Are you a perfectionist or reformer? The Enneagram suggests that there are 9 basic human types. The different types are characterized by the numbers 1-9 as points on a circle. As humans, we all participate in all the types. You can start to figure out your type as the number “where the traffic is heaviest”. Over the next 9 weeks, I’ll explore one type each week. From there, you can see if and where the shoe fits.
Remember, we all have characteristics of all nine types, but often you will recognize more of the qualities of one type over all the others. For more information please check out my wife, Crystal’s, website Journey to Inner Wisdom. She is the expert.
What the Enneagram Teaches
“The Enneagram teaches that early in life we learned to feel safe and to cope with our family situations and personal circumstances by developing a strategy based on our natural talents and abilities. By working with the Enneagram, we develop a deeper understanding of others and learn alternatives to our own patterns of behaviour. We break free from worn-out coping strategies and begin to see life from a broader point of view. People of the same type have the same motivation and view the world in some fundamentally similar ways. Variations within each type stem from such factors as maturity, parents’ types, birth order, cultural values and inherent traits such as being naturally introverted or extroverted.“ (The Enneagram Made Easy, p.2-3)
All that is to say, there are millions of people who have similar coping strategies but the way that shows up in the world is as unique as the individuals themselves.
No. 1: The Perfectionist or Reformer
Let’s start with Number 1 – the Perfectionist or Reformer. Ones are motivated by the need to live their life the right way. This includes improving themselves and the world around them. They intuitively know when something is wrong and can become critical of others who don’t see it their (the right) way. As well, they can also be very critical of themselves. They like structure.
The movement pattern of a one is to 7 or 4. A healthy move to 7 is to become more creative, to become curious rather than judgmental. The healthy move to 4 allows ones to be more in touch with their feelings and emotions.
Each number of the Enneagram can also be influenced by the types on either side of them (their wings); a one, for example, may have some characteristics of a 9 or a 2. “Ones with a more developed Two wing tend to be warmer, more helpful, critical and controlling. Ones with a more developed Nine wing tend to be cooler, more relaxed, objective, and detached.” (The Enneagram Made Easy, p. 17)
Discovering Your Type
Another way perhaps of discovering your type is to think of things you would NOT do. For example:
“Things Ones Would Never Dream of Doing
- Being half an hour late to work
- Not sending thank-you notes for birthday gifts within two days
- Not making reservations for every night of their vacation
- leaving their clothes in a heap and their dishes unwashed all week
- laughing it off when criticized
- eating with their elbows on the table and using their sleeve for a napkin
- taking a relaxing bath just before guests come over instead of going over the house for another cleaning.” (The Enneagram Made Easy, p.22)
Obviously this is a very simple approach to a very complex understanding of human nature that has been around for centuries. My goal in introducing the Enneagram is to encourage any of you who might be interested to get more information. It is a great tool for better understanding yourself and provides alternative approaches for coping mechanisms that might not be serving you well now. Cheers.