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We are quite different yet very similar in many ways. Every person has a distinct personality. If you’ve learned about the Enneagram, you’re probably trying to figure out who you are. We’ve all come to Enneagram for a variety of reasons. The Enneagram is a growing tool for self-discovery and helps foster empathy and compassion for others, whether it’s to achieve better confidence, self-awareness, to aid us in our profession and career, to enhance our relationships, or all of these and more.
The Enneagram is a nine-type personality system that combines traditional knowledge and modern psychology to provide a powerful tool for understanding ourselves and the others in our lives. It has three key applications:
Through the practice of self-awareness, the Enneagram provides a technique to control personality. It helps us become more effective in our daily lives by guiding us down a path of opening our hearts and cultivating personal presence.
One of the most practical applications of the Enneagram is in our personal and professional relationships. We can become more flexible and skilled with the people in our lives by knowing our own habits, protective reflexes, and blind spots. We become more tolerant and sympathetic when we comprehend how others think and feel. We also don’t have to take it so personally when we run into the edges of other people.
The Enneagram can reveal what prevents us from responding in a more natural and appropriate way to what happens in our lives by giving us insights into the core motivations that drive our actions. We can begin to unravel the habits that keep us stuck as our awareness of our thinking, feeling, and behaving patterns grows. We can start to develop a clear way forward by recognising how our habitual acts and behaviours hinder our genuine nature and objectives.
Our higher potentials as well as our limits are described by the Enneagram. It offers precise advice on how each personality type can improve their love and job skills.
However, knowing your type is only the beginning. This is only the beginning of your Enneagram adventure. There are many ways it can help you reflect, develop, and evolve your thoughts, habits, and relationships once you get into it.
This nine-pointed figure (Ennea is Greek for nine) has reportedly been utilised as a map of human consciousness and archetypes in esoteric Christian and Sufi traditions for millennia.
George Gurdjieff, a philosopher and teacher who employed it in his human development programme, first introduced it to the public in 1915 in Moscow. The founder of the Arica School, Oscar Ichazo, then added nine personality types to the Enneagram in the late 1960s. Claudio Naranjo, MD, and other psychologists in Berkeley soon blended the Enneagram with modern psychology’s most recent findings.
While each personality type can be found in psychological literature, the Enneagram brings them all together in one framework and demonstrates how they interact. Psychologists, business consultants, educators, and spiritual leaders are still working on this blend of old symbols and modern psychology.
With over a million volumes published and Enneagram programmes or institutes in most nations in Europe and East Asia, as well as sections of Africa and South America, the modern Enneagram has spread around the world from its early origins in Berkeley. While the Enneagram does not prescribe a certain ideology, theology, or set of procedures, it can be used by both secular practitioners and religious clergy in their work with clients or congregants.
Unlike other psychological systems and diagnostic instruments, which focus on a person’s neurotic or issue side, the Enneagram identifies not only the challenges that people experience, but also their strengths and potentials. There is no such thing as a better or worse personality type, and all personality types experience the highs and lows of human development.
While most people are familiar with the Enneagram as a powerful method for personal or spiritual growth, it has recently been adapted for use in the classroom and in the workplace. The Enneagram not only provides important “people skills,” but it also promotes self-awareness, sound decision-making, and lifelong learning, all of which are critical for success in today’s business.
The Enneagram is based on the premise that persons have two distinct aspects: essence and personality. Each person has a distinct “essential self” that cannot be categorised or reduced to a number. The Enneagram, on the other hand, identifies nine patterns or themes through which people develop a personality and a social persona in order to face the problems of love and work. Personality, in theory, is an effective way for us to express ourselves in the world. However, issues develop when our personality masks our true nature, or when our point of view becomes fixed and dogmatic.
The Enneagram describes three centres of intelligence and perception: Head, Heart and Body. While every individual has all three of these centres, each of the nine personality types has a particular strength in one of them. This leading, or primary centre, is the foundation of both our internal character structure and our style of being in the world. Understanding our core centre is critical to realising our full potential as individuals and professionals, as well as overcoming our blind spots.
The Intellectual Center: language and rational thinking, thoughts and images, plans and strategies are all done with the intellect. The location is in the head.
The Emotional Center: pleasant and negative feelings, empathy and care for others, romance and devotion are all handled through the “heart.” Located between the diaphragm and the chest.
The Instinctual Center is concerned with the use of the body for mobility, sensory awareness, gut level knowledge, personal security, and social belonging.
