Over the next two months, I am going to explore a personality typology called the Enneagram. My wife, Crystal, conducts workshops on the Enneagram that participants have found very helpful. For more information please check out her website Journey to Inner Wisdom. She is the real expert.
Becoming More Conscious
In the office, I often tell couples, half of what we do here is to become more conscious and aware. If couples can step back and look objectively at what they are doing (become more conscious) and if what they are doing is counter-productive, they can choose to act differently.
I use myself as an example. In those first fifteen years of our marriage, if my wife came on too strong, I would shut down. Well, when I looked at that objectively, it was pretty counter-productive, but I did it for a long time. Now I know there are all kinds of information out there to help raise awareness. The Enneagram was one that proved very helpful to Crystal and me in explaining. For example, that very dynamic of my shutting down when she came on strong.
People often categorize the Enneagram as a personality test. Tests similar to the Myers-Briggs, DISC, Keirsey Temperament Sorter, and True Colors to name a few. All of these including the Enneagram give us insight into our personality. They answer the what of our personality. The Enneagram goes beyond the what to the why and how.
“The Enneagram teaches that early in life we learned to feel safe. We need 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. We also learn alternatives to our own patterns of behaviour.
A Broader Point of View
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.
9 Basic Human Types
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, but 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. It’s up to you to 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.
The Enneagram then becomes a road map, where we begin to uncover our beliefs, blind spots, and shadows to break through to the magic of our essence. It is a tool that promotes self-awareness and personal growth. It can shed light on how we work, play, and interact in our relationships and it can illuminate family dynamics.
A word of warning, it is not enough just to take the Enneagram test if you are looking to go deeper. It takes some exploring whether reading, workshops, retreats, etc. to get the full benefit of knowing what your Ennea type means. Otherwise, it becomes a misuse of the tool – a mere parlour game, which does a disservice to the richness that can be gained from working with the Enneagram.
Next week we will look at the characteristics of a One.
Again, for more information or to sign up for a workshop, please check out Crystal’s website Journey to Inner Wisdom.