The easiest way to describe the Enneagram is to use the term ‘personality test’, however it really is so much more than that. Your ‘personality’ describes your traits and qualities. The enneagram goes deeper than this and speaks to your motivations. It describes not just what you do, but WHY you do it. This is key to understanding yourself.
So let’s say that you are a People Pleaser. It would be fair to describe your personality type as helpful or accommodating. If we were speaking in terms of the enneagram assessment, we’d dive a bit deeper than this and talk about your basic fear and basic desire. The Enneagram would help you to understand WHY you are helpful and accommodating. If you were truly a type 2, it would be because you have a basic desire to feel wanted, worthy and loved.
If you were a type 9 however, you’d have these same personality traits of being helpful and accommodating but your motivation would be different. The type 9 is the Peace Maker and therefore the motivation is to keep the peace and avoid conflict. Although both types could be described as ‘People-Pleasers’ one is motivated by the need to feel loved and the other is motivated by the need to keep the peace.
WHY IS THIS HELPFUL?
Having this information is kind of like carrying around a cheat sheet, allowing you to jump from step 1 to step 5 on your personal development journey.
Understanding your basic fear and basic desire will allow you to question your patterns of behavior. You know those things you do that someone close to you has called you out for?
Well your reasons for doing those things (and why this person just doesn’t get it) might make a little more sense now. Equipped with this information and the adequate vocabulary, you might find it easier to address that pattern of behavior, understand why you do it, and if necessary, make the changes towards a healthier lifestyle and a better you.
‘PERSONALITY’ DESCRIBES YOUR TRAITS AND QUALITIES. THE ENNEAGRAM GOES DEEPER THAN THIS AND SPEAKS TO YOUR MOTIVATIONS…WHAT REALLY DRIVES YOU
I’ll give you an example – and I’m getting pretty personal now.
I’m an Ennea type 3 which is the ‘Achiever’. The success-oriented, pragmatic type: Adaptable, excelling, driven and image-conscious.
I recently took a 3 month sabbatical from photographing weddings. During this time, I thought that I would rest, exercise, spend more time with my family, read books – you know? Chill out. Did I do ANY of this? NOPE! I did not. Why?
Because I felt absolutely useless.
Once I did the enneagram test and explored my type, I realized why I found it so hard to ‘do nothing’.
This stems from a sense of self-worth that is built on what the Three does, rather than who they are.
“Enneagram Threes are likely to value achievement and want to be the best. As a result, efficiency, results, recognition and image are very important to them. Threes strive for success in their chosen field and tend to be highly flexible and willing to adapt to achieve their goals. At their best, others will experience Threes as hard-working, principled and receptive, offering the gifts of hope and integrity to the world. In an unhealthy state, the Three’s over-expressed need for achievement may seem self-important and inconstant. This stems from a sense of self-worth that is built on what the Three does, rather than who they are.”
WOAH! That felt pretty intense. This need to achieve (to feel worthy) is why I didn’t enjoy taking time off work and wasn’t able to relax. My self-worth is completely wrapped up in what I do, rather than who I am.
Through my exploration into the enneagram and my work with Jessica, I am beginning to learn to let go of this need to achieve. It has necessitated change in certain areas of my life.
Some of these changes have been small and simple, and others have required me to answer some pretty big questions…not all of them have been fun. Self development work is not always fun!
Nevertheless, I am better for it.
But I like myself as I am and don’t think I need to change. Why should I do this test?
I understand that not everyone is as introspective as I am, and may wonder why doing self discovery work like this is necessary.
So I asked Jessica, the presenter of our Enneagram workshop this very question and this was her answer:
“Understanding The Enneagram isn’t about changing who we are at our core, but it is about understanding where our habitual patterns may not be working for us. And then using this insight to make healthier choices in our lives, our jobs, our relationships.
With this new level of awareness, we’re learning to question our intentions, to check in with our triggers, to recognise our fears, and to self-regulate our emotions. And with this we can start living less on auto-pilot and more from conscious choice.”
I like to believe that I’m a pretty cool person with lots of strengths, who has much to offer, BUT I am human! I have flaws and blind spots and I am far from perfect. I have a husband and child who will spend the rest of their lives with me in it. How can I be a better version of myself for them? How can I understand myself better for ME?
But also, how can I understand THEM better? How can I develop more empathy for how they might be viewing the world? How they’re motivated? Understanding my husband better would enable me to recognise a trigger of his and be ready to support him if he needs it.
The enneagram can help you with all of this!
I’d LOVE to chat more with you about this topic. If you have taken the test, let’s chat in the comments. Let me know your type and what stood out for you. Has your life changed at all as a result of the enneagram?
THE NINE TYPES
Briefly, here are the 9 types. To ensure accuracy, I am sharing exactly as they’re described by the Enneagram Institute descriptions. For more info on these types head to enneagraminstitute.com/type-descriptions.
1. THE REFORMER
The Rational, Idealistic Type: Principled, Purposeful, Self-Controlled, and Perfectionistic
2. THE HELPER
The Caring, Interpersonal Type: Demonstrative, Generous, People-Pleasing, and Possessive
3. THE ACHIEVER
The Success-Oriented, Pragmatic Type: Adaptive, Excelling, Driven, and Image-Conscious
4. THE INDIVIDUALIST
The Sensitive, Withdrawn Type: Expressive, Dramatic, Self-Absorbed, and Temperamental
5. THE INVESTIGATOR
The Intense, Cerebral Type: Perceptive, Innovative, Secretive, and Isolated
6. THE LOYALIST
The Committed, Security-Oriented Type: Engaging, Responsible, Anxious, and Suspicious
7. THE ENTHUSIAST
The Busy, Fun-Loving Type: Spontaneous, Versatile, Distractible, and Scattered
8. THE CHALLENGER
The Powerful, Dominating Type: Self-Confident, Decisive, Willful, and Confrontational
9. THE PEACEMAKER
The Easygoing, Self-Effacing Type: Receptive, Reassuring, Agreeable, and Complacent
JESSICA UYS: If this topic interests you, please visit Jessica’s website. She has a lot more info on the enneagram and has interviewed a representative of each type (Here’s my interview). Jessica also does one-on-one sessions and group sessions. The group sessions are particularly helpful for businesses and teams.
JENNA KUTCHER: Funnily enough, also a type 3, this podcast dives into her understanding of the enneagram and how it has helped her personal growth.
SLEEPING AT LAST: I’m going to leave you with this exquisite song by Sleeping at last written for the Ennea 3 (he has done a whole series). It so adequately represents how I feel, that the first time I heard it, I just cried. Listen to this podcast to hear about the composition of this song. He’s a genius.