The Busy, Fun-Loving Type:
Spontaneous, Versatile, Distractible, and Scattered
Generally, Sevens are excitable, spontaneous, curious, optimistic, eager, outgoing, future-oriented, adventurous, variety-seeking, quick, and talkative.
Sevens get into conflicts by being scattered, distracted, restless, impatient, thrill-seeking, escapist, over-extended, irresponsible, demanding, and excessive.
At their best, Sevens are appreciative, bountiful, thoughtful, accomplished, versatile, receptive, grateful, content, quiet, and passionate.
Type Seven exemplifies the desire for freedom and variety and for exploring the many rich experiences that life offers. Thus, Sevens are probably the most enthusiastic, extroverted, and outgoing type of the Enneagram. They are spontaneous and upbeat; they find life exhilarating. They are the kind of people who make ordinary life into a celebration. Sevens like to fill up their calendar with things to do: after work, a quick drink; then off to dinner and the theater; then after that, a nightcap before getting home at 2 a.m. The next night may bring the symphony, a ball game, or singing in the local choir, or a visit to new restaurant. Sevens who do not live in large cities or who do not have enough money for that diverse a lifestyle might have to make do with less lavishness. But they still seek variety and constant experience, whether it's going to a mall or out to a movie, talking on the phone with friends, hanging out in a bar, or leafing through magazines and daydreaming about a vacation. Sevens do their best to stay up with what's new, and so their wide-ranging experience makes them a resource for others, too. They know which Italian restaurant, or cognac, or jeweler is the best; they know or what new movies are worth seeing and what the latest news and trends are.
Healthy Sevens, however, know that life is most satisfying when they keep their feet on the ground and work within certain constraints. Their enthusiasm and versatility can make them productive and practical, highly creative and prolific, cross-fertilizing their many areas of interest and skills. They can be highly accomplished "Renaissance people," gifted with virtuosic talents and prodigious skills. If they suffer a setback or disappointment, Sevens bounce back with resilience and renewed energy: very little keeps them down for long.
Sevens want to try everything at least twice: once to see what it is like, and the second time to see if they liked it the first time! Of course, Sevens want their experiences to be as much fun and as enjoyable as possible, although, strictly speaking, that is not always essential. What is important to Sevens is being free, having options, and creating more possibilities for their future.
Sevens' minds are restless and filled with ideas and plans for activities to look forward to. They anticipate the future, virtually licking their lips as they foresee the delicious possibilities that await them. But Sevens do not just think about the future: they get out there and actually make it happen. They live their dreams by throwing themselves into action and putting their plans in motion. With their energy and enthusiasm, they get things going!
However, as their restlessness increases and they begin to fear missing out on other pleasures and experiences, average Sevens become less discriminate about the experiences they pursue. They begin to lose a sense of priorities and become hyperactive, throwing themselves into constant activity—into endless busyness. They easily feel trapped or deprived, and this makes it difficult to say "no" to themselves or to deny themselves anything. While this might seem like freedom to them, it is a kind of prison that makes it increasingly difficult for them to find satisfaction in what they are doing. They begin to believe that freedom is having no restrictions or responsibilities, but this is a false freedom, and it eventually brings them greater unhappiness.
As this occurs, Sevens begin to flee from their inner anxieties by engaging in more distractions and activities. They expect that they and their lives should be exciting and "dazzling" all the time. Increasingly uninhibited, they grab attention and discharge anxiety with storytelling, joking around, exaggeration, and wise-cracking. Others may find this behavior amusing and irreverently entertaining for a while, but for most people, even other Sevens, scattered energy eventually becomes tiresome. This only frustrates average Sevens, and unless others are willing to keep up with them, for better or worse, the Seven moves on to greener pastures. Often, this leads to a dissipation of their energy and a loss of focus. While Sevens are often brilliant, once in flight from themselves, they often fail to actualize their many talents or live up to their potential.
In brief, Sevens want to maintain their freedom and happiness, to have a wide variety of interesting, fun experiences and choices, to keep their options open, to avoid missing out on anything worthwhile, to have more pleasure, to keep themselves excited and occupied, and to avoid and discharge pain. Sevens do not want to feel trapped or limited by having few choices or options, to be bored or guilty, to let their anxieties arise for long, to be slowed down, to be still and quiet for long periods of time, or to dwell in the past.
