Enneagram Type 4: The Individualist

Written by Tim Branch

Type 4: The Individualist

Original Design: With their gift of emotional receptivity, they dive deep into intimacy with God — and come back with pearls the rest of us get to enjoy.

Recognizing a relationship with God is extraordinary, they don’t settle for an ordinary love. And they’re equipped with boundless creativity, which helps them reveal the depth of that love to their community.

Desire: To be deeply loved as their authentic self.

Motivation: To be unique, special, and authentic.

Fear: “Fear of being without identity or individual significance.”

Sin: Envy. Fours feel they were born with a fundamental part of themselves missing, and everyone else has it. This can cause them to believe they are harder to love.

What they long to believe: You are enough.

Enneagram 4 at a Glance

Fours are warm, receptive, and prioritize listening to their emotions — even the sad ones. They’re on a mission to discover what makes them special and different from the rest of the world.

They often feel like something is missing in them that everyone else has. In order to get the love they crave, they work to build their identity based on their uniqueness.

They have a remarkable gift of emotional depth — which, combined with their creativity, gives them the ability to articulate the experience of the human spirit in a way no other type can.

You Might Be an Enneagram 4 if:

  1. You’re incredibly unique, and you love that about yourself.
  2. Because of your wide range of emotions, you regularly find yourself in conflict with others.
  3. You are deeply creative, authentic, and emotionally strong.
  4. You often feel sad, but you aren’t looking to be encouraged. You prefer to sit in your sadness until it passes.
  5. You’re often nostalgic, and you like the unresolved feelings it stirs up.
  6. You love to express yourself emotionally and creatively — and yet, it rarely ever truly makes you feel understood.
  7. You feel you lack a piece of yourself that everyone else possesses.
  8. You are deeply empathetic. You’re not afraid to sit with someone who’s struggling, and you don’t feel the need to offer a quick fix.
  9. You find small talk nearly intolerable. Honesty and depth is crucial for growth in any relationship.

How They Work

Enneagram 4’s are some of the deepest, most empathetic, and most creative people on the planet.

If you’ve ever heard the lyrics of a powerful song and thought, “Wow, I’ve never thought of it that way…” you might have been hearing something that came from the heart of a Four.

Fours are the deepest feelers on the Enneagram. Their feelings are strong, vivid, and come in all shapes and sizes. They’re also remarkably receptive to the emotions of others.

It’s like they color with a 64-count box of emotional crayons, while the rest of us only use 16.

They have a way of showing the rest of us emotional colors we haven’t quite seen before — which is one of the many reasons they thrive as artists, musicians, and writers.

One of the most defining characteristics of a Four: They are on a constant quest to understand who they are and what makes them unique, in order to find where they belong.

They put so much energy into feeling their emotions because their feelings are something of an identifier for them — more than just what they feel, but who they are.

Many Fours will do anything to feel, even if the feeling is negative. To them, sad emotions reveal what it means to be human.

Which is why Fours have a reputation for sitting in melancholy, listening to sad songs, and watching movies that leave them feeling unresolved.

A Four’s search for identity often originates from the deep feeling that they’re missing something important that everyone else has.

They feel different, and yet at the same time they feel that they have a special “something” that makes them unique and extraordinary.

The combination of the two often leaves them feeling utterly different and sometimes weird. They feel “not enough”…but at the same time, they feel like one day they’ll be discovered for their unique qualities.

A Four’s deepest desire is to be fully known and fully loved for who they truly are. So they build an identity based on being special, different from everyone else, in order to earn love and belonging from the rest of the world.

They want to be anything but ordinary.

But so often, others don’t see the beauty of their individuality in the same way they do. So they walk through much of life feeling misunderstood. Even weird.

So they idealize relationships and friendships, looking for the ultimate relationship to finally solve the “missing piece” in their life.

But when it doesn’t work out, it can become yet another piece of evidence to them that they’re defective and/or hopeless.

How The Enneagram 4 Reflects God

If you’re a Four, know this:

Whether you see it or not, even your greatest weakness is just the “dark side” of one of the best things about you.

Meaning, your weaknesses are twisted versions of the image of God within you — parts of you that were originally designed to be wonderful.

And God’s big plan is to renew those things in you — to help you reclaim your God-given gifts. So don’t beat yourself up for qualities inside you that might look imperfect right now. They were actually meant for good.

