Enneagram 3: Why I Am the Way I Am

Richard Rohr once said, ““There is nothing to prove and nothing to protect. I am who I am and it’s enough.” As a type 3 on the Enneagram, I don’t believe that. I can’t believe that. There is a voice inside of me that just rails against that kind of affirmation. And yet, at the same time, I crave affirmation. Who I am isn’t enough. But what I do (if other people deem it successful or of some worth) is enough. I can certainly appreciate that this makes very little sense to someone whose brain doesn’t work like that — which is probably most people. If you don’t know or haven’t heard about the different Enneagram types, check out this link. Here are a couple videos about the sometimes dreaded type 3.

Here’s another good one.

I’m so fascinated with all of this.

If you’re familiar with the Enneagram, or even if you’re just becoming familiar with it, what type are you? Or what type(s) do you think you might be? How does it affect you? Does it bring about a kind of better self-awareness?

I hope this brings about the kind of self understanding that it has to me. Even if that understanding isn’t always wonderful to know.


My wonderful wife, Megan has written about goal setting in ministry as a type 3 here. She’s a very gifted writer, even if she won’t believe that. Because she’s a 3. What a vicious cycle.


  1. Mike Friesen says:

    I am a 4w5 Eric,
    But I am blessed by Three’s who can show me a greater discipline. I struggle with anything doing, my comfort is in being. I respect your three traits, they’re a gift to the world. While the one is my growth point, I have experienced growth from 3’s.

    You are enough Eric, in doing and being.

    • Thanks, man. It’s a crazy way to frame relationships in terms of the Enneagram, but can really be helpful. I’m a 3w2 so I want to achieve at helping which is always a paradoxical goal. Most of my roommates through college and seminary have been 4s and 5s so I have certainly experienced growth from those. I think my 3-ness is one reason I love reading people like Heidegger and Bonhoeffer. Their focus on the being helps affirm and get me out of the “doing” mindset.

      • Mike Friesen says:

        It doesn’t surprise me either. It’s probably the same reason I am probably attracted to Merton and Kierkegaard. Both are crazy 4’s.

  2. Eric,
    I love that you give a “why” rather than just “I am who I am”. The enneagram, interesting to think about how this fits with theology. For example, for a three , hearing God’s words that “You are good” are especially powerful. (although I’d argure that would be true of most people and especially middlschoolers). Whenever I think of the ennegram I think of Kara–she’d eat this up. I think I am a 2 with a 1 wing. It might not make sense until I consider my unhealthy place #8. Hello unhealthy need to be right, have control, and teller of the truth regardless of how it affects you. Yes?

    • I think you’re definitely right. Lutheranism is easy for 3’s because every week we confess how terrible we are and how we don’t live up to how we should be. To understand that we are good by created design is an incredibly powerful thing. Kara introduced me to the Enneagram and I affirmed my 3-ness through the healthy & unhealthy lines — particularly my stress line. When I’m stressed I’m an unhealthy 9. I’m tempted to withdraw and say screw it. I find the Enneagram so enthralling. And yes… your unhealthy 8 sounds particularly unhealthy.

Please keep your comments positive. I reserve the right to delete rude or insulting comments. If your comment is critical, please make sure it is also constructive. Thank you.

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