Feel Better

Working Therapeutically with an Enneagram Eight (Challenger) Personality Style


  1. Snapshot Of A Eight: How Many Of These Traits Do You Identify With?
  2. Why Am I Like This? The Psychological Development Of A Eight
  3. Core Motivations Of A Type Eight Participant: What “Drives” A Eight?
  4. Eights At Work & In Relationships
  5. Understanding Why Eights Think, Feel, And Behave The Way They Do?
  6. What You’re Really Good At As A Eight
  7. Healthy Vs. Unhealthy Eights
  8. The Three Kinds Of Eights: How The Three Instinctual Biases Shape The Three Type Eight Sub-type Personalities
  9. How Eights Might Struggle In Work And In Relationships: Stress-points And Triggers
  10. Self-management Challenges That Eights Might Want To Work On In Therapy
  11. Life-traps That Eights Might Want To Work On In Therapy
  12. Where To Start When Focusing On Your Own Personal “Eight-stuff”: Strengths To Leverage & Enquiry Questions That I Often Ask Type Eight Clients


If most or all of the following characteristics apply to you, you may have a Type Eight personality style:   

You see the work you do through the lens of how you can assert your power to get what you want done. You naturally read what’s happening in terms of who has the power and how they wield it. It’s so natural for you to be powerful, you sometimes have to hold yourself back from expressing your strength so you don’t overpower people or situations.

People tell you that you intimidate them, which surprises you, since you aren’t doing anything to intentionally intimidate anyone. Others sometimes perceive you as a bully, even though you are just doing what you normally do.

You don’t have to be the leader, but it’s easy for you to take charge. You often get drawn into taking the lead—it feels easy and natural for you, and people often look to you for direction, even when you aren’t the actual leader.

You want people to tell you the truth and be direct. You like to be in control and know what’s going on, which is why you value honesty and directness.

You make your own rules and can feel like you are above the law. You often don’t see a reason to follow rules, especially if they don’t make sense or go against what you want to do. You don’t readily acknowledge anyone’s power as greater than your own.

You will rebel against authorities if you need or want to. You will stand up to people with power if they don’t use their power wisely or justly.

You work very hard. You may work so hard and so long that you hurt or injure yourself because you tend to deny or ignore your physical limitations. You can “forget yourself” and overload your normal capacity, and you may not pay much attention to taking care of yourself.

You are fearless—unafraid of taking bold action and acting decisively. You typically don’t register fear—you feel like you can handle anything and never shy from a challenge.

You aren’t afraid to voice your (strong) opinion or push for what you want. You have a great deal of confidence in your views and don’t hesitate to push for what you think is right. You may even confuse your truth with the objective Truth.

It’s important to you to be powerful, strong, and in control. You automatically take your own strength and power for granted.

If someone wrongs you, you can marshal a great deal of energy to right the wrong or get back at the person if you choose to. Although you may not want to think that you like to get revenge on people who have done bad things to you, you kind of do want to get back at those who cross you.

Although you don’t always need to get angry, you experience anger as energy flowing through your body, and you can feel it and express it fairly easily. Eights sometimes get stereotyped as “angry,” but it’s not really true. It’s more that they have easier access to anger and usually don’t have a problem expressing it.

You don’t always know your own strength; it can be hard for you to judge your impact on people and situations. You may sometimes apply more effort or power than is really required.


Here is a kind of Origin Story for a lot of Eights.

“Once upon a time, there was a person named Eight. She came into this world as a sensitive and sweet child. She was completely innocent, as all children are. She had a lot of energy, always saw the best in people, and was eager to learn all she could about the world.

But early in life, Eight had an experience in which she needed protection and there was no one there to take care of her. Sometimes there were things she just couldn’t do by herself, even though she was bright and capable for someone so young. The people in her life that were bigger than she was didn’t seem to notice when she needed to be cared for, listened to, or fed. And a few times, when one of the older kids hurt her, no one saw that she was little and needed protection.

So Eight learned—the hard way—that she had to take care of herself. If no one else was going to do it, it would have to be her job. She would have to get big—fast! (Too fast.) She would have to be strong. She would have to be powerful, even though she was still small. Sometimes people around her fought, and they didn’t notice she was scared. So she would have to be fearless, in addition to being big, and strong, and powerful.

