Ali Wren

whole-hearted living, healthy-minded eating

Type Eight with Anne Wilson

Anne Wilson is a writer who shares about faith, culture, ministry, marriage, and parenthood. She is a wife and mom to two littles, living in Indianapolis. By day, she works as the content director for her church. Connect with Anne on her blog:, Instagram: @annemwilson, and Twitter: @annemwilson.

How long have you known about the Enneagram?

I first started learning about the Enneagram about four years ago. I took several online tests, which all came back with the same result: Type Eight–The Challenger. Lovely. I read the description and wanted to crawl underneath my covers and hide for days. The Challenger… or, in a nicer title, The Advocate. My first thoughts after reading the stories were: This cannot be me. Please, Lord, let this not be me! Who would even want to be friends with this person, let alone be this person? Oh my gosh, this is entirely me.

After I lived in denial for a few months, I started reading some more literature about the Enneagram and being an Eight. I read Richard Rohr’s The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective and fell in love with it. Being married to a type Nine (The Peacemaker), the Enneagram has become so relevant and helpful to how I know others as well as myself.

I’m so glad the Enneagram is becoming more popular, particularly in evangelical spheres. I’m on staff at a non-denominational church, and a few years ago, hardly anyone was talking about the Enneagram. I think people thought I was talking about voodoo when I brought it up. But now, not only is it more familiar, but I’m seeing it used in leadership settings to learn how to work better with others, and understand coworkers and teammates. As a communicator, it’s been helpful for me to learn how different people process information and become motivated by something.

How long have you known your type?

I learned my type pretty soon after I started learning about the Enneagram. I learned my husband’s shortly after, and then I began encouraging my friends to read about it so I could understand them, as well.

What do you wish people knew about being your type?

Two things really stood out to me in The Road Back to You about being an Eight that I don’t think many people know:

  1. I don’t want to control anyone; I’m afraid of being controlled. When someone’s choices directly impact my life and/or someone I love, I can tangibly feel protectiveness start to rise in my gut. Reading Beatrice Chestnut’s work on the Enneagram and learning more about the “gut triad” (which I’m in) makes complete sense. When I’m feeling scared, vulnerable, or manipulated in some way, I feel it physically. In the words of Brené Brown: “I’m working on being less scary when I feel scared.”
  2. Being an Eight and a female in leadership settings has had its share of highs and lows. I don’t naturally have a sweet, calm disposition–I can be pretty intense. When I read Ian Cron’s description of female Eights being one of the most misunderstood types, I audibly gasped. He put into words something I’ve felt for so long. I’m working on not letting my Eight-ness be an excuse to not actively infuse grace into my everyday interactions with others, while also not allowing the fear of being labeled keep me from using my gifts to serve God and others.

What do you like about being your type?

Challenges excite me. I love taking on complicated projects and solving complex problems. I love digging into the bottom of things and figuring out what the root problems are so that we can work toward a solution. Even if the truth is hard, I feel comforted knowing it’s out in the light–then we can at least deal with things honestly. Until learning more about the Enneagram, I thought everyone was this way. Now I know it’s a gift and a curse–I have had to learn how to have, in Jill Briscoe’s words, “the ministry of presence, silence, and tears,” especially with friends. I’ve made some pretty bad mistakes in relationships by talking about something before someone was ready, or jumping into a situation when it just wasn’t my place.

I know that I’m in a healthy place when I’m laughing often and being silly, spending a lot of time and being affectionate with my kids, and when I’m able to just sit and be with friends who are in pain (gravitating toward the healthy parts of a Two).

What challenge(s) does being your type bring?

I am usually the last to realize I’m overworking or overdoing it. Eights have a lot of energy. My mind is often still going at 10pm, which is one of the reasons I have a strict “fiction only” rule at night: if I pick up a nonfiction book, I’ll be making a life plan for myself at 1 a.m.

Being betrayed has been one of most painful experiences I know, and it’s been the hardest for me to emotionally recover from. I come by it honestly–my gram used to say, “I like my grudges.” I don’t love this about myself–I need Jesus daily to uproot this sin out of my heart.

This is part of a 31-day series: The Enneagram. To read all posts, head here.

About Ali

I'm Ali. I write about my journey of living a full and healthy life with food allergies, overcoming the comparison trap, and cultivating authenticity.

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