Which Enneagram Type are You?

Find out which Enneagram matches your personality type, and gain deep insight on how to enrich your life, relationships, career and more.

Enneagram 8 Self-Preservation Subtype

enneagram 8

Introduction to Enneagram 8 Self-preservation Subtype

The Enneagram Type 8 is often known as the “Challenger” or “Protector,” characterized by a desire for control and a defense against vulnerability. When combined with the self-preservation subtype, this powerful and assertive type takes on a distinct flavor, emphasizing survival, safety, and personal autonomy.

Nature of the Self-preservation 8:
At their core, Enneagram 8s with a self-preservation instinct are intensely focused on ensuring their security and well-being. They often come across as self-reliant and independent, preferring to be in charge of their surroundings to feel secure. This subtype is less confrontational than the other Type 8 subtypes but is fiercely protective of their personal space and resources.

Desire for Control:
The self-preservation 8 seeks control, primarily to ensure their safety and comfort. They can be intensely territorial, marking out their domain – be it at home, work, or even in social settings. Their primary concern is not dominance for its own sake but to prevent any external threats to their well-being.

Resource Management:
One of the standout characteristics of this subtype is their focus on resources. Whether it’s finances, time, or energy, the self-preservation 8 has an acute sense of what they need to survive and thrive. They can be excellent planners, ensuring that they never find themselves in a position of lack.

Protective Instincts:
While all 8s have a protective streak, the self-preservation 8’s protection extends beyond people and into their environment, resources, and personal boundaries. They are less likely to engage in outward aggression but won’t hesitate to defend what’s “theirs.”

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Self-preservation 8

Every subtype brings with it a unique set of strengths and challenges, and the self-preservation 8 is no exception. Their characteristics influence their decisions, behavior, and interactions with the world.


  • Their strong sense of self-reliance makes them resilient in the face of adversity.
  • Exceptional at resource management, they often excel in professions that demand strategic planning and foresight.
  • They have a heightened awareness of potential threats, ensuring they’re always prepared.
  • Their protective nature means they’re often seen as pillars of strength in their communities or families.
  • They value integrity and are straightforward, appreciating honesty and directness in return.


  • Their strong desire for control can sometimes come across as overbearing or rigid to others.
  • They might struggle with perceived vulnerabilities, leading to challenges in intimate relationships.
  • Can be overly cautious, potentially missing out on opportunities that carry even minor risks.
  • Their territorial nature can lead to conflicts over boundaries or resources.
  • They might resist relying on others, even when it could be beneficial.

Relationship Dynamics of the Self-preservation 8

In relationships, the self-preservation 8 offers a blend of strength, reliability, and a strong protective instinct. However, their intense desire for autonomy and control can also present challenges.

In friendships, the self-preservation 8 is often the dependable one – the friend you’d call in a crisis. They value loyalty and expect the same in return. While they may not be the most expressive with their emotions, their actions often speak volumes about their commitment.

Family Dynamics:
Within the family, they often take on the role of the protector and provider. Their home is their castle, and they will go to great lengths to ensure its safety and comfort. However, they might struggle with control issues, particularly if they feel their authority is being challenged.

Romantic Relationships:
In romantic partnerships, they seek someone who respects their autonomy and understands their deep-seated need for control. While they offer stability and protection, they might find vulnerability challenging, which can be a hurdle in deeper emotional connections.

Work Relationships:
In professional settings, the self-preservation 8 often excels in leadership roles, particularly in fields that require resource management or strategic planning. They’re straightforward and value efficiency, often gaining respect for their no-nonsense approach.

Navigating Conflicts:
When conflicts arise, their first instinct is to protect their territory and resources. They appreciate direct communication and have little patience for deceit or manipulation. They believe in addressing issues head-on and value resolution that ensures their security.

Path to Growth for the Self-preservation 8

For the self-preservation 8, personal growth often involves embracing vulnerability, letting go of excessive control, and understanding the value of interdependence.

Embracing Vulnerability:
While showing vulnerability might feel like exposing a weakness, it can be a path to deeper, more fulfilling relationships. Learning to open up, even in small ways, can be transformative.

Letting Go of Control:
Recognizing that control is an illusion in many aspects of life can be liberating. By letting go, even just a bit, they can experience more spontaneity and joy.

Valuing Interdependence:
While independence is a strength, recognizing the benefits of interdependence can open doors to richer experiences and relationships.

Seeking Feedback:
Inviting feedback from trusted individuals can offer valuable insights into their behavior and ways they might inadvertently push others away.

