Do you have to have a wing on the Enneagram? (An in-depth analysis)

In this article, we will discuss – “Do you have to have a wing on the enneagram?” in full detail. If you are curious to know how it works and what does it mean to have or not to have a wing, keep reading further.

To begin with, Enneagram is a theory that offers an explanation for understanding the human personality in terms of nine different types. It explains the different types of personalities with the help of a geometric figure like that of a regular nine-sided polygon. According to this theory a person’s personality can be identified as one of the nine possible combinations that are inclusive of one’s beliefs, values and motivations.

Do you need to have an enneagram wing?

The answer is No. It is not necessary that each and every individual will have an enneagram wing. The primary reason for this is the fact that wings are complementary characteristics that add more dimension to our personality. They are not what makes up our personality. The dominant type is what the personality is primarily like and it is not a compulsion for a wing to be present. The what and how of this phenomenon is discussed further in this article.

What is the Enneagram?

The word enneagram comes from the Greek word “Ennea” which means nine and “Gramma” which means something that is written or drawn. Enneagram consequently literally means nine different types of illustrations. According to this theory a person’s personality can be identified as one of the nine possible combinations that are inclusive of one’s beliefs, values and motivations.

The formal definition of Enneagram is as follows:

“A system of classifying personality types that is based on a nine-pointed starlike figure inscribed within a circle in which each of the nine points represent a personality type and its psychological motivations influencing a person’s emotions, attitudes, and behaviours.

What are the wings?

The types on either side of each core type are called “Wings.” The enneagram personality theorists propound that the wings are representative of related personality styles of whose characteristics one might possess to a certain extent. The basic assumption behind this understanding is that an individual’s basic personality type can be modified.

How do the wings work?

The basic personality type is what characteristics one possesses primarily, but the wings are more like complementary characteristics that add to one’s overall personality. The wings are considered as the “Second-side” of one’s personality as there is a high possibility of presence of such characteristics in varied proportions. As a matter of fact, it is also possible to have one dominant wing or both wings in equity. Debates and discussions have occurred numerous times in the past to determine whether there exist one wing or two – the catch though, is just the possibility of their presence.

The wings are symbolic of a possibility that an individual is likely to manifest characteristics that may not be central to the dominant personality type. They can be looked at as “Helpers” as they indicate areas of potential to explore and discover one’s manifested personality. The knowledge of wings associated with each type gives us the opportunity to unlock our hidden talents and generate a greater understanding of the self.

How many wings can you have?

The enneagram proposes the possibility of the presence of wings such that there is a possibility of having a maximum of two wings at the same time but this number cannot exceed. There can be one or no wings but not more than two at a time.

Possible enneagram wings for each type
Type & WingDescription
1 w 9Realistic & detail-oriented perfectionists
1 w 2Social & ethical
2 w 1Empathetic & caring individuals
2 w 3Social & work-oriented organisers
3 w 2Optimistic go-getters & Socially popular
3 w 4Motivated & organised leaders
4 w 3Artistic & charismatic
4 w 5Passionate creators with a mission
5 w 4Individualistic & loners
5 w 6Free spirited & curious
6 w 5Resourceful & responsible
6 w 7Fun-loving & cheerful
7 w 6Happy-go-lucky & entertaining
7 w 8Innovative & curious
8 w 7Confident & determined
8 w 9Collectivistic leader
9 w 8Independent & wanderer
9 w 1Pragmatic & collected

Is it possible to not have a wing?

Yes, it is very much possible to not have a dominant wing for an individual. Wings simply act as influence on your dominant personality type and may make positive or negative additions to your personality.

The explanation to how it is possible to not have a wing, lies in the explanation to how we can have one. Wings are activated when we engage with opportunities that may push us out of our comfort zone. To activate the wing, it is important to take risks and try out new things so that we can uncover our potential. Some individuals however, may not be willing to take risks or may not have such opportunities which leads to under-utilisation of their potential.

The degree and influence of each being is therefore dependent upon the degree of exploration that one has done with the particular skills set. Thus, it is possible that some people do not have a wing because they have never gotten the opportunity to use it in the first place.

Conclusion 

In this article, we answered the question – “Do you have to have a wing on the enneagram?” the answer to with is deduced to be a no. It is possible to have a wing but not necessary for it to be present.

The key takeaway here, is that personality is dynamic and therefore there exist endless possibilities. One should be willing to explore new opportunities and consciously attempt to conquer our fears. Being aware of your dominant type can help you understand your areas of potential growth i.e. your wings. These complementary traits can be put to good use if they are tapped into at the right moment for the right jobs.

FAQ’s 

Does everyone have an enneagram wing?

Yes, everyone has enneagram wings. Every personality type is assigned two wings that are directly adjacent to the number. But their level and extent of influence varies from person to person. This is because as a person, everyone goes through different circumstances and life experiences. Some may have had the opportunity to explore their complementary skills and some may have not. So naturally, the extent to which the wings may be functional and/or influential varies.

Is it possible to not have an enneagram wing?

Yes, it is possible to not have an enneagram wing at all. The wings state a possibility of developing characteristics in addition to the ones present owing to the dominant personality type. Therefore, the wings are not an obvious manifestation in all cases. Due to lack of exposure, lower level of development, and other such reasons it is possible to not have a wing at all.

How do you get the enneagram wing?

The enneagram wings are the two personality types adjacent to your dominant personality type. So for example, your dominant type is 2, your wings will be either 1 or 3. When taking the enneagram test, either of these types that score the second highest after the dominant type, is your dominant wing.

Can trauma change your enneagram?

No, trauma cannot entirely change your enneagram type. Personality is a culmination of an individual’s life experiences because we learn from what life brings to us. Trauma particularly, can put an individual in shock and make them question almost everything about themselves and their life. It is possible to learn new ways of coping and dealing with stress, but it is not possible for your entire personality to change.

Can your Enneagram wing change?

No, it is not possible for our enneagram wings to change because personality is a culmination of stable characteristics that we manifest during the course of our life events. This forms the dominant type which then has designated adjacent types assigned as wings. Therefore, wings cannot change but can vary in influence based on our personal learning.

Is the enneagram accurate?

Yes, the enneagram is very much valid. It is a theory of human behaviour that helps better understand personality. It is extremely accurate and valid as it has been in practice for many years now. Owing to the fact that it gives us some unexpected results with the very precise details, some people might be put off easily which makes them question its accuracy. On the contrary, enneagram is a highly insightful way of understanding the self which is very useful to know our areas of strengths, weaknesses, and improvements.

References 

https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/how-the-enneagram-system-works

https://www.quora.com/Is-it-possible-to-have-an-Enneagram-type-without-a-wing

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/enneagram-wings

https://theenneagraminbusiness.com/theory/enneagram-theory-enneagram-wings/

https://theenneagramatwork.com/moving-on-the-lines

https://www.truity.com/blog/guide-enneagram-wings-what-are-they-all-about

Divya is currently a Clinical Psychology Trainee in a Master of Philosophy program and holds a Master’s in clinical psychology. She has a special interest in Personality studies and disorders, having researched the subject before, and Neuropsychology; with an additional interest being Mood disorders. She likes to write about Psychiatric issues, having worked in multiple specialty setups during her time as a clinical psychology student, and in her free time she likes to cook and read.