And the closer you get to your original design, the more you reflect God in an incredible way.

God gave Fours His passion for the original and the extraordinary. God never creates the same person twice.

He puts a unique bit of Himself into each of us. Each of us is extraordinary — and is called to step into an extraordinary journey. Fours have the eyes to see it.

Fours also share God’s passion for authenticity and true emotional honesty. They know that when we’re honest about where we truly are, God meets us exactly where we are.

But the beautiful root of a Four’s longing to be special is a deep hunger for perfect love — the wonderful love that God offers to each of us. That desire was placed there by God because he longs to fill it.

I’ve heard it said that God created humanity out of the overflow of His heart. That the dance happening within the Trinity was so vibrant and full, it had to spill over into creation of people who would share that love with Him.

Fours have a special sense for that boundless love.

So often, words can’t even begin to describe it.

But Fours have a way of articulating their sweetest moments with God in such a way that the rest of us see God’s heart more clearly. They bring the extraordinary love of heaven to earth. They make it more concrete.

Fours are remarkably open and receptive by nature — and that openness is what allows them to be moved and changed by God.

They help us understand what Jesus might’ve meant when he said, “I am in the Father and the Father is in me,” and “May they also be in us.”

There’s a level of unity that transcends this world — and yet, a Four is well-equipped to dive as deep as we can go in this world to understand it.

Spiritually healthy Fours dive deep into intimacy with God. And then they swim back up with pearls that the rest of us get to enjoy too.

Where it Goes Wrong

A Four’s longing to be fully known and fully loved was intended to pull them into a perfect intimacy with the Lord.

But because the world is broken, and people are sinful, it’s easy for a Four to get disconnected from that life source.

And in the absence of God’s love, a Four will naturally start running after the affections of other people.

The lie they most often hear says, “You have to be special in order to be loved.”

This causes them to use their uniqueness as a measuring stick for their value. Here’s where it often starts:

A Four may remember when they experienced their first moment of love, connection, and feeling of true belonging with another. It felt good to be deeply known and deeply loved. It was love how love should be.

But then, it ended.

The only thing left was a gaping hole where this “perfect” relationship existed. They felt abandoned and alone, disconnected from the source that once gave them life.

“Why would they leave, when what we had was so good?”

“I must not be good enough.”

A Four is acutely aware that they’re different from other people. This becomes both a point of pride and also insecurity. But in this case, their mind immediately goes to what they don’t have.

This leads a Four to their core struggle: Envy. “Others have something I’m missing.”

Envy is a response to the pain of feeling not enough. If they only had that one thing or quality or trait, they tell themselves, they would be happy.

Ultimately, this leads them to obsess over trying to show the world their uniqueness in a way that will finally earn them the “perfect love” they were designed for — the relationship will finally “complete them.”

But they search for it in relationship with another person.

And that’s where the image of God — their depth, their desire for perfect love, their passion for uniqueness — gets twisted into something it was never intended to be.

Why They Embrace Their Burden

What we don’t realize is that we’re actually holding onto our twisted gifts, because we believe they’re actually helping us.

And that’s why we’re so afraid to let go of them.

In the Four’s case, they lean on their Envy and their uniqueness as a way to gain the love they so deeply long for.

A Four’s fear says, “You are an outcast. See everything you’re missing? If you just had that, you’d be happy. But maybe you can turn your differences into a good thing. I’ll show you how you can use them to your advantage. I’ll make you worthy of love because of your differences.”

And that’s what compels a Four to try to create a unique identity as a means of performance…believing that will make them special, so they can finally earn the love they so desperately seek.

This can lead to a couple different defense mechanisms:

  1. Self-absorption. The Four will obsess over understanding what makes them stand out, in an attempt to earn love.
  1. Elitism. When they feel rejected, they’ll protect themselves with: “It’s okay. I’m different. They wouldn’t understand anyway. They’re just normal.”

But both of these things feed the lie that they don’t deserve love unless they’re special enough, and that they are unlovable as they are.

The reason it’s so tempting is because this seemingly empowers the Four to change how valuable they are. If they can discover what makes them special, then maybe others will love them for it.

But that also means they’re trying to earn their value.

They’ve defined themselves by what they do. And when that’s their measuring stick, the Four becomes incapable of loving themselves or accepting the love of anyone who loves them as they are.

