What is Enneagram?

EnneagramA few years ago a friend told me about this workshop she had attended that I might find interesting.  It was an introduction to The Enneagram personality typing.  After having her spell out E-n-n-e-a-g-r-a-m I was fascinated by what she had learned.

And so my journey for my “Ennea” type began.  I visited enneagramworldwide.com and took the online test.  This gave me a couple of choices of what my type might be.  Then I purchased the book The Essential Enneagram by David Daniels which has been a valuable little guide to help understand the nine basic types of what is enneagram.

I am still very much a beginner at understanding The Enneagram but I will attempt to share with you some of what I have learned. 

First of all there is a diagram that shows 9 numbers in a circle with lines in the middle.  This is not some crazy cultic symbol.  It’s a map that shows the 9 different types and how they are related to each other. 

For example: If you look at the diagram you can easily follow the lines from a Type 7 and see that this type has a connection to Type 1 and 5.

This can all seem confusing at first glance but it’s part of what makes studying the enneagram system so fascinating.

Let’s get back to the basics. The Nine different personality types are:

  1. Type One: The Perfectionist
  2. Type Two: The Giver
  3. Type Three: The Performer
  4. Type Four: The Romantic
  5. Type Five: The Observer
  6. Type Six: The Loyal Skeptic
  7. Type Seven: The Epicure
  8. Type Eight: The Protector
  9. Type Nine: The Mediator

When I first read this list I thought I don’t want to be boxed in and limited to just one! (Which I found out later is a characteristic of my type.) What I have learned and admire about this system is that the last thing it does is box you in.  Of course we could never be a number.  Humans are complicated and complex and as I am learning very predictable.  The Enneagram is about what beliefs we have that motivate us to certain behavior.  Sometimes early in our lives we get fixated on certain beliefs and presto our personality is formed.  It’s an amazing thing when you realize that other people share your personality type and they are motivated by the same beliefs. 

For example the Type 1, Perfectionist. This type has a strong need to do the right thing without compromise. They have high moral standards and principles, and are hard workers. There can be an undercurrent of frustration and resentment, and One's can be highly critical of themselves and others. Usually One's don’t realize the extent of their anger and resentment, although others are usually aware of it. One's tend to hide their anger behind “shoulds": “You should do that because it’s right,” “You shouldn’t do that because it’s wrong.”

If you were the only Type (any type) in your family you may struggle with being misunderstood or feeling different.  Maybe you had that one special Aunt or other person that you felt really “got” you.  Maybe they shared the same Enneagram Type as you.  This is what it feels like to connect with others that have your same Type.  I heard a good friend say “It was like coming home (deep sigh)”.

Good luck with your Enneagram journey whatever it may be.  For me I have found a deeper compassion for others, especially those types that are not connected to mine, and most importantly I have found a deeper understanding and compassion for myself.


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