Enneagram 5w4: The Guide

Written by Tim Branch

If you have ever:

  1. Stayed home on a Friday night to read a book…a lot of Fridays in a row
  2. Connected deeply to an abstract piece of art no one else seems to “get”
  3. Spent 3 days thinking about one awkward 5-minute interaction
  4. Tried to override your emotions with logic
  5. Geeked out on any of the following: Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Dungeons and Dragons, Narnia, or any other fantastical world

…then you might just be a Five with a Four wing (5w4).

What is a 5w4?

Often called “The Philosopher”, Fives with a Four wing are Fives with some emotional flair.

While Fives are generally more led by their heads than their hearts, and can often detach from their feelings altogether, 5w4s have the ability to acknowledge and articulate their emotions.

Fives with a Four wing are abstract thinkers and creators who can pick apart ideas and piece them back together in insane ways that reveal new depth, wisdom, and insight.

Like other Fives, 5w4s have a deep desire to be useful and competent. They collect knowledge as a form of protection and a tool for life.

What does an Enneagram 5w4 look like?

To start, here’s a quick look at Fives and Fours, separately.

Fives are the most intellectually curious types on the Enneagram. They are high-powered thinkers who are wise, insightful, and objective.

Fives are often called the Observer because of their natural desire to learn everything about the world around them. They deeply desire to understand things, and they dive deeper into their subjects of interest than anyone else.

Fours are the deepest feelers on the Enneagram. If emotions are like a box of crayons, Fours have the 64-count box while everyone else has the 8-count.

Fours are on a mission to find their unique place in the world. Their creativity and emotional depth allow them to discover and articulate the experience of the human spirit in a way no one else can.

A 5w4 is a very curious mixture of the two—the most heavy internal thinking type, combined with the most heavy internal feeling type. And yet, those two things can sometimes feel disconnected. Feelings will sneak up on a 5w4.

The struggles of a 5w4

Fives live with the fear that there isn’t enough—enough time, enough energy, enough resources, or enough capacity. In a relational context, this can cause a Five to be guarded and prone to withdrawing and detaching.

Meanwhile, Fours often pull away from relationships because they fear abandonment. Combine those numbers together and you have a 5w4 who will find it easiest to curl up in cozy, safe isolation.

That’s not to say alone time is bad. And Five types really do need more downtime than other numbers. But humans aren’t made to be alone indefinitely, as even a 5w4 knows. Even still, engaging and being present can be very hard for a 5w4.

Because 5w4s are keenly aware of themselves, they can become very self-absorbed. They’re not trying to do so, necessarily, but because they are so self-aware and they are constantly observing everything 5w4s can begin to over-analyze their thoughts, words, and actions and spiral into self-absorption.

They can be so heavily focused on what’s going on in their minds, they neglect their own hearts and even their bodies. When they are in this state, naturally they do the same to those around them, causing issues in relationships when neglecting the hearts and minds of others as well.

All that thinking, though, is part of the 5w4’s secret superpower.

The unique gifts of a 5w4

Fives with a Four wing are curious and thoughtful observers who can see things the rest of us can’t. They are the Yodas, the Albus Dumbledores, the Rafikis…wise (quirky) thinkers with the ability to share insightful knowledge with those around them.

The Four wing in a 5w4 helps them recognize and communicate the emotions that every Five has–but is not always able to access.

A dose of Four’s emotional intelligence and depth allows a normally feelings-avoidant Five to name and sit with their feelings. This allows a 5w4 to focus not just what makes sense, which is a Five default…but also how that feels.

One of the coolest things about Fives with a Four wing is that their unique combination of a Four’s creativity with a Five’s curiosity means they are deeply abstract thinkers who can look at an idea or thought or issue from a million different angles.

They can literally see things no one else can–and come up with solutions or conclusions that are completely unique.

Fives with a 4 wing are comfortable being eccentric and unconventional. They are confident in who they are and mostly don’t care what anyone else thinks.

5w4s aren’t fenced in by the idea of “normal” or “expected” or “the way it’s done”. In fact, they delight in presenting something totally new and different.

How to grow as a 5w4

The beautiful thing about Fives is their capacity for deep, profound wisdom. Wisdom isn’t just knowing things. It’s a combination of all the things a Five does best: observing the world, ruminating on what they see, and discerning truth.

But often, this wisdom and insight are kept close to a Five’s chest. They’re afraid to step out and share themselves with the world. This can be especially true when it comes to their art–whether it be a book or song or painting.

Their fear is valid. Fives feel that they don’t have the resources or capacity to be fully engaged with the world around them, and they find it easier to keep to themselves rather than be run ragged by the demands of relationships. Self-sufficiency is the safe option.

But what would have happened to the galaxy if Yoda had said, “Ya know…I don’t have the capacity for this. Luke can figure it out on his own.”

Emperor Palpatine would still be alive, for sure.

Now, I’m not saying it’s your job to save the galaxy.

What I am saying is that when you share your ideas and thoughts, the world becomes a better place. You have something unique to offer. When you speak, people listen. You have the unique ability to breathe wisdom and peace into dark places because you have a carefully cultivated mind wired to see things differently.

I know it’s scary to step out of your safe place and into the world. I know you take pride in your ability to take care of yourself and be totally self-sufficient. You may think that you’re better off alone.

But is anyone actually self-sufficient? Not really. We need each other. You need people and, guess what? They need you too.

The only way to step into authentic relationships is to allow yourself to be vulnerable. Being willing to engage with your feelings, then being willing to share your feelings with others, is a scary ask for a 5w4. But there is great strength in vulnerability.

Start here: try telling one trusted person one thing you’re struggling with. See what happens. You may be surprised by how good it feels.

The truth is, your needs are not a problem for the people who care for you.

When a 5w4 is able to let go of the scarcity mentality, they are able to finally let go of their fear and step into the world as their full selves. They gain the power to balance observing the world and participating in it, as well as the ability to cultivate deep, meaningful relationships.

A 5w4’s gift of wisdom flourishes and grows exponentially and they enrich their community with their seemingly endless fountain of wisdom and insight.

If you want to dig deeper into the truth about who you were created to be, check out this super in-depth post about how Fives can grow.

More resources

On the other side of Five is a 5w6. Fives with a Six wing are analytical, practical, and fantastic troubleshooters. They are often introverted but are also fiercely loyal to their closest people. They are organized problem solvers with a deep desire to be competent so they can be useful to their community.

To learn more about yourself as a Five and how your Four wing may present itself, check out my guides to Type Fives and Type Fours.

And lastly—if you want to dive deeper into what it looks like to grow in your Enneagram type, check out The Enneagram Growth Guide, which you can download for free.

This is a guide with a Christian perspective—it’ll show you how to overcome the struggles and temptations of your number, discover the incredible gifts hidden inside you, and use that knowledge to go deeper in your relationship with God. You can grab a free copy by clicking this link.