My Enneagram Journey
Disclaimer: This is going to be a post of rambling and insights that I have had on this journey. If you make it all the way through, you are a word warrior. Comment, and wear that badge proudly.
Are you ever curious why people react the way they do that is in a way so different from how you would? Why it feels like you are speaking a different language than the people you are closest to? What is so wrong with me that I don't react or respond the way others do? I do. I live in my head, a lot. I'm comfortable with silence and deep thoughts, which are 96.4% of the thoughts that I have. But, why? What makes me that way?
Growing up, I always felt so misunderstood. Maybe I should rephrase that to I have always felt so misunderstood. (Also, I overthink.) Like, there was something off about me and that I didn't have the instruction manual that everyone else had. There was a constant internal struggle to be my authentic self, but to also figure out why I wasn't like everyone else. I teetered between enjoying my differences, and letting them alienate me. There is a cute little tide pool filled with starfish and tadpoles in my mind for only a few feet before you are plunged into the depths of deep sea diving. Beware.
Why I love it, and why I want you to keep reading: The Enneagram is an amazing tool. It can be used to know and understand yourself, as well as others you are in relationships with. It has already started to improve my marriage as it helps me understand my husband. When you understand why you do things a certain way, you can start the process of healing and becoming the best version of yourself. So many of the Enneagram coaches I follow are Christian and I love how they continue to point it to the Gospel truth. The Enneagram is not THE truth, but it is such an amazing tool that can help you grow and use your own personal gifts to the fullest. And, as a 4, it has been so important to me because 4s want to be known and understood.
I found the Enneagram almost 2 years ago. In case you are still lost, The Enneagram is a relational tool that helps you to see the box you live in, and how to get out. It is not your typical personality typing tool as it has so many moving parts and components that are not limiting. It is based off of your core fears and motivations rather than personality. There are 9 core types, and then the rabbit hole goes from there. All 9 types could do exactly the same action, but for 9 different reasons. If you could know why your spouse reacted a certain way to what you said, or what made your child act like that, or why this one thing continues to be your trigger point, wouldn't you want to?
Here are the basic types, which some people are able to know immediately. I am jealous of those people.
The Rational, Idealistic Type: Principled, Purposeful, Self-Controlled, and Perfectionistic
The Caring, Interpersonal Type: Demonstrative, Generous, People-Pleasing, and Possessive
The Success-Oriented, Pragmatic Type: Adaptive, Excelling, Driven, and Image-Conscious
The Sensitive, Withdrawn Type: Expressive, Dramatic, Self-Absorbed, and Temperamental
The Intense, Cerebral Type: Perceptive, Innovative, Secretive, and Isolated
The Committed, Security-Oriented Type: Engaging, Responsible, Anxious, and Suspicious
The Busy, Fun-Loving Type: Spontaneous, Versatile, Distractible, and Scattered
The Powerful, Dominating Type: Self-Confident, Decisive, Willful, and Confrontational
The Easygoing, Self-Effacing Type: Receptive, Reassuring, Agreeable, and Complacent
I heard about it listening to a podcast. I immediately did some googling and research and found other podcasts to consume. I took the test online (which I now found may have been why it took me over 6 months to correctly type myself). When taking the test, they advise you to take the top 3 of your scores and read about them to see which one resonates. Most likely, the one that makes you feel the most seen and understood. The reason you don't necessarily take your top number is because we are all different and some of us are not as self aware. We may answer how we wish to be instead of how we actually are. Or, we may have a blind spot on certain topics to ourselves.
I took my test and the 1, 4, and 9 stood out the most. 1, because of the perfectionism. In reading the 4, I definitely always felt misunderstood. I felt sensitive and withdrawn like it said, but when it got to dramatic, self-absorbed, and temperamental that was not me at all. I move away from drama. So then, I must be the 9, right? Easy-going, peacemaker, reassuring. Those all felt like me. Less emotional. I wasn't as emotionally expressive as 4s were said to be. But, in going back and forth and reading the 9 it never felt right. I didn't feel understood. I kept doing more research because I longed to know myself. To find out who I was, and to understand Bryan as well. This makes so much sense now that I know I am a self preservation 4 wing 5. I was investigating (type 5) my need to be known (type 4). (If you don't quite understand what I just said, keep going.)
