A few months ago I wrote a post about a whole bunch of personality test, including the enneagram (you can read that post here). I hadn’t heard much about the enneagram before this and I had only begun getting interested in it a few weeks before that time. Since that post I have continued to read more and more about it, finding blogs, instagram, and getting all the books out of the library that I can. But before I get too far into what I have learned I want to do a bit of a introduction into what it is.
There are a lot of versions of where the enneagram came from and the history of it as it brings together many ancient wisdom traditions and histories. The first records that we have of the symbols date back to ancient Greece. Through various people it was brought into popularity in the 1960’s. It is not connected to a specific religious group or spiritual tradition, but it has been used by various faith groups to help connect your enneagram to your faith journey.
Some of the most well known modern enneagram teachers are Don Riso, Richard Rohr, and Helen Palmer and their works are disseminated through websites, books, and podcasts.
What is the Enneagram?
The symbol of the Enneagram is a circle with 9 connected points inside of it, showing the nine basic enneagram personality types. The lines denote how the numbers connect, which I will discuss later.
Everyone has at their core one of the Enneagram personality types, and while other personality typing systems are connected to what you do, the Enneagram is based of your core desires and why you do what you do. The nine core fears that go against these desires are:
These fears may may seem a little weird at first, but they begin to make more sense as you dig into the enneagram more. I know for me once I figured out my type (I am a 9) and have begun to see how I live my life trying to avoid conflict, fragmentation, and not knowing what is happening next.
The Nine Types
As said before there are nine types in the Enneagram, all of which are connected to each other. Every person has bits and pieces from all nine types, but there will always be one that will connect to you more than others. There are tests that you can use to determine your type and while that may be a good place to start, it is always best to then go research about the types and see what you connect to the most.
There are no types that are inherently better or worse than others, nor will every person with the same number look the exact same. This is again how you see the world and how you interact with the world.
I personally am a nine – often described as the peacemaker. I have desire for stability and peace in my every day life and can sometimes go to negative traits of inaction and sloth instead of doing something that could possibly cause conflict. Something good is that I can often see all sides of an issue and help to mediate conversations and disagreements.
It is important to try not to type the people around you. This can become hard as you get to know the enneagram and want to know about everyone so you can better interact. Since the enneagram isn’t based on what you can see, but rather on your internal desires it is really only up the person themselves to figure out their type.
While each person is only one number on the Enneagram, we also draw from the number on either side of you, aka your wings. While you do draw on both of your wings, one is generally stronger than the other. As you grow and mature your wings can switch however, or they can even out over time. The wing compliments your main number and adds extra components to it and your wing can only be the two numbers around yours.
For me this means that my wings can either be an 8 or a 1. While there are moments where my 8 wing comes out (usually in moments where I sense injustice) I am most often a strong wing 1.
This is where a lot of my orderly and organized personality traits come from. I also feel like if people were to type me they would consider me a 1 instead of 9 and it is probably due to it being my wing.
The nine enneagram numbers are divided into three groups, called the centers. These describe where most of your desires are coming from. The three centers are the Thinking Center, Feeling Center, and Instinctive Center.
The Instinctive Center (8,9,1) all center around the relationship with anger. All three of these numbers lead with their instinct, or gut when needed and this can be released through anger. All three types show their center in a different way. For me as a nine I deny my anger and am out of touch with it, until I can sometimes explode due to the repression.
The Feeling Center (2,3,4) all center around their relationship with Image or Shame and the Thinking Center (5,6,7) are center around the relationship with fear.
The enneagram has been very helpful in learning more about myself and why I do things that I do. It is hard at times to read about yourself and the not so great things (such as how I can be so conflict adverse that I can avoid doing anything) and trying to figure out how I can work at helping myself. There are also positive traits that it is good to encourage as well such as my ability to see all sides of an issue. The enneagram isn’t meant to guide my life, but it has helped me to examine who I am and what I do and maybe make some hard decisions about what is comfortable, but what isn’t helping my life.
While learning about the Enneagram has helped my relationship with myself and in understand my motivations and how to help myself be better, it has also improved my relationship with my husband. Nigel is a 7 – the Enthusiast and while I am full of inaction he is full of action and wanting to get everything done. This can be a point of stress in our relationship. Where we really shine is making the best of all circumstances and making even the most mundane events fun and exciting.
I really like this page for sharing about the relationship between the two of us: https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/relationship-type-7-with-type-9 . You can use this website to show relationships between any of the types.
As you can see there is a lot to take from the Enneagram. It has helped me a lot personally and in my relationships that past few months as well as with my faith and my work life. There are even things that I didn’t get into in this blog post and that you can see if you research more into the enneagram and I hope that if you choose to begin this journey it enriches your life as it has mine.
- Enneagram Institute – How the Enneagram System Works
- Your Enneagram Coach – Breaking Down the Enneagram
My Favourite Enneagram Books
- The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron
A great starting book that introduces the enneagram in a very accessible way
- Understanding the Enneagram: The Practical Guide to Personality Types by Don Richard Riso
This is a very thick and dense book, but is great when you want to really get into the enneagram
- Millenneagram: The Enneagram Guide for Discovering Your Truest, Baddest Self by Hannah Paasch
Fun, modern, and a little crude this book is a modern way to look at the enneagram