Unhealthy Enneagram 9: How Can the Peacemaker Grow

17 November 2023

Enneagram Type 9, the Peacemaker, is one of the calmest Enneagram types. They give off an impression of serene strength, which makes imagining them going into a state of chaos almost impossible. Although unhealthy Enneagram 9s may seem just as serene as healthy ones, their inner landscape is anything but tranquil.

In this article, we’ll analyze unhealthy Enneagram 9 patterns and explore the ways in which the Peacemaker can grow and overcome their weaknesses.

What Does a Healthy Enneagram 9 Look Like?

A healthy Enneagram 9 is nonjudgmental, deeply compassionate, imaginative, and supportive. They have an innate feeling of unity with people and the universe as a whole. Thanks to their profound, intuitive understanding of other people’s emotional dynamics, they instinctively and spontaneously resolve conflicts wherever they show up.

Emotionally stable and self-assured, healthy Nines navigate challenging situations without feeling the urge to run away from them or being overwhelmed by stress. They remain objective and capable of voicing their view assertively, standing up for what they believe in, without fearing conflict.

They also exhibit a keen aesthetic sense and delight in artistic pursuits, such as painting, poetry, music, and other forms of creative expression. Nines are often artistically gifted, and when they are healthy, they hone their gifts, allowing everyone to share and enjoy them, too.

9 Traits of an Unhealthy Enneagram 9

Unhealthy traits of Enneagram 9 are displayed when their capacity for dealing with their inner turmoil is drained. Still, since they tend to suppress their emotions, it usually takes a lot of time for them to start showing signs that they are falling into an unhealthy pattern.

#1. They Ignore Problems

Unhealthy Nines are ready to go to great lengths to ignore or discount their problems. They are entirely unaware of the fact that this way, they are spending way more energy than they would by confronting problems. This kind of behavior may put them in serious danger since problems never magically disappear, as they hope, but only grow bigger.

Moreover, even the slightest problems in their lives become serious challenges simply because they don’t address them appropriately and on time.

#2. They Are Apathetic

Unhealthy Nines tend to feel deeply ‘blocked’ because, for some reason, their core needs have been discounted too often or too harshly. Deep down, they don’t feel they belong anywhere and don’t feel needed, appreciated, or loved.

More importantly, they feel as though their needs will never be met and, therefore, become apathetic—nothing matters to them since they believe they can’t get what they really need.

#3. They Procrastinate

Unhealthy Nines are master procrastinators. Their procrastination is a logical consequence of the two thought patterns explained in the previous sections. So, they procrastinate either to avoid problems or because they believe it is realistically impossible to solve any issue.

Though they may seem lazy because of this, the truth is that they just don’t feel that anything makes sense, so they lack the motivation to move in any direction.

#4. They Avoid Conflicts

When we compare healthy vs. unhealthy Enneagram 9, the most obvious difference is in the way they handle conflicts. Healthy Nines move through conflicts with grace and dignity, finding a way to understand and talk to everyone. Meanwhile, unhealthy Nines either discount or avoid conflicts, at the price of seriously damaging their relationships.

In the end, both healthy and unhealthy versions of Type Nine just want to achieve peace and harmony. However, unhealthy Nines were never given the opportunity to learn that the greatest danger to peace is not conflict itself but rather the avoidance of resolving it. This is also why conflicts are so stressful for unhealthy Nines.

#5. They Indulge in Escapistic Behavior

Avoiding conflicts and ignoring problems requires some serious distraction, so Nines are prone to all kinds of escapist behaviors to support the patterns we previously described. They will seek comfort in binge-watching TV shows, endless social media scrolling, window shopping, playing video games, or similar pastimes.

While they may seem perfectly happy spending time in this way, deep down, they are devastated and hoping someone will come and save them eventually.

#6. They Are Too Complacent

Saying ‘no’ is a luxury an unhealthy Nine simply cannot afford as they are overwhelmed by their core fear of being abandoned. For this reason, they agree to things they don’t like or even find unacceptable, persist in relationships that bring them nothing but pain, and waste a lot of energy on things that are not good for them.

#7. They Are Depressed

Finally, it is safe to say that unhealthy Nines are a picture of a depressive attitude toward life. Since they don’t know how to express and fulfill their needs in a healthy way, nor do they believe their real needs could ever be met, depression inevitably knocks on their doors at some point.