Eight had a lot of natural energy, so in time she became fully able to protect herself. She became strong and learned how to take care of herself by herself— and sometimes other people as well. She learned to be scary instead of being scared. And she was good at it! One thing that helped her to be as strong as she needed to be was her ability to get angry. Sometimes, when someone did something she didn’t like, she could get very angry very quickly. Anger felt like energy rushing through her body and, although she didn’t always plan to get angry (or even want to), it helped her a lot. Her anger helped her to be even more fearless— and even more scary. And appearing large, angry, and scary made it possible for her to feel fully capable of taking care of herself.

Eventually, Eight didn’t even notice when she wasn’t protected by the people from whom she expected protection, because she didn’t feel so helpless any more. The only problem was that now many things made her angry. And, in a way, she liked being angry—or at least didn’t mind it. It just happened, especially when she needed someone and there was no one there for her, or when older girls bullied her at school because they sensed her power and didn’t like it.

Soon, Eight didn’t even notice when no one supported her, because she could support herself so well. She didn’t need anyone. She was strong enough. And everyone else seemed much weaker than she was. She was told that sometimes she scared people even when she wasn’t trying to. Sometimes people left when she entered a room or stopped talking after she spoke loudly. She wasn’t sure what was wrong with them. Why weren’t others as strong as she was? Weak people made her angry, and her anger made her feel strong and full of energy. But sometimes she saw that weak people were treated badly or unfairly, and then she used her strength to help them if they needed it.

Every once in a while, Eight felt a little bit lonely. She discovered that sometimes, when she was the most powerful person around, others didn’t want to be close to her. She didn’t really understand it, but that’s the way it was. And she was mostly okay with that, because she could usually get what she wanted. All she had to do was become angry and scare a few people. She didn’t really care if anyone liked her. She had lost the sensitivity she was born with. It didn’t really work to be sensitive and strong and powerful, and she needed to be powerful to take care of herself.

Soon Eight noticed that she couldn’t stop getting angry; she couldn’t stop being strong and powerful. And why should she? She wasn’t sensitive and innocent anymore. Being that way reminded her too much of when she was too small and weak to protect herself. It was much better to be strong and powerful. She always knew how to take care of everything. Why would she give that up to feel like a scared little girl again? Occasionally, she felt a little bit alone because almost no one was as strong as she was. She sometimes got a tiny bit sad because there was never anyone there to take care of her. She had to take care of everyone. But then she would sense her own energy and strength, and she would feel glad that she was so powerful. Nothing and no one could hurt her. That seemed like a good thing, even though it was sometimes really, really hard on her.”

Eights’ adaptive strategy of acting powerfully grows out of an early experience of feeling powerless. Self-aware Eights tell stories of not getting their needs met in childhood, often in ways that felt traumatic and caused them to feel they must “get strong” to survive. They often have a history of having to take care of themselves (or others) when they were too young to be able to do so, or being the youngest child in a large family—a small person among bigger people—in a combative environment. From this experience of feeling vulnerable and alone, the Eight resolves to never be powerless again, and adapts by becoming super strong and capable.

 Eights often see the world as divided into “the strong” and “the weak,” and so decide to be strong as a way of never being weak again, to the point where they deny their vulnerability altogether. Many Eights eliminate any memory or experience of being vulnerable or weak in order to experience themselves as strong and invincible. Their central coping strategy of being powerful and strong shapes their personality style in a way that makes them truly fearless and forceful in their interactions, able to take on any challenge and do big things in the world.”

As is clear from the above story, Eights adaptive strategy of acting powerfully grows out of an early experience of feeling powerless. Self-aware Eights tell stories of not getting their needs met in childhood, often in ways that felt traumatic and caused them to feel they must “get strong” to survive. They often have a history of having to take care of themselves (or others) when they were too young to be able to do so, or being the youngest child in a large family—a small person among bigger people—in a combative environment. From this experience of feeling vulnerable and alone, the Eight resolves to never be powerless again, and adapts by becoming super strong and capable.

 Eights often see the world as divided into “the strong” and “the weak,” and so decide to be strong as a way of never being weak again, to the point where they deny their vulnerability altogether. Many Eights eliminate any memory or experience of being vulnerable or weak in order to experience themselves as strong and invincible. Their central coping strategy of being powerful and strong shapes their personality style in a way that makes them truly fearless and forceful in their interactions, able to take on any challenge and do big things in the world.