The wings are the numbers only on either side of your number. For example: a 4 can either be a 4w3, or a 4w5. You cannot find out your wing until you know your number. Learning about the wings helped me to find my number. That number will influence and "flavor" your core number. I did a lot of googling, followed Instagram accounts about the Enneagram, and listened to a lot of podcasts. Here is an excerpt from Personalityjunkie.com about the differences in the 4 wings.
Enneagram Type 4: 4w3 vs. 4w5
As introverts, Fours can be inclined to believing that the introverted element (i.e., self-knowledge) must precede self-expression and that additional self-insight is required before authentic action is possible. However, according to Riso, self-knowledge and self-expression should not be seen as independent processes, but symbiotic ones: “In the creative moment, Fours…not only produce something beautiful, but discover who they are.”
In other words, self-discovery and creative work go hand-in-hand. Consequently, many Fours feel that identifying a creative career or vocation is a critical part of their search for self. This is especially true for those with a 3 wing (4w3s), who are particularly concerned with creative achievement. Those with a 5 wing (4w5s), Riso maintains, tend to “create more for themselves.” Compared to 4w3s, they focus less on the E element (e.g., productivity, success, accolades, etc.) of their pursuits.
There is another way of looking at this, however. It may be that 4w3s see creative productivity as a necessary route to making a living doing what they love, one that can furnish them with more time to function authentically. In type speak, they see extraverted success as a means to greater introverted freedom. While 4w5s certainly don’t enjoy compulsory or inauthentic work (e.g., “a day job”), they are more patient, and often more perfectionistic, with respect to their introverted process than 4w3s are. They would rather write one great book or make one ground-breaking album than produce 10 of lesser quality or originality. In short, these two subtypes differ in the sorts of concessions they are willing to make: 4w3s are more willing to make compromises in their creative work to render it more palatable to the masses, whereas 4w5s may sacrifice more of their time to a day job in order to maintain the purity of their introverted pursuits.
Regardless of their particular subtype, Fours seeks a life of meaningful self-reflection and creative expression. They aim to figure out who they are and what they were born to do, and then to act in accordance with that understanding. They want their guidance and direction to come from within so as to ensure that their course is an authentic and meaningful one. Despite these good intentions, Fours must eventually come to terms with the fact that, in order to get what they want, some measure of compromise is required. As much as they might like to, they can’t support themselves through self-reflection alone. Food won’t find its way onto the table unless they do something, irrespective of how ready or prepared they feel. Decisions must be made and enacted apart from perfect self-knowledge. While doing so may at first smack of inauthenticity, in some cases, it may be a blessing in disguise. If as Riso suggests Fours discover themselves through creative work, then a little outside pressure to jumpstart the process may not always be a bad thing.
This made so much sense to me and helped me to start to find my number. Not ALL within that number are a certain way. The Enneagram is like a color wheel. If the 4s are purple then there is lilac, eggplant, violet, and everything in between. Your core number, wing, level of health, and subtype will all make up who you are. We may pull more color than others in our number from our wing, or less. I suggest reading up on your specific wing options once you know your number.
The three subtypes refer to our survival drives. Self-Preservation, Social , and One-to-One (also called Sexual). There are 3 main instincts, 9 types, and 27 subtypes,. I am copying them below, but you can read more about them on https://beatricechestnut.com/2017/08/instinctual-subtype-dimension-enneagram/
Self-Preservation Ones focus on making everything they do more perfect. They are the true perfectionists of the Enneagram. They see themselves as highly flawed and try to improve themselves and make every detail of what they do right. These people are the most anxious and worried Ones, but also the most friendly and warm.
Social Ones focus on doing things perfectly in a larger sense—knowing the right way to do things—and modeling how to do things right for others. An intellectual type, these Ones have a teacher mentality; they see their role as helping others see what they already know–how to be perfect.
One-to-One Ones focus on making other people—and society as a whole—more perfect. More reformers than perfectionists, they tend to display more anger and zeal than the other Ones. These Ones focus less attention on perfecting their own behavior and pay more attention to whether or not others are doing things right.
Self-Preservation Twos seek to gain approval through being charming and youthful. Less oriented to giving and more burdened by helping, they charm others into liking them as an unconscious effort to get people to take care of them. More self-indulgent, playful, and irresponsible than the other two Twos, they are more fearful and ambivalent about connecting with others.
