Caring and Sensitive Eights

I asked 8s on @8ish_andiknowit page 4 different questions about the stereotype that 8s are insensitive and uncaring. These were there response!

How do you show you are caring and sensitive as a tough 8?

“When it’s with someone I know and love I try to give what they will receive. Talking/sharing with a 2? I’m gonna share deeply— they’ll receive it and in turn feel loved.

Also, if it’s in a more general sense, just having the self-confidence and self-security to be authentic and let my guard down. If that means crying? Go for it. Or whatever it is.”

“I try to specialize in really knowing my core group well. I treat them as individuals with individual sets of rules for how they give and receive love and I put a lot of intentionality and thought into communicating with them the way I know they need it. Mentally I imagine others (predominantly outside my core group of people) are as autonomous as I am. This helps me be supportive and encouraging without feeling emotionally burdened to take care of them and add them to my protective circle.

With my close circle, I also use a lot of clarifying words like "I'm not angry at you, I just feel..." especially with my kids when I know I'm being intense. Additionally, with my kids I make it clear that I will hold space for them to feel all their emotions, but I am also going to make sure we work as a team and keep moving forward because that's how I show love.”

“I make an effort to ask intentional questions about people’s feelings, how their day is, etc. It doesn’t come naturally for me to ask questions and be a good listener, mainly because I myself am pretty self sufficient and if I have feelings I will share them. So I tend to expect that if people have things to share, they’ll do it on their own. It’s taken a lot of years and growth to learn to be intentional and meet emotional needs that I’m not used to desiring or requiring that they be met for myself.

Within being an 8 though, my protection of others and fight for others is a major way I show I care. Though that doesn’t always translate to others. Which is why I try to be intentional in other ways as well. Also, I see being blunt or saying what I think someone needs to hear as caring. It’s like, I care enough about you to be honest. However, with growth, I’ve learned to soften this and only speak when I feel it’s the right time.”

“One of the biggest ways is recognizing times to make myself uncomfortable to make others comfortable.

Just because it isn’t my first instinct to use physical contact or reaffirming words doesn’t mean I can’t or don’t want to!

I also find times to actively be vulnerable to those I trust- making sure I am actually being vulnerable and not just saying what needs to be said to get someone off my back”

“For me it comes down to my spiritual gifts and my number 1 is mercy, I have a lot of compassion for other especially the homeless and those who are seen as the underdog. I want to help those who feel lost or insecure because Gods love is so important to me that I want to spread it to whoever I come across”

“My friends are everything. I protect them like my life depends on it - because it does. I feel I am on call 24/7. Most of them live in USA and I am in UK but I will wake for them. They have my clock. I also love animals and pet sit and give to animal charities and am a vegan. I cannot be a part of an industry that hurts animals. I also write books to help others get out of destructive lifestyles. I have written and published 3 so far. One is on eating disorders and my life’s work is to make sure no one else has to go through what I went through. People being in pain hurts me. It makes me cry. So I work for the freedom in others, I work so that they too can be butterflies free from everything that would try and harm them. My 8 ‘anger’ comes out against the injustice and not towards people. The ‘anger’ is also changed into passion and relentlessness to work my butt off for the sake of others.”

“I show I'm caring and sensitive by seeing things through to the end. If there has been a disagreement or if I sense distance after rough conversations, I often follow up with the person to clear things up. I am pretty perceptive to people and their reactions (which used to be codependency but is being redeemed into sensitivity towards feelings of others. In those cases I can either brush off their hurt or I can use that toughness and desire to build up to communicate until the conflict is resolved.”

“I am incredibly protective. I have come to realize I have the ability to read people like a 2, but I may or may not have the immediate perfect motion to soothe but I do know how to run ahead so-to-speak. I try to practice service to my people because I know I can handle it. I can take on the intensity of a situation or a person so that someone else doesn’t have to take it up.”

“As an 8, I have to remember that people can't see how sensitive I am about things. Breaking down that protective wall that I have spent my whole life building is a constant process. One of the main ways I can show my sensitive side is allowing tears to flow when they come and not being afraid of those sad emotions. Something else I have learned to do is to listen. When friends tell me about something going on that's difficult or hard, I can show them I care by not having an immediate solution for them (we are always quick to jump into action) and just take the time to listen and empathize.”