The strategy of being strong and invulnerable leads Eights to focus on power and control. They don’t like to be controlled or told what to do, and don’t pay much attention to rules or limits, including their own physical limitations. They do pay attention to who holds power and how they express it, who is competent and who isn’t, who can be trusted and who can’t, and who might need their protection and support. They also attend to the big picture—what the larger goal is, what work needs to be done and the right way to it.

People who lead with a Type Eight style focus on creating a power base, extending their influence, working hard, and playing hard. They see what problems need to be solved and who can be counted on to help move things forward in effective ways. Eights take things at face value unless they have a reason not to, can see through bullshit and have no patience for bull-shitters. They don’t let anything stop them when they have something to accomplish, including their own physical needs or weak points, and tend to be attuned to all the ways they can fulfill their appetites for stimulating physical experiences.

Eights notice when others are being treated badly and need to be defended—they are highly tuned in to social or human injustice, and when they see someone who needs protection, they often move into action. I once heard an Eight tell an incredibly moving story of sleeping in a pen with a frightened, newly rescued pit bull all night to comfort him. Whether it’s supporting those in need or achieving a difficult goal within an organization, Eights deploy a great amount of energy and power to take action, assert control, and make sure things get done.


Generally, individuals with a Type Eight style view the world in terms of how power is being used or misused, and how it can be drawn upon to make things happen. They believe that if you’re not strong, you’re weak, that it’s good to be strong and bad to be weak, and that they are strong. They don’t hesitate to use their strength to get what they need, take charge of situations, and protect those they care about. They unconsciously deny their own weakness and focus on how to exercise power in the world to dominate whoever might go against them or the causes they support.

Eights also see the world in terms of justice and fairness. They can be rebels or revolutionaries who want to assure that they and those they seek to protect are treated justly, and will take action to correct injustice. Type Eights are sensitive to being controlled by others and tend to believe that they are above the law, making their own rules often and disregarding or breaking rules they judge as wrong or simply decide don’t apply to them. If they see a need—something important that they decide needs to be done to help someone or balance the scales of justice—they will move into action to do it, regardless of the rules.

 In line with their big, energetic presence and action-oriented temperament, Type Eights have a big appetite for stimulation and typically experience a strong need to indulge in physical pleasures of all kinds. Eights are body-based types who seek to satisfy their powerful desires in the world, whether those desires are for good food, a good time, or a good challenge.

If you identify with this type, you hide a soft, vulnerable, deep, warm, defenceless, caring, beautiful, and very human person underneath your “armour”—the real you. But you will need help from people you trust to shed that armor. This will be difficult and you will need to be reassured that you are “okay.” Remember that, by intentionally accessing vulnerable emotions, you demonstrate the true level of your bravery. Here are some of the painful feelings you might experience in this process.

  • Fear that people will take advantage of you. Fully feeling this fear has the power to bring you more in touch with your heart so you can access your vulnerability.
  • Pain and hurt that you resist. When you lower your defenses, you can welcome back your sensitivity and feel the stored-up pain that has always been there, but that you have denied. When you acknowledge pain connected to feeling unprotected, unsupported, disregarded, hurt, or wounded, you can move past your need to be strong. Stay in touch with the truth of this and talk about it with a therapist or a close friend. Take in the care and love you deserve. Have compassion for yourself for all you did to protect your sensitivity when you didn’t even know it existed. Protect yourself from people who won’t understand or respect the shift they see in you when you open up to your sensitivity.
  • Exhaustion from overextending your physical and emotional capacities when you try to do more than is humanly possible. It takes a toll on your body when you act as if you are indestructible and express strength without awareness of your limits.
  • Confusion about your identity when you no longer feel as strong as you did before, even though you don’t want to put your old armor back on.
  • Insecurity because of doubts about what to do. This can be a healthy thing. While it may sound bad, this helps you to grow in the right direction. Your old survival strategies made you believe you could always do more for everyone. Now, you need to tell others that you are not made of iron.



Eights are “body-based” types who tend to favour action over analysis. While they can be very intellectual, they typically engage in more doing than thinking or feeling, and their thinking tends to be strategic, focusing on assessing situations in terms of the power dynamics, the strengths and weaknesses of the people involved, and the necessary actions to make something happen. An Eight’s thinking also centres around control: how to establish and maintain it, how not to be controlled by others, and how to exert it to motivate people. However, the Eight outlook may be most noteworthy for what Eights avoid thinking about—their own weaknesses. The habit of denying any vulnerable feelings fuels their focus on action, which often means not pausing to think about what they are doing (and why) before they take action to do something.


