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All the Details about Healthy and Unhealthy Behavior Patterns of Enneagram 3

All the Details about Healthy and Unhealthy Behavior Patterns of Enneagram 3

Updated on Jan 10, 2023 | Published on Jan 03, 2023

Reviewed by Dr. Nereida Gonzalez-Berrios, MD , Certified Psychiatrist

All the Details about Healthy and Unhealthy Behavior Patterns of Enneagram 3

The healthy and unhealthy behavior patterns of enneagram 3 reveal that these types are driven by excellence and achievement. They are enterprising and prefer to take up all sorts of challenges in life. They are always good at getting things done, however, they may have trouble accessing their own feelings at times. In such times, unhealthy behavior patterns may start showing up in their everyday life.

Enneagram 3 believes that they will be known for the work they do in this world. Therefore they prefer to remain ahead of others all the time. For them, success is pride and accomplishment. If they are not succeeding, it means they are not worthy. With this mindset, enneagram 3s turn into unhealthy practices of criticizing, blaming, and correcting others for the situations that went awful in their day-to-day life.

Threes are goal-directed, ambitious, and seekers of truth in their healthy state of existence. When they are psychologically unhealthy, their overachievement need can make them arrogant and abusive. They may show workaholic tendencies just to get praise from others. In a way, they behave in odd ways that are harsh and not socially acceptable.

Let’s learn more about their healthy and unhealthy psychological patterns here…


Healthy and Unhealthy Behavior Patterns of Enneagram 3

The Riso-Hudson Test Indicator or the RHETI is a common personality testing tool. This test divides the human personality into nine different types. We call these the Enneagram personality types.

The name “Enneagram” comes from the Greek language. “Ennea” means the number nine, while “gramma” means something that is drawn. These nine different personality types are interconnected to each other, which can be drawn like a map. This explains the origin behind the name Enneagram.

We have often observed that some people of a particular personality type tend to be wise and exceptional. On the other hand, some are obnoxious in nature. The manner in which an individual of an Enneagram type behaves will depend a lot on the level of health of that particular person. 

For example, a person of the healthy Enneagram 1 type is more oriented to social justice and integrity, whereas, on the other hand, a person of the unhealthy Enneagram 1 type is critical and nitpicky.

In today’s article, we will discuss in detail the healthy and unhealthy behavior patterns of Enneagram 3s. But before that, we need to have a basic idea of what these healthy levels and unhealthy levels mean.

Don Riso from the Enneagram Institute put forward the concept of Levels of Development. He described that these levels are a measure of one’s consciousness. Experts use these levels to understand the level of health within an Enneagram type. In simple words, it gives an idea about a person’s identification with their personality structure.

Riso proposed nine such levels of development. Modern researchers generally group these into three levels. They are, as follows:

  1. Healthy level: It involves the high-functioning aspects of each personality type.
  2. Average level: It involves normal behaviors of each type.
  3. Unhealthy level: It involves dysfunctional manifestations of each type.

Now let us see what these mean in the context of the Enneagram type 3 personalities.


Healthy Enneagram 3s

Every Enneagram personality type has one basic fear and a basic desire. This fear and motivation together control the characteristics and behaviors of each personality type. For Enneagram 3s, this fear is an intense fear of failure. Their basic motivation in life is to get the appreciation of others. They want to feel valuable and loved.

According to a survey by the website Truity, about 11% of the general population has an Enneagram 3 personality type. Many famous people worldwide have an Enneagram 3 type of personality, such as famous actors Tom Cruise and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Record-selling musicians Elvis Presley, Madonna, Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, and Lady Gaga are also Enneagram type 3s.

In general, Enneagram type 3s are result-oriented and goal-oriented individuals. They like setting goals for themselves, and then they work hard to achieve their goals.

Healthy Enneagram type 3s is self-assured and confident. One of the key things about them is their authenticity. They do not believe in having a façade of themselves. Deep inside, they are the same person that appears outside.

Healthy Enneagram 3s have a high energy level. They are always proactive, and they hate sitting idle. They want to keep themselves engaged at all times. In some cases, they may be so engrossed with the work that they forget to relax or take a breather. This may interrupt their work-life balance.

Healthy types always want to be the best version of themselves. Type 3s are quite image-conscious, like most other Enneagram 3s.

