Thursday, 16 July 2015

The Enneagram - A way of understanding self and other

I have been learning about the Enneagram recently.

description of the Enneagram:

"The Enneagram of Personality is represented by a nine pointed symbol that can help us become more aware of what and how we are.
It describes nine Enneagram types – essentially nine ways of being. Often called “fixations”, 
Our fixations are primarily defensive in nature and arise as we attempt to negotiate a world which feels threatening to us when we are young and vulnerable. They are thus basically compensatory, and once they are established become automatic and mechanical. While they help to protect us when we are young, they continue to exist long after they have served any useful function and they serve to disconnect us from our true inner selves."

Image Credit

Personality Types

The Enneagram is our default way of interacting with and being in the world.

The Enneagram can also be used as a spiritual tool to better understand the self.
It can also be used as a tool for developing compassion, acceptance and deep understanding for other types.
When we have a profound understanding of the root insecurities and motivations of others we can more fully understand and accept why they behave as they do.

There will be some discrepancies of course,  and at first glance it is easy to see facets of ourselves in many different types. However,  as we peel back the layers and learn more deeply about each type, it is likely we will identify more fully with one in particular.

During our busy day to day lives it is easy to become too self identified with our outer personality. This can lead to profound feelings of guilt because our personas can never adequately reflect the purer ideals of our souls.
Understanding that the Enneagram is a pattern for the personality and not our deeper soul-self was profound for me to learn.
The personas that we develop are flesh and blood and they must live with the limitations of a material world. To cope they fall into an archetypal pattern of being and doing. We all develop our identity according to our life experiences. Often this personality is forged in the fire of pain, trauma, loss or fear. This  identity is often not a true reflection of our innermost self. It is a branch rather than a root.

However by compassionately understanding ourselves better we can begin to break unhealthy, unconscious patterns and live more in harmony with our deeper, more soulful selves.
Our instincts can be seen for what they are (self protection mechanism) and our deeper intuition (the intuition that connects us to ourselves and others on a soul level) can be nurtured and developed.

By understanding the Enneagram we can act with greater mindfulness in situations.
For example when someone presses our buttons or we face the same problems over and over again we can begin to understand the patterns beneath it all and the reason we have certain blockages, fears or crutches becomes more evident.

Before I finish this article I just want to say that these types are not Divergent style factions, they are simply tools that can help us more deeply explore ourselves and grow.

Here is a brief overview of the personality types:

Type one : The Reformer.

Perfectionists, responsible, dutiful, fixated on improvement. Always striving to do the right thing. Reformers want to change the world around them for the better.

Type two: The Helper.

Helpers need to be needed. They make strong emotional connections and are natural carers.

Type Three: The Achiever.

Focused on achieving success, to attain validation and self worth.
Threes need to be validated in order to feel worthy; they pursue success and want to be respected for 
their hard work.

Type Four: The Individualist.

Identity seekers, who feel unique, different and some how apart from the world. Overly sensitive, they are romantics and Idealists at heart.

Type Five: The Observer.

Thinkers who tend to withdraw and observe.
Fives essentially fear that they don't have enough inner strength to face life, so they tend to withdraw, to retreat into the safety and security of the mind where they can mentally prepare for their emergence into the world. 

Type Six: The Loyalist.

Conflicted between trust and distrust they are always looking for a sense of security. Once they connect with someone and trust them however, they will be incredibly loyal and exhibit enormous courage in the face of adversity.

Type Seven: The Enthusiast.

Pleasure seekers and planners, in search of distraction. Sevens want to live a life of adventure and experience. Extroverted and full of creative energy they are planners. However they can all too often imagine the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.

Type Eight: The Challenger.

Eights love taking charge, because they don't want to be controlled. They have a natural distrust of authority and want to be masters of their own destiny. Practical and strong they are steadfast and uncompromising in their attitude to life. However they can be domineering at times.

Type Nine: The Mediator.

Nines essentially feel a need for peace and harmony. They tend to avoid conflict at all costs, whether it be internal or interpersonal. Sometimes it can seem as if Nines are lost in their own world as they would rather disconnect from a situation than be involved in a conflict or deal with stress.

Here is a selection of fascinating videos that describe the

personality types in greater detail:

I find myself identifying most with Type Four. 
Although I was a much more intense type four as a child. I think age has softened my awkward edges and left me much more Sanguine.
For good or ill, I have always felt a little on the outside of the world looking in feeling somewhat confused. 
How does everyone else look so together? Do they really know what's going on or are they just better at covering up. 
I am an idealist and am always striving for authentic expression of my true self.
I am also a rebel at heart and can't help scribbling in the margins and colouring over the lines.
I can easily remain in the safety of my own world rather than engage with life. My feelings run deep as oceans.
I need lots of alone time and recovery time after social interaction. Crowds, bright lights, loud noises and traffic give me nervous ticks.
I cannot hurry and am late for almost everything.
I am an impossible romantic and need beauty around me whether it's practical or not.

Here is another wonderful video which further describes the spiritual nature of the Enneagram.

This book explores the concept of the Enneagram more fully.


  1. It's been a number of years but at that time I was found to be a type two, the helper. It is interesting to study the self. Thanks for the reminder...have a grand day!

  2. Oh this is so interesting, thanks for sharing.

  3. Thank you so much for this Suzy. Alex and I have been talking about the Briggs-Meyer Personality tests and I know we would both love to learn my about Enneagrams.

    1. I found one test on says I'm a 2, but could also be a 1 or a 9. Interesting.

  4.'s been a long time since I've looked into this stuff. I once found myself to be a husband is a nine. :)

  5. So interesting - and that so many people fit into just one category. I also am a number 4, with a few close runner-ups. Can't wait to learn more, thanks for sharing.

  6. Thank you for this intriguing post.

    I will bookmark it and come back and delve into it.

    Again, thank you.



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