The Enneagram system and how it helps Yoga Nerds walk the healing path.
If you missed my previous blog on why I love the Enneagram and how it helped me on my healing journey, you can read it here.
Every time I try to describe the Enneagram, it comes out very flat and uninteresting. It sounds like I’m describing yet another personality test that will, yet again, tell you that you are a questioning, introverted, emotional person. But what good does that information do? Most personality tests give you black and white information and no guidance on what to do with it. It’s like the test is saying, “You are what you are. Live with it.”
The Enneagram doesn’t do that. Not even close.
First of all, the Enneagram isn’t a test. It is a system for self-development. It is a map to show you where you are and where you want to go. Taking an Enneagram test is just a starting point on your journey. It gives you an idea of which of the 9 personality types you might be. From there you begin researching this personality to figure out if it fits. And you will know if you have found the right personality type because it will seem like someone just outed you on all your secrets or that someone is inside your head listening to all your thoughts. Pretty powerful, huh? So, again, what IS the Enneagram?
In its basic form, the Enneagram consists of nine personality types. But I think a better definition is the Enneagram is a journey of 9 personality types. The journey begins by discovering which personality you are. Once you figure that out, the Enneagram comes alive.
The journey continues as, through the lens of the Enneagram, you observe your behaviors. You begin to understand why you are acting a certain way. You learn to recognize when you are stressed and use the Enneagram to deal with that stress. And through the lens of the Enneagram, you learn what you NEED to become a more healthy person.
There is no way I can explain everything in this introduction. But I can definitely give you a good foundation. Here are the nine personality types. To take a preliminary test, click here. The descriptions below are quoted from the Enneagram Institute Website.
Personality 1 – The Perfectionist – Rational and Idealistic – Principled, Purposeful, Self-Controlled and Perfectionistic
Personality 2 – The Helper – Caring and Interpersonal – Demonstrative, Generous, People-Pleasing and Possessive.
Personality 3 – The Entrepreneur – Pragmatic and Success-Oriented – Adaptive, Excelling, Driven, and Image-Conscious
Personality 4 – The Romantic – Sensitive and Withdrawn – Expressive, Dramatic, Self-Absorbed and Temperamental
Personality 5 – The Investigator – Intense and Cerebral – Perceptive, Innovative, Secretive and Isolated
Personality 6 – The Questioner – Committed and Security-Oriented – Engaging, Responsible, Anxious, and Suspicious
Personality 7 – The Enthusiast – Busy and Fun-Loving – Spontaneous, Versatile, Distractible and Scattered
Personality 8 – The Leader – Powerful and Dominating – Self-Confident, Decisive, Willful and Confrontational
Personality 9 – The Peacemaker – Easygoing and Self-Effacing – Receptive, Reassuring, Agreeable and Complacent
Furthermore, these 9 Enneagram personalities are separated into three groups: Head, Heart and Gut.
Personalities 8,9 and 1 are the Gut Based Personalities. This means they express and receive information through their body. These three personalities are focused on anger. The 8 over expresses by acting before thinking. They express anger easily finding safety in being strong. The 9 is dissociated from their gut so they have a hard time knowing who they are and what they want. They numb out their anger. Literally, they will fall asleep. The 1 under expresses their gut by over thinking everything before acting. They believe anger is “bad” and repress the anger which then comes out as resentment.
Personalities 2,3 and 4 are the Heart Based Personalities. This means they express and receive information through emotions. These three personalities are most concerned with image. The 2 over expresses their emotions by reading the needs of others instead of going inward to know their own emotions. They strive to receive acceptance from others by giving. The 3 is dissociated from their emotions, cutting them off so they don’t get in the way of success. They strive to receive acceptance from being successful. The 4 under expresses their emotions by intensely feeling and expressing their own emotions. They believe there is something innately wrong with them. They strive for acceptance by being unique in order to be seen and heard.
Personalities 5, 6, and 7 are the Head Based Personalities. This means they express and receive information through thinking. These three personalities are most concerned with fear. The 5 under expresses their thinking by always being inside their own head. They avoid fear by collecting knowledge. The 6 is dissociated from their thinking by constantly spinning thoughts and doubting themselves and the world. They are the most fearful of all the Enneagram numbers which comes out as anxiety. 6s avoid fear by searching for security and thinking of worst case scenarios. The 7 over expresses their thinking by constantly not focusing on one thing for long. They are always looking for the next big adventure or idea. They avoid fear by constantly having new ideas and experiences. They are the “ADD” personalities of the Enneagram.
Are you falling asleep yet? I hope not. Because here comes the dynamic part that is the path to healing.
What I described above are the dominating behaviors of each number. Keep in mind that you may not fit perfectly into one of the types based on the information above. There is room for variances in the Enneagram allowing for two people to have the same type number but have differences in their behavior. Furthermore, some numbers can look similar in their behaviors but are different personality types. It is the motivation behind those behaviors that truly define which number you are.