“I struggle a great deal showing sensitivity.. however, I am very soft when it comes to children. I do not have children of my own but a lot of my close friends do and they would all tell you that I am the most sensitive with kiddos. I become patient, playful, and overall drop my guard. When I do manage to show sensitivity towards adults I’ve been described as compassionate and I become like a coach. I’m encouraging and I use language such as “you can do this” “you’re smart” “you’re strong” instead of language like “why aren’t you doing this correctly?” “This isn’t a strength of yours, you should let me do it.” I try showing this sensitivity toward others by reaching down my line into a two and try to be helpful and accommodating to others, I will lean hard into acts of service and try to make sure everyone around me has exactly what THEY need to be happy or satisfied.”

“ I am actually very nurturing. I am a fierce comforter. I immediately take action to comfort someone when I see that they are hurting.”

“I generally show someone that I’m caring and sensitive by either acts of service or gifts. These are my love language so I’m sure that is probably a factor for me. But also I tend to be a fixer when people come to me with their problems. So giving them tools to get through a hard time or circumstance is also how I show I care.”

“I’ve learned through lots of self-work, counseling, plus my masters program (and some good mentors) that words matter. I may have strong thoughts and attitudes about things, but I still have to care for the person who will receive what I say and how I behave. I walk this out with the kids I accompany in ministry. If anyone knows how to push a button or 2 and send me into an unhealthy space it’s a gaggle of middle schoolers! Yet, my words, attitudes, and love for them should— and hopefully do! reflect the love of Christ. Slow to anger, quick to listen, and merciful above all. I apply this same care to my 4 small children. They’re all 4 and under so I battle feeling out of control every single day. Obviously as 8s that’s not our favorite. Still, I’m my babies’ first taste of Godly love: a no matter what, always for them kind of love. It’s counter-intuitive for me and requires moment by moment intentionality. But I am called to live worthy of the Gospel.”

In what what’s do people perceive you as being tough, when you're really just hiding all your emotions?

“I give off the vibe that I’m invincible and that no one can hurt me. I’ve had conflict with friends that takes me years to get over simply because I hid from them that I was hurt in the first place. I value honesty, but my feelings and hurts are reserved only for people I truly trust. Which is just a couple of people.  

Most people when they meet me or engage in conflict with me will see me as confident and even somewhat indestructible. I give off that vibe on purpose though, as a way of protecting myself.

It’s the whole, “you can’t hurt me” attitude. It makes me feel safer. I definitely don’t hide all my emotions, I can be very transparent. But I do hide the ones when I feel truly hurt or wounded (vulnerable). This will usually only come in the form of a friend or trusted person betraying me in some way. In a nutshell, people see me as confident, invincible, unable to be hurt. So they translate that as I must not have the emotional capacity to feel. But it’s the exact opposite. I feel deeply and hurt deeply.“

“The biggest way is when people assume or discuss things about me in front of me. I choose to not react and act like I don’t care because it’s easier for me- but in reality it KILLS me. People consistently telling me who I am or who they think I am or even what someone else said about me because they feel I can “take it” when in reality does really effect me. Also in really serious family situations or friend situations like deaths or loss of friends- everyone thinks I am super strong and just trucking along but I just don’t feel like getting taken advantage of so I just keep it in.”

“Break ups or deaths in the family. I don't cry around people so they think I'm being tough through those situations, but they don't see when I let myself breakdown and cry.”

“People perceive me as tough when I’m quiet I can get very closed off and go in what I call my turtle shell and isolate myself.”

“They see me as strong, like a Duracell bunny that never stops and never breaks therefore they can always rely on me. But the true friends know I need help too, 8’s are not invincible, just incredibly strong. The strongest of the enneagram I would say, but that strength needs support. I would advise 8’s to have safe, key people supporting them, a handful of trusted friends who allow you to not always be the strongest in the room. 6’s are great for this!!!!”

“When I'm hurt, I definitely lean hard into that 5 stress arrow and withdraw. Hardcore. People see it as the cold shoulder, ignoring them, avoiding them and general anger, but my hope is that someone will reach out to me first at that point. When I've asked people why they hadn't confronted me in those times, they have said they're just intimidated or wanting to give me space. The assumption is not that I'm hurt, the assumption is that I'm angry and don't want reconciliation.”

“I have a “suffer in silence” and “fake it ‘til you make it” mentality sometimes. I’m still working on being honest about those things. But it often comes back to both protecting myself (weakness) and also others. I want to shield people so my front can often do the exact opposite of what I actually want to do. I’m trying to make things better but sometimes my facade can just complicate things.”

“I frequently hide my emotions by not crying in situations where everyone else is crying... also I rarely start conflict but I NEVER back away from it. I can remember at a young age having a conversation with my grandfather and he told me, “you never start a fight but you dang well better finish it if someone tries to harm you or your siblings you do whatever is necessary to win that fight.”

