Happy June and Happy Summer of the Enneagram!
After 30+ years working in the field of emotional wellness, and even more years listening for the voice of Spirit in my life, studying the Enneagram feels like the missing puzzle piece I didn’t know I needed. In case you haven’t noticed from looking around this website or following me on social media, I am positively evangelical about the power of the Enneagram. To that end, I am declaring this the SUMMER OF THE ENNEAGRAM around here. (If you have absolutely no idea what the word “Enneagram” means, you might enjoy this post more if you START HERE.)
Perhaps a bit of a dramatic introduction, but I am TRULY excited about this fascinating, powerful tool for personal growth. I’ll tell you about some opportunities for YOU to learn more about the Enneagram this summer in a bit, but first let me share a few of my favorite aspects of the Enneagram and why I think you might like it too!
The Enneagram Builds Self-Compassion
My favorite “side effect” of learning about the Enneagram is growing self-compassion. Self-compassion is the single most important ingredient we need to achieve sustainable change in our lives. This is true whether we are trying to grow emotionally, physically or spiritually. Yes, discipline, goals, focus, consistency are all important, but if we can’t be gentle and kind to ourselves as we awkwardly, bravely experiment with new ways of being, we simply won’t stick with it and we will stay stuck in self sabotaging patterns. Unlike many personality typing tools, the Enneagram is at its core primarily about motivation: less about WHAT we do than WHY we do it. When we identify our Enneagram type and begin to understand our core motivation, we uncover our unconscious ways of responding to the world around us and FINALLY see the ways we get in our own way. When we choose compassion and understanding, as opposed to self recrimination and shame, we are free to be ourselves in a new, more creative, more joyful way. Even though we often think we just need to be tougher on ourselves or have more rigid self discipline in order to achieve our goals, research shows the exact opposite is true. People are actually more productive and happier the more they practice self compassion and the Enneagram is a wonderful tool to develop our self compassion muscles.
The Enneagram Builds Compassion for Others
Not only does the Enneagram help us be more patient and loving with ourselves, it helps us give others the same gift. It is said that the Enneagram types are like 9 pairs of sunglasses on a table- 9 lenses on the world. If we were to pick them up and try them on, we would find that each pair of glasses shows a completely different view of the world. This perspective can filter the world accurately but can also distort it – our “glasses” create sharpened vision in some areas, but also create massive blind spots in other areas. We each see the world as a reflection of ourselves, creating a distinct pattern of attention. This view or focus of attention is largely subconscious. While we can choose how we act and react, it is much more difficult to change the way we see things. As we learn about the Enneagram, we gain a deeper understanding that the person we are struggling to understand may simply see the world differently than we do. Once we understand that others are motivated differently than we are, we can get curious, dig deeper, and allow a bit more space for questions and listening. And we begin to appreciate the beauty and necessity of ALL the ways of looking at the world! Bottom line, the Enneagram is the BEST thing that’s ever happened to my marriage!
The Enneagram Engages our Head, Heart and Body Wisdom
The enneagram framework is built around triads- meaningful patterns of threes. Probably the most foundational triad we talk about with the enneagram is the Centers of Intelligence: the Head (or Thinking) Center, the Heart (or Feeling Center,) and the Body (or Action) Center. Each of the enneagram types has a “favorite” center through which they take in information about the world, a support center that they use to make sense of that information, and a repressed center which often gets neglected. A practice as simple as asking these questions can open up new, deeper ways of “knowing:”
- What does my head know about this?
- What does my heart know about this?
- What does my body know about this?
Ultimately, our goal is to bring balance across the centers. For example, an individual who is dominant in the expression of their feeling center interpersonally is likely to benefit greatly by developing their body and head centered intelligence in order to balance and transform the expression of the heart center. These intelligences also build on each other: presence of body opens the door to presence of heart which in turn opens the door to presence of mind. As a person who primarily leads with my head center, it has been transformational to learn to listen more carefully to my heart and body. And in my work with my clients, this understanding opens up whole new avenues for learning to trust their own wisdom and connect with Spirit. ALL 3 sources of wisdom are needed and valued!