Their Hidden Side
On the surface, Sevens would like to convince themselves and everyone else that they are always feeling "fabulous"—having the time of their lives. Of course, the truth is often somewhat different. Sevens, like all human beings, are vulnerable to anxiety, depression, loneliness, and other difficult feelings. At times, Sevens sincerely want to tell others how they actually fee, but they often feel compelled to keep spirits high, even if privately they are miserable themselves. Yet they also struggle with fears of not being taken seriously and a sense that others will misinterpret their positive approach to life as a lack of feeling or depth. In private, Sevens struggle with loneliness, grief, and self-doubt and are as prone to depression as any other type. Most of all, Sevens fear a gnawing feeling that they will never really get what they truly want in life. So they settle for other pleasures that they hope will make them happy enough, or at least pleasantly distracted, from the more painful disappointments in their lives.
Sevens are often sought out as companions because of their energy, openness to experience, and high spirits. They are like a breath of fresh air to more withdrawn or subdued types and can generally be relied on to be stimulating, engaging, and fun. Sevens can also be generous with themselves and their resources. They feel that good times are best enjoyed when others are enjoying them too and they want to have someone to share their adventures and discoveries with. But the very high-energy approach that draws people to Sevens can also exhaust their partners. Others can tire of the nonstop stream of activities and plans and want more quiet time with Sevens, which less healthy Sevens may resist. Other relationship problems include these:
- Becoming so involved with expressing their thoughts and ideas that they do not really listen to others.
- Becoming impatient or critical of others' slower pace.
- Getting flighty or seeking distractions when important relationship challenges arise.
- Fearing that others will not support them if they are down or depressed.
- Expecting the partner to provide gratification, entertainment, or support immediately on demand.
- Being unwilling—or very slow—to make commitments.
To learn more about the compatibility issues of Type Seven and their interactions with other types, click below on the Enneagram type of the other person in the relationship. This will open in a new window.
The Passion: Gluttony
Sevens enjoy life most when they feel stimulated, awake, and refreshed by life's amazing diversity. But to the extent that they are harboring unacknowledged feelings of inner emptiness or loneliness, Sevens become anxious and can get into the habit of seeking constant stimulation as a way of distracting themselves from their anxiety. At such times, they are like starving refugees released at a banquet: they gobble up every experience that is offered to them, often without discriminating the experiences that would be most satisfying. And because their minds are so revved up with options and exciting possibilities, the experiences that they are having hold little possibility for actually getting through to them. Sevens are so much looking forward to the next great experience that the experience they are having now cannot satisfy them. Thus, they remain in a state of perpetual hunger—restlessly seeking the magic combination of circumstances that they believe will fulfil them once and for all.
At Their Best
When they are balanced and in their own center, healthy Sevens can harness their enormous enthusiasm and curiosity and still stay focused and deeply engaged with tasks until they are brought to completion. They can set priorities and work within limitations, imposing restrictions on themselves from the recognition that a certain degree of self-restraint actually makes them more productive and much happier. Healthy Sevens can say "no:" to themselves without feeling deprived because they are more in touch with their own Inner Guidance and their ability to know what will fulfill them most deeply. From this sense of fulfillment, healthy Sevens move toward others and to the world from a sense of abundance and joy, feeling intensely blessed to be alive and able to enjoy the many enriching experiences that life brings them.
Healthy Sevens are also steady and grounded, able to honor commitments and to take personal responsibility for their actions. In short, they grow up emotionally and move from being an "eternal youth" to being a mature person, able to look both inward at themselves and outward at life, accepting all that they find in both realms. They become truly "celebratory" and filled with gratitude, resolving their inner hunger and allowing them to feel that they never have to fear that they will be deprived of anything truly worthwhile.Personality Dynamics & Variations
An explanation of the Directions of Integration (Security) and Disintegration (Stress) can be found here, which opens in a new window.
Under Stress (Seven Goes to Average One)
Sevens value their spontaneity and so tend to follow their impulses, for better or for worse. As a result, they can become scattered in their attention and energy, leaping from one promising idea to the next, from one activity to another. While this can be exciting, it often leaves Sevens frustrated with themselves because they feel that they are not accomplishing as much as they would like to. At such times, they begin to behave like average Ones—pulling in the reins on themselves and trying to get more organized and self-controlled. But because they are trying to impose order and control on themselves, they begin to feel trapped and restricted. This only makes them more frustrated, impatient, and irritable. They may, for instance, become critical of their own creative ideas before they have really had a chance to develop them. Similarly, they cannot avoid feeling disappointment with people and many aspects of their environment. Nothing seems to meet their expectations, and they can become harsh and perfectionistically critical with themselves and with others.