And they’ll never find the perfect love they’re searching for — because perfect love has nothing to do with you being enough.

At Their Worst / Where does it end up?

The longer this continues, the more hurt and shame a 4 feels. They’ll never be able to do enough to feel truly loved and accepted.

When they listen to the voices that say, “you’re not enough,” it leads them to a dark place.

The fear of being ordinary festers. Anytime life feels ordinary, they feel like a failure.

Chores, family obligations, 9-5 work life…it all depresses them, because they want anything but “normal.” Because “normal” to them means “not enough.”

So they just keep trying to become special enough to deserve an extraordinary love and an extraordinary life, while longing for a love they fear they don’t deserve.

Where does this end up?

Since a Four already has a tendency to enjoy sitting in dark feelings, they can easily spiral into deep, lasting periods of depression, self-pity, or even self-hatred.

Their feelings can get hurt easily. A victim mentality can take hold. And soon, other people feel like they have to walk on eggshells around them.

Their gift of emotional receptivity gets hijacked — and they become like a boat in the ocean, tossed around by every emotional wave that hits.

Eventually, they begin to lose faith in the truth of who they are.

The great irony is that in their desperate attempt at finding their identity so that they can be worthy of love…they lose their true identity — one in which they already have what they long for:

Being fully known and fully loved by their creator, for exactly who they are.

But that’s the redemptive beauty of a Four’s original design: Their desire to be special and to dive into the depths of their emotional life were originally intended to be beautiful.

At their core, they long to experience the adventure God has called them on — one wrought with excitement, peril, discovery, and a love so powerful it transcends this earth.

They long to uncover the secrets God hid in the cracks and crevices of “normal.”

All these things are innately wonderful.

But a Four fights a battle of “enough.” Can they fully believe in what God says about them, rather than what all the other voices say about them? Or will they measure themselves by other people?

Unless they stop embracing the idea that originality is the source of their value, they’ll never be able to move away from the lie that their deepest self is unlovable.

What Does it Look Like for an Enneagram Four to Grow?

As a Four, a focus on what you’re missing is what pulls you away from the path toward wholeness.

It’s so easy to fall into the romanticization of all life could or should be. This is one of the most beautiful and difficult things about being an Enneagram Four — romanticizing the perfect job, perfect family, or perfect life.

When those expectations come crumbling down (as they most often do), the disappointment and shame can feel overwhelming.

But what if you already have everything you need, right now?

Your inner voices will keep trying to convince you that life isn’t enough because you aren’t enough. And if you were, you’d have what you long for. This is how Envy keeps you focused on what you don’t have.

The same deceptive voice that reminds you that every other person was born with something you lack…will also attempt to remind you that you are too “ordinary” to be special or worthy of such a seamless life.

It’s so easy to feel broken, unable to be fixed. In your darker moments, you may even allow yourself to think, How could a person like me ever deserve the love and adventure I long for?

For a Four…that feels like a death sentence.

But God has a LOT to say in response to this. And the best way I know to describe it is by telling you this quick story my dad (a Four) used to tell me about what God’s love looks like:

Surgeon and writer Dr. Richard Seltzer, in his book Mortal Lessons: Notes on the Art of Surgery, recalled a time when he had to operate on a young woman whose smile was destroyed forever by a tumor in her cheek.

In order to get the tumor out, he had to cut the nerve that controlled one side of her mouth.

Which meant she was going to have a crooked, drooping smile for the rest of her life.

After the surgery, he watched her eyes well up as she looked in the mirror.

“Will my mouth always be like this?”

“Yes, the nerve had to be cut.”

She silently nodded.

Her husband was in the room, too. But he began to smile.

“I like it — it’s kind of cute.”

The surgeon then experienced something he’d remember forever.

The husband bent down to kiss her.

And as he did, the surgeon was just close enough to notice the husband ever-so-slightly twisting his own lips to fit with hers. Because he wanted to show her that their kiss still worked.

Maybe you feel hopelessly flawed, or maybe you’re desperately searching for somewhere you belong.

Maybe you feel like something is fatally wrong with you, something that will keep you from ever having the life and the love you so deeply desire.

God longs to show you that His kiss still works.

His love has nothing to do with who you are. It has everything to do with whose you are.

It’s a love that says, “I don’t love you because you’re beautiful. You’re beautiful because I love you.”