Type Eights tend to be intense, passionate people who have the capacity to feel things deeply if they let themselves. The “body-based” types (Eights, Nines, and Ones) are associated with the “core emotion” of anger, and Eights tend to overdo theirs, easily accessing the emotion when it gets triggered by a desire to correct an injustice or express displeasure. Many Eights describe anger as a sensation of energy that moves through their bodies, reflecting both the connection they feel to their physical selves and the forceful, physical way they experience the emotion. In fact, whatever emotion they feel—whether it’s love or happiness or disappointment—Eights feel it strongly and deeply, although they usually don’t feel emotions on the vulnerable end of the spectrum like sadness, pain, or shame.


 Eights are people of action—they lead with their “gut knowing,” often act without thinking, and tend to misjudge how much force to apply to a given action. One Eight leader described it as having a propensity for “ready, fire, aim.” Because of their powerful, energetic presence and their desire to do big things in a big way, Eights often have a huge impact on the people around them, but don’t always recognize exactly what their impact is or how to moderate their energy when interacting with others. They habitually take bold actions to make things happen, sometimes as a way of discharging all the energy that courses through them, or to express the passion and intense desire they feel to make an impact. Eights have big appetites for stimulating experiences and tend to work hard and play hard, resulting in a lifestyle that has been described as “too long, too loud, too late.”Secure in their omnipotence, they often “forget themselves” and deny their vulnerability as they take on every challenge and maintain a high level of intensity in the things they do—both at work and in their personal lives.


  •  Ability to see the “Big Picture.” Eights look at all the elements of a situation as a way of determining how to make big things happen and keep things moving in the right direction.
  • Confidence in tackling tough challenges. Eights don’t doubt themselves. Their default mode is to feel very self-confident (whether that’s warranted or not) and enjoy demonstrating their power and abilities by taking on difficult tasks and achieving successful results.
  • Ability to take bold action and maintain control of whatever’s happening. Eights don’t experience fear of failure or fear that people won’t like them—they automatically move things forward and make things happen, even when the outcome is uncertain or movement seems risky.
  • Good at mentoring and empowering people. Naturally protective of those they like, Eights easily and generously lend their strength to others as a way of helping them grow stronger and more competent.
  • Confident in approaching conflict. One of the perks of not being in touch with vulnerability is the ability to do conflict with less fear and self-doubt than others. Since leadership often involves dealing with conflicts, this is a useful superpower to have.

However, as for all of us, our greatest strengths can also trip us up at times. If Type Eights overuse their biggest strengths (and don’t consciously develop a wider range of skills), they can also turn out to be their Achilles’ heel. Let’s see how this can happen.

  • Ability to see the “Big Picture.” Eights can be so preoccupied with making a big impact that they may not have the patience for dealing with small details. They prefer ambitiously aiming for the horizon to making sure every little thing goes right—sometimes to their detriment.
  • Confidence in tackling tough challenges. Sometimes, a little self-doubt can be a good thing. Plus, Eights may be so used to taking on big challenges that they can’t rein in the intensity of the effort they put toward everything—and they sometimes apply too much pressure.
  • Ability to take bold action and maintain control of whatever’s happening. Sometimes Eights forget to moderate their intensity or slow down their impulse to act. They can overcontrol things to the point where either they are doing everything themselves or inadvertently squelching spontaneity and creativity.
  • Good at mentoring and empowering people. Eights may miss some opportunities to mentor others because they can intimidate people without knowing it—their lack of awareness of their own vulnerability can make them seem unapproachable or scary, so they may not be as connected to their direct reports as they might like to be.
  • Confident in approaching conflict. Eights’ ability to do conflict can lead to an over-readiness to confront points of disagreement that can actually cause or initiate a conflict, when it might be better to solve the problem through diplomacy or other methods.


When stressed to the point of going to their “low side,” Type Eights can be harsh, blunt, aggressive, and controlling. They can be loudly intolerant of what they view as incompetence, and express the belief that they are the only ones capable to do what needs to be done or explode at anyone who crosses them. They may have a heightened “us against them” attitude and rage at people who make mistakes. Under pressure, Eights may come down on people who aren’t following the rules and then break them openly themselves. They may act on impulse and make obvious mistakes, and they may take revenge on people they think have wronged them, but view their own behaviour as justified as opposed to vengeful.