The Enneagram can be viewed as a group of nine distinct personality types, with each number on the Enneagram representing one of these types. It’s common to find a little of yourself in each of the nine categories, but one should stick out as being the most like you. This is the most fundamental personality type.
Everyone emerges from birth with one of the nine personality types dominating their personality, with our type being primarily determined by our temperament and other prenatal variables. We are born with a dominant type, according to almost all of the major Enneagram authors. As a result, our inborn orientation heavily influences how we learn to adapt to our early childhood surroundings.
It also appears to lead to some implicit attitudes toward our parents, however why this is the case is unknown. In any event, by the time children reach the age of four or five, their consciousness has matured enough for them to have a distinct sense of self. Children at this age begin to establish themselves and find methods to fit into the world on their own, despite the fact that their identities are still highly flexible.
As a result, our personality’s overall orientation reflects the sum of all childhood variables (including genetics) that influenced its formation. (See the corresponding part in the type descriptions in Personality Types and The Wisdom of the Enneagram for more information on each personality type’s growth processes.) Understanding The Enneagram, 67-70, has a description of the broader idea.
There are a few more points to be made concerning the basic type.
People do not transition from one personality type to the next.
Because no personality type is fundamentally masculine or feminine, the descriptions of the personality types are universal and apply equally to males and females.
Because you change continually between the healthy, average, and unhealthy features that make up your personality type, not everything in the description of your basic type will apply to you all of the time.
Because numbers are value neutral, the Enneagram employs numbers to denote each of the types. They imply the entire spectrum of attitudes and behaviours of each type without specifying anything positive or negative. Unlike the labels used in psychiatry, numbers are a non-judgmental, concise means of expressing a lot about a person without being judgmental.
The numerical order of the types has no bearing. A higher number is not superior to a smaller number; being a Nine is not superior to being a Two simply because nine is a larger number.
There is no one type that is intrinsically better or worse than the others. While each personality type has its own set of benefits and drawbacks, some are more desirable than others in any given society or community. Furthermore, you may not be content with your personality type for a variety of reasons. However, as you learn more about each type, you’ll notice that each has its own set of assets and liabilities. The goal should be to become your best self, not to emulate the qualities of another personality type.
The Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator (RHETI® version 2.5) will determine your basic personality type if used correctly. This short section is presented so that we may get a basic knowledge of the kinds in our discussion without having to move on to the next section’s more detailed definitions.
When you consider your personality, which of the following nine roles best describes you? To put it another way, which of the following word clusters would come closest to describing yourself in a few words?
“The Enneagram describes nine different types — nine different ways of seeing the world.”
These single-word descriptors can be combined to form four-word trait sets. Keep in mind that these are just highlights and do not cover the entire range of each personality type.
Type One people are principled, goal-oriented, self-disciplined, and perfectionist.
Ones are a body-centered personality with a strong focus on personal integrity and self-control. Their focus is on identifying and correcting errors, as well as doing the right thing. They are noted for their dependability, honesty, and common sense.
Ones are extremely responsible, to the point of resenting others who do not take life as seriously as they do. They have high expectations and tend to see things in black-and-white, right-and-wrong terms. It’s natural for them to judge themselves and others. They strive to be correct all of the time.
They are idealistic and will go to tremendous lengths to change the world around them, putting them in the position of social reformer. Accepting their flaws and tolerating the viewpoints of others are critical components of their development.
Strengths: Honesty, accountability, and a desire to grow
Problems: Resentful, inflexible, and too critical
Speaking style: Detailed and precise, with a penchant to preach
Type Two is generous, demonstrative, people-pleasing, and possessive.
The twos are a feeling-based personality with a strong emphasis on relationships. They are great at building relationships and empathising with other people’s wants and feelings. They are usually good at assisting others in realising their full potential. However, directing their attention to themselves and determining what they require is even more challenging. They desire to be liked and accepted by others, and they will adapt or change themselves to achieve this goal.
Twos, like emotional sponges, must be cautious about what they absorb from those around them. Although they may have emotional outbursts to release the pressure, becoming upset or setting personal limits might be difficult. While being a special person or winning others’ approval has its benefits, it cannot replace being liked for oneself.
Strengths: Caring, popular, communicator
Problems: Privileged, naive, dependent
Speaking style: Being nice and sympathetic, giving advice, sometimes militant for the cause
Type Three is adaptable, excelling, driven, and image-conscious.