Spiritual and Mindful Practices:
Engaging in practices that cultivate inner peace and reflection, like meditation or journaling, can provide clarity and balance in their intense desire for control and security.

Understanding the Fears of the Self-preservation 8

Diving deeper into the psyche of the self-preservation 8, we begin to understand the fears that drive their behaviors. Each Enneagram type is motivated by core fears and desires, and understanding these can lead to profound personal growth.

Fear of Vulnerability:
For the self-preservation 8, vulnerability is often seen as a weakness. They associate vulnerability with a loss of control, which can potentially expose them to harm or manipulation. This aversion to vulnerability can manifest as a reluctance to express feelings, seek help, or admit when they are wrong.

Fear of Dependence:
Dependence on others is viewed with suspicion. They believe that to rely on someone else is to give them power, which could be used against the 8. This often results in a self-imposed isolation or a hesitance to delegate tasks, even when overwhelmed.

Fear of Being Betrayed:
With their protective and territorial nature, the self-preservation 8 is acutely aware of potential threats, which includes betrayal. They value loyalty and trust, and the fear of being backstabbed can make them wary in relationships, especially new ones.

Fear of Inadequacy:
Beneath the strong exterior, there lies a fear of not being strong or competent enough. They push themselves hard, not just to control their environment, but to prove to themselves that they are capable.

Fear of Loss:
With their heightened focus on resources and security, the fear of loss, whether it’s material possessions, relationships, or status, is significant. They may go to great lengths to safeguard against any potential losses.

Integration and Disintegration: The Journey of the Self-preservation 8

The Enneagram teaches that each type has paths of integration (growth) and disintegration (stress), which influence their behaviors based on their emotional health.

Path to Two:
When moving towards growth, the self-preservation 8 integrates some qualities of the Type 2. They become more open-hearted, compassionate, and willing to serve others without expecting anything in return. They start to recognize the strength in vulnerability.

Path to Five:
Under stress or when feeling threatened, the self-preservation 8 can disintegrate to Type 5 characteristics. They may become more withdrawn, secretive, and hoard resources, both material and emotional.

Balancing Energy:
Recognizing these paths helps the 8 balance their energies. By consciously integrating qualities of the 2, they can foster deeper relationships and let go of the need for constant control. Conversely, being aware of their tendencies to retreat or hoard can serve as an indicator that they need self-care or support.

Mentors and Role Models:
Having a mentor or role model who embodies the healthy traits of the Enneagram 2 can guide the self-preservation 8 in their growth journey. Through observation and interaction, they can learn to appreciate the value of compassion and altruism.

Therapeutic Practices:
Engaging in therapy or counseling can aid in this journey. A professional can provide tools and insights to help navigate the challenges of integration and disintegration.

Coping Mechanisms for the Self-preservation 8

Like all Enneagram types, the self-preservation 8 has developed coping mechanisms over time to handle their fears and anxieties.

Asserting themselves and their boundaries is second nature. This is their way of ensuring that they remain in control and safeguarded from potential threats.

Physical Activities:
Many find solace in physical exertion, be it through exercise, sports, or even manual labor. These activities not only act as an outlet for their intense energy but also reinforce their sense of strength and capability.

Controlled Environments:
Creating environments where they have control, whether it’s their home, workspace, or even social gatherings, provides them with a sense of security. They know the rules, they set the boundaries, and they ensure everything is to their liking.

Strategic Planning:
Planning for every possible outcome gives them a sense of control over the unpredictable future. This can manifest in financial planning, setting long-term goals, or even planning out daily tasks in detail.

Protective Relationships:
While they might be wary of vulnerability, they deeply value relationships where they feel a mutual sense of protection and loyalty. These relationships, be they familial, platonic, or romantic, provide a sense of security and grounding.

The Gift of the Self-preservation 8 to the World

Every Enneagram type, with its unique blend of strengths, fears, and desires, brings something special to the world. The self-preservation 8, with their protective nature and desire for control, has particular gifts to offer.

In a world of uncertainty, the self-preservation 8 stands as a pillar of strength. Their resilience and determination often inspire those around them.

They have an innate desire to protect, and this extends beyond just themselves. Whether it’s their loved ones, team members, or even broader communities, they will fiercely defend against any threats.

Their ambition and drive can lead to significant accomplishments. When they set their mind on a goal, they pursue it with unmatched vigor.

One can always expect straightforwardness from a self-preservation 8. They value honesty and often have little patience for pretense or deception.

When they commit, they do so wholeheartedly. Their loyalty, once earned, is unwavering, making them invaluable friends, partners, and allies.