“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”
I read this quote by Merton and feel challenged and humbled and find myself shaking my head at the truth and difficulty of even considering doing something like this.
I’m not good at it.
I’m a one.
That may be something you’ve heard before but maybe it was…two….four…eight, etc. If you’ve caught the newest wave of interest in the Enneagram then you’ll either be nodding along or rolling your eyes, depending on how all the Enneagram chatter hits you.
Talk about a space I feel like a novice in. My sister…bless her…thought that I might be a good person to help answer questions about it at a company lunch-n-learn at their office. I feel so far from anything resembling an expert or even well studied student of the Enneagram enough to answer questions for anyone. But darn it, it all fascinates me. If you’re an eye roller on the topic feel free to just skip this post and be on your merry way.
I feel like I need to write this to help me process all that I have in my head about what I’ve been learning.
Here are a few of the tools I’ve used to help me out understanding both my number and others:
- Enneagram Institute Website
- The Road Back to You, (book) written by Ian Crone and Suzanne Stabile
- The Road Back to You, (podcast) hosted by Ian Crone and Suzanne Stabile
- Typology, (podcast) hosted by Ian Crone
- The Enneagram Journey, (podcast) hosted by Suzanne Stabile
- EnneaApp (phone app)
- The Enneagram: Understanding Yourself and Others in Your Life, (book) by Helen Palmer
- @yourenneagramcoach, (Instagram Account)
The list of resources these days is exhaustive as everyone wants to put their spin on the Enneagram. Yet, because of that, there’s bound to be something that fits your style of learning so jump in and soak it up.
I have a former life group friend who started a podcast called ‘Type that Cast” where they use the Enneagram to type the characters of their favorite fictional stories. I’ve just caught the first few episodes and I’m really enjoying the light hearted way of understanding the Enneagram through familiar stories. That’s just one example of the kind of content out there you can find.
Second, here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way you might consider if you’re new to the Enneagram:
- Find an Enneagram test that you have time for online and make sure you’re taking it considering what it is that motivates you and refrain from answering the questions solely looking at what it is that you do. For example…I get mistyped all the time as a 2 because of how people perceive me. But when I’m actually answering the questions from a test based on what I am motivated by, I’m not a 2. Let me explain…the 1 is motivated by the desire to be good whereas the two is motivated by the desire to be loved. The actions of a 1 can look very similar to a 2 if being “good” to a 1 is making sure to love others well and being caring and compassionate and thoughtful, etc. So, based solely on my actions, a 2 may fit more but lots of parts of the 2 wouldn’t feel like they fit. Hopefully that makes sense but consider the why when you think about what you do so your results are closer to your actual number. If that sounds like jumbled info, forgive me!
- Be aware that the number you start with may not be the number you land on in the end, and that’s normal and a part of the “journey”. “Why”, you ask? Because it depends on how self aware we are. The more you know yourself the more you’re going to understand the importance of answering these questions true to who you really are. The less self aware you are it is more likely for your eyes to only be focused on what you’d like to be, your ideal self, or how you hope people perceive you. I don’t say that as a criticism, I say that as an experienced individual who has been there. The Enneagram has been a huge tool in helping me understand who I am a little bit better.
- As tempting as it is, refrain from”typing” other people. I’m basically telling myself this all the time, so I don’t say this to be preachy. Others are better at this then me, but full disclosure….my husband and I guess types for people we meet or know ALL THE TIME. But here’s where that’s not helpful…it jips them of discovering their own type and going on their own journey. It can also limit them in your eyes by putting them in a box based on what it is you’re interpreting which completely misses the heart of each type on the Enneagram. I’ve mistyped myself a few times and have definitely guessed wrong 80% of the time when trying to guess other’s types so you may have ideas or thoughts but hold them to yourself until asked for them and even then, proceed with caution.
- This kind of runs off the last tip, but let people go on their own Enneagram journey. Ask questions, point them to resources but just listen and understand. I think the podcast hosts do a fantastic job of modeling that so you know what it can be like to chat with people without imposing on their journey. They demonstrate how you ask questions in child-like wonder of each person you are chatting with about their number…find out what they think they are and then learn to ask questions as you understand that particular number from their unique perspective. Even if you know a lot about the Enneagram, this individual you’re speaking with has never explained their number from their unique lenses so just be a student of them.
- Spend a lot of time understanding your number first before running off to learn the others. I say this from experience. Because I have a 2 wing I can get all wrapped up in how this helps others and not notice the good it is for myself. Your number may mean that’s not an issue so maybe this is just a little warning for those who share my issue :)
- That being said, once you’ve got a handle on your number, it never hurts to being looking at some of the other numbers as well. The Enneagram has been one of the greatest tools in my marriage. We understand each other so much more deeply because of learning about each other’s numbers. My husband knows all this stuff a lot better then I do, but I’m still teaching him things about 1s. It has also given me a lot of understanding for my family members and opened up relationships in ways I didn’t expect, just because I have started to learn other types and what makes them tick. I have learned to not take things so personally but ask questions to find out what is going on for them so I better understand where I missed them.
There’s probably a lot more I can say and I will probably do just that in a later post, but here’s a start. Let me know what your favorite resources have been because I would love to add them to my list!
If you want to get started learning more about the world of the Enneagram, you can take a paid assessment on the Enneagram Institute’s website or get started with a free one on another site to get you going. The paid test can be found here:
Also, check out Janelle and Becky’s podcast (episode 1), Type This Cast because it is a helpful intro to get you started.