For the past few months, I have been doing some reading and self-discovery about the Enneagram and finding my type. There are so many personality types out there that it is hard to figure out which one is best. The thing I like best about the Ennegram is that the focus is not on just identifying your personality, but looking at how you can be a healthy version of your type.
Each of us has a “shadow side” and the Ennegram helps you to identify that and learn how to overcome it. The goal is health and wholeness and identifying it helps you with that journey.
A few things I learned was that the best way to discover your type was by reading all the types and discovering which one you identified with the most. Also, you should never tell anyone what you think their type is, nor should you listen to what others say about you. There are a lot of tests out there that you can take but I think the best one is found on the Enneagram Institute‘s website. The test is called The RHETI Test. It does cost $12 but it is totally worth it.
I took the RHETI test when I was in the middle of reading the book The Sacred Enneagram. After reading the different types I was really identifying with Type 2 and before I started the section “Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth” I wanted to verify my type, which is why I took the test. I wanted to make sure what I was identifying with was correct so I could learn more about my path to spiritual growth.
One of the biggest indicators of your type is what is called the “childhood wound”. That sounds really bad but essentially there is something, not necessarily a singular event, that has shaped you and pushed you to the edge of the circle where your type is. What was interesting for me was that when I initially read mine I wasn’t too sure, but when I read the book The Road Back To You there was a quote underneath the chapter headings that described it perfectly and it really solidified that it was my type. That quote kind of hurt because it pretty much nailed me.
For each type, you are connected with two other types that either helps you or hurt you. In the book The Road Back To You, it is described as your security (also growth) and your stress. You can see which one is which by looking at the graphic to the left. For Type 2, my stress comes from the unhealthy parts of Type 8 and my security (growth) comes from the healthy parts of Type 4.
After identifying this I really started looking back over my life and realizing how true that was. I can think of one specific moment when I saw how I leaned into the unhealthy parts of Type 8 early in my time as a youth pastor. It always seemed to happen at summer camp (and those of you reading this who were there will probably nodding in agreement) when I would feel the stress and act like an unhealthy 8. After one of those times, the man who was my youth pastor growing up and mentor for many years wrote me a letter that I still have to this day. He did not say it this way but essentially what he told me was that I was not acting like a healthy Type 2, because of the stress at camp. Instead, I was acting like a power controlling, unhealthy Type 8. When I last read that letter (I told you I kept it) it was just a couple of months ago and with my new knowledge of the Enneagram it took on a whole new meaning for me.
The Ennegram is divided up into three triads. They are called the Head (thinking), Heart (feeling), and Gut (instinct) triads. Types 8, 9, & 1 are the Gut triad. Types 2, 3, & 4 are the Heart triad. Types 5, 6, & 7 are the Head triad. Essentially these are the areas that each particular type operates out of. For example, my type (Type 2) is in the Heart triad and I filter the world through emotion to stay connected. Mainly my connection is attached to helping people.
The goal is not to just identify my type but to figure out how I can essentially move from the edge of the circle and back into the middle where we all started and belong. The way we can do this is through the Harmony triad. Each type in the triad is connected to another type in each of the other triads. The Harmony Triads are like this: 1-4-7, 2-5-8, & 3-6-9. The goal is that each type needs to find balance with the type from the other two types in their harmony triad.
I am not sure if you noticed this or not but in the harmony triads, I need to pull from Type 8 (and Type 5) to find greater balance. Yet for Type 2, we tend to pull from the unhealthy parts of Type 8. Hopefully, you can see part of my dilemma as I am digging more into the Harmony Triads.
Thankfully, SouthBrook Church where my wife and I go to church recently started up The Growth Institute to help people grow into wholeness. The recently had a two-day workshop called Enneagram: Movement Toward Wholeness and during that time I was able to really dig deeper into the Harmony Triads. The workshop was amazing and so helpful! In the end, the goal is to find wholeness by reclaiming your original and authentic story. Each of us was instructed to come up with a mantra that would help us. What I came up with is “my presence inspires kindness and love“. The “presence” part is where I pull from the healthy part of Type 8 and the “inspires” part is where I pull from the healthy part of Type 5 while “kindness and love” are from my Type 2.
I am just starting this journey but I am so glad that I am on it. I have learned so much about myself through the Enneagram. It has also opened my eyes to how I interact with other Types. I realize how much I could have done things differently when dealing with others. Especially in dealing with others who are operating from the unhealthy side of their type. I can’t fix what has happened in the past. However, what I don’t work out from my past gets reactively acted out in my present.
I would love to hear your thoughts. Are you familiar with the Enneagram? Do you know your type? Where are you on your journey?