Social Twos seek to gain approval from others through being powerful, competent, and influential. More a powerful, leader type of person, they take charge of things and play to a larger audience as a way of proving their value.
One-to-One Twos gain approval through being generous and attractive. They emphasize their personal appeal and promises of support to make others like them and do things for them—this is a more emotional, passionate Two who seduces specific individuals.
Self-Preservation Threes work hard to assure material security for themselves and the people around them. Oriented to being good (as well as looking good) according to social consensus, they want to appear successful, but they don’t want to brag or self-promote in an obvious way (because that wouldn’t be good). SP Threes are self-sufficient, extremely hard-working, results-oriented, and modest.
Social Threes work hard to look flawless in the eyes of others. Oriented to competing to win and attaining the material and status symbols of success, they focus on getting things done and always having the right image for every social context. The most aggressive, competitive, well-known Three, Social Threes enjoy being onstage and know how to climb the social ladder.
One-to-One Threes focus on creating an image that is appealing to others and supporting and pleasing the people around them—especially partners, co-workers, and family members. They have a relationship or team mentality and work very hard to support the success of others (rather than their own).
Self-Preservation Fours are stoic, strong, and long-suffering—emotionally sensitive on the inside, they often don’t communicate their darker feelings to others. While they feel things deeply, and may feel sad inside, they often have a sunny, upbeat exterior, as they often received the message early on that their caretakers couldn’t handle their pain or darker emotions. They may feel anxious inside, but they tough things out and have a high tolerance for frustration. (me)
Social Fours suffer. They focus on their own emotions and the underlying emotional tone of whatever situation they are in. They compare themselves to others and tend to see themselves as less worthy or lacking in some way. They are more emotionally sensitive than most other types, they wear their feelings on their sleeve, and connect to themselves through the authenticity of their emotional truth.
One-to-One Fours are more assertive and competitive. These Fours are not afraid to ask for what they need or complain when they don’t get it. They can appear aggressive to others, and they strive to be the best.
Self-Preservation Fives focus mainly on maintaining good boundaries with others. Friendly and warm, SP Fives like to have a private space they can withdraw to if they want to be alone. They focus on minimizing needs, finding refuge, and having all they need within their place of safety.
Social Fives enjoy becoming experts in the specific subject areas that interest them. They like acquiring knowledge and connecting with others with common intellectual interests and causes. They may be more connected to people they connect with through a social cause or are of expertise than the people in close proximity in everyday life.
One-to-One Fives have more a stronger need to connect with other individuals–under the right conditions. These Fives are more in touch with their emotions inside, though they may not show it on the outside. They have a romantic streak that they may express through some form of artistic expression.
Self-Preservation Sixes are the more actively fearful (the phobic or “flight”) Six. They doubt and question things in an effort to find a sense of certainty and safety (that often eludes them). They seek to be warm and friendly to attract allies as a form of outside support or protection in a dangerous world.
Social Sixes are more intellectual types who find a sense of safety in following the guidelines of a system or way of thinking to feel protected by a kind of impersonal outside authority. They tend to be logical, rational, and concerned with reference points and benchmarks. They are more sure of things than the SP Six, who expresses more doubt and ambiguity, and can even become “true believers.”
One-to-One Sixes cope with underlying fear (that they may not be aware of) by appearing strong and intimidating to others. Of the “fight” or “flight” reactions to fear, they choose “fight,” and tend to be risk-takers, contrarians, or rebels. They have an inner program that tells them that the best defense is a good offense.
Self-Preservation Sevens are very practical. Good at getting what they want, they readily recognize opportunities and know how to make things happen, whether through pragmatic planning or a network of allies. They tend to have a talkative, amiable, hedonistic style.
Social Sevens want to avoid being seen as excessively opportunistic and self-interested, so they focus on sacrificing their immediate desires to pursue an ideal of being of service to others. They take responsibility for the group or family and want to be seen as good by easing others’ suffering.
One-to-One Sevens are idealistic dreamers, who have a need to imagine something better than what might be true in their everyday reality. Extremely enthusiastic and optimistic, they have a passion for seeing things as they could be or as they imagine them to be (as opposed to how they really are).
