Some of you may know what the Enneagram is, but I would guess that many of you might not. This certainly isn’t a comprehensive review, but more of a teaser that might encourage you to delve deeper into learning more about it. A large disclaimer – I am not an expert. I am still most definitely a novice with lots to learn and will continue to share as I learn. I will be sharing several resources that I find helpful in a following post (which you can find HERE.)
The Enneagram, at its very basic understanding, is an ancient personality typing system – a sort of compass that helps you find yourself. Enneagram literally means in Greek “The drawing of Nine.” It asserts that human beings are drawn to one of nine distinct personality types. These personalities are thought to be a bit of both nature and nurture. Something in us is predisposed to a personality, but we also take on a personality type very early on in response to our experiences. Our personality is a way that we human beings learn to interact with the outer world and still keep our inner-self safe. It is argued then, that our personality is not truly who we are, but it is a defense strategy we put up to protect our true self. We learn very early in life that our true self isn’t safe in the world. Our personality is who we are, but then again it isn’t. It is the walls around the castle, but it isn’t the castle itself. Our personality, our type, helps us navigate through the world. It is how we interact with others. It is how we make decisions. It is how we handle and deal with conflict. It is our subconscious habits and routines.
By understanding our type, our predispositions, and reflecting on our self, we are able to gain some self-awareness and begin to move beyond our personality and into our true-self. I will now give you a brief run down of the nine types, and will provide a link for each type for further description. I will include a picture of each numbers ‘Totem Animal’/ ‘Spirit Animal’ as well for something fun.
- The Perfectionist
The One is known as The Perfectionist or The Reformer. These names fit the One well. Ones are able to see what’s wrong in the world almost immediately. They can determine what needs fixing in a situation, in a relationship, at a job, in an organization, in others, but mostly in themselves. Ones get a bad rap, because who wants to be criticized all the time, but Ones are actually incredible people to have close to you, as long as you are willing to be open to self-reflection and growth. Ones demand an integrity that holds the people around them accountable. They are honest and forthright. Every One will tell you that they have a literal voice in their head that they name ‘The Inner Critic.’ Learning how to navigate and relate with their ‘Inner Critic’ is probably the most difficult, yet the most important task the One has. An integrated healthy One will have figured out how to use the ‘Inner Critic’ as a tool to better themselves and the world, but they will not allow it to hold them captive. A disintegrated One allows the ‘Inner Critic’ to run the show. It becomes the loudest voice in their life. Nothing and no one is good enough, especially themselves. Ones tend to be hardest on themselves. This leads them to live their life in resentment and anger. Ones move to a Four in Stress/Disintegration and move to a Seven in Health/Integration. Find out more about Ones HERE.
- The Helper
Twos have a deep-seeded belief that in order to be loved they have to earn it. Because of this belief, Twos then feel driven to help, care for, and support others whom they want to love them back. Twos will always care for others before themselves. They are extremely intuitive emotionally and are able to tell what others might need, and then they work tirelessly to provide that need for them. Many of us love Twos for this, because they give us love and attention and are willing to do almost anything for us. However, Twos also have the ability, especially in disintegration, to come off as intrusive and manipulative. They can insert themselves into relationships and/or situations that they haven’t been invited into. The greatest challenge for Twos is focusing so much on helping others in order to be loved that they never help themselves. An integrated Two will have learned how important self-care and self-love are. Twos move towards an Eight when they are in Stress/Disintegration and move towards a Four in Health/Integration. Find out more about Twos HERE.
- The Performer
Threes believes that the path toward being loved is paved through success and accomplishments. Image is incredibly important to Threes. They literally believe that if they perform well enough then they can make themselves lovable. They are extremely driven and can be quite charismatic. They are able to assess a situation or a room of people and figure out what/who they need to be in order to be seen in the greatest light. Because of this, Threes are known to be able to put on many different masks depending on the situation or context that they are in, which makes it difficult to actually know who the real Three is. They have a competitive drive that makes them want to win at all costs. An integrated, healthy Three has the power to do an incredible amount of good in the world. Threes move towards Nine in Stress/Disintegration and move to Six in Health/Integration. Find out more about Threes HERE.
