Jesus, Rest, Trauma, and the Enneagram
As a trauma therapist in a Christian Counseling practice, I see people struggling in their spirituality. While I am no expert on the Enneagram, I see people come into the office and let me know what their “type” is. The Enneagram has been popular for many years and is useful to gain greater clarity on why we do what we do (think, feel, and behave) in particular ways based upon core motivations. It is complex and for the purpose of this article, I will be focused broadly. There are 9 types and one is not better than another. The diversity in types speaks to the diversity inherent in human beings. Understanding the Enneagram has the power to give you more self-awareness, forgiveness, and compassion for yourself and others.
The Enneagram explains four core motivations about a person according to their type: Core
Fears, Core Desires, Core Weakness, and Core Longing (the message your heart longs to know).
How do these core motivations, particularly Core Longings, intersect with developmental
trauma and abuse growing up? How does the Gospel, and in particular, Jesus speak into this for
your healing? Developmental trauma has a profound influence on how you make sense of your
world. Understanding your Enneagram type and developmental trauma helps you understand
why you are moving in the world the way you are and what the impact was. It helps you
understand how the messages you received in developmental trauma and ensuing abuse were
interpreted by you and what it is going to look like in your world.
Developmental trauma is when you experience a significant lack of one or all of the following
three needs growing up:
1. You parents/main caregivers were not attuned to you. (meaning, did your parents pay
close attention to your feelings, did they know what was happening to you on the
2. Your parents/main caregivers were not responsive to you. (meaning, when you were
distressed (ie: mad/sad, etc.) did your parents respond to you because they knew you
were not well? Was there a measure of comfort, care, and kindness?)
3. Your parent/main caregivers were not emotionally engaged with you. (meaning, did
your parents have an internal intention and genuine desire to truly know what was
happening for you emotionally and know your heart? Were they willing and able to
engage with you at an emotional level? Were you pursued by your parents?)
No parent/main caregiver is perfect. Every parent/main caregiver blows it in these areas.
However, developmental trauma sets in when there is a significant lack of attunement,
responsiveness, and engagement. Each of the 9 enneagram types process this reality
differently. If you do not know your Enneagram type and would like to know, click on the
following link for a free assessment: http://www.yourenneagramcoach.com
God knows us intimately. He works in our individual particularity. The work of Christ and what
Jesus offers to you gets deeply personal in a uniquely different way for each person. One’s love
for Jesus comes out of a different place in each Enneagram type. He touches and brings healing
in these deep places that our heart longs for.
Abusers instinctively groom, notice and provide what the child needs that is not being met.
When attunement, responsiveness, and/or emotional engagement are significantly lacking, the
child finds a measure of these needs met in their abuser. This then, by no fault of your own,
sets you up for a war inside that is based on your type and what your core motivations are. It
puts you in a bind of having strong desires for needs to be met and yet fears or problems in
getting those need met. It bounds you to lies that you know in the deepest part of your being
are felt as true.
In light of this unique intersection of developmental trauma, abuse, and the Enneagram, what
would rest look like for you? The nature of trauma is dissociation, hypervigilance or both. That
is the opposite of rest. What would allow you to rest? What does it look like for your heart to
be at rest in Christ?
The following is a brief overview of each type’s core motivations and how one is likely to
experience the setup of developmental trauma and ensuing abuse when there has been little to
no attunement, little to no responsiveness, and little to no engagement. After looking at your
type below, if you are curious about your own story and would like to start the process of
working through your developmental trauma, contact Cynthia at SureHope Counseling by
clicking here .
Type 1 – Moral Perfectionist
Core Fear – Being wrong, bad, evil, inappropriate, unredeemable, or corruptible
Core Desires – Having integrity, being good, balanced, accurate, virtuous, and right
Core Weaknesses – Resentment: repressing anger that leads to continual frustration and
dissatisfaction with yourself, others, and the world for not being perfect
Core Longing – For your heart to hear and know: You are good.
Interpretation of developmental trauma: There is an inner critic berating you. It tells you how
bad you are or that something must be fixed. There is something about me that is bad or not
good enough. If I could only be better morally, behaviorally, ethically then they would care
more about me.
Conclusions about ensuing abuse: Abuser grooms you and this feels like goodness. Then you
are violated. This proves I am not good. The bind is I desperately want to know and rest in I am
good and yet have the deeply felt sense that I am not good.
