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Answering Your Enneagram Questions: Part 2

Answering Your Enneagram Questions: Part 1

Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

 

A couple of weeks ago I asked people on social media to submit their questions about the Enneagram. It's been a while since I've written about my favorite personality system and I was curious about what people wanted to know. The questions were amazing and I've had such a great time answering them. 

I decided to break this into three posts so you won't get too bogged down with information. Part 2 will be up tomorrow and part 3 the day after that.

If you're not familiar with the Enneagram, read my overview post

 

I have questions on trying to figure out my type. Best way to find type (quiz, app, reading, etc)? 

The best way to figure out your type is to read the type profiles and consider which one you are. I linked to the Enneagram Institute as a free resource and Beatrice Chestnut also gives great brief descriptions, but if you want to read a book instead, The Road Back To You is very accessible and engaging (FYI, it is written from a Christian perspective but faith is not overly front and center so I think non-Christians would still find benefit to reading it.) The Enneagram Made Easy is a basic, easy to understand guide as well. Most books include some sort of assessment tool.

Think about what is most true of you, most of the time. A few of the types might stand out from the others and you'll want to hone in from there. Pay attention to the core struggles and desires. You might go back and forth but eventually one type will stick out from the others. Don't be surprised if this realization isn't a happy one. Figuring out your type tends to make you wince. I was horrified when I realized I was a Four. But persevere and remember each type has amazing strengths as well. (Note: Sixes and Nines have the hardest time figuring out their type.) 

I don't recommend any free tests because they are rarely accurate. However, a couple of people have used Ian Cron's new Road Back To You assessment with good results and this could prove to be the exception to my rule. The Enneagram Institute has the RHETI for $12 and this tends to be good at identifying the top three possibilities. I've also heard good things about EnneaApp, which is a free app.

You could hire an Enneagram coach. Google and see if anyone is in your area. Otherwise, many offer sessions online. 

Lastly, there are Enneagram flashcards. There are quite a few different sorts you can do, with either yourself or someone else. Many counselors and spiritual directors use them in their practice so you may consider asking yours (or asking around if you don't already have these therapeutic relationships) to see if this is a possibility. Unless you plan on using them to help your friends and family figure out their type, it might not be worth buying your own set. But hey, you do you.

 

 

I cannot figure out my number! I get it narrowed down, and then I listen to a narrative about another number, and doubt myself. Any hints? 

As I mentioned above, Sixes and Nines have the hardest time figuring out their type. In the most stereotyped terms, Sixes because they want someone to tell them their type and Nines because they relate to all of the types. If you can relate to either of those things, perhaps start with profiles for those types.

Beyond that, it's not uncommon to have a tough time figuring out your type. 

It takes a lot of self-awareness and time to consider what's really true of you. It's hard to recognize what's at the root of our problems and motivations. How do we know what drives our behavior? The Enneagram gives us a language for our behaviors and motivations but it's not always clear cut when you're first learning about the nine types.

See how your top three guesses play out as you're discerning your type. Think about what's most true of you most of the time. Maybe you notice a particular positive or negative quality sometimes but on a day to day basis, look at what is really happening and whether you notice a type's core struggles and desires. Consider whether there's a common thread between your worries, fears, and frustrations, as this can help you figure out whether you relate to a type's core struggle.

One type will likely rise to the top and if they don't, then you'll want to go back to the drawing board and repeat this process.

 

 

Here's what 10 year ago me wanted to know: Okay, Enneagram, you've shown me who I *am* in all my unhealth, & who I have the potential to be...How do I get from here to there? What are my next steps from despairing, dramatic, alone to creative, universal, redemptive? I figured it out on my own, painstakingly. But I felt like the Enneagram books were lacking in practical advice, perhaps especially for Fours.

First, you have to really know your type. I like to tell people they have to "catch" themselves being their type. In your day to day, notice when you're being your type. For the Four, this could involve noticing the ebb and flow of your feelings, when you're comparing yourself to someone else, when you're thinking about how different or unique you are, when you're nursing hurt feelings (especially old wounds), or when you're lost in your daydreams.

I'd suggest reading several different profiles of your type and see what stands out. ("So that's why I do that!") Then in your day to day, notice it. When you feel like you have a good grasp on your type, then start reading about the arrows of integration and disintegration and see if you can catch yourself moving towards health or unhealth. Observation can be extremely instructive on how and what we need to work on.

I'm not sure what books you read but I've found The Wisdom Of The Enneagram and The Complete Enneagram to be very helpful in terms of the practices they suggest for each type. Both books lay out practical advice, as well as how each type can build on their strengths. Even The Enneagram Made Easy has a list of helpful suggestions.

Beyond that, the most helpful tool for me has been the Healing Attitudes, as laid out in chapter 16 of The Wisdom Of The Enneagram. There are three sentences for each type and they all start with the word "maybe." This opens us up to the idea that maybe this idea is more true about us than what we currently believe. 

When you first read your type's healing attitudes, they might feel impossible or untrue.For instance, our self-martyring Twos are going to have a hard time believing, "Maybe I could let someone else do this."

When I'm stressed or insecure, I go back to my healing attitudes and while there's still one that feels impossible, the other two have made a world of difference. And that gives me hope that one day that third healing attitude will become believable too.

 

 

This might sound really dumb but how do I truly move into health? I'm 100% a 9 and really struggle with motivation and ignoring the hard thing. Will creating a cleaning schedule and making a productivity plan (like GTD) truly help or is that just a band aid?

I love this kind of question! Creating schedules and making plans can be helpful but only to a point. It's probably more helpful to consider the "why" behind your resistance. Where is the lack of motivation coming from? Why do you want to ignore the hard thing? 

A sign of a healthy Nine is when they exert themselves into taking action. One of the Healing Attitudes is "Maybe I need to get energized and be involved." But getting there can take some time and you also don't want to overcorrect and exert so much that you exhaust yourself. Which is why figuring out your feelings is so important, maybe especially important for Nines who tend to tamp down their feelings and go along with what everyone else wants. 

That said, there are a few things you might try. The night before or in the morning, make a short list of what you want to accomplish that day. Give yourself definite deadlines- you can add more goals to your list once you've finished. Reward yourself when you've completed a task- time for a gold star! Trick yourself into doing chores by listening to podcasts or your favorite music while you work.

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