- The Romantic
Authenticity is what Fours crave. They need something real and meaningful. They are always seeking and searching for something more, something deeper, something more momentous. They want their life to have meaning and their relationships to have meaning. In their need for more, they can have a tendency to be jealous, seeing what others have and being upset or disappointed that they don’t have it too. “The grass is greener on the other side of the fence” can often be their mentality. In disintegration they can come off as self-absorbed and dramatic, but in health they can be incredibly empathetic, creative, and real. Fours are deeply in touch with their feelings. In Stress/Disintegration Fours move toward the Two and in Health/Integration they move towards the One. Find out more about Fours HERE.
- The Observer
Fives have a tendency to live their lives inside their head. They are detail oriented and information driven. In many ways they fear the experience of the world and the pain that it can cause, so they build walls of protection by withdrawing into their mind. The more information, statistics, and details they have, the more they feel that they are in control. Others might feel that Fives are disconnected from the world, over-analytical, and overly private, especially when in stress. If Fives let you into their lives and into their world, it is a great honor and privilege. In Stress/Disintegration Fives move towards the Seven and in Health/Integration they move towards the Eight. Find out more about Fives HERE.
- The Loyalist
A little bit like the Five, the Sixes find safety living in their head. Sixes, who are also called Skeptics, have a deep distrust of the world and find the world to be dangerous. They question everything and seek certainty. Safety and security are their number one concern. Because of their distrust, they tend to question authority. Even though the Six might doubt and distrust you, they are people you can trust and develop deep friendships with. They are great problem solvers, but can be perceived as controlling and challenging. In Stress/Disintegration Sixes move toward the Three and in Health/Integration they move towards the Nine. Find out more about Sixes HERE.
- The Enthusiast
The Seven is all about living life to the fullest. They believe that life should be lived and experienced through positivity and with as little pain and drama as possible. They have an extreme FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and are constantly looking forward to the next adventure or experience. The problem is, this often causes them to miss out on the present, because they are so worried about the future. The idea of being bored might be their biggest fear. Sevens, especially in stress, can come off as self-serving and unable to commit to anything. Yet having a healthy Seven as a friend or loved one is a gift, because they will take you on adventures you never dreamed of. The Stressed/Disintegrated Seven moves toward the One, while in Health/Integration they move towards Five. Find out more about Sevens HERE.
- The Challenger
Eights find protection and safety in power and strength. They exude confidence and use conflict as a way of communicating their thoughts, ideas, and opinions. Conflict is not a negative experience for Eights, but simply a form of expression. They have strong feelings and beliefs and have no problems pushing those who they disagree with. They are direct and focused on action. They do not like to be controlled and will fight for others if they are being unjustly controlled. Eights can come off as being impulsive, stubborn, and difficult to work with. However, Eights also are able to advocate and get things done in ways that the other could only imagine. If an Eight is on your side, you will have an advocate and friend who will work tirelessly for you. If an Eight is against you…look out! Eights move towards Five in Stress/Disintegration and towards Two in Health/Integration. Find out more about Eights HERE.
- The Peacemaker (my number)
Harmony is the goal of every Nine. Mostly inner harmony, but in order to have inner harmony they need outer harmony. Conflict is the Nines’ greatest fear, because of this Nines avoid conflict at all costs. This usually leads to Nines being agreeable, easy-going, go-with-the-flow type of people, because they don’t want to rock the boat. If someone else has a strong opinion Nines will generally defer to them. Nines have the gift of seeing all sides and can empathize with everyone. They are inclusive and want everyone to feel welcome and comfortable. A healthy Nine holds great power, in that they are able to relate to everyone yet they also have a great understanding of themselves. A disintegrated Nine will most likely be unable to tell you who they are or what they believe. They are so busy appeasing others they have no idea who they are themselves. Nines move towards Six in Stress/Disintegration and move towards Three in Health/Integration. Find out more about Nines HERE.
There is my very brief overview of the nine numbers of the Enneagram. What number resonates with you?
©Derek Harkins 2018