Enneagram type Seven: The Enthusiast

Driving force: Fear being repressed

Spotting Enneagram Type 7s

7s believe forcefully in seizing happiness and enjoying life. This commonly manifests hedonistically, such as with “sex, drugs, and rock and roll,” consumerism, or video games. However, 7s can also get into short-term or long-term patterns in which the volume of their desires triggers their fear of negative consequences. 7s can have a wholesomeness about them and enjoy positive inspiration and self-help. Claudio Naranjo described what he called “counter-gluttony” 7s who have a “gluttony for being seen as pure, too pure” and believe in ‘clean living’-type principles leading to happiness. These 7s’ upbeat and spontaneous “fun” orientation nevertheless stands out from the types that follow principles more generally. Rather than wanting others to quiet down, 7s want to spread happiness to others around them. Look for the high energy, “loving life” attitude, playfulness, frequent subject changes, especially after heavy topics, strong preference for variety, and lack of shyness. Even introverted 7s can have no trouble talking constantly. 7s reframe negative events and look at the positive side of things, which keeps them going but can cause them to underestimate problems. With a 6 wing there’s more doubt, more sense of nerves, and the possibility of self-hate and guilt issues. 7s with an 8 wing are more confident, less likely to be scared off by circumstances and more likely to lose interest due to time. 7s can be pushy in general, but the 8 wing adds a sense backing it that saying no may make things worse.

Type 7s may make things worse for themselves by:
Ignoring problems and letting them get worse
Focusing on the next exciting thing at the expense of enjoying the current one
Getting into addictive dependency patterns

Type 7s may make things worse for others by:
Unwillingness to make or follow through on commitments
Self-centered expectations or view
Avoiding difficult conversations and consideration of their behavior

Why Do They Do That?

Built-up anxiety is constantly under or in the back of their awareness. When they try to introspect or slow down, they sense the force of it. It feels as though negative emotions are a deep, frightening pit inside that they feel they must keep from falling into. They see sadness as something people get sucked into with nothing but negative consequences, and they choose to look toward happiness instead. They understand that others’ happiness influences their own and that their own happiness is often liked. Viewing it as a choice, choosing happiness only makes sense. Play, variety, and constant activity distract them from the negativity that has been swept under the rug. Committing touches on a core fear of loss of freedom. Margaret Frings Keyes writes that this fear is “often awash with irrational fantasies, such as likening it to a jail or being tied down.” In the same way they project themselves into a neverending future positively, they may immediately picture the length of a potential commitment stretching ahead of them. On the other hand, they can also make promises without emotionally viewing it as a commitment by not acknowledging to themselves how much it will entail.

What It’s Like To Be A Type 7

Their focus changes quickly and typically includes what they see around them that catches their interest, amusing mental chatter, and imagining and planning what the future will be like — as positive and exciting as they can envision it. Negativity is quickly forgotten or burned off. Often this focus gives them a genuine perception of happiness. When things are going well for them, the world is a buffet of delights — for the moment. Other times they’re more unhappy than others realize. When others don’t respond positively to their new-idea orientation, they can feel not only bored but disliked or underappreciated. When negative emotions get past their defenses, they can feel overwhelming. The knowledge that there are other options they could escape to helps 7s avoid feeling burdened and maintain their certainty of a positive future. When they’re relatively healthy, just the possibility is enough and they may not feel the need to actually change course. When they fail to see options remaining, they can crash and become seriously depressed.

You can make type 7s feel heard by:

Accept that it’s important to them to continue to be positive and fun and not bring others down.
Accept that it makes sense for them to feel like pressing them to commit is a threat.
Accept that seeking new experiences and not missing out makes sense for them to prioritize.
(You can still gently push on these things, but get into their position first and push from there.)

Understand that staying positive is a choice they’re making, and that they have negative feelings inside and sometimes great pain. It doesn’t help to “drag them down.” Whatever it is you wish they would do, model or emphasize that it’s compatible with happiness. Make criticism brief without downplaying it or letting them off the hook in addressing it. Break unpleasant or dull content up when you can. Variety equals fun for 7s. So do others’ positive, spontaneous reactions. Join them in envisioning a positive future, even if you believe it won’t be easy to get there.