What It’s Like To Be an Enneagram Type One {Part Two}

Part One

One of the hallmarks of type One is its inner critic––the voice inside that constantly evaluates all your thoughts and actions in an unfailingly negative way. I think we all beat ourselves up when we feel like we’ve made a mistake, but for type Ones it is as constant as breathing. If you aren’t aware, as most people aren’t, it becomes the soundtrack for your life, the background for every thought. For this post in my Enneagram One series, I wanted to portray a little bit of what that’s like.

Because this voice is so constant, most Ones aren’t fully aware of it unless you draw their attention to it. I personally didn’t realize this is what I was thinking all the time until learning about the Enneagram. These kinds of thoughts aren’t always conscious or “loud”—it’s this hum in the back of your mind that you subconsciously tune in to. It feels like an outside voice  you listen to, not actual thoughts you yourself generate.

BIG FAT DISCLAIMER: I realize this is going to sound a little dramatic and depressing, and I just want to assure you all that I’m doing great and I’m not suicidal or anything. =) I’ve learned a lot about how to recognize and fight these thoughts as the lies they are.

Also, really important, this looks different for every person, so if you know someone who is a One, don’t assume this is exactly what they’re thinking. Like I said above, it’s usually not in the forefront of their minds and the critical voice takes many different shapes depending on each person’s insecurities, situations, etc. My hope is that this can help you talk with the Ones in your life—maybe you can ask them what it’s like for them—and to give you a general picture of one of the defining struggles for this type. There is so much more to this type, obviously. And no matter what type you are, I’m sure you’ve have moments like this. Maybe in another post I’ll go into some tips that have helped me combat the inner critic. For now, here is a glimpse into what Enneagram peeps are talking about when they say “the inner critic.”


I can’t believe you did that.
This voice
You promised yourself just an hour ago you wouldn’t mess up like that again!
Will tear
You never get it right. You never will.
Me apart
Tomorrow, you have to do better.
But usually
What a dumb mistake to make, idiot.
I forget
There are so many ways you could have done that better.
It’s there.
All you ever do is fail.
Long ago
I can’t believe what a mess you are.
I began
It’s not that hard. Only a loser like you wouldn’t be able to.
To believe
You should have done that differently. Perfectly.
It was
That’s the 397nth mistake you’ve made this morning—do you want to look over the list?
Something good
You’ll never be the person you want to be.
Maybe even
Now you have to be extra good to make up for all those mistakes.

The morning comes like an enemy soldier
I feel the weight across my shoulders
I feel the shadows getting colder
But that ain’t you

This noose ain’t getting any looser
I get so fearful about the future
I hear the shame of my accuser
But that ain’t you

~ “The Day That I Found God”, Jon Foreman

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