Enneagram Type 7 Guide: The Enthusiast

Written by Tim Branch

Original Design: Sevens use their gift of Joy to inspire and bring hope to the Body of Christ. Their enthusiasm and love of fun reflects the heart of God. And as they grow, they learn to also be present with hardship and sadness—without their joy being extinguished. They show us how adventurous and exciting God really is.

Desire: To experience as much happiness and excitement as possible.

Fear: Being “tied down,” or forced to experience negative things.

Sin: Gluttony. In an attempt to escape darkness and depression, they run toward fun, happiness, and excitement—believing they can outrun the negative things in their life. This creates a constant craving for more fun, more happiness, more excitement.

What they long to believe: “You are free.”

Enneagram Type 7 at a Glance

Sevens are joyous, excitable, and ready to have an adventure at the drop of a hat. Their attention lies in the future, anticipating the “next great thing.” They will often use anticipation as a way to run from pain. Most Sevens struggle to confront their negative emotions—but if they can learn to be fully present with pain, their spiritual gift of Joy flourishes even more.

You Might Be a 7 if:

  1. You consistently find yourself thinking about the next exciting thing coming up.
  2. You hate feeling “locked in” or “tied down.” You’d rather keep your options open.
  3. People say you’re one of their most enthusiastic friends.
  4. You jump from one thing to the next—and sometimes it’s hard for friends to keep up.
  5. When things get hard, you’d rather leave than sit in it.
  6. You’re great at seeing the bright side. You can find a silver lining in just about anything.
  7. When it comes to projects—you either don’t care, or you’re all in.
  8. You love variety, and too much of the same thing gets boring.
  9. Childhood was frustrating for you because of all the limitations. Once you had your way, you decided you were going to give yourself whatever you wanted.
  10. You experience massive FOMO when someone else is doing something fun and you’re not.

How Enneagram 7s Work

Sevens are known as the most fun-loving type on the enneagram. Their zest for life and for new experiences is second to none.

I know Sevens who somehow find a way to make it to every fun event in the city. Cool concert? They’ve got a ticket. Two different friend groups holding bonfires on the same night? They’ll be at both. That 8-course meal/magic show/nonprofit fundraiser event? They brought 5 friends.

We call Sevens the enthusiast because their main positive emotion is joy. When they walk into a room, they bring a bright energy and excitement with them—and it’s infectious.

They have what many describe as “anticipatory thinking.” They’re always looking ahead at the next fun thing. Because of this, they’re quick-witted and can come up with funny things on the fly.

The drawback of anticipatory thinking, though, is that Sevens get so preoccupied with “the next thing” that they struggle to be present in the moment they’re already in.

Under this anticipation is the deep desire to distract from negative feelings. Sevens will do anything to distract themselves from negative feelings and only feel positive ones. So if the current moment doesn’t live up to their high expectations, they’ve already moved onto the next one in their minds.

I heard a Seven speak on a panel one time. The enneagram coach asked her, “How’s life?” She smiled really big and said, “Life is good!” Then, she paused. You could see her tear up. Then she said, “And I really don’t want it to be bad.

And that’s one of the most important points about Sevens: Their running toward pleasure is typically more about running away from pain.

Sevens are constantly tempted to fill their lives with fun and excitement so they don’t have to feel fear or shame.

They might call it “boredom,” but more often it’s the fear of stopping—because stopping would mean they have to let the things they’re running from catch up to them. Pain, fear, feelings of being trapped.

One of the most common defense mechanisms Sevens use to avoid these things is looking at the bright side. Instead of feeling sadness or grief, they’ll find a silver lining that they can use as an escape hatch.

“See, the great thing about getting fired is now I can focus on my dream career. This is the best thing that ever happened to me!”

For instance, instead of feeling the loss of a relationship, they may just make a dramatic life change to distract themselves from it.

“This city is boring. I need to move away and experience something new.”

How Enneagram 7s Reflect God

If you’re a Seven, know this:

Whether you realize it or not, even your greatest weakness is simply the “dark side” of an amazing thing about you. Meaning, each weakness is a “twisted” version of something in you that was originally designed to be beautiful.

And God has big plans to renew those things in you.

I believe the enneagram’s main use is to help you reclaim your God-given gifts—so you don’t have to beat yourself up for qualities inside you that might look imperfect right now, but were actually meant for good.

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

As a Seven, you are an incredible reflection of God’s joy, His energy, His love of positivity and laughter and fun.

