January 29, 2018
This past summer, a friend of mine asked “have you heard of the Enneagram?”
I had been explaining my love for personality tests, and she reassured me that the Enneagram would be right up my ally.
After a bit of research, I found out that the Enneagram tests for 9 different personality value systems, or essentially 9 ways to see the world. Some experts say that each type is like ascribing someone a color; if you test as “blue,” there are an infinite amount of hues of blue. Everyone is unique, and it would be silly to say there are only 9 types of people in the world.
BUT, I would say that the 9 types within the Enneagram are incredibly accurate, and most people gravitate towards one of the types at their core.
How the Enneagram has changed my life…
I’ll let you in on how the Ennegram has affected my life!
After taking an online test (which most people don’t actually recommend) and studying the 9 types in detail, I realized over time that I gravitate towards the Type 2, or “The Helper.” Instead of taking a quick online test, it is recommended to continually measure your behaviors and thoughts to the different types.
Personally, I am most alive when I get to see other people become alive. I find the most purpose in helping other people, which is the core of a type 2. That can come about in healthy ways or unhealthy ways. I personally think the best thing about the Enneagram is that it describes common behaviors for when a type is healthy or stressed – meaning the types are dynamic and change according to life circumstances.
Type 2’s can typically feel deeply betrayed if other people don’t help us to the same degree that we would, almost as if the other person was denying their humanity by not being aware of our hurt or suffering. I put much more value in relationships and people compared to tasks or achievements. I can easily become co-dependent because I put so much value in relationships, but that can be used for good purposes. 2’s are much more prone to counseling hurting people and will put their tasks to the side to just sit and listen. (My motto in college was “people over homework”).
Okay I get it… you love the Enneagram. Why is it important for me?
I firmly believe the Enneagram can allow you to understand yourself to a greater degree. This understanding can help you have a greater compassion and gentleness towards your weaknesses, and in turn allow you to treat others with more compassion. It does take a bit of uncomfortable digging and willingness to set down your pride, though.
For instance, the other day I was reading that – “the pitfall of unredeemed Two’s is obligingness or flattery. They deny themselves in order to ‘please’ others. They are so ashamed of their own neediness that they have to make others dependent on them in order to develop a little feeling of worth.”
I consistently read things with the knowledge that this is an archetype and not necessarily how I act, but sometimes descriptions like that can be so revealing that I’m forced to sit with that information for a week or two before studying further.
Why is the Enneagram a game changer for your marriage and any other relationship in your life?
Let’s say one person in a relationship is a Type One (A Reformer, or one that needs things to be perfect). They may go up to the dish washer and see the dishes organized haphazardly and reorganize it thinking that it will run more smoothly. They are not making a statement that their spouse is horrible at cleaning the dishes, they just simply want to make the world more organized and operate more smoothly.
The other spouse could potentially feel hurt that someone else felt the need to redo the task they took the time to do. BUT, if they had an understanding of their spouse’s “Reformer” mentality, there would be potential for greater understanding and compassion.
There are so many other ways the Enneagram can bring about deeper understanding within relationships.
I personally think the perfect time for couples to go through the Enneagram is when they’re engaged – either during the early years of living with each other or right before they approach that new dynamic.
Although I highly recommend learning about each type in more depth before declaring a type for yourself, here are the 9 types:
For further study….
Quite possibly my favorite podcast on the Enneagram:
Here are a couple of great books for further study: