I’m a big fan of Myers Briggs personality tool as it gives us a broad overview of how we perceive and function in the world. It tells you about your personality weaknesses and strengths, but it’s essentially a descriptive tool, meaning that you won’t find much information or clues to spot what you can change or improve in order to evolve as a more integrated human being. The Enneagram, however, gives you a clear and straight depicture of how you can either breakthrough or breakdown in life by telling what motivates you and what pattern keeps holding you back from being your best self.
Even people who think they are more self-aware than the average person can learn a lot with the enneagram. When you assume you know yourself well enough, you become comfortable and you stop questioning your behaviour and attitudes. You know what happens when we stop questioning – we stop learning and we are more prone to take our life as it is for granted. In other words, when we stop doing the inner work, we live an unexamined self and we don’t realise or notice that we may be interpreting what happens to us in a distorted way.
There are lenses we use to see the world and ourselves which may have been useful in the past, in our childhood or teenage years. These lenses allowed us to survive and move through life but that doesn’t mean they are adequate, healthy or even helpful to our development. The Enneagram gives us some information about these lenses and offers us an explanation about our true essence and how we deviate from that essence when we are under stress and when we don’t to the necessary work to release ourselves from our ego defenses.
In a nutshell, the Enneagram allows us to know ourselves better and to identify what limits us and what empowers us to become that pure diamond we all are. In total, there are nine different personality styles (ennea means nine and gram means figure) that form a nine-pointed geometric figure. We adopt one of them in childhood in order to cope and survive. Each personality style has its own worldview which shapes the way people think, feel and behave, and it’s also linked to two more personalities in the figure.
There are healthy, average and unhealthy levels within each personality style. These levels depend on your self-awareness and circumstances. When overwhelmed, people tend to assume the negative characteristics of the personality style that is connected to their personality by an arrow pointing away. When in balance, people tend to assume the positive characteristics of the personality style indicated by an arrow towards their core personality. For instances, I’m a Personality Type 4 in the Enneagram and under stress I become a 2, which is codependent in nature. When I’m in a good place, however, I become a 1, which is ethical and motivated to the live life the right way (and thus my obsession with wellbeing and lifestyle parafernalia).
I agree with other authors when they say that the Enneagram is a tool that moves us to be more compassionate towards each other. It allows us to see that people are the way they are and we all have issues. We can’t use, nonetheless, our personality result as an excuse for wrongdoing and hurting others. You can’t say “I’m like this so get over it”. For instances, I’m a 4 and I need to learn how to regulate my intense emotions so that I don’t overwhelm others and I’m willing to work on this because I understand that on top of being highly-sensitive I’m wired to be emotionally charged. Then once I get back to number 1 (the ethical persona), I either apologise and admit I was wrong or I rest my case like a stoic which is not always a good thing and can contrast with my other personality tendencies. I can see where I confuse people and can make them mad.