Less self-aware Eights can steamroll people and confuse their truth with the objective truth, believing they are always right and sometimes imposing a “my way or the highway” approach. They may say they are open to listening to others, while simultaneously acting in ways that discourage honest communication. They may be completely unable to share power or trust that anyone can do anything as well as they can. And the more vulnerable they feel deep down, the more unwilling they will be to experience it, and the worse they may act. They may abuse their power and undermine their own success by acting from unexamined anger, being excessive, and taking action impulsively without considering the consequences.

On the “high side,” conscious Type Eights motivate and inspire people with their confidence and dedication. They model a quiet, solid sense of strength and help people feel safe to take risks and accomplish big goals. They exercise appropriate control, but check in with people and listen to the input of team members, and trusted friends or loved ones, and are able to check themselves and slow down so that they have time to think more deeply about the actions they want to take. Self-aware Eights understand that they can intimidate people without meaning to, and they work to be more mindful of their own vulnerabilities and share them with others as a way of ensuring people feel comfortable approaching them, confiding in them, and collaborating with them.

When living more from the high side, Type Eights mindfully moderate their forcefulness and their boldness, blending their ability to express power in useful ways with an ability to stand in the background and allow others to be powerful. They balance their natural assertiveness with an ongoing awareness of their humanness and their weaknesses and challenges, and connect with people more easily through sharing more of their personal story and revealing more of their tender side. Healthy Eights take care of themselves more actively and don’t forget themselves by working too hard without limits. They have a healthy awareness of their own limitations as well as their strengths and their natural power to lead.


According to the Enneagram model, we all have three main instinctual drives that help us survive, but in each of us, one tends to dominate our behaviour. The Type Eight style is expressed differently depending on whether a person has a bias toward self-preservation, establishing social relationships and positioning themselves in relation to groups, or one-to-one bonding.

The Self-Preservation (or Self-Focused) Eight

 While they are strong, bold, and relatively fearless, Self-Preservation Eights also have a concern with material security. This can make them more focused on creating wealth and maintaining a sense of having enough resources than the other two Eights, and they may feel financially insecure, even when they have plenty of money in the bank. Self-Preservation Eights know how to get what they want—they know how to barter or bargain, and are good at getting the upper hand in negotiations or finding ways to satisfy their desires for things.

This is a more reserved, introverted, “Five-ish” Eight who doesn’t need as much power over people or a large sphere of influence. They usually feel protective of others, but over a smaller group—perhaps only their immediate family and a few people they are closest to. These Eights are the most defended or “armed” Eights. They will rarely, if ever, show their emotions—especially vulnerable emotions, and tend to have a difficult time asking others for what they need, even though they can be effective in getting their needs met themselves. While they can be friendly and warm (especially female Self-Preservation Eights), they may be less communicative than the other two Eights. They will want to make things happen, but may feel no need to discuss what they are doing with others or explain themselves to anybody.

At work, but also in their relationships, Self-Preservation Eights will make decisions and take action quickly, without necessarily pausing to get buy-in from others. Their greater need for security will likely make them more strategic and self-interested, but they may also do what it takes to enlist support for their plans and projects—albeit in a minimalist way. They tend to possess a quiet strength, and in their need to be strong, may devalue the world of feelings as another way to avoid experiencing vulnerability. When moving forward to accomplish something or fulfill a need, they tend to avoid sharing information about themselves, and they won’t show much tolerance for weakness or incompetence.

 The Social (or Group-Focused) Eight

 The Social Eight is the “counter-type” of the three Eights. Eights tend to be somewhat “anti-social,” in that they don’t always observe the norms of society and aren’t afraid to go against authorities or convention. But the Social Eight is also oriented toward protecting others and establishing friendships. So, this is a “social-anti-social” Eight, a person who easily rebels against established rules and authority, but also feels motivated to protect and support others. Archetypally, this is the child who stepped in to protect the mother against the father—this Eight becomes tough through going against the patriarchy out of a need to support people who may not be able to defend themselves. They take action out of solidarity.

