What I Know About the Enneagram

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Let me preface this by saying I’ve been in a small group for a few months now, where we are studying the enneagram and how it can help us understand ourselves and others better, thus allowing us to extend grace to others. We have been using the study guide written by Suzanne Stabile, who has been studying the enneagram for 30 years. You may be familiar with a couple of her books: The Road Back to You & The Path Between Us

Before I go further, some of you may be wondering what the heck the enneagram is. It’s a nine-sided figure used in a particular system of analysis to represent the spectrum of possible personality types. It describes how we see the world and manage our emotions. It describes how we relate to each other. It’s about our motivation or why we do the things we do. 

In addition to the number types, there are also wings and stress & security numbers. We all have dominance in one number. Some of us aren’t 100% one number. We take on some of the characteristics of a wing number. The wings are the numbers on either side of our dominant number. Someone that is a Peacemaker, or type 9, can have some characteristics of the Challenger (#8) or they can have some characteristics of the Reformer (#1). In times of stress, the Peacemaker can take on Loyalist (#6) tendencies. In times of growth, the Peacemaker can take on Achiever (#3) tendencies.

The enneagram has been around for thousands of years. It has roots in Greece and Babylon. Contrary to the budding popularity of it these days, it’s actually been around for a long time. No, it’s not hokey or some form of voodoo. 

The enneagram has been used for personal, professional and spiritual growth. No, it’s not for everybody, but I like it. It works for me. I am understanding myself better, as well as my family, friends & coworkers. And with that understanding, I can better myself. As Suzanne Stabile says, “We need to be about the business of growing & changing”.

Now, do you want to know what number I am? Some of you that know me may not be surprised that I’m the Investigator (#5). Another name for it is the Observer. 

The Investigator is naturally withdrawn and hoards their time (or other resources) from others. They’re also independent and don’t like asking for help. It’s interesting that out of me and my four siblings, the two Investigators are the ones that moved the furthest away from home. 

Avarice is my passion. Avarice is greed, but this is avarice for time, energy, feelings, information, affection or other resources. I’m constantly calculating how much time and energy things are going to cost me. I fool myself into thinking I need to conserve my energy, but in reality it only heightens my anxiety to detach myself from others. My mantra to better myself is “It’s okay to engage with others”. If you only knew how true this is for me! Ha!

Every number has one of three repressed centers: thinking, feeling or doing. Mine is doing. I would rather think about something first, then feel it, and forego doing anything about it. My husband is a Peacemaker (#9), and his repressed center is also doing. What a combination! If we can work on what we repress, we can become a healthier version of ourselves. Yes, each number has a healthy version, a normal version and an unhealthy version. 

The last thing I want to mention about the Investigator is that I desire knowledge, but I never feel competent enough. This is true when I’m working on presentations for work or when I’m diagnosing my kids’ sicknesses, for example. I’ve learned that I should be focused on wisdom more than knowledge, which is just putting that knowledge to practice. At some point I should stop researching and DO. 

I should add that the enneagram should not be used as an excuse for your bad habits. Everyone has the ability to improve their flaws, and should. You should also not try to type others, as you don’t truly know their motivation. Yes, it’s fun to try and guess, but don’t take it to heart and definitely don’t share those thoughts with strangers. The police that pulls you over for speeding may not appreciate you telling them that you think they’re an 8. Lastly, taking an online test for your enneagram number is not suggested. While it can yield accurate results, not all tests are created equal and you may feel stressed at the time you take the test, which can skew the result. If you want to start somewhere, check out the books mentioned above. 

What are your thoughts on the enneagram?

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