The Enneagram of Personality is a model of the human psyche, which describes nine personality types (also called “Ennea types”). Understand the world of Enneagram and discover how it can help you.
The word Enneagram has Greek origins (ennea means “nine and grámma means “written or drawn figure”). While the Enneagram symbol is ancient, contemporary teachings arise from the work of George Gurdjieff, Oscar Ichazo and Claudio Naranjo. The Enneagram of Personality is popular in business, transpersonal psychology and spiritual contexts, as an aid for self-awareness, self-understanding and self-development. That’s why it is a psycho-spiritual framework. Modern teachers of the Enneagram include Don Riso & Russ Hudson (www.enneagraminstitute.com), Helen Palmer, Richard Rohr, Ginger Lapid-Bogda, and others.
Discover Your Unique Gift & Bring It To The World
The Enneagram of Personality is based on a core belief that each one of us is born with a unique gift and our life’s purpose is to discover this gift and bring it to the world. Self-awareness is the key. The Enneagram reveals predictable and archetypal patterns by which we “organise and give meaning to our experiences“.
With this in mind, the Enneagram answers three fundamental questions:
1. Who I Am: Awareness and acceptance of self
2. Who I Am Not: Awareness and acceptance of others
3. Who I Can Be: Personal growth and evolution
Decoding the Enneagram of Personality
|Ennea Type||Description||Unique Gift|
|Type 1 – The Reformer||Does the right thing … regardless of the circumstances||To live for a higher purpose|
|Type 2 – The Helper||Nurtures others … and demands appreciation for it||To nurture oneself and others|
|Type 3 – The Achiever||Works hard to succeed … and can burn out from overwork||To develop oneself and set an example|
|Type 4 – The Individualist||Explores creativity and deep feelings … and may get lost in them||To let go the past and renew oneself constantly|
|Type 5 – The Investigator||Craves data, theories and insight … and may forget the human element||To bring insight without judgment or expectation|
|Type 6 – The Loyalist||Dependable and watchful … can get overly suspicious about people and situations||To have faith in oneself and trust others|
|Type 7 – The Enthusiast||Inspires with new, imaginative ideas … and leaves closure to others||To celebrate joyously and share happiness|
|Type 8 – The Challenger||The Challenger: Exercises leadership … and may end up as a vengeful bully||To stand up, speak out and act with courage|
|Type 9 – The Peacemaker||Wants smooth, conflict-free interactions … and may forget own goals||To bring harmony and healing to the world|
Your Basic Personality Type: How It Develops
The Enneagram of Personality is a set of nine distinct personality types, with each number denoting one type. You will find a little of all nine types in yourself, although one of them should stand out as being closest to you. This is your basic personality type.
Most Enneagram teachers agree that we are born with one dominant type, with inborn temperament and other pre-natal factors being the main factors. This inborn orientation largely determines how we adapt to our early childhood environment. It also seems to lead to certain unconscious orientations toward our parental figures, but we are still unclear about why this happens. By the time children are four or five years old, they begin to develop a separate sense of self, although their identity is still very fluid. Thus, the overall orientation of our personality reflects the totality of all childhood factors (including genetics) that influenced its development.
It is important to note:
- Your basic personality type does not change from one to another, over the course of your life.
- Personality types are universal and not inherently masculine or feminine. So they apply equally to males and females.
- Not every aspect your basic type description type will apply all the time. This is because you fluctuate constantly among the different traits that make up your personality type.
- The numbers 1-9 are value neutral; they don’t have positive or negative connotations. Also, a larger number is no better than a smaller number e.g. Nine is not better than a Two.
- No type is inherently better or worse than any other.
- However, in some cultures or groups, some types are considered more desirable than others. Western society may reward certain qualities and hence esteems certain types, but that is not because of any type is inherently superior to another.
- Furthermore, for one reason or another, you may not be happy being a particular type. You may feel that your type is “handicapped” in some way and you “wish” to be something different. As you learn more about all the types, you will realise that each has unique capacities AND different limitations.
The ideal is to become your best self, not to imitate the assets of another type.
How To Use The Enneagram of Personality
- The first step is to type yourself accurately. While many tests are available, we recommend the RHETI (Version 2.5), which costs USD 12.00 for a single user. Click here
- Your next task is to work on yourself, through self-observation i.e. “catching yourself in the act”. You will notice how you may be acting out the deep-rooted motivations, desires and fears of your type. So you fluctuate between the Unhealthy, Average and Healthy traits of your type. You can either work on yourself (www,.enneagraminstitute.com provides excellent resources) or work with an Enneagram practitioner/ coach in your area.
- Very soon, you will start becoming curious about the personality types of other people. If you patiently study all types keenly – not just your own – you will slowly develop the skill of typing other people. It is not easy, so don’t try it too soon! But if you can appreciate what makes people “tick”, it can help you understand their motivations and behaviour with less judgment and more compassion. This can only help all your relationships!
- Remember that the human psyche is subtle, complex and mysterious. No single framework can every hope to map it fully. The Enneagram makes it possible to discern certain patterns, so that we can work on them, to transform and grow.
Veronica Croft helps identify the 9 Enneagram types at a party
- A summary of the 9 Ennea types, click here
- The Stressors & Strengths of each Ennea Type:
- The Reformer – Enneagram Type 1: Typical Stressors & Strengths
- The Helper – Enneagram Type 2: Typical Stressors & Strengths
- The Achiever – Enneagram Type 3: Typical Stressors & Strengths
- The Individualist – Enneagram Type 4: Typical Stressors & Strengths
- The Investigator – Enneagram Type 5: Typical Stressors & Strengths
- The Loyalist – Enneagram Type 6: Typical Stressors & Strengths
- The Enthusiast – Enneagram Type 7: Typical Stressors & Strengths
- The Challenger – Enneagram Type 8: Typical Stressors & Strengths
- The Peacemaker- Enneagram Type 9: Typical Stressors & Strengths
Book & Website References
- Personality Types: Don Riso & Russ Hudson (www.enneagraminstitute.com)
- Wisdom of the Enneagram: Don Riso & Russ Hudson (www.enneagraminstitute.com)
- The Enneagram in Love & Work: Helen Palmer (www.enneagram.com)
- The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram: Sandra Maitri
- Bring Out The Best In Yourself At Work: Ginger Lapid-Bogda
- The 9 Ways Of Working: Michael Goldberg