This Eight’s stronger orientation toward protecting people makes them more mellow, more friendly, and less obviously aggressive. They still tend to be direct, assertive, and strong, but they may also appear more Two-ish—more inclined toward offering support and doing for others. Interestingly, they may also take refuge in the group, or in leading groups, as a way to avoid the vulnerability they may feel in more intimate, one-to-one relationships. They may feel safer in positions of leadership, where they can control what’s happening and get lost in the crowd.

Social Eights can fiercely defend their team or colleagues, and focus a great deal of energy on mentoring people, coaching direct reports, and taking individuals under their wing. They won’t always need to be the leader, but will get drawn into leadership roles if the group needs guidance. And when they see someone being oppressed or abused by someone with more power, they tend to step in quickly to offer protection. Social Eights say that they hardly ever express emotion in front of other people, though they can be compassionate with others who feel vulnerable. In this way Social Eights may take care of others as a way of addressing their own vulnerability without having to go there themselves. And while Social Eights can offer love and care to others who need their support, they don’t tend to be very open to receiving that same love and care themselves.

 The One-to-One (or Relationship-Focused) Eight

 One-to-One Eights are the most rebellious Eights, with the strongest anti-social tendency. They like to be at the centre of things—to “possess” everyone’s attention—and they like the power that comes from being outspoken and going against rules and norms. These Eights express a great deal of intensity and passion and are the most emotional of the three Eight subtypes, and are more likely to feel things passionately to the point of showing their emotions. One-to-One Eights are provocative people, who may take pride in being “bad” or rebelling against traditional authorities and conventional ways of doing things.

In contrast to the other two Eights, One-to-One Eights are more colourful, more power-loving, and more magnetic. They express a need for dominance and want people to surrender completely to their will, desiring to be in control of everything and everyone. They have great powers of seduction, look for pleasure in life wherever they can find it, and may indulge their appetites without limit. One-to-One Eights love feeling an adrenaline rush, which they can get from winning the game or taking over a company, and seek adventures, intense experiences, and risk.

At work, One-to-One Eights like the feeling of being in charge. They may fill up a room with their big energy and dominate the scene by talking louder and longer than everyone else. They move passionately and quickly into action, usually not taking time to think things through or find out what others think. They tend to be intolerant of weak, incompetent, or slow people. And while One-to-One Eight leaders can be very clever, they may demonstrate a certain detachment of the intellect, as they have a strong preference for acting and feeling over thinking. They will focus a great deal of attention on one-to-one relationships and lead through getting people to submit to their power or their vision of what needs to happen. They may inspire people with their passion and confidence, but it may be hard for them to observe appropriate limits, understand the potential negative consequences of their actions, share power, or submit to others’ leadership.


Type Eights sometime feel like working with others, or being in relationship with others is hard because:

  • They aren’t always as competent as I am.
  • It can be hard for me to collaborate or be in relationship with people I regard as weak or don’t fully trust.
  • I can get incredibly impatient when people take a long time to make a decision.
  • Sometimes people don’t keep me in the loop when I want to be informed about what’s happening.
  • I like to take action, and sometimes people slow me down or get in my way by getting bogged down by details or trying to reach a consensus first.
  • People tell me I’m intimidating, when I’m just trying to do my job (and I’m not trying to scare anyone).
  • They focus a lot of time and energy on details I don’t view as important.
  • They don’t tell me the truth.
  • They aren’t direct—they bury a request at the bottom of an e-mail that includes a lot of irrelevant information.
  • They don’t see the big picture as clearly as I do.

 Type Eight Personalities Can Become Triggered…

  • When people are weak and don’t step up to the plate to just do what needs to be done.
  • When people go behind my back or say things indirectly.
  • When people perceive me as controlling when I’m just trying to move things forward.
  • When people get caught up in indecision or analyzing something forever and don’t take action.
  • Slow people.
  • People who whine about what’s happening but don’t do anything to solve the problem.
  • People who don’t say what they really think.
  • When people beat around the bush instead of just telling the truth.
  • When people try to limit me or get in my way.
  • When people try to micromanage me.
  • When people misperceive my passion and energy as hostility or intolerance.
  • When people in power mistreat people.
  • When other managers mess with my team.