But Sevens don’t just show us God’s boundless joy—they also reveal His adventurous heart.

Here’s why that’s so important:

We’ve all wondered, “What if God is boring?”

We’ve worried that heaven might be an eternal church service. That God is someone who forces you to follow the rules so you can’t have any fun.

And then, somehow, we’re going to have to hang out with this person forever…and be happy about it.

But 7s show us that God is so more adventurous than we could ever be. He loves excitement and fun. And He longs to pull us into that wonder.

As one of my favorite authors Brent Curtis says in The Sacred Romance:

[MEL GIBSON IN LETHAL WEAPON]

Through Sevens, He gave us a picture of that wild, adventurous part of His image.

Sevens show us how God is waiting to pull us into a grand adventure, and longs for us to enjoy our time with Him—how He gives us access to ultimate joy, even in struggle and suffering.

Sevens are the keepers of joy—they love joy, they’re joyful about life, and they spread joy to the rest of us quickly and easily. They create true, deep happiness simply because it radiates off of them.

When they are operating in their original design, they are wellsprings of life that pour into the rest of the body of Christ.

Where it Goes Wrong

Sevens love the positive side of life. But that can be turned against them with a well-crafted lie.

The lie they struggle with is, “Life is only beautiful when you are happy and free.”

They come to believe that if they ever stop feeling positive feelings like fun and joy and happiness—and stop for long enough to feel grief, shame, or anger—they would be overwhelmed by those feelings.

From a young age, they learned that sitting in sadness or loneliness meant they would have to confront the deep pain of the world. So they learned that if they just controlled their life and stuffed it with as much goodness as possible, they wouldn’t have to feel those terrible feelings.

Because that would steal away their free spirit, the source of their joy.

This led them to fear being limited, trapped, or tied down—anything that might force them to experience less than what life has to offer them.

Often, their obsession with pleasurable experiences is a way to avoid confronting darkness in themselves. So they avoid anything that looks like it’s going to limit them. Being limited feels like death.

This leads them to their “Cardinal Sin,” Gluttony. 

Gluttony, in this instance, means more. When a Seven is using positive experiences as a way to run from the negative side of life, nothing is enough. They want more, more, more.

They feel most comfortable in a place of anticipation, eagerly waiting for the next great thing to come along. Most of their joy comes from the excitement of what’s coming next. But what comes next rarely lives up to their sky-high expectations.

Tom Magliozzi said, “Happiness is reality minus expectations.”

A Seven’s expectations are sky high, and they’re afraid of disappointment. So what do you think happens when those expectations aren’t fulfilled?

They avoid thinking about it. Usually with silver linings.

“Eh, whatever…this NEXT event is the one that’s really gonna be amazing.” The only thing they know to do is move to the next expectation.

And that’s how the Seven’s joy gets twisted into something it was never intended to be. The fear of darkness sneaks in and tells the Seven to use their gift of joy as a method to avoid deep pain.

It’s one of the enemy’s favorite schemes: Using a lie to hijack something made for so much good, and twist it into something it was never intended to be.

Why they embrace their burden

The enemy’s lies convince us that our unhealthy behaviors are actually helping us. That’s why we’re so afraid to let go of them.

In the Seven’s case, they believe that by running away from bad feelings like shame, grief, or anger, they’ll finally get the joy they so deeply desire.

A Seven’s deepest fear is a cage. Being trapped, living a life absent of all their dreams and desires, with no way to avoid pain and fear and heartache, with no possible silver linings—that’s their nightmare.

The fear sneaks in and whispers, “These negative feelings will destroy you, they’ll put you in a prison of sadness and darkness, but if you just avoid them, you can be happy. I’ll make them go away for you. Just let me call the shots, and I’ll make sure you’re too fast for it. Run toward delight. Don’t slow down for anything else. Darkness won’t be able to keep up.”

That’s a powerful sales pitch for a Seven.

Problem is, this lie leaves out some important details: The Seven gets a shield from sadness and pain and darkness…they also lose touch with themselves. And what’s worse, those negative things don’t actually go away.

Sometimes the healthiest thing you can do is confront your sadness or anger or shame. Each is like a “check engine” light that tells you when something needs attention.

By refusing to check in with themselves, Sevens begin to live in a world of fantasy, using anticipation to numb their pain and disappointment. And all it does is delay the inevitable—when they eventually have to confront these things, they’ll be worse than ever.

Sevens hurt themselves and others in the process of running away.

