What is the Enneagram?
The Enneagram is an incredibly precise and accurate personality typing system that shines light on our patterns of feeling, thinking and behavior.
These patterns form personality structures that shape how we relate to ourselves, others and our world.
The Enneagram identifies nine Personality Types. “Enneagram” is a combination of two Greek words: “ennea,” which is the word for nine, and “grammos,” the word for diagram. The diagram consists of a circle with nine points placed around the circumference.
No one Type is superior to any other Type. They hold equal space and all belong. Each Type possesses assets and qualities necessary for the survival of species.
While we share in all nine of the Types, each of us have a dominant Enneagram Type. The personality structure consists of patterns of feeling, thinking and behavior that shape how we relate to ourselves, others and our world.
A unique feature that distinguishes the Enneagram from other typing systems is that it provides pathways for growth, change and integration. The Enneagram brings awareness to our patterns of automatic, habitual responses and our defense mechanisms. Once observed, the Enneagram the points us in the direction of useful, productive change.
The Nine Personality Types:
● Type 1—The perfectionist and reformer. Ones believe they are worthy and loveable only if they are good (perfect). They focus on THE right way, being good and what needs to be corrected.
● Type 2—The helper and caregiver. Twos believe they are worthy and loveable if they are helpful and if people like them. They focus on others’ needs, being useful and giving, all the while disowning their own needs.
● Type 3—The performer and achiever. Threes believe they are worthy and loveable if they achieve, perform, produce and succeed. They focus on others’ approval and applause and strive to present the image of productivity, accomplishment and success.
● Type 4—The individualist and romantic. Fours believe they are worthy and loveable if they can stand out, be unique, authentically express themselves and be understood. They focus on feelings, being special, expressiveness and on what is missing in their lives.
● Type 5—The investigator, analyzer and observer. Fives believe they are worthy and loveable if they master their skill, possess information and are knowledgeable. They focus on protecting against the demands of others and life itself, gaining information and figuring out how life works.
● Type 6—The loyalist, worrier. Sixes believe they are worthy and loveable if they belong to the right group, adhere to the right ideology and/or follow the right leader. They focus on what could go wrong, making preparations that ensure safety, security and certainty, and loyalty to ideology, group, leader and friends.
● Type 7—The enthusiast and dreamer. Sevens believe they are worthy and loveable if they can have all the fun and adventure that life offers. They focus on avoiding pain, discomfort and boredom, imagining possibilities, having fun and having it all.
● Type 8—The leader and boss. Eights believe they are worthy and loveable if they are strong, powerful and in control. They focus on strength and assertiveness, resisting being controlled or dominated, avoiding weakness and vulnerability and defending against injustice.
● Type 9—The mediator, peacemaker and avoider. Nines believe they are worthy and loveable if they maintain peace and harmony. They focus on avoiding conflict and maintaining comfort and harmony, others’ agendas and making sure others are validated.
Some resist personality typing systems such as the Enneagram. Their position sounds something like, “I don’t want to be put in a box.”
Obviously, no one wants to be pigeonholed. No one likes being stereotyped or judged. The Enneagram offers this shift in perspective: we are already in a box—the personality structure that shapes and often dictates how we feel, think and behave.
The catch is that we are not aware of the box we’ve been living in throughout life. The Enneagram reveals our box and helps us see it for what it is. It also allows us to look over the walls of our box and discover there are eight other boxes that people live in.
Understanding and applying the Enneagram empowers us to begin to integrate the perspectives of the other boxes and live liberated, intentional lives.