  • Tendency to intimidate others (even though you don’t mean to). It will be easier for you to work with others if they aren’t scared of you. If you can understand that this tends to happen—even though you don’t try to do it—you can consciously temper the behavior some find unsettling and forge better connections with people.
  • Seeing your truth as The Truth. Given your natural personal power, it makes sense that you sometimes (often) assume you are right about the way things are. But, the truth is, sometimes you’re not. It will help you achieve better outcomes when working with others if you listen to their opinions and open up to the possibility that they might be right.
  • Not always listening to others. Similarly, things may go better for you if you can slow down and make a point of taking in the feedback and input of others. They may have more to offer than you think they do.
  • Tendency to need to be invincible. Although it may not seem like it at first, moderating your need to be invincible and softening up and sharing more will help you to relate more to others and collaborate more closely and effectively with them. Allowing yourself to be more known will probably lead to you being more liked, which could feel awkward and uncomfortable—but it will be good for you to get used to that.
  • Tendency to rebel against rules and limitations. It will be good for you to acknowledge that you aren’t always above the law—that some restrictions, when appropriate, do apply to you. As a leader, there may be times when it’s good to model an acceptance of limitation.
  • Tendency to “put it all out there.” As an Eight, you have a huge amount of energy—it can help you a great deal to consciously rein it in at times, realizing you can moderate how much energy you apply when you choose to.

How we might start to focus on this in our sessions

  • Observe your tendency to want to move into action. What is behind that? What might happen if you don’t get to move forward in the way you want? How difficult is it to slow down?
  • Notice your tendency to be impulsive. Notice any impatience that comes up that fuels your impulsivity. Note what causes you to be impatient and how you react.
  • Observe any anger or aggression that arises. Allow yourself to learn to observe it more—what causes it, how quickly it arises, and how you deal with it.
  • What is behind your desire to control everything and have a say in everything? What happens when things are beyond your power to control? How do you react?
  • Notice your tendency to be excessive in the things you do—or feel or consume. How easy or difficult is it for you to modulate your intensity and excess?
  • Can you usually judge the impact you have on others correctly? Why or why not? Do you always have the impact you intend? If not, what happens?
  • Are you ever aware of feeling vulnerable? If not, what’s up with that? If so, under what circumstances? Can you communicate with others about any vulnerable feelings you might have?


  • Your vulnerability (and weaknesses and limitations and vulnerable emotions). Type Eights often deny their vulnerable feelings completely and focus on being strong and powerful as a way of further keeping any vulnerable emotions at bay. It’s crucial for Eights to become aware of their weaknesses, for so many reasons: 1) they’re part of the truth of how you feel and who you are; 2) they balance out your strength; 3) they make you feel more approachable to others; 4) they allow you to connect more and more deeply with others.
  • The value of slowing down and thinking things through. Eights can cause big trouble when they aren’t able to identify instances in which it’s better to take time to think about taking action before actually taking it
  • Your impact on others. Eights can improve their ability to work with people by being open to learning more about how they affect them. They often misjudge their impact because they focus their attention on doing what they want to do, as opposed to how it might affect people.
  • How much force is really necessary for a specific task. Eights sometimes apply more force than matches what might need to be done. It can be good to learn when a light touch is actually more effective.
  • How their impulse to protect others is about projecting their vulnerability onto other people as a way of addressing it at a distance. While the desire to protect others can be a highly positive quality in Eights, it also often serves to help them mask their own vulnerability. This happens when they project any subterranean feelings of weakness they may have (but not be aware of) onto others (instead of seeing it inside themselves) and then go into action to support others they view as needing protection. So, it’s good for Eights to realize that the urge to protect others can be a sign of needing to attend to their own hidden vulnerabilities.


It helps Eights to be aware of, actively pay attention to, fully own, and leverage:

  • Confidence, power, and strength. It may be more challenging for you not to leverage this obvious strength. Being confident and strong may be like breathing for you—and others likely count on you to be as confident as you tend to be in everyday life. And, perhaps paradoxically, if you develop your ability to be in touch with your vulnerability regularly, you can leverage the strength of your strength even more powerfully.
  • Fearlessness in the face of conflict and big challenges. Your ability to tune out fear allows you to do many things without being hampered by the anxieties that can hold people back.
  • Ability to support and protect others. Chances are, the people you work with count on you to lend your strength to others in different ways. This can make you a key part of any team, whether you are the leader or not.
  • Big-hearted and generous. At your best, the soft side you don’t always show to others shines through anyway in the way you put so much heart into work you feel passionately about—or the generosity you show to others when you care about them. The more you own this consciously, the better for everyone.
  • Ability to see the big picture and move big things forward decisively. Every team and organization needs people who can develop and maintain a grand vision of what’s possible. You not only hold this in mind, but it motivates you to take people there—meaning you likely play a crucial role in providing the inspiration and the fuel to help people do great things.

