Moving Beyond Your Number: Enneagram Five


Fives observe the world around them so that they can gather information. All of this observing and study is an attempt to learn something that will make them competent. This strategy is far less effective than they think it is. While fives observe, life passes them by. They observe to decide where to place their energy. Ironically, all of this watching, weighing, thinking, and energy-counting requires much of this precious energy.

Fives also spend energy hoarding. Identifying the unique object of their hoarding can be an invitation for growth. Each five seeks to retain and possess something that is unique to them. It could be time, energy, money, objects, knowledge, or status. If you’re a five, you probably withhold feelings and conversation. Observe yourself and name this pattern with as much specificity as you can, and understand that while you are hoarding it all, you are spending your constantly-monitored energy.

While you are hoarding, you are also failing to be present in the moment. You are absent because you are receiving information through your head, and looking for what interests you. Unfortunately, vast portions of life are terribly boring and uninteresting. Instead of receiving the world from your head, pay attention to and with your body.

As a five, I try to pay attention to my breathing and to my body each day. I try to pay special attention to my chest and stomach until those areas feel heavy. Go ahead, spend time paying attention to the weight of your head, and then compare it to the weight of your body. If you’re a five, your head may feel heavy, while the rest of you feels light. Try to balance them until both feel heavy. This balancing builds a residual awareness level with your body that you can carry around throughout the day. Once you are grounded in your body, you can begin paying attention to people from this position. You will be amazed at how much more interesting people are and life is when you observe it from your body! You will begin to pick up on social dynamics that you never saw before, and become aware of emotions you never noticed. You will become more aware not only of others, but also yourself. Life will become far more interesting, and you will become more socially and relationally competent. More importantly, you will be more compassionate and giving. You will be more aware of your own feelings and the feelings of others in real time.

You might even get in touch with your fears because you will no longer be constantly escaping to your head in an effort to solve them like some problem. Fear is not a problem to be solved. Instead, accept and befriend your fear. Fives detach from the things they fear, turning to cynicism, sarcasm, and dry humor. Notice each joke you make, and ask yourself, “Is fear around it?” We make fun of the things we fear, but courage is beyond your personality; this courage is hidden in Christ, and you can be present to it when you are present to God while you are in silence before God.