The Enneagram//To know thyself
Updated: Sep 21, 2020
Who am I? Who have I become? Why do I think or feel the way I do. The person I am today is not the person I was 10 years ago. And yet I am the same person. Did I change or merely evolve into who I am? Am I everything I want to be? These are all questions we wonder and readily seek answers to.
And in a lighthearted turn, perhaps you've tried a personality test.
Personality tests are fun, silly, oftentimes addictive. You know what I'm talking about: answer a few questions and your "type" is revealed, like some kind of oracle that shines insight into who you are, your traits and characteristics, strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes they are so ambiguous the results can be universally applicable, other times they can shock and surprise us with how accurately they describe our personalities.
One of the best personality tests I had taken to date was the well known and widely used Meyers-Briggs. Though not without its faults, I was astounded by the accuracy of my results. ENFP: Extroverted, Intuitive, Feeling and Perceiving. People with this type of personality are often described as "enthusiastic, charismatic, and creative, charming, energetic, and independent. They are creative and do best in situations where they have the freedom to be creative and innovative". While this description definitely gave me warm and fuzzy feelings, it was really the weaknesses it described that really resonated with me and reminded me of my areas of potential growth. Armed with the knowledge of all that being an ENFP entailed, it gave me a greater sense of identity and self-awareness pertaining to the reasoning behind some of my own behaviours.
But, I'm not going to talk about the Meyers-Briggs test today, but a different personality test that's based on a far deeper and more holistic understanding of human nature and humanity.
This is the mysterious and intriguing Enneagram, an ancient symbol found in art, geometry and alchemy.
Within the context of the Enneagram personality test: it is a system of nine-interconnected personality types mapped out on a nine-pointed diagram that illustrates how the types relate to each other. Each type is categorized into one of three intelligence centres that shape our way of being and is our primary method of perception, through head, heart or body.
We obviously have all three, but one is our dominant way of moving through the world (you know, feelers, thinkers and doers and the like)
The results are extraordinarily precise, and help you not only understand yourself but how your personality relates to others. The arrows indicate the direction we move during times of stress and growth.
For example: I am an Enneagram Type 4. Creative, romantic, self-aware and expressive.
4s are emotionally honest, creative, and personal, but can also be moody and self-conscious. At their Best: inspired and highly creative, they are able to renew themselves and transform their experiences.
Basic Fear: That they have no identity or personal significance
Basic Desire: To find themselves and their significance (to create an identity)
To strive for growth, I should aspire to move in the direction of a healthy Type 1 and in times of stress, I tend to act like an unhealthy Type 2.
Determining our personality type through the Enneagram does not put us in a box, but helps us see the box from which we experience the world. With this awareness, we can step outside of our limited perspective. Ideally, personality is an effective way to express ourselves, but challenges arise when our point of view becomes rigid and we get stuck in automatic habits. By discovering these unconscious patterns, we can lead more fulfilling lives, enjoy healthier relationships, and connect to our true essence.
The diagram itself indicates the pathways that each personality type tends to follow during shifts of awareness and behaviour in our daily lives. As we move around the circumference of the circle, our relationship to the Enneagram types on either side, known as wing points, further affects our type structure. The lines connecting the points show where energy flows in times of stress and security.
Intrigued yet? You can use the knowledge and wisdom of the Enneagram for spiritual and mental growth. Because it's far more than a personality test, it's a roadmap for an inward journey of self-growth, discovery and healing. Understanding, connecting and ultimately healing the innermost parts of your psyche and strengthening your ability to understand and relate to others.
Whether you take this test this out of curiosity or are craving deeper insight into who you are - the Enneagram can be used as a tool for self-growth and understanding, and a poignant reminder that although we are each individual - one of a kind beings with our own unique narratives and histories - we are all connected and we need to celebrate our uniqueness while understanding it within the broader context of how we relate and connect with others.
So what's your number? Take the Enneagram Test
And to dive deeper:
For further inspiration, "Sleeping at last" wrote a song for each of the Enneagram types and listening to the song dedicated to YOU is guaranteed to hit you right in the feels.
Listen to them here.
(from the song "Four")