Questions I might ask a type Eight client in therapy:

  • Why is it so important to be so strong and powerful? What will happen if you aren’t? (Can you even imagine that?)
  • What is your anger really all about? What is it really expressing, at a deeper level? What does it do for you? How might it hold you back or thwart you?
  • Is your sense of being able to control things really just a defensive illusion? (In the psychology business we call this defense “omnipotent control,” a form of “magical thinking” in which you tell yourself you can control everything, when the reality is, you really can’t.)
  • Why might it be difficult for you to show a softer side of yourself to others? What happens to your tender feelings? What might be hard about letting yourself feel them or communicate them?
  • What feels hard about letting other people support and take care of you? What do you actively do to discourage people from showing you affection?
  • What’s going on in you when you behave in ways that other people find intimidating?
  • What are the upsides and the downsides to not being in touch with your vulnerability?

Eights can also grow through consciously becoming aware of the self-limiting habits and patterns associated with their personality style and learning to embody the higher aspects or more expansive capacities of the Type Eight personality:

  • Learn how anger may run you at times, and challenge yourself to learn what’s underneath it, instead of just acting it out. Allow yourself to learn to understand and regulate your aggression, balancing anger with a greater awareness of any hurt or pain or fear that might be beneath it—and learn to communicate that with strength as well.
  • Notice how difficult it is to have an ongoing awareness of your weaknesses and this important truth: it takes a great deal of inner strength to be truly vulnerable. The best leaders are able to selectively disclose vulnerability. The more you can do this, the more you will be loved and appreciated, not just for your leadership ability, but for who you really are under the armor.
  • Learn how asserting yourself so strongly can merely give you the illusion of control, rather than the real thing. Learn to balance your need to take action to assert your power with a more thoughtful assessment of just how much is the right amount of oversight. (Call it “the Goldilocks principle.”)
  • Become conscious of how you may dismiss people as incompetent or weak when you haven’t really given them a chance. Allow yourself to slow down, reveal more of yourself and tune in to a deeper level with others, so you can create a more solid foundation for your working relationships. Not everyone will be competent, but some may be more skilled than you thought.
  • Learn to recognize when you are overfocusing on the big picture and missing important details. Allow yourself to moderate any impatience you feel to move things forward and let yourself work with others to drill down into the small stuff, to make sure you ground your plans in the best ways possible.
  • Learn to recognize when you are all about taking action and learn to balance acting with more feeling and thinking. Become more aware of how the actions you take can be wiser and more effective if you take emotions and a deeper investigation of the facts of the situation into account.

Overall, Type Eights can fulfill their higher potential by observing and working against their habit of denying their vulnerability and overcompensating through exercising power and control. When they can understand that real strength is about balancing action and force with vulnerability and softness, they can show more of who they really are to others, be even more powerful in the things they do, and draw on emotional and intellectual power rather than just their ability to take action. When they can consciously contain their energy and balance their boldness with mildness, they can create better working relationships and express their passionate nature in more fulfilling ways. 

If you are not an Eight, but are trying to work out how to get on better with someone who is, here are a few tips: 

Don’t beat around the bush. Tell the truth and don’t sugarcoat it. When you send them an e-mail asking for something, put the request in simple terms up at the top—don’t bury it at the end of the fourth paragraph.

Don’t give them a book when they want bullet points. Be brief, direct, and to the point. 

Be competent and be able to work independently. Your Eight coworkers, friends, and lovers, will be very happy if they can trust that you will do your part in the project or the relationship and do it well and in a timely fashion—without them having to follow up with you or end up doing it for you. 

Support them in taking action. Try not to slow them down or interrupt what they are doing, unless it’s really important. Understand how action-oriented they are and do what you can to support their forward momentum. If you need to ask them to pause before they act, make sure to do it in a direct way and point to good evidence

Keep them informed—don’t hide things or undermine their authority. Eights will want to know what’s going on, so they can control the workflow, or their situation. If you make this easy for them, everything will be easier. 

Try not to be afraid of conflict with them. It may be wise to look at working with an Eight as an opportunity to learn to manage conflict with more comfort and skill. They will trust you if you can stand up to them and not back down if you disagree.