Self-Preservation Eights focus on getting what they need to survive in a direct, no-nonsense way. They have a low tolerance for frustration and a strong desire for the timely satisfaction of their material needs. They know how to do business and get things done and don’t need to talk about it very much.
Social Eights focus on protecting and mentoring others they are connected to or anyone they view as needing their support. While they can be rebellious and assertive, they appear less aggressive as they have a softer side when it comes to taking care of others.
One-to-One Eights have a strong rebellious tendency and like to be the center of things. More provocative and passionate than the other Eights, they like to have power over people and situations.
Self-Preservation Nines focus on finding comfort in familiar routines and the satisfaction of their physical needs. Whether through eating, sleeping, reading, or doing crossword puzzles, SP Nines tend to lose themselves in whatever activities help them feel grounded and comfortable.
Social Nines focus on working hard to support the groups they are a part of as a way of seeking a sense of comfort in belonging. Congenial people who like to feel a part of things, Social Nines tend to be light-hearted and fun, and expend a lot of effort in doing what it takes to be admitted to and supportive of the group or community.
One-to-One Nines tend to merge with the agenda and attitudes of important others in their lives. Sweet, gentle, and less assertive than other types, this relationship-oriented Nine may take on the feelings and opinions of the people they are close to without realizing it.
Knowing where I finally landed made me feel so seen and understood. Made me realize the Gospel truth that I am fully known, and fully loved. I am not the "typical" 4 (a 4 joke, since all 4s want to be unique and individuals). I am introverted, withdrawn, deep in thought, and while I feel ALL the feelings, I don't outwardly express them all of the time. My creations are more for myself than for others. My 5 wing balances my daydream nature with a little bit of logic. I am 15 minutes (or more) early everywhere, which is very un-fourlike. I'm optimistic, while most 4s are not. All this to say, do research. You know who you are. The journey is worth it.
Fun fact: I am a 4 wing 5, my 19 year old is a 5 wing 6, and my husband is a 6 wing 5. And while they say that you should not type your children, we are almost certain that Jordan (12) is a 5 wing 4. This explains a lot in our house. Until then, I will speak the truth of the gospel and all of the flaws (childhood wounds) that all 9 types feel into all three of my kids so they know they are loved as they are and feel seen. We feel we know which way our sweet 6 year old girl is headed, but will not touch that right now.
One very small example how the Enneagram has helped in relating to my husband (Sorry, handsome. I'm throwing this out there. Though, it is only tough on me and not you.) is something so petty that had bothered me for years. (I'm embarrassed, actually) Each night we usually fall asleep while talking. Right before we fall asleep, Bryan says "I love you." (To which I respond, "I love you, too".) Then he says "Have sweet dreams", and wants me to respond with "You too." He is then snoring soundly soon after, dreaming like a baby. Because, this is what he needed. Me, on the other hand, am an over thinker and in need of authenticity. It felt inauthentic to say the same thing, in the same way, night after night. Did he not really love me? Did he really know me if this was how he expressed his love? After learning that Bryan was a 6, and reading one night before bed on how security is so very important to them, he said our rehearsed lines. And after a few minutes I asked him if that made him feel safe and loved. He said yes. And after years of feeling unseen and unknown, that all went away. So silly. It was authentic to HIM. It was real to him, and what he needed. And now I go to sleep smiling after he says it.
I realize this may all be overwhelming. I'd love to point you to the experts or help you along your journey.
Go follow, right now
@enneagram.life (and they have also made a page for each of the 9 types)
That Sounds Fun with Annie F Downs (she is doing an Ennea-summer, covering each type)
The Sleeping At Last Podcast (I love his music, and he does a song for each enneagram type. On the podcast he describes why he wrote it the way he did. So beautiful.)
Typology with Ian Cron
The Enneagram Journey with Suzanne Stabile
The test I take is: Enneagram Test and it will link you to some descriptions. If you feel like paying $12, you can also take the one on the Enneagram Institute. I suggest googling your type (example: Enneagram type 4) and clicking on the Enneagram Institute link. Their information is so helpful.
The Path Between Us by Suzanne Stabile
The Road Back To You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile
I love the Enneagram and would love to hear about your journey! Please let me know! Also, comment if you already know your number!