Threes are emotional types, yet they use their emotional energy to accomplish goals. They take charge and work hard to achieve their objectives. They’re extremely adaptive, and they’re great at “feeling out” and satisfying other people’s expectations when it’ll help them succeed. It’s difficult for them to stop or slow down since they prefer to keep busy and on the move. Their obsession with maintaining their image and getting outcomes can obstruct their own needs and wellbeing.
Business in the United States is a strong Three culture, with employees receiving a lot of positive feedback for being productive and efficient. Concentrating on external praise or money rewards while losing touch with who they are on the inside is a problem for Threes. Stepping out of their responsibilities, feeling their own emotions, and deciding what is essential to them is tough for them.
Strengths: Successful, energetic, high achiever
Problems: Overworked, impatient, competitive
Speaking style: Enthusiastic, motivating themselves and others for success
Type Four is expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed, and temperamental.
Fours are emotional types who are typically filled with longing and melancholy. For them, something is lacking, leading to a search for wholeness through romantic idealism, healing, or aesthetics. Fours suffer sentiments of envy when they compare themselves to others. They seek purpose and depth in their relationships, employment, and personal creation.
Many Fours are dance, music, and poetry performers who excel at expressing common human emotions. While they strive to project a positive image, authenticity is paramount. Their focus shifts back and forth from empathising with others to their own inner experience, which is often passionate and often too emotional. They require alone time. For Fours, the key to healing and progress is to strike a balance between melancholy and the ability to be happy and satisfied, even if the relationship or experience is defective or incomplete.
Strengths: Compassionate, idealistic, emotional depth
Problems: Moody, withdrawn, uncooperative
Speaking style: Sometimes warm and feelingful, sometimes flat and dry; they tend to be subjective, and they try to be aesthetically correct. Often a tone of sadness or dissatisfaction
Type Five is perceptive, innovative, secretive, and isolated.
Fives are mental types who focus on intellectual understanding and accumulating knowledge. They are often scholars or technical experts because of their keen perception and analytical ability. They value their privacy and personal liberty, and other individuals may be perceived as intrusive. Personal freedom comes from being able to disconnect from other people and emotional strain, yet it can also lead to loneliness.
Some people of this type may be clever or knowledgeable intellectually, but feelings and relationships are a huge issue for them. Others value family and friends, but they will require enough alone time to explore their own hobbies and re-create themselves. Reaching out to others, even if it causes discomfort or disagreement, is necessary for fives to counteract their tendency to withdraw or withhold from others.
Strengths: Scholarly, perceptive, self-reliant
Problems: Isolated, overly intellectual, stingy
Speaking style: Rational and technical, most comfortable in their area of expertise. Not big on “small talk.”
Type Six is engaging, responsible, anxious, and suspicious.
Sixes are mental kinds who utilise their perception and intellect to comprehend the world and determine whether or not other individuals are friendly. They are concerned about the group’s, project’s, or community’s safety. Sixes are excellent at anticipating issues and devising solutions. Knowing the rules and reaching agreements with others are crucial, but they also have a tendency to mistrust themselves and others. They might swing from scepticism to confidence, rebel to fervent believer.
Some Sixes are in “cautious” mode; they pause, worry excessively, and procrastinate. Other Sixes choose to stay in “strong” mode, rushing into action and attempting to prepare themselves physically or mentally to overcome their fear. Sixes grow more adaptable and have the guts to act as they learn to trust themselves and other people in the presence of doubt or ambivalence.
Strengths: Loyal, courageous, attentive to people and problems; often strategic thinkers
Problems: Suspicious, pessimistic, doubtful
Speaking style: Setting limits on themselves and others, having serious questions, and playing devil’s advocate. Sometimes ideologically zealous.
Type Seven is spontaneous, versatile, acquisitive, and scattered.
Sevens are forward-thinking and forward-moving thinking kinds. They normally approach all of their activities with a bright and upbeat attitude. They are fascinated by a wide range of topics. They prefer to keep their alternatives and possibilities open rather than being bound to one thing.
They are less concerned with their image and other people’s approval than other kinds, despite the fact that they can be good communicators. Having joy (or getting to do one’s own thing) is the most important thing, whether it’s found in travel and adventure or more intellectual pursuits. They are voracious consumers of novel ideas, cutting-edge technology, and enjoyable experiences. However, they may experience difficulty if they have too much of a good thing. It’s difficult for them to get into depth about things and keep on track in job and relationships because their attention switches so quickly.