If only you knew how special you are to your creator — how He longs for you, longs to be close to you, longs to show you what it means to truly belong.

The entirety of the Bible is His love letter to you, desperately trying to prove to you what’s true about you, and how head-over-heels He is for you.

But to truly grasp this, you’ll have to let go of your other measuring sticks that you’re using to decide how worthy you are of love.

The core lie of a Four is that your value is defined by how special you are.

But no amount of originality will ever make you worthy enough. The moment someone makes you feel insufficient, you’ll be right back to the emptiness and shame.

The longer you chase that to fill the void in your heart, the more empty you’ll feel.

According to Fours who’ve spent a lifetime chasing their identity, trying to find it in their uniqueness or in a relationship they thought would complete them…it’s a road that leads to nowhere.

As long as you believe something is fatally wrong with you, and you’re focused on what’s missing, you’ll never be able to look inside yourself and see the beauty of what God created — or realize what He’s already offering you.

If God was going to write you a letter that takes direct aim at these lies, it might go something like this:

“You are my Beloved, a completely original expression of my beauty and love. Just as you are, you are priceless. You were fearfully and wonderfully made. I created you exactly how I wanted to. And I so deeply long for intimacy with you — without you having to be anything different than the sweet person you always have been. I long for you to dive headfirst into my perfect love. I long for you to see that the one you’ve always imagined would complete you, is me. Because I truly do complete you. You will find everything you need inside yourself. Because I live inside of you.”

The Pathway to Becoming Who You Were Created to Be

Once you stop focusing so hard on what you’re missing, you’ll begin to realize everything you need is within you already. And God is calling you to step into the amazing story you were made for.

But this doesn’t typically happen overnight.

So what does it look like to embark on this journey?

1. Shift your focus from what’s missing to what you already have.

Your natural tendency is to focus on what you don’t have.

“That person has the job I want.”

“That person has the relationship I want.”

“I wish I could be as magnetic as him.”

“I wish I could sing like her.”

The problem is, when you do that, you completely ignore the beauty in your own life. Chances are, there’s someone out there who’s jealous of what you have, too.

What do you have to be thankful for?

I know this might sound annoying. But there is something extremely powerful that happens when you choose gratefulness.

A mentor of mine once told me, “The password is thank you.”

There’s something powerful in those words.

Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!”

Thankfulness does something wonderful in our spirits. It shakes us out of our smaller stories. It reminds us that there’s a bigger, more epic story going on — and we’re invited to be a part of it.

You have total control over what you choose to focus on. By focusing on what you don’t have, you put yourself in an unhealthy place. By focusing on what you DO have, you give yourself the power to change your emotional health.

Practice shifting your focus. You’ll notice there are a million things God has given you. As you learn to be grateful for them, you’ll gain power over your Envy.

Try keeping a Gratitude journal, and add at least 5 things to it every morning. Try adding an additional one every day until you get to 20.

This will force your mind to change direction and give you freedom from the shame and disappointment of what’s missing.

Another powerful habit is to go out of your way to find things you love about people, instead of becoming bitter about something they have.

As a Four, you have a remarkable gift of love. You have the power to love others by building them up, based on what you see in them. Don’t squander that gift.

The secret to doing that? Get control over the thought patterns that cause you to tell yourself, “If I just had that, I’d be happy.”

Notice you have a tendency to tell yourself a lie that you’ll only be complete if you have the next thing. Because the truth is, if your mind is there, you’ll never be happy.

But that also means, once you’ve changed perspective, you’ll realize you’re already completeand you can have the inner life you long for right now.

2. Notice the wonderful story you can step into.

When you hate your own story, it’s easy to gravitate toward other fantasy stories — Star Wars, or Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter — where someone finds a hidden power that makes them special, then goes on an epic adventure.

Moments like when Hagrid reveals to Harry Potter, “You’re a wizard, Harry” are captivating for a Four. They live vicariously through these moments when something extraordinary has been discovered inside a character.

Moments like that awaken something inside you because they hold the key to a new existence — one where you’re more than just “normal.”

It’s easy for Fours to live vicariously through those stories. Because it’s an escape from the ordinary. Even if it’s just in your imagination.

Meanwhile, as your focus shifts back to reality, you realize all these things are so painfully out of reach in your own life.

If only you knew that what you’re longing for — that moment when Harry discovers he’s a wizard, that moment when Luke realizes he’s a Jedi — is already a part of your story.