I’m the oldest of my three siblings. He (my grandfather) is the oldest of six children. So I’ve always been taught that I’m the protector. This protective instinct shows up with friends, family, and coworkers often. [i feel like that whole tangent is a little off base so I will try to do better in this next sentence.] if I feel like there is a chance for me to be rejected or if a situation could come up that would/could put me in a position of vulnerability I will reject them first. I frequently put up walls so that others cannot hurt me first. I take the position of “lone wolf” so that I can’t be hurt by others first. I don’t trust that others will actually be my friend just to be my friend, I believe if I let them too close they’ll use me or try to control or manipulate me in someway.“

“Vulnerability as an 8 is very difficult, and I have to be very intentional about it. One way I am perceived as being tough is showing anger instead of sadness. Anger is an easier emotion to share and less vulnerable. “

“People perceive me as being tough in a number of ways. First I generally have a strategic plan for tasks to accomplish. I also tend to put my head down and power through tough times. I’ll maybe share some emotions initially but after that I tend to push those down and keep busy moving forward. This is possibly my seven wing coming out. But when someone I trust asks me how I’m doing and doesn’t stop the conversation when I say “I’m fine” I generally open up and show my emotions or hurts. But almost always I will wear the mask of toughness to avoid being needy.”

“I’ve been described as tough or strong at my best, and mean or aggressive at my worst. I know what I think about a situation or idea quickly, and I’m confident. I’m coming to accept what I once called a “flaw” as a God-given gift: strength. To others who are created with a spirit gentler than my own or who dread confrontation, just being myself comes across as “tough.” Then there are times when I use the gift of strength to bury my wounded places and hide them from the world. It’s so much easier to feel mad than it is to feel sad or hurt or any other emotion living beneath anger’s surface. This was especially relevant early in my marriage. It felt so much better, so much more natural to storm out and be mad— to shut down— when I was hurt or sad or lonely. But marriage is sanctifying, and with practice I’ve learned to sit in the uneasy feelings and allow my husband to come alongside me there.”

In what ways do you think this stereotype is valid of 8s? Do you feel like you portray that sometimes?

“I think this message gets sent to others when 8s attempt to protect themselves and appear invincible. For others who are in the more dependent stance, or see the value in sharing big feelings often, it can be confusing to them as to why 8s would keep certain things hidden. And the easiest way to process this is to assume that 8s don’t have the ability to go there emotionally, be caring/sensitive. The truth is we do go there, and often. We are actually driven by our care and passion for others. But the way we express this almost never translates to other types. It’s like we speak a completely different language. So I would say that the stereotype APPEARS valid, however it’s not. And it takes a lot of time and effort to be able to get to a place with an 8 where they will trust you enough to show you their sensitive side in a way that is easier to understand. I do portray this stereotype in the way that I attempt to protect myself and others. But the people who have put in the Time and effort get to see that tender side of me that the rest of the world doesn’t.“  

“That 8s can kill with their words I can fire shots whenever I feel attacked”

“We have walls. But the walls can also be smart boundaries. It’s just figuring out if they are walls or smart boundaries. The best thing about that is that 8’s are honest and very honest with themselves. They don’t do BS even with themselves. Healthy 8’s are great at working through their issues and healing because they want everyone to do that so they know they must do it themselves. Again finding those safe, healthy friendships will help bring the walls down. 8’s need a team, they can still be the boss/leader but they need a team, they need support.”

“I think it's true. I've heard it described that 8s are either all in or all out. So if I'm all out in a relationship for whatever reason, that will probably look quite strongly like insensitivity and lack of care. Again, it's hiding the vulnerable emotion of hurt and whatever else caused the separation but it tends to be expressed as hatred. Or at least that's how it will look to others because it's a strong push.”

“1. I think unhealthy or growing 8s can definitely fall into this in a protective/attacking stance to the world. Because we do see what’s wrong in the world so we will do what we can to protect what is important to us.”

“I think that this stereotype is absolutely valid because I do it often. If it weren't for the people in my close, trusted circle pointing it out to me, I don't think I would even be aware of it sometimes. When I am aware of it, I try to remind myself that it is not weak for people to see me hurt or upset and that sometimes, it actually would be more helpful in the situation because they could know that I am not stoic and heartless.”

“I think in every stereo type there’s a little bit of truth. So, yes I do think sometimes out of trying to hide my feelings I sometimes can behave in an insensitive way. “

“I think I’m some ways this stereotype is valid for eights. Generally unhealthy or unaware 8s. I know I exhibit this quality sometimes and for me it’s generally because “I only have so much warm and fuzzy to go around” that’s what I tell my loved ones sometimes when I know I can’t show up for them in a sensitive and caring way. For me i think it comes from the way I show that I care in acts of service or gifts. If I have a lot of people that need caring from me I spread myself to thin physically or financially. And also when a lot of people come to me with their worries I tend to take on those burdens and find solutions. And that is also exhausting.”

