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Enneagram type 5s are well-known for their avarice, their fundamental belief that resources are scarce. Avarice is the vice of type 5, which refers to stinginess or the hoarding of resources in this case. 5s can be very frugal about most things, but in response to this, they tend to hoard what they believe they will lose (and never replenish) if they don’t.
You might see a 5 with money stuffed in a drawer, or cans stacked up in the pantry for when the apocalypse happens. Or your 5 may refuse to spend time with you out of fear that they are running out of time. They may hoard knowledge and not share much of themselves. It’s annoying, frustrating, and at times debilitating for them and others. So what’s behind it?
First of all, this has a lot to do with one’s psychological level of health. According to Riso and Hudson in Personality Types: Using the Enneagram for Self-Discovery, our level of development plays a huge role in how our type manifests. Type 5s are withdrawn types, meaning that as they get less healthy, they pull away from the world and more and more into their own minds. It’s a self-preserving mechanism that convinces the 5 they are safest in their own heads and away from the threatening outer world. The problem with this is obvious. It leads 5s down a path of delusion. The more they lose touch with the outside world, the more they lose touch with reality, which is a driving fear for them. Thus, the cycle perpetuates itself and the world (which at this point consists of a delusional landscape) becomes truly threatening to them.
But what about average 5s? Those who have their heads on their shoulders, for the most part, and are able to maintain a hold on their place in society? We still struggle with avarice too. We struggle with feeling like we have enough and this can create protective and withdrawn behaviors. It might start small but can grow with anxiety or stress. If we let it go too far, we might find ourselves slipping into unhealthy levels of development and cutting out everything and everyone who can help us.
For an introvert, the outer world can be pretty draining. What charges my batteries? Hours spent focusing on a project or deep conversations exploring interesting topics. What drains my batteries? Constantly having to shift focus between people and things in my environment. That leads me to hoarding behaviors: hoarding my time, counting the hour down to seconds, measuring exactly how much water is left in the glass. I take glass half empty to a lifestyle level.
I think it’s because 5s (and 6s, so especially 5w6s) can follow things to their logical conclusion. Unhealthy 5s get sucked into nihilism and bleakness. Whereas other types, in their unhealthy states, cling further and more desperately to people, things, or status, unhealthy 5s see no value or point in anchoring into anything at that level. All knowledge leads to the same inevitable conclusion: there is nothing and we are nothing. All things die. All things must end. And thus, our orientation towards scarcity is born.
But what if we’ve been looking at this the wrong way? What if intrusions to our precious energy and resources aren’t really intrusions, because our energy is renewable? Resources are renewable? Things come and go in cycles. They do go, but they always come as well. What if 5s felt like their lack was actually an abundance? That what gets taken away can always be replaced? What would 5s do then?
I think I would relax more. Too often in my life I’ve focused on risk and lack: never enough money, always worrying about the threat of not being able to make ends meet, etc. I’ve spent so much time focusing on that that I haven’t taken the time to appreciate what I have been given in life. Being risk-minded can be smart, but not when you’re looking for threats all the time. 5s have to work to turn that off, to feel safe and find abundance in their lives.
So, as the Enneagram experts recommend: what can you do to let go of this tendency today? What can you share or open up to? What can you experience that will show you that you are safe and your resources won’t be drained eternally?
Don’t worry, it’s a struggle for me too. I’m trying. But that’s what the Enneagram is for, showing you where you need to heal and giving you the tools.