The most powerful realization for a Four who idealizes and escapes into fantasy stories, is that God is already at work awakening the hidden wonders that currently sleep inside you.

You are exactly what you long to be: uniquely valuable, infinitely special.

God put a unique version of Himself inside each of us, and Fours have a special version of that image. It’s a light in this world that no one will ever see again.

You don’t need a certain quality of feelings every day in order to live a great story. There’s already a special, original story being written for you — and in order to step into it, all you have to do is take His hand.

3. Find your identity in Christ, not in being special or extraordinary.

Despite the fact that an amazing story has already been written for you…here’s another huge truth you need to know:

Your value and your worthiness of love does NOT come from how unique and special you are — or how “ordinary” or “extraordinary” your story is.

I can’t tell you how much it bothered me when my life was ordinary, before God gave me a love for ordinary moments.

Strangely enough, He used a Lord of the Rings quote to begin that change inside me.

Yep, Lord of the Rings — the epic novel series that features characters whose journeys are anything but ordinary.

Here’s a line from Gandalf that I’ll remember forever:

“Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.”

There’s something powerful in the ordinary.

There’s something special about the small.

Just look at the way Jesus came into the world.

He didn’t do it with trumpets or fanfare. Jesus was born into filth to two poor parents. He literally didn’t even have a room when he was born.

Jesus was born into a food trough made for farm animals. He became a carpenter as an adult.

Jesus spent so much of his earthly life soaking in the “ordinary.”


There’s something special about ordinary.

Question is…are you open to seeing the beauty?

As a Four, you have such a profound ability to appreciate the beauty in melancholy and darkness and sadness, where most people run from it.

So why not “ordinary?” It’s time to add that word to your list. Look for the beauty in that word.

Learn to love the small everyday deeds, like chores, your job, and administrative tasks.

I can tell you with certainty, God will show you the beauty there if you’ll allow it.

4. Notice that you are not your feelings.

Often with a type Four personality, it’s not only easy to find a false identity in being special, it’s also incredibly easy to find a false identity in your feelings.

But your feelings aren’t you. You are so much more than your feelings.

If you allow yourself to believe your identity is based on your feelings, you become a slave to them. You’re forced to try and feel in order to feel a sense of self.

It traps you in the past, always looking at what went wrong, and feeling all the emotions that come with that.

Instead, realize your identity comes from God. You have divine genes — you were made uniquely in his image. You reflect something about God that no one else does.

5. Notice that everything you need is already inside you.

For just a moment, try to remember the first time you ever felt a deep love and connection with someone — and then watched them leave. It hurt, didn’t it?

When it was ripped away, you felt abandoned.

Even if the loss was caused by death, you still wondered what was wrong with you that would cause them to leave. Once they were gone, you began your search to find that love and connection again.

Much of the story of the Four is trying to deal with the “perfect love” that was lost. You’ll search far and wide, trying to find the right relationship that will make you feel that way again.

But as you get to know yourself better, you’ll realize it wasn’t that relationship that made you come alive.

It was YOUR innate ability to connect with someone.

Meaning, the thing you most long for, is already inside you.

You can create that beautiful relationship again simply by remaining open to another person. And more importantly, remaining open to God.

That’s one of the gifts God has given you — and it’s a gift he wants you to use with Him.

He made you open so that He could come connect with you, be a part of you, finally make you feel complete, then use you to share His love with others.

The Ultimate Individualist

As a Four steps into their original design, they’re able to see that God completes them.

Envy no longer keeps them focused on what’s missing. They finally see themselves as worthy of love, when they find their identity in their Creator.

This frees them from self-absorption, and allows them to participate in the great and wonderful love story that God has been planning between the Four and Himself.

Because they realize their inherent value, and are secure in their identity, they’re able to focus their gifts of love and openness and kindness fully on others.

This allows them to care for others in a remarkable way. They’re able to lend others their feelings.

They can feel the pain of others and share in their grief. They can make people feel deeply understood — and from that place, counsel them with amazing power.

This creates the kind of safe space other people desperately need in order to discover the truth of who they really are.

Fours reveal the human experience to others in a way we haven’t seen, and they can do it from the standpoint of generosity, rather than painfully longing for what’s missing.

A redeemed Four has the power to shine a light into the darkness — and help the rest of us see who we truly are…and who we are meant to become.