How the gospel and Jesus meet this particular need and offer rest: Jesus is the good and
perfect Shepherd. He Loves you because He is good. In Jesus, he gives you His goodness with
a new heart and calls you good.
Type 2 – Supportive Advisor
Core Fear – Being rejected and unwanted, being thought worthless, needy, inconsequential,
dispensable, or unworthy of love
Core Desires – Being appreciated, loved, and wanted
Core Weaknesses – Pride: denying your own needs and emotions while using your strong
intuition to discover and focus on the emotions and needs of others, confidently inserting your
helpful support in hopes that others will say how grateful they are for your thoughtful care.
Core Longing – For your heart to hear and know: You are wanted and loved.
Interpretation of developmental trauma: Your inner critic says: “You are not good. You are not
loving people well. You are selfish.” Whatever I do to help is not enough. Therefore, I am not
Conclusions from ensuing abuse: Abuser makes you feel appreciated, wanted/loved, and then
violates you. This proves I am not worthy of love and am worthless. The bind is I desperately
want to know and rest in I am wanted and loved and yet have the deeply felt sense I am not
wanted and loved.
How the gospel and Jesus meet this particular need and offers rest: This is why Jesus came. He
knew you could not earn it in service/helping. He loves you because you are his. He pours
unconditional love on you. You do not have to help him.
Type 3 – Successful Achiever
Core Fear – Being exposed or thought of as incompetent, inefficient, or worthless; failing to be
or appear successful
Core Desires – Having high status and respect
Core Weaknesses – Deceit: deceiving yourself into believing that you are only the image you
present to others; embellishing the truth by putting on a polished persona for everyone
(including yourself) to see and admire
Core Longing – For your heart to hear and know: You are loved for simply being you.
Interpretation of developmental trauma: I am not doing enough (achieving, projecting good
image, etc.). If I could do all these things, then I would be loved, admired, and could experience
Conclusions from ensuing abuse: Abuser noticed your admirable qualities and drew you in.
Then you were violated. This proves you are not loved for being you. The bind is I want to
know and rest in I am loved just for me and yet have the deeply felt sense that this is not true.
How the gospel and Jesus meet this particular need and offers rest: You think you need all
these accomplishments and yet, Christ already accomplished everything that is needed and
gave it to you. You do not have to strive to become something you already are.
Type 4 – Romantic Individualist
Core Fear – Being inadequate, emotionally cut off, plain, mundane, defective, flawed, or
Core Desires – Being unique, special, and authentic
Core Weaknesses – Envy: feeling that you are tragically flawed, that something foundational is
missing inside you, and others possess qualities you lack
Core Longings: For your heart to hear and know: You are seen and loved for exactly who you
are – special and unique.
Interpretation from developmental trauma: I am not special enough. I am not enough to get
Conclusions from ensuing abuse: Abuser noticed your uniqueness/specialness more than
anyone else. You trusted and rested in this. Then you were violated. This proves you are not
loved, special or unique. The bind is I desperately want to know I am loved and special. I now
know and have a deeply felt sense that this is not true.
How the gospel and Jesus meet this particular need and offers rest: Jesus sees you, loves you
and delights in your unique God given self. He is trustworthy and you can find rest in Him.
Type 5 – Investigative Thinker
Core Fear – Being annihilated, invaded or not existing; being thought incapable or ignorant;
having obligations placed on you or your energy being completely depleted
Core Desires – Being capable and competent
Core Weaknesses – Avarice: feeling that you lack inner resources and that too much interaction
with other will lead to catastrophic depletion; withholding yourself from contact with the
world; holding onto your resources and minimizing your needs
Core Longings: For your heart to hear and know: Your needs are not a problem.
Interpretation of developmental trauma – I try and cannot get parents/main caregivers to be
attuned to me. I am helpless. If I take a risk and let my needs by known and it is met with
dismissal and shame, my fear that my needs are a problem must be true.
Conclusions for ensuing abuse: Abuser sees your needs. You feel seen in the moment and then
you are violated. This proves my needs are a problem. The bind is I desperately want to know
my needs are not a problem and yet I know and have experienced that this is not true.
How the gospel and Jesus meet this particular need and offers rest: Jesus came and took care
of your biggest need (redemption). He desires you to bring your needs to him and experience
his attunement and care.