They want to portray the best they can be and also act the same way. They are kind, compassionate, and generous. In their work environments, they promote a sense of collaboration. 

They always want people to work together towards a common goal. Healthy Enneagram 3s desire to be a role model for others. They hope that they can inspire the people around them to strive for success just like they do.

Characteristics of healthy enneagram 3s

Some of the chief characteristics of enneagram 3 are as follows:

  • Enneagram 3s in their healthy state of existence are self-directed and secure. They know their assets and liabilities better than anyone else.
  • They are more accepting of themselves, always self-assured and confident of their abilities.
  • These individuals are helpful buddies.
  • They are humble and modest in social setups.
  • Has a good sense of humor.
  • Energetic and has no self-pity. 
  • Enneagram 3s can adapt themselves to changing circumstances. They are flexible and easygoing in situations that demand such behavior.
  • They’re ambitious, and focused on becoming the best version of themselves.

Unhealthy Enneagram 3s

In an unhealthy Enneagram 3, the fear of failure becomes dominant. This fear takes control of their entire personality.

Unhealthy type 3 individuals are often desperate in their actions. These people are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve success and avoid failure.

Type 3s want to maintain a good image of themselves in the eyes of other people at all costs.at times, they may even sabotage other people’s work or betray them in order to get ahead.

These individuals often become jealous of other people’s success. They are mean-minded and do not trust others.

In extreme cases, unhealthy Enneagram type 3s may display psychopathic behavior. Their behaviors may correspond with cases of narcissistic personality disorder.

Characteristics of unhealthy 3s

The primary characteristics of unhealthy 3s are as follows:

  • Unhealthy threes will have an intense fear of failure. They will hate setbacks more than anything else.
  • They may turn into opportunistic tendencies if things do not work out as per their choices and preferences. 
  • The unhealthy 3 can harm the reputation of others in order to keep their own self-image neat and clean.
  • Tends to exploit others to meet their own needs and interests.
  • They’re deceptive and hide their mistake from getting revealed to the public.
  • Lacks a trustworthy nature, and may deceive others just to safeguard their image-conscious ‘self’.
  • Feels jealous of others’ achievements.
  • Resentful and vindictive at times when situations turn away from their side.
  • They can destroy the happiness, and social image of others just out of wrath and jealousy.
  • The unhealthy 3 is scheming and self-involved.

Average Enneagram 3s

The traits of the average Enneagram type 3 fall midway between the healthy and unhealthy types. 

They have a strong fear of failure. For this reason, they always keep trying to do their best in every task that they do. But at the same time, they keep worrying that they are not doing enough. Oftentimes, this leads to performance anxiety. It may also impact their ability to succeed.

Average Enneagram 3s are image-conscious to an extreme level. They often maintain a phony version of themselves that they present to the rest of the world to see. In the course of doing this, they often lose touch with their own true self. They are quite concerned with what goes on in social media. They often tend to be quite show-offish and exhibitionist.

Characteristics of Average enneagram 3

The average 3 looks like the following:

  • Too bothered about performance and success.
  • The average 3 is an achiever and it’s obvious that they will never settle for anything less than excellence.
  • Wishes to become the best in everything they would be doing.
  • They are social climbers and achievers from all ends.
  • An average type 3 always wants social praise. They prefer to be talked about in social setups.
  • They are realistic and practical-minded.
  •  Highly conscious of their self-image.
  • Sometimes, they may hold high opinions about their talents and abilities. Shows pride and arrogance as well/
  • Loses touch with feelings and emotions, and appears distant and cold as far as feelings are concerned.
  • Jealous of the achievements of others.
  • Craves public attention.
  • Tries to impress and please others even when it is not required.
  • Gets busy promoting oneself with grandiose feelings, just to get the much-needed attention, otherwise feels low about one’s worth.

To Sum Up 

In this article, we have discussed the healthy, unhealthy, and average levels of the Enneagram 3 personality types. Healthy individuals are kind and compassionate. They believe in collaboration and harmony among everyone. They want to become a role model and inspire everyone through their work. 

Unhealthy type 3s are excessively achievement-oriented. They are often willing to do whatever it takes to avoid failure. 

They would even be willing to betray or sabotage others to achieve success. The traits of the average type 3 fall midway between both types. They are image-conscious and often portray a different version of themselves to others.