Are you an Eight? A Five? A One? Most of us have seen popular Enneagram quizzes online, but do we really understand it? Enneagram’s current form has existed for more than 60 years, only recently breaking into popular culture. Developed by a pair of South American scholars to synthesize ancient traditions and symbols with modern psychology, it has roots in several ancient practices. The symbol itself comes from the Greeks, with contributions from the Christian Desert Fathers, Kabbalah, and the Sufis of Islam.
Despite its ancient roots, the Enneagram has never been more relevant than it is today, providing deeper analysis than other popular personality tools. The Enneagram delineates nine different personality types based on how one experiences the world. It doesn’t just tell you how you are; it explains WHY you do what you do.
The key to accurate Enneagram typing is discovering your core fear and core motivation, which can’t be revealed in an online quiz. Humans learn methods of surviving in the world as children to help us endure hurt, pain and trauma. It is during turbulent times people often find they are ready to be rid of some of these unproductive adaptations.
The Enneagram typing system has nine main types:
1. The Reformer 2. The Helper
3. The Achiever 4. The Individualist
5. The Investigator 6. The Loyalist
7. The Enthusiast 8.The Challenger
9. The Peacemaker
Beyond this, they are broken down into three body systems. Head types (5,6,7) lead with thinking, and their emotional struggle begins with fear. Heart types (2,3,4) lead with feeling. and their emotional struggles are primarily around image or shame. Gut (8,9,1) types lead with “doing” or action, and their emotional struggle point is anger.
Depending upon the emotional, mental and physical health of an individual, personalities can present very differently even within the same type. The Enneagram considers additional factors that also help explain nuances in people, such as the dominant instinctual subtype (Self-Preservation, Social or Sexual) and the Tritype, which is a combination of one head, heart and gut type. The Enneagram doesn’t suggest certain types are better matched with other types. Relationships can flourish between any two combinations.
I have always been a personality typing enthusiast; I have a fascination with how we act and why. I encountered Enneagram during a time of upheaval in my life. I took an Enneagram quiz, which told me I was a type Two. This led to some Googling, then podcasts and books, and before I knew it, I dove fully into the study of this system. I learned that mistyping from quizzes is common. It took me years to figure out that I am actually an Eight.
An Eight is “The Challenger," whose core fear is betrayal. In response, they employ control over everything in their environment, depend upon their strength, and hide vulnerabilities. For most of my life, I swallowed my emotions and toughed things out to look strong and capable. I learned to hide the authentic, softer parts of me.
Through my Enneagram practice, I am rediscovering myself and learning that being vulnerable is the bravest, strongest thing I can do. I started asking myself deeper questions about my motivations. “Why do I feel the need to do this?” or “What do I fear will be the result if _____ happens?”
Learning the Enneagram helped me understand that which wounded me in childhood doesn’t have to be my motivation anymore. I can embrace new ways of seeing the world and drop the belief that I’ll be betrayed. It allows me to live open-hearted and share my gifts with joy.
Curious to know more? I am happy to do a “get to know me” session to see if we are a good fit for coaching. Find me on Instagram at @peaceloveandenneagram, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.