At Their Worst

As they buy into this lie, Sevens become more and more intense chasers of shiny objects.

They begin to need things to keep them entertained and distracted—not just enjoying them but craving them. And never having enough.

An unhealthy Seven will disappear during a difficult conversation. They’ll refuse to admit when something in their life is falling apart. They’ll run away instead of confronting a mistake they made. They’ll refuse to deal with hardship.

Sevens in this state often struggle with addiction, because they’re looking for any escape.

The more pain they repress, the more furiously they fight for positive experiences to layer on like band aids over the festering wounds of loss and shame.

And if they’re not careful, it can wreck all their most important relationships.

But here’s the redemptive part of all this:

The original design of a Seven’s running away comes not from somewhere evil…but somewhere good. It’s a part of them that was twisted into something it was never intended to be, when they bought into the lie, and the fear that the lie used as fuel for the fire.

At their core, Sevens are passionate about joy. They were created with the desire for heaven, for everything that is wonderful, where we can love and laugh and enjoy each other freely without any brokenness. We were made for that.

Their greatest challenge is to learn how to see the brokenness in the world, and realize that moving into the brokenness—being present in the brokenness—is something that creates even more beauty within us.

How to Grow as an Enneagram 7

The Seven’s journey toward God is one where He begins to convince you that it’s okay to stop running.

It’s okay to slow down and let yourself think about how your dad treated you when you were younger. It wasn’t fair.

It’s okay to slow down and let yourself feel the pain of rejection from that job or that guy or that girl.

It’s okay to just cry and grieve the loss of your dear friend who died in an accident. Or the loss of a family member who was a rock in your life.

As a Seven, those things look like a giant dam with a huge crack down the middle, that looks like it’s about to burst.

If it did, would the water drown you? You don’t want to stick around to find out, so you run from it. You look for higher ground.

It’s okay that you’re running. You’re just trying to protect yourself from the tidal wave that’s threatening to pull you under.

But God is asking you to stand and face the rushing waters.

“It’s okay to face the brokenness and feel the pain. You can’t heal from it until you stop running from it. I know it’s terrifying. But when you confront that pain, and the dam breaks and you’re faced with the rushing waters…I will be there. Right next to you.”

When I think about the bravery a Seven needs to face this thing they’ve been afraid of all their lives…I think of the promise God made His people in Isaiah 43:

“When you pass through the waters, I’ll be with you. The flames will not overcome you. Do not fear. For I am the Lord your God. I give people for your ransom. Because you are precious to me.”

A Seven’s spiritual journey is one of embracing both the good and the bad of life—being fully present for it all.

And as you face the rushing waters, with the Lord at your side, you begin to realize they don’t overwhelm you. You can stay standing…and even begin to appreciate the pain for what it’s doing in you. Because it makes you who you are.

Think about this: In all your favorite movies, the suffering is what grew the hero into the person they needed to be to overcome the challenge.

Look at Frodo from Lord of the Rings—who he was before the journey, and who he became after. He grew something so much greater than what he was.

Who might God want you to be?

And what if the only way for you to become the person he’s called you to be, is to stop for long enough to feel the full weight of your sadness, anger, grief, or shame?

Because the thing is, those things don’t just go away if you ignore them. They just get buried. And they come back with a vengeance later.

The only way to truly master these feelings is to fully feel them and process them. And that takes stopping—it takes being present with the entirety of your human experience, both good and bad.

But you will become so much more than who you are today when you turn around and face the darkness with bravery—and let it shape and mold you.

It will not overcome you. Because your Father is next to you. He’s your shield, your rock, your fortress. You have nothing to fear because His perfect love casts out fear.

So, what’s it look like to grow into a Seven who’s fully in tune with their gift of Joy—but can also fully lean into the ordinary and the difficult parts of life?

The Pathway to Growth

All this is easier said than done. As a Seven, you may have been avoiding the negative parts of life for decades.

It’s harder for you to lean into hard times than it is for any other type. And you’ve created habits around it for so long. Now, it’s a reflex to avoid the bad and live only in a world of good.

But as you grow in your gifts, you become able to experience the fullness of life—which allows you to be fully present with yourself and with God, in all situations. Even hard ones.

And with that, comes true joy. The type of immense joy Paul was able to have even when he was thrown in prison.

I fully believe that’s possible for a Seven.

So what’s it look like to get there?

1. Develop your trust in God.

For a Seven, turning to face the hard things feels like a trust fall.