Security (Seven Goes to Average Five)
Sevens often feel it is their duty to entertain others and to keep their environment positive and exciting. Over time, this can be exhausting—even for Sevens. When they are tired of being "on" for everyone, they may choose to withdraw even from their intimates and seek seclusion and noninterference. This can come as a shock to others. ("You've been out having fun with everyone else, so why are you so quiet and unavailable with me?") They no longer want to put out energy for anyone else, and can become almost obsessively focused and preoccupied. They can also be surprisingly withdrawn and isolated, like Fives. Their body language and aloof responses let others know that they want space and privacy. At such times, Sevens make no effort to entertain or energize others. Like Fives, they retreat from contact and attempt to restore their energy.
Integration (Seven Goes to Healthy Five)
As Sevens learn to relax and to tolerate their uncomfortable feelings more completely, they stop using their restless minds to distract themselves. Their minds become quiet, clear, and focused, allowing Sevens to tap more deeply into their reserves of creativity and insight. They are able to prioritize not by imposing some arbitrary order on themselves but by following their true interests and staying with them. Thus, they become far more productive, satisfied, and really satisfying as companions. Their capacity to find connections and to synthesize information is not drawn off into tangents—they produce results, and this gives them grounds for real confidence in themselves and in life. As they experience the world more deeply, they find each moment fascinating, profound, and revelatory. The idea of boredom becomes absurd as they savor the incredible mysteries of existence, moment by moment.
An explanation of the three Instincts can be found here, which opens in a new window.
Self-Preservation Sevens: Getting Mine (Ichazo's "Defenders")
Self-Preservation Sevens are the most materialistic Sevens. This does not necessarily mean that they are always accumulating possessions, but they do thoroughly enjoy the things of the material world. They also enjoy thinking about acquiring possessions and experiences. Thus, reading catalogues, restaurant guides, movie reviews, travel books, and brochures is often a favorite pastime. Generally, however, they are not daydreamers: they want to actually do or buy the things they are thinking about. Exploring the different pleasures the world offers seems to Self-Pres Sevens what life is about. They love shopping and are especially thrilled by the prospect of getting a great bargain—obtaining the desired object or experience at well below the "normal" cost. Thus, they tend to be the person to consult for a good hotel in a particular city or to find the best place to buy a new laptop computer. Often, they will cultivate other friends who are knowledgeable about mutual interests to exchange information about bargains and to stay up with the newest developments available. Many Self-Pres Sevens like to "live large" and may spend more than they can afford to sustain their appetite for experience and luxury. Unconsciously, they may have unrealistic expectations that the world should provide them with whatever they need on demand. To the extent that Sevens succumb to this expectation, they are likely to be frustrated and disappointed.
Sexual Sevens: The Neophile (Ichazo's "Suggestibility")
Sexual Sevens seek stimulation, especially the stimulation of whatever is new, cutting edge, or exotic. They are extremely curious and often intellectually avid, and they bring the same searching engagement to their relationships. Sexual Sevens love to meet new people, to learn about them, and to get intensely involved with them—whether through conversation, shared adventures, or sexual experiences. They are often highly charismatic, having no trouble capturing people's attention with their energy, wit, and genuine desire to connect with people. They often frustrate themselves and others, however, because their attention is easily captured by what promises excitement. Sexual Sevens can shift from one intense focus to another too quickly for their own good. They can also become easily enthused about a new idea, person, or experience without checking it out thoroughly, often leading to regrets later on either in business or in relationships. When less healthy, they may indiscriminately pursue relationships or unusual, even dangerous, experiences for the excitement that it brings and to counteract boredom and inner deadness. The search for a variety of exotic and intense experiences can leave them burned out and dissipated.
Social Sevens: Missing Out (Ichazo's "Social Sacrifice")
Social Sevens are highly people-oriented and somewhat idealistic, so they are sometimes mistaken for Twos. They like entertaining and gathering "the gang" for various outings and adventures. They love conversation, launching new projects with others, brainstorming, and initiating creative endeavors. Social Sevens are also looking for a place to invest their idealism—they feel they have much to offer the world but are forever searching for the perfect vehicle through which to express their talents and aspirations. While Social Sevens like being involved with people and activities, because they are Sevens, they also tend to feel that they are losing options when they commit to a particular person or course of action. Thus, they tend to have problems with making a commitment because they want to be involved but feel trapped once they get involved. One way that Social Sevens navigate this conflict is by agreeing to do too many things with too many people. They also tend to make back-up plans regarding agreements. ("If lunch with Sarah falls through, I'll invite Mike, too, just to make sure someone's there….") Naturally, others are often caught off guard by sudden changes of plan, and, oddly, no one really gets the Social Seven's attention. Social Sevens may also sabotage good relationships while secretly hoping that someone better will come along.
An explanation of the nine Levels of Development can be found here, which opens in a new window.
