments, months, and years (decades) where survival is more important than growing in our self-mastery. Both are important and worthy and a normal part of life and will greatly affect our EXPRESSION of our Type. In these moments of living at higher levels of self-mastery, we will look very different than when we are operating at lower levels of self-mastery.

In summary, while a lot of external factors can influence (to the point of changing) the EXPRESSION of our Type, our ego structure withs its unique motivations, fears, beliefs, and longings will remain stable throughout our lives.

For questions, help with Typing, or information on coaching, contact Kimberly at


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