January is nearing the end and I feel like I did ok with my new year plans. I’m curious, so please share how you fared with your January goals—but I know some people are vehemently against making resolutions. Generally, I do what I feel like doing, and I don’t judge myself too harshly if I don’t make it.
Translation: rules are for other people.
Resolutions and goals can be really painful for personality types who can’t stand failure or who need to be in the right. (I’m talking to you, Enneagram Ones. I think if you’re an Eight you don’t make a rule, you just do it in your strength.) Don’t read condescension into my tone; it isn’t there. Some people need to be that way and it benefits us as a society that they are.
What do these numbers mean? Keep reading.
Some of you may have had unpleasant experiences with personality tests, including the Enneagram. I heard a horror story about a small church that did the Enneagram together and the only thing to come of it was pinpointing each person’s fatal flaw or sin, and regularly commenting on it.
While I agree with the argument against personality tests that they can stifle growth (I can’t change, this is who I am) I found validation and freedom in discovering my Enneagram number. And the Enneagram is specifically not for excuse or blame. More of a self assessment during stress and unhealthy seasons.
I’m type four in the feeling triad, the Individualist. When I was growing up I often felt different from others, unique in a way that I didn’t fit and never would. I often heard that I seemed to separate myself and I think it stemmed from feeling other and wanting what I felt inside acknowledged. Authenticity and meaningful connection are the most important things to me. I can be “so dramatic” because I feel things keenly but don’t mind feeling them or sitting in powerful emotions, even negative ones. This helps me sit with others in pain, and my intuition helps me encourage them to be authentic because I value it so much. When I am under stress, I’ll display some of the unhealthy attributes of twos, The Helper. Meaning I’ll keep offering to fix something in your world—but it might be obnoxious help, self harming or manipulative.
A close friend who introduced me to it read aloud sections of Personality Types while giving me space to discover/decide what resonated. The experience was better than an Enneagram Coach could be because I knew and trusted her. I since read a few books. Personality Types by Don Riso and Russ Hudson and The Road Back to You by Ian Cron & Susan Stabile. I participated in a class with the Road Back to You study guide and took the Exploring You and Discovering You courses on YourEnneagramCoach.com. Currently, I’m working through a devotional with my prayer partners that highlights a specific viewpoint for each of the nine types every week. Hearing God Speak by Eve Annunziato and Jackie Brewster has been my favorite resource so far.
It’s phenomenal learning about my prayer partners and myself with the devotional, and has taken us deeper. I may assume personality numbers for some people in my life, but I can’t truly know their motivation. That’s another thing I like about the Enneagram: many numbers will have similarities, but what motivates you and how you act under stress defines your number.
The Enneagram is not born out of a think tank; it is much older and bigger than that. Christians did not design it, nor is it a Christian philosophy. There’s a long history which developed over time and influenced by many cultures. Aside from the book Personality Types, all the resources I shared above are a Christian take on the “community owned concept” of the Enneagram.
Recently, my daughter shared a list of reflections she wrote. They were like New Year’s mental health goals, something I will incorporate from now on. One of her questions was, “What is one thing you have learned in the past year that you would’ve liked to have known your entire life?”
It’s my Enneagram number and what that means. I would have liked to have known my personality and my needs were not wrong/defunct, and that neither were anyone else’s. Because I would have liked to validate the differences in my children when they were young instead of thinking they should conform.
I encourage you to explore it for yourself and share with me what number you are in the comments. I first recommend YourEnneagramCoach.com’s free assessment (newsletter sign up is automatic but you can cancel if you don’t like it.) If you are curious about the other numbers, I enjoyed their informal courses. I felt they encouraged me to see the beautiful niche each of us fills, that all numbers together reflect God when we are working toward health and community, and that embracing who we are is neither making excuses nor blaming.
Next level of interest, I would consider the Hearing God speak devotional because you’ll see over time which numbers most resonate. It gives you patience and empathy for the people in your life who think differently.
If you really want to dive in, I recommend the Personality Types book because it has history and more extensive details about each number, levels of health and wings. If you got nervous looking at the symbol and starting counting the sides to see if there were numerical warnings…I encourage you to read the history before you make assumptions.
I think being known yet still accepted is one of the greatest common desires of our human experience. The safest place to do that is to invite God to see our hearts, and realize we’re already fully known. The Enneagram helps me experience that.