The Enneagram Surfaces the Invisible
If you are like me, you tend to get stuck repeatedly in similar ways. Conflicts with other people often center around the same issues. You set goals, create resolutions, make grand pronouncements about changes you hope to make, and yet find yourself getting tripped up by certain personality characteristics over and over and over. As a helping professional and as a growing, learning, changing human, I’ve often been frustrated by the “one size fits all” solutions available in the self help and therapy world. Although we all struggle in one way or another, we KNOW intuitively our struggles look a little different than our friend, or our sister, or the person we follow on social media. One of the things I love most about the Enneagram framework is the focus on motivation first. Until we uncover our core motivation, we can’t choose the right path for healing. For instance, some of us need to step out more often and try new things, while others of us need to stick with the old things a little longer. Some of us need to speak up, some of us need to filter a little more. Some of us need to slow down, while others need to make decisions more quickly. To understand this a bit further, here are the core motivations of each of the Enneagram types:
- Type 1- Need to be good and right.
- Type 2- Need to be liked and appreciated.
- Type 3- Need to outshine the rest.
- Type 4- Have to be unique, authentic.
- Type 5- Have to understand.
- Type 6- Have to be safe and belong.
- Type 7- Have to experience it all, avoid pain.
- Type 8- Have to be in control, be strong.
- Type 9- Have to keep the balance.
As you read through these core motivations, it is easy to see how we might get confused and frustrated if these motivations are informing our choices and behaviors at the subconscious level. Once we surface the invisible, bring the subconscious to conscious awareness, we are more often at choice and able to live in closer alignment with our values. And then the fun starts!
The Enneagram is Fun AND Deep.
If you speak Enneagram at all, you will appreciate how very 7ish this bullet point is. 🙂 As a person who leads with Type 7, I simply CAN NOT if it isn’t fun- at least not for long. The Enneagram is simply a fun way to learn more about yourself within a framework that actually offers an in-depth path to growth and wholeness.
FUN + DEEP = my favorite!
Even a surface level understanding of the enneagram can be helpful, and a deep dive into all the various parts of the framework can be truly life changing. I love that the Enneagram doesn’t put you in a box; it shows you the box you are already in and how to get out of it. The Enneagram provides a roadmap and a number of tools to a deeper connection to the person we are underneath the masks we wear and the coping mechanisms we’ve learned to survive. It also shows us the incredible, unique light we bring to the world and how to leverage those strengths. These transformational tools include the lines, wings, subtypes, tritypes, passion, virtue, and a variety of other enneagram buzzwords I won’t get into in this post, but would love to tell you more about if you are curious. (Check out the options below.)
Additionally, the Enneagram is increasingly popular, so there are TONS of websites, books, social media accounts, resources, and teachers out there. I love that the Enneagram is being used broadly with teams and staffs in faith communities, non-profits, and corporate settings. As one of my clients said “I had to learn more about the enneagram out of self defense because it is all my young adult children talk about at family gatherings!” The Enneagram provides a common language for people to share their personal and spiritual growth journey within community. And more connection is ALWAYS a good thing!
If all this Enneagram talk intrigues you, here are a couple of opportunities to learn more:
Next Wednesday, June 22nd, I am offering my popular “Introduction to the Enneagram” webinar. I will take you through a brief overview of all 9 types, highlight the super powers and the challenges of each type, and share additional resources to explore further. You can register HERE, if you would like to join us. After you register, you will receive an email from ZOOM with the link to join the meeting. Be sure to SAVE THE EMAIL so you aren’t looking for it next Wednesday! I’ve had numerous people miss webinars because they couldn’t find the link at the last minute. And stay tuned for more enneagram webinars throughout the summer!
If you are already familiar with the Enneagram and know you would like to go a little deeper, I am offering a discount this summer on my Enneagram Discovery coaching packages. These packages include the IEQ9 assessment (either the Standard 22 page report or Professional 44 page report) and 1, 2 or 3 debriefing coaching sessions. In the coaching sessions, we unpack the report, look at all the particulars of your type, and work together to design development exercises and strategies based on your goals.
If you purchase one of these packages, use the Coupon Code SUMMER to get 15% off. My prices are going up in the fall because the cost of the assessment has gone up, so now is a GREAT time to take advantage of this wonderful, rich, in-depth experience. CLICK ON THIS LINK to go to my scheduling page and scroll down to the bottom to see my 3 Enneagram Discovery Packages.
Or click on the link below to set up a FREE 30 minute call to ask me questions and learn more about the process.