I have become an Enneagram expert, but recently while doing some research for a friend I discovered that there is a big part of the Enneagram no one is talking about.
Maybe people don’t know how to articulate this knowledge or maybe they think they are, but really the purpose of the Enneagram is simple and understanding the Enneagram doesn’t have to be nearly as difficult as people might suggest.
Understanding the Enneagram and Yourself
Before I divulge my big epiphany, let me tell you a story.
As the title of this blog suggests I am a firm believer in taking back language that has been altered in a way to benefit the people using it, rather than benefiting the people receiving the message.
How many times has someone told you, you just needed more motivation when you were struggling with something? More times than you can count. Yeah, me too!
Truth is though it has nothing to do with motivation. For the people in the back, it has absolutely nothing to do with motivation.
Okay, so I am going to tell you two secrets today. The first is that motivation is an organic feeling. No one can motivate you, there is no magic pill for motivation, there is nothing that someone else can do that is going to give you motivation.
Everyone has a story, and everyone can spin that story in way that is supposed to motivate other people. But everyone has a story!
Why not just spin your own story and stir up your own organic motivation? Or, bigger question, why not just do things that fuel your soul, and you will wake up completely motivated every day?!
Easier said than done, right?
Yeah, well here comes my second secret. Lean into the things you do not do well. Stop trying to fix yourself, you are not broken.
Accept the skills that come naturally to you and accept the skills that do not come naturally to you. That is the truest purpose of the Enneagram.
The Enneagram was never supposed to be about self-improvement. Marketing professionals are really good at their jobs and self-improvement sells. Think about, the majority of the things we consume are to improve our selves.
Self-improvement is not a bad thing, please continue to work on being your best self.
I am not saying to throw in the towel and say, “well because I am a number _ on the Enneagram I cannot do this hard thing well, so I might as well stop trying.” I am saying, lean in.
The Purpose of the Enneagram
Let me give you an example, when there is a leak in your house you aren’t just going to keep cleaning up the water without first trying to figure out where the leak is coming from. You are going to try to find the source of the leak, turn off the water to that pipe, clean up the mess, and then try to fix the problem that caused the leak.
The purpose of the Enneagram is to first identify what type, out of the nine personality types within the Enneagram, that reflects you the most accurately.
We all have a little bit of each of the personality types in us, but your type will be the reflection of your truest self.
Your type is never supposed to be a box that contains you, rather it is supposed to give you a deeper understanding of who you are and how you are most likely to react and interact to situations and other people. It is meant to give you a better understanding of your strengths and limitations.
The Enneagram is a tool that has the ability to transform our conscious mind. Becoming aware of your true self is the ultimate way to improve your relationships with people, your job, and the ways in which you spend your time.
Basically, it is a tool to understand the ways in which you outwardly express yourself. It can be used to help you work through conflicts, recognize the biases of your personality, become aware of habits that are not helpful, and identifies skills that come more naturally to you. Most importantly, at least in my opinion, it helps to keep us present in our lives.
Responding to Your Enneagram Type
In the time I have spent helping people understand their type or listening to people talk about their type I notice that there are 3 responses people have to their type.
• Response 1 is when people discover their type and then limit themselves based on their type.
• Response 2 is when people try to fight their type.
• Response 3 is what I call the healthy response, it is when people respond with wanting to learn more about their type.
Response 3 is the “lean in” response.
People with a lean in response immediately try to discover the ways in which they relate to people and the world around them. These are the people trying to make connections between reality and their perceptions of reality.
They understand that everything is filtered through their perception of the world, but also acknowledge that other people have a different filter/perception. This often means they gain a better understanding of the vulnerabilities of humanity. When you can recognize that you have a bias within your personality it helps you to see people differently.
What Does that Mean?
As a type 4, aka the individualist or the “romantic” my biggest struggle is envy, and I certainly did not have a 3 response when I first discovered my Enneagram.
I definitely had a response 2, I went into the knowledge of being a type 4 kicking and screaming. (We are very dramatic in the language we use to express ourselves too.) “I am not oversensitive! I do not make decisions based on temporary emotions…” I am very much both of those things.
I am also the “sad artist” type 4s are perceived as too. I am moody and demanding, but when I love, I love big. Sometimes I love too intensely.
Types 4s will never allow themselves to be boxed in, we are too “unique” (typical type 4 statement, you can roll your eyes) for that. Except, we will box ourselves into being outsiders and misunderstood.
We will try to alter our identity to make up for what we perceive as insignificance. We will envy the lives of other people and often feel like we are watching other people live the lives we think are most fulfilling.
Do you know what the most unfulfilling thing is to a type 4 though?… Being just like everyone else. Yes, we sometimes box other people in too.
Self-improvement would entail wanting to alter my flaws or at least significantly improve them. If I stopped being driven by emotions, which often gets me in the most trouble, I would literally stop being a type 4.
Being emotionally driven is who I am at my truest core of myself. It is what makes me a good poet.
What I can do with the knowledge of this limitation is to keep it present in my conscious mind the way that I keep physical limitations in my conscious mind.
I am barely 5 feet tall, I aware that this is a limitation; therefore, I do not put things I will need to use daily on high shelves that I cannot reach. I keep a step ladder in my house to use when I need things from high shelves.
At stores I ask for help or climb the shelves to get objects I cannot reach. Imagine if I just stopped buying things in stores if I was unable to reach it or if I stopped using the top shelves in my cabinets because I could not reach them easily; there would be a lot less storage space in my house and my family would not get bread from the grocery store.
I could try to improve this situation by wearing heels or installing a library ladder in my house, but I can also lean in to the fact that my height is sometimes a limitation and sometimes I need help.
Now imagine if my family got mad at me every time, I asked someone taller than me to help me get something. Sure, sometimes when they are busy, they show a little frustration when I call them to ask for help, but they don’t expect me to just get taller.
I keep this limitation in my conscious mind and go about my life.
The Enneagram Secret
That is the big secret of the Enneagram; lean in. Lean in to the skills and limitations you have. Learn the ways in which you respond to the world around.
Realize you process everything through the lens of your personality, and how that can alter situations. Stop fighting your true self, ask for help when you need it, and for the love of all things good stop trying to motivate yourself to do things you don’t want to do.
If you do not know your Enneagram number, please take the free quiz to discover your number. This is my favorite free quiz and one that I trust.
Want to know more about the Enneagram?
I have a whole series mapped with more of my top Enneagram secrets, tips for finding job success using your Enneagram type, relationship advice based on your type, and even some fun song playlists, books to read, and movies you might enjoy based on your type in the works.
I will also cover what the Enneagram wings are and how to determine yours, and much more. So stay tuned.
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