Slowing down, being in the moment, and learning to tolerate their own and other people’s suffering – all can bring needed balance.
Strengths: Adventurous, fun loving, quick thinking
Problems: Self-absorbed, dispersed, uncommitted
Speaking style: Personal storytelling, which can be either very entertaining or simply self-absorbed. They also focus on the positive, and tend to ignore or quickly “reframe” the negative.
Type Eight is self-confident, decisive, willful, and confrontational.
Eights are a body-based type who tend to take charge of situations and step into a leadership role. They are energetic and intense, and they can be intimidating at times to other people. Impatient with rules and regulations, they like to do things their way. By asserting control over their environment, they do their best to protect themselves and anyone else who is part of their family or group.
Fairness or justice is a high priority. If they feel wronged, they will fight back since in their experience weakness or vulnerability will precipitate an attack from the outside world. The strength (and aggression) that are generated in this mission can be admirable, but also misapplied. The challenge for Eights is to combine assertion and control with interdependency and cooperation, as well as learning how to curb their often excessive appetites.
Strengths: Enthusiastic, generous, powerful
Problems: Excessive, angry, dominating
Speaking style: Eights usually speak assertively and exert strong leadership. They tend to be bossy and when things go wrong, they often get angry.
Type Nine is receptive, reassuring, complacent, and resigned.
Nines are the most basic and common personality type, balanced at the top of the Enneagram. They are the “salt of the earth” and the “glue” that binds the neighbourhood together. This type of person comes in many shapes and sizes, but they all have the same problem with inertia (or momentum). Whether they are indolent in the classic sense or dedicated workers who are constantly on the move, “Nines” struggle to establish and maintain their own priorities. It’s difficult to change course or focus on what’s most important. They “forget” who they are.
Nines are exceptional at seeing things from multiple perspectives. This might make making personal decisions difficult for them, but they can also be good mediators and peacemakers for others. Nines are drawn to harmony and will go to considerable efforts to avoid disagreement.
They are body-based types, with a strong gut sense of knowing, although they can also be out of touch with their bodies.
Strengths: Balanced, accepting, harmonious
Problems: Stubborn, ambivalent, conflict avoidant
Speaking style: Inclusive and welcoming at their best, Nines may have trouble getting to the point. They can be linear and over-controlled, or they can be quite dispersed.
The Enneagram numbers are divided into triads, which are three groups of three numbers each. Each group is led by a dominant intelligence center, which is where we usually react. Each trio is guided by a certain emotional theme. While anybody of these emotions might be felt by anyone of these types, one tends to be dominant, the emotion that is always present. I experience guilt and dread as a One, but I’m in the Rage triad, and anger is the emotion I constantly have access to.
The Gut or Anger triad is made up of eights, nines, and ones. We all react from this place, albeit in various ways. The Eights externalise their wrath, the Nines strive to ignore it, and the Ones internalise it.
The Heart or Shame triad is made up of twos, threes, and fours. Twos manage their shame by focusing on ensuring that others like them and that they are perceived as good; Threes suppress their shame and strive for achievement; and Fours manage their shame by focusing on their individuality.
The Head or Fear Triad is made up of fives, sixes, and sevens. Fives are afraid of the outside world and escape into their own. Sixes are the most fearful and anxious, and they seek outside assistance in making judgments. Sevens are afraid of their inner world and want to run away from their unfavourable feelings.
Knowing the triads can help you limit down your options. Is dread the emotion that comes to mind first for you? You may be a number five, six, or seven.
We categorise people on a regular basis. No one approaches others without first putting themselves into one of several mental categories. People are instinctively classified as male or female, black or white, attractive or unattractive, good or evil, friend or foe, and so on. It is not only honest to recognise this, but it is also beneficial to have more precise and relevant classifications for everyone, including ourselves.
Although the Enneagram is the most open-ended and dynamic of all typologies, it does not mean it can express everything there is to say about people. Individuals are comprehensible up to a degree, after which they become enigmatic and unpredictable.
As a result, even though there are no clear explanations for people, it is still possible to assert something truthful about them. In the end, the Enneagram aids us in doing just that—and nothing else. The Enneagram is beneficial because it reveals certain constellations of meaning about something that is basically beyond definition: the enigma that we are, with stunning clarity.
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