Type 6 – Loyal Guardian
Core Fear – Fearing fear itself, being without support, security, or guidance; being blamed,
targeted, alone, or physically abandoned
Core Desires – Having security, guidance, and support
Core Weaknesses – Anxiety: scanning the horizon of life and trying to predict and prevent
negative outcomes (especially worst-case scenarios); remaining in a constant state of
apprehension and worry
Core Longing: For your heart to hear and know: You are safe and secure
Interpretation of developmental trauma: You struggle with self-doubt. You cannot trust
yourself, your gut. There is an inner committee of voices saying what about this, what about
that. This causes a lot of confusion because which one do you pick?
Conclusions for ensuing abuse: My personality tells me to look outside myself to trust
someone. Abuser offers this safety, and a place to rest and then you are violated. This proves I
cannot trust myself and the world is not safe. I do not know who or what I can trust.
How the gospel and Jesus meet this particular need and offers rest: Jesus came to give security
now and forever in him. He promises you are his. He carved your name in the palm of his
hand. He will quiet you with his love.
Type 7 – Entertaining Optimist
Core Fear – Being deprived, trapped in emotional pain, limited, or bored, missing out on
Core Desires – Being happy, fully satisfied, and content
Core Weakness – Gluttony: feeling a great emptiness inside and having an insatiable desire to
“fill yourself up” with experiences and stimulation in hopes of feeling completely satisfied and
Core Longing – For your heart to hear and know: You will be taken care of.
Interpretation of developmental trauma: Inner longing to be taken care of. When these needs
go unmet, you look for experiences, stimulation, and excitement to fill these deeps longings.
Conclusions for ensuing abuse: The abuser meets your need for care and kindness which gives
you a sense of rest. Then you are violated. This proves you are not safe and secure. The bind is
I need to know I am safe and secure and yet I am not safe and secure.
How the gospel and Jesus meet this particular need and offers rest: In Jesus, you are cared for.
He knows the number of hairs on your head and knew you before you were born. He knows
your name and delights over you with singing. He alone can fill you.
Type 8 – Protective Challenger
Core Fear – Being weak, powerless, harmed, controlled, vulnerable, manipulated, and left at
the mercy of injustice
Core Desires – Protecting yourself and those in your inner circle
Core Weakness – Lust/Excess: constantly desiring intensity, control, and power; pushing
yourself willfully on life and people in order to get what you desire
Core Longing – For your heart to hear and know: You will not be betrayed.
Interpretation of developmental trauma: You struggle with knowing you are totally alone in the
world and if someone sees this “weakness” you will be betrayed.
Conclusion for ensuing abuse: The abuser gets you into a position of trust and then you are
violated. This solidifies what you already knew that the world is unsafe and how did I miss it? I
am alone and have to watch my back for betrayal.
How the gospel and Jesus meet this particular need and offers rest: Coming to rest is to know
that Jesus will actually use the betrayals to work things for my good. Jesus is faithful and
constant. He will be faithful to you and meet you in this particularity.
Type 9 – Peaceful Mediator
Core Fear – Being in conflict, tension, or discord; feeling shut out and overlooked; losing
connection and relationship with others
Core Desires – Having inner stability and peace of mind
Core Weakness – Sloth: remaining in an unrealistic and idealistic world in order to keep the
peace remain easygoing and not be disturbed by your anger; falling asleep to your passions,
abilities, desires, needs, and worth by merging with others to keep peace and harmony
Core Longing – For your heart to hear and know: Your presence matters.
Interpretation of developmental trauma: When your core emotional needs are not met, this
proves to you that your presence does not matter. You go along to get along and make others
happy. You lose yourself and do not want to assert yourself so as not to bring discord or
Conclusion for ensuing abuse: Abuser can read that you want to know you are important and
matter. You experience this, trust it, and then you are violated. The war that erupts is that my
presence only matters to those who do me harm and use me for their own pleasure.
How the gospel and Jesus meet this particular need and offer rest: You experience that Christ
literally came with me, specifically on his heart. He went to great lengths to prove this.
The Enneagram lights the path you are already on so that you can see the gospel more clearly
as you journey on in your relationship with Jesus. The enneagram is the tool. The gospel is the
transformation. This helps see the path and the messages that need to be poured into the
Thank you for all you do to contribute to healing and restoration!
Beth McCord, Enneagram Expert @ yourenneagramcoach.com
Adam Young @ Adam Young Counseling, Fort Collins, Colorado