God often spends a lot of time teaching Sevens how to trust Him with their pain. “If I turn to face this…will you really be there with me? Will it really be okay?”

God’s promise to a Seven is the one from Psalm 30:

You turned my mourning into dancing;

You peeled off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

that my heart may sing Your praises and not be silent.

O LORD my God, I will give thanks forever.

What beautiful words for moments when we’re afraid the darkness will swallow us.

I can confirm that even in my life, God has met me in the hard things—in an incredibly powerful way.

The Lord is worthy to be trusted.

2. Start to face your pain. Hold God’s hand while you do it.

What might God be saying in that pain? Where is the beauty in the pain? If he was to hold your hand, could you go through the sorrow and anger with Him at your side?

What you find is that the rushing waters rush past you, and eventually, the water passes.

And when it’s done, you’re still here. You understand yourself better. You’ve processed the pain. And your relationship with the Lord is stronger than ever.

Pain and suffering are tools God uses to help you become.

There are things He wants to tell you and teach you about yourself and Himself in those hard things. You become closer to the man or woman God called you to be.

I’ve always found it interesting that Jesus kept his scars after the resurrection. Almost as if those scars weren’t something to avoid, but something to be proud of.

I wonder if we won’t keep some of our scars too when we get to heaven, as wonderful signs of the things that God redeemed and used to make us who we were originally designed to be.

3. Take time to slow down and reflect.

You spend a lot of time anticipating great things coming down the pike. This anticipation, this blistering pace, is a defense mechanism.

It keeps you from taking the temperature of your spirit.

This person you are…have you been listening to them? Have you stayed quiet enough to really know them?

There are places in your spiritual life where you can’t grow until you stop and take stock of where you actually are—and where God is in relation to you.

I know two Sevens who are married to each other. They make a point each Sunday to slow down and sabbath. They read, pray, journal. They catch up with God and with themselves.

And because of the amazing things that have happened, this has become one of their most cherished times.

Yes, this will sometimes bring you face to face with those painful things you’ve been running from. Because slowing down means you have to deal with them.

But part of a Seven’s journey is learning to be fully present.

4. Experiment with sticking around.

A lot of Sevens don’t run from a job or a relationship because they’re unhappy.

They run because they’re worried that at some point they might be unhappy. And they don’t want to be locked in.

I get it—when you have two roads in front of you, it’s hard to walk down one of them because you want to keep your options open.

Here’s the only problem:

If you never walk down one of the roads, eventually those roads close. And you lose both options.

You may feel worried about being locked in. But you also need to realize that by worrying about being locked in, you can actually lock yourself out.

The greatest way to reduce your options is by not choosing an option at all.

I say all this because I know Sevens who are experiencing tons of regret because they didn’t commit, and an option they really liked went away forever.

So here’s the question: Is your desire to keep options open happening because of fear? If you’re doing this out of fear, you need to reconsider. Don’t let fear run your life.

5. Redefine what “Enough” means.

Sevens chase the extraordinary and exciting as a source of nourishment.

But it’s almost like chasing the wind. What happens when you find it? The hunger doesn’t go away. You just need more.

The place where Sevens often find “enough” finally is when they’re able to do ordinary life alongside a God who gives them extraordinary joy. 

They begin to realize that “experiences” can never truly fulfill their deepest need.

Instead, an ever deepening relationship with God is where the adventure they long for actually begins.

For a 7, the “enough” isn’t found outside, it’s found inside.

What Does the Ultimate Enneagram 7 Look Like?

When a Seven is operating in their original design, they’re able to feel deep, true contentment.

They know their tendency to create circumstances that will give them a rush of excitement or happiness. But they’ve learned to take in and experience what’s in front of them.

They’ve learned that “enough” comes from the adventure God has them on, and the sense of purpose and direction he gives them even in the ordinary.

They trust God that he has them on the adventure they’re made for, and that helps erase FOMO. They know that their craving for “adventure” won’t make them truly happy. It’s chasing the wind. God’s presence is what they’re really after.

Gratefulness marks their life, rather than a lust for more.

They are inspiring, exciting, influential people who bring joy everywhere they go, without ignoring sadness or darkness. They are truly full, well-rounded human beings who are present with themselves and with the Lord—not running from anything, but standing bravely to face what God has for them.

And because of that, they grow into someone who reflects the hope and joy of God to everyone they meet.

Do you have any other thoughts about being a Seven that should be covered in this post? Email me at [email protected].