“Stereotypes usually hold some small grain of truth, and this is no exception. Unhealthy 8s and 8s who feel threatened put up the armor with an indignant “told ya I needed this!” In that space, we can be cutting with our words and unloving with our actions, and insensitive to the wounds of the people around us. I’ve been there. I bet most of us have.”

How can you show Gods love through caring for someone and being vulnerable this week?

“I actually did this yesterday- I read something in my Bible that pointed a big red arrow at one of my biggest flaws as a person. It made me sob and I hate crying. The last thing I wanted to do was share it with friends but I actively chose to share it with my ministry because I didn’t want to and I knew that was me not wanting to be vulnerable. I’ve found that in caring for people- I have to allow them IN first. Then, once that painstaking process is over I need to figure out what their love languages are and speak to those and not just how I would want to be treated when cared for!!”

“Listening to others and their struggles and being a shoulder to lean on and give advice”

“I went to the doctors yesterday with some issues and realized I am allowed to ask for help and I haven’t been. I have been trying to ‘cope’ with everything on my own, because I’m a capable 8  I think we can be vulnerable by actually helping ourselves!!! 8’s want to help many, especially by being a strength for that person, but we have to put on our own oxygen mask first. 8’s need time out, we need to rest and heal, and to ask for help. I realized my doctors are there to help me and I don’t have to do everything on my own. We can show God’s love by being kind to ourselves, allowing ourselves to rest and to break from time to time, to be human and not superheroes. Superheroes need a day off too!!! I love 8s. They make me smile and I’m proud to be one, and to know and celebrate others.“

“I work at a Christian camp because I love working with kids so the obvious answer would be to care for the kids I interact with but that's the easy answer, it's often easy for me to be patient and loving towards kids. So my honest answer is to show love to those in authority over me and allow them to help me. I resist help SO HARD because I can do things on my own and I feel like I can do them better on my own. But sometimes it is necessary to involve others in whatever tough situation, not because I'm incapable, but because God's heart is for community and there are things that are just beyond me. So I can love the people who are just trying to help me and be graceful when they are imperfect.”

“I can definitely lose sight of what is important and/or forget to try to see things from another perspective and assume I am always right. I do my best to lean into my 9 wing, which is honestly annoying sometimes. But I know how important it is to show people love and protection IN THE WAY THEY NEED not just my way.”

“Being vulnerable doesn't always simply look like honesty because I can be honest (I usually am - brutally so), but not be vulnerable. I think this week, it looks like me pairing that honesty with some of that boldness we 8's are known for. Allowing myself to completely let my guard down with people who may not be in my immediate circle and trusting that it's ok for them to see deeper parts of me. I think in a practical sense, just allowing myself to be passionate about helping people like I am, but not keeping my schedule in such a tight grip because I am worried that I will completely lose control by being at the mercy of someone else's schedule.”

“I can ask how I can be supportive and I can have vulnerable moments with others.”  

“This week I can show Gods love by sharing my struggles that he has guided me through. I may not be able to share in the moment but I can be more vulnerable when I’ve released the struggle to the Lord. I find most often that my struggle is letting go of control and giving that to God. But once I do I’m always glad that I did when I feel his Love surround me and take my burdens as his own. He’s a good Dad like that! “He (or she) will be standing firm like a flourishing tree planted by God’s design, deeply rooted by the brooks of bliss, bearing fruit in every season of his life. He is never dry, never fainting, ever blessed, ever prosperous.”

‭Psalms‬ ‭1:3”

“I think being vulnerable IS a way to show someone you care. Letting someone see your most authentic self says “I trust you” and “you’re welcome here with me.” Is there any greater care than that? Jesus models this with the disciples, and with us. He gives us all of Him. He invites us to to live as One Body in Him, and we cannot do that with offering some part of ourselves. Practically, we can be mindful of our language and our tone. Consider, how am I being received? Does my intention match the impact I’m having? We can also ask ourselves if our posturing on issues, or in relationships, reflects who God is. Am I loving, gracious, and forgiving? If not, we can seek to make changes and better align ourselves with the heart of Jesus.”

Thank you for reading some of the hearts of our eight friends! I hope this encourages you, and helps break any stereotypes of 8s you may have! Make sure to check out @8ish_andiknowit!

Written by Sidney of @8ish_andiknowit


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