I have been studying the Enneagram independently for three years, and realized recently, that I should probably be sharing my thoughts, findings and questions in a space like this (goodness knows I have a lot of them). For those who may be unfamiliar, the Enneagram is a system of personality theory (or “typology”), but more than that– when studied and applied, it’s a very worthy tool for emotional, relational and spiritual growth. Sadly, I have seldom seen it used so. One of the main aims of my current study and use of the Enneagram is to encourage deeper, more meaningful use. To do away with shallow knowledge and application, which only leads to stereotyping and further self deception– a shame, when the Enneagram is meant to bring the polar opposite: self awareness, growth and understanding of others.
Friends, this is a tool. A tool is not something you utilize once and then discard, but something you return to and put to use repeatedly– especially if it works, and helps to resolve issues. That, the Enneagram can, if we choose to add it to our arsenal.
A Brief Overview
The Enneagram centers around motivations, (not just what we do, but why we do what we do) and an individual’s dark side. There are 9 core types, each with core motivations, a core passion (sin) and a distinct health pattern, among other details. Each core type has an adjacent wing on either side (1w9, 1w2, 2w1, 2w3, 3w2, etc.) making two distinct kinds of each core type. These are the main components of the Enneagram, and the most commonly known.
The two lesser used components of the Enneagram are instinctual variant and tritype. The former has sometimes been referred to as the most important element, yet I have very often found Enneagram aware people who don’t know about it. This component is about an individual’s hierarchy of emotional needs, which consist of Social, Sexual and Self Protective. All of us have all three needs, but our experiences and wiring cause us to need/desire/cling to one more than the others. This component of the Enneagram helps us to understand our own emotional needs, and those of others, especially when they are different.
The last component, called tritype, identifies which types you are most like (after your core) to distinguish differences between people of the same core type– Tritype consists of a head, heart and gut type, never two of the same triad. This concept is not an original component of the Enneagram, but a recent addition created by some current day teachers. Some subscribe to the theory, others do not. I’ll have to write up a post on my own opinion, one of these days. 😉
When I said “brief” overview, I meant it! The Enneagram is a very complex system, that when studied can open our eyes to the way others think, and a much deeper awareness of ourselves, how we can become and maintain emotional health in life. Many people make the mistake of taking an Enneagram test, accepting the results (often mistyping) and never applying this valuable information to their lives. I want to help remedy that by sharing my own experience.
I’ll be writing here about ways to dig deep, identify type, offer resources and other knowledge I’ve filed away in the few years of my own studies, and observations of people through the lens of the Enneagram. I’ll begin by expanding on the above, a type variation at a time. Feel free to read along, ask questions and reach out– there is nothing I enjoy more than talking to people about identity, motivations, and how to utilize the Enneagram in their lives!