Each personality type had a wounding experience in their childhood that was so traumatic they never wanted to feel that bad again. So each personality “learned a lesson” from that trauma and developed behaviors to protect them from ever feeling that wound again. From that point on, everything they do is to avoid experiencing that trauma again because it makes them feel unloved and unsafe. With the experience of the wound comes a “gift.” Each number is gifted in something that keeps them from that wound. It is a blessings when the gift is wielded in a healthy way, and a curse when wielded in an unhealthy way.
For example, type 1 the Perfectionist had some kind of trauma in their childhood where they learned that making mistakes means people won’t love you. The message they learned is that they must be a “good person” at all times. To do something wrong or bad is to experience that trauma again. Through this trauma, Type 1 learned to see the mistakes of the world and correct them, first and foremost in themselves. Their gift is to see what is wrong and fix it. They walk in integrity and lead others to do so. But do you see how when over done this could be a curse? Criticizing people all the time pointing out their flaws in attempts to “make them better?” Never seeing what is right in the world because they are too focused on the wrongs.
The other types learned their own messages creating their own gifts and curses.
Type 2, the Helper, learned that focusing on their own needs is bad and they will be unloved. So this means to be loved you must respond to the needs of others first. Type 2 learned to read other people’s emotions and needs so that they could respond to them without the person even asking. Their gift is the ability to see other people with compassion and a desire to help. Their curse is compulsively feeling other people’s needs and trying to making sure they are happy without taking of their own needs.
Type 3, the Entrepreneur, learned that the only way to be loved is to get that gold star; That failure means people will not love you and you will be abandoned. So the gift of the three is this amazing ability to succeed in all that they do. Their curse is this compulsion to succeed at all cost, regardless of scruples and at the cost of relationships with loved ones.
Type 4, the Romantic, learned that there was something fundamentally wrong with them. That they are missing something that everyone else has making them feel whole and happy. They feel like outsiders. So the 4 believes the only way to get people to notice and love them is to be unique. Their gift is the ability to feel emotions intensely and express them in artistic ways. Their curse is over feeling their emotions to the point that they can become self-absorbed needing to attend to their own emotions before anything else.
Type 5, the Investigator, learned that incompetence is unsafe. In order to feel safe and loved, they must be knowledgeable and minimalistic. They strive to understand and be capable in their environment in order to feel safe. Their gift is the ability to think in complex ways and be detail oriented in their knowledge. Their curse is becoming isolated to the outside world while they live in their head.
Type 6, the Questioner, learned that the world is unsafe and people can’t be trusted. So 6s learned to be suspicious of others and prepared at all times. Their gift is questioning the world and not instantly bending to authority. Their curse is being so suspicious that they even doubt themselves and trust of others is hard.
Type 7, the Enthusiast, learned that danger and isolation is to be deprived or in pain. Therefore, 7s strive to constantly feel satisfied and content. Their gift is always seeing the world in a positive way. Their curse is never stopping to feel and process the negative emotions that are a part of life.
Type 8, the Leader, learned that to feel safe and loved they must avoid weakness. They strive to be strong and protective. Their gift is being strong and unafraid of confrontation in order to protect themselves and their loved ones. Their curse is seeing strength as control and aggressiveness.
Type 9, the Peacemaker, learned that to feel loved and safe you must not be the noticed. That discord creates loss. So, by being invisible you avoiding confrontation. Their gift is understanding and accepting others. Their weakness is understanding and accepting other so much they are unaware of their own feelings, opinions and needs.
Whew! That was a lot of information! But you now have a concise foundation of the Enneagram. It may seem like dry information at first, but when you learn your personality type, the world comes alive. You begin to see things in a different light. You wake up. You start to see patterns in your behaviors. By understanding WHY you do what you do, you can begin the HOW of changing it. It’s a powerful thing.
Furthermore, when you realize the personality type of people in your life, you begin to see them in a more compassionate way. You no longer take their behaviors personality. You understand that they are just trying to protect themselves. This, too, is powerful. Like, marriage saving powerful.
In a later post, I’ll explain more of how the personalities use the resources of other personalities depending on how secure or stressed they feel. I’ll also describe more ways each type can be individualistic from person to person. But for now, Yoga Nerd Friends, just focus on discovering your number. Baby Steps.
But how? How do I discover my number and where do I go from there? Take the Enneagram test to get an idea of where to start. Then begin to find information about that personality type. There is a wealth of Enneagram information out there for you to access freely.
There are videos on YouTube of people talking about what it is like to be their personality type. Just search “Enneagram Type (enter your number here)”.
And, finally, please don’t be afraid to email me with any questions at Heather@HeathertheYogaNerd.com! I’m here to help you grow and heal! So Go Forth, Yoga Nerds, and begin your Quest for your Enneagram Type!
Do you already know your Enneagram Type? How did the Enneagram help you? I’d love to hear your experiences, as would the rest of the Yoga Nerd Community! Please feel free to comment below or email me at Heather@HeathertheYogaNerd.com.
Enneagram one-on-one sessions, as well as group session are available with me in person or via phone/skype. For more information, check out the Services Page or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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