However, they will rarely be depressed in the way we traditionally picture depression. They will not spend their days in bed, crying. On the contrary, they may seem careless and chill. Only those who know them well will notice that hopelessness lurks behind their indifferent, complacent smile.

#8. They Are Dependent

Typically, just before they become depressed, unhealthy Nines may display a range of codependent and dependent behaviors. They may silently suffer in unhappy relationships, become too clingy and needy, and act like they are utterly incapable of facing life on their own.

This behavior is actually their last attempt to have their needs met, but since they don’t articulate their needs in a healthy way, they usually end up feeling rejected or depressed.

Ironically, feeling abandoned and rejected is precisely what they wanted to avoid.

How Enneagram 9 Become Unhealthy

Enneagram 9 becomes unhealthy when their core fears of loss and abandonment are triggered too often or for too long. For different reasons, Nines usually faced the possibility of being abandoned and left alone very early in life when they didn’t have the capacity to be on their own.

They might have grown up in homes where there were lots of conflicts, making them feel unsafe and inadequate since they couldn’t solve them. They were completely emotionally neglected in that setting, and to survive, they had to act as if they had no needs at all so that everyone could get along.

That is how they learned that ignoring their own needs was the only way for them to avoid abandonment. So, the key to understanding why and how Enneagram Nine becomes unhealthy is to recognize why and how they grew to believe their needs and desires were not important.

Underneath every unhealthy Nine is a sensitive child who has been neglected for far too long and who just wants the world to know how hard they are trying to fit in.

3 Tips to Help Unhealthy Enneagram 9 Heal and Grow

There are many ways for an Enneagram 9 to heal and grow, but it is essential for them to decide that they want change in their lives and stop telling themselves that they are fine. Since they are very perseverant and strong despite their mellow outlook, they can stay stuck in their unhealthy patterns for a long time.

Here are some key tips they should follow to start healing:

  • Stop hoping for a savior. The big reason why Nines can stay passive for so long is that they hope someone will come and change their situation, understand them, and love them in the way that they need.

    However, even if this happened, they would quickly realize that no love coming from the outside would ever be enough. They have to understand that no one can save them unless they save themselves first.
  • Practice assertive communication. It is very hard for someone who believes their needs don’t matter to act in an assertive manner. So, while it would be ideal for Nines to understand that their needs are no less important than anyone else’s on their own, there are certain assertive communication techniques that could lead them to that realization faster.
  • Look at conflicts as a path to growth. Unlike when they were younger, when most Nines saw conflicts as a threat to family life, now is the time to realize that conflicts are merely one of the ways in which we express our differences and develop as individuals.

How to Deal with an Unhealthy Enneagram 9

Dealing with an unhealthy Enneagram 9 requires emotional maturity, patience, and deep compassion. Since Nines are one of the best Enneagram types at hiding their emotions, seeing through their careless attitude requires a capacity for delicate psychological insights.

The first and most challenging step is establishing genuine contact with an unhealthy Nine. This means you shouldn’t easily trust them when they say everything is fine. Instead, stay present and show interest in how they feel and what they need. Never scold them for procrastinating or acting lazy—they need motivation, not criticism.

When you get them to open up to you, praise their qualities, show how you believe in them, and encourage them to pursue their interests actively. You will be amazed at the transformation in their attitude once they start believing that their needs and desires can be fulfilled.

Key Takeaways

It can be very tricky to recognize an unhealthy Enneagram Type Nine personality. Unhealthy Nine is the person who gave up on their talent and pursued a secure career to avoid standing out or standing up to their parent’s wishes. They may hide under the musk of a low-ranking official in the civil service or an obedient corporate employee who refuses promotions.

Since it is so easy not to recognize when the Peacemaker is unhealthy, it is important to remember what an unhealthy Enneagram 9 looks like. Here’s a quick reminder:

  • Unhealthy Enneagram Nine is lethargic, compliant, apathetic, and passive. They completely gave up on the hope that their needs would ever be met.
  • While an Enneagram 9, when healthy, faces conflicts with grace and dignity, unhealthy Peacemakers avoid conflicts at all costs.
  • It is essential for unhealthy Nines to stop hoping that someone or something will save them from their destiny and to understand that they have the power to change everything they don’t like in their lives.
  • In dealing with an unhealthy Nine, it is essential not to criticize them but to praise their qualities and encourage them to pursue their dreams.