Below is the complete Levels of Development diagram for Type Seven. The levels range from most healthy, Level 1, to least healthy, Level 9. To understand these charts, start with the Basic Fear, at the top right of the chart. This fear gives rise to the Basic Desire, which is the Desire at the second level of health, the Level of Psychological Capacity.
The Desire of each level gives rise to the internal Attitudes (the A-Terms) of each level, which create the external Behaviors (the B-Terms). Over time, due to internal conflicts, these behaviors and attitudes create another layer of Fear at that level.
Each new Fear generates yet another desire at the next lower level, which gives rise to a new set of attitudes and behaviors, creating a spiral structure in which a person becomes increasingly enmeshed in self-destructive reactions and increasingly terrifying fears. The process of growth is to become aware of each of the cluster of attitudes and behaviors as they occur, bringing conscious awareness into the moment. As we do this, the underlying fears and desires also begin to emerge into consciousness, and the person begins to shift up the levels.
|PERSONALITY TYPE SEVEN: The Enthusiast|
|THE HEALTHY LEVELS:|
|1. Level of Liberation:|
|Lets go of their identification with a particular self-image, that they require specific objects and experiences to feel fulfilled.||
Of deprivation and being trapped in emotional pain
|Basic Desire:||Secondary Fears:|
2. Level of Psychological Capacity
|To be satisfied and content — to have their needs fulfilled||That their freedom and happiness will be lost,
their needs will not be met
|3. Level of Social Value|
|To do those things which will insure that they will have what they need||Of missing out on other worth-while things and
experiences (that what they have isn't enough)
|THE AVERAGE LEVELS:|
|Social Role: The Energizer|
|4. Level of Imbalance|
keep options open
|To increase the number of sources of stimulation (to do more)||That they will be bored or frustrated (and negative
feelings will arise)
5. Level of Interpersonal Control
|To keep them-selves excited and occupied — to stay "up"||That the environment will not provide them with
what they want ("scarcity thinking")
|6. Level of Overcompensation|
|To get whatever they want immediately ("instant gratification")||That their actions are bringing them pain and
|THE UNHEALTHY LEVELS:|
|7. Level of Violation|
|To avoid their pain and anxiety at any cost||Of losing their capacity for pleasure and happiness
(that they cannot enjoy anything)
|8. Level of Delusion & Compulsion|
out of control
|To do anything in order to feel something||
That they have irreparably ruined themselves and their lives
|9. Level of Pathological Destructiveness|
|To give up their struggle — to not go on anymore||Basic Fear comes true: they are in pain and are deprived of what they need to be satisfied and happy|
for Enneagram Type Sevens
Sevens grow by recognizing that real happiness is available anytime, anywhere: the price of admission is their willingness and ability to be quiet, to be still inside themselves, and to open their eyes to the wonder and richness of life all around them. Once Sevens understand this, they are able to assimilate their experiences in depth. They discover that every moment can make them feel deeply grateful and appreciative—truly awed by the wonders of life. Moreover, their openness and inner quiet brings them a sense of life beyond the physical, a spiritual reality, that begins to shine through the material world. The healthy Seven understands that by being still within, a quiet joy begins to pervade all of life—a deep satisfaction in existence that cannot ever be taken away.
- Recognize your impulsiveness, and get in the habit of observing your impulses rather than giving in to them. This means letting most of your impulses pass and becoming a better judge of which ones are worth acting on. The more you can resist acting out your impulses, the more you will be able to focus on what is really good for you.
- Learn to listen to other people. They are often interesting, and you may learn things that will open new doors for you. Also learn to appreciate silence and solitude: you do not have to distract yourself (and protect yourself from anxiety) with constant noise from the television or the stereo. By learning to live with less external stimulation, you will learn to trust yourself. You will be happier than you expect because you will be satisfied with whatever you do, even if it is less than you have been doing.
- You do not have to have everything this very moment. That tempting new acquisition will most likely still be available tomorrow (this is certainly true of food, alcohol, and other common gratifications—that ice cream cone, for instance). Most good opportunities will come back again—and you will be in a better position to discern which opportunities really are best for you.
- Always choose quality over quantity, especially in your experiences. The ability to have experiences of quality can be learned only by giving your full attention to the experience you are having now. If you keep anticipating future experiences, you will keep missing the present one and undermine the possibility of ever being satisfied.
- Make sure that what you want will really be good for you in the long run. As the saying goes, watch what you pray for since your prayers may be answered. In the same vein, think about the long-term consequences of what you want since you may get it only to find that it becomes another disappointment—or even a source of unhappiness.