Knowledge is Power: The Enneagram

If you know me well, you know that I love learning new things. I'm a reader, a Googler, and definitely, a Wikipedia link clicker.  So, imagine my joy at coming across a book on the Enneagram, a theory and process of identifying personality types.  Umm, a book that offers insight into my personality and natural preferences?  Yes, please!  The Enneagram is similar to the Myers-Briggs in that it provides you with a personality type that can increase your understanding of yourself - your fears, your preferences, and your natural tendencies. Also, both the Enneagram and the Myers-Briggs have online versions of their tests, bonus!  What I love about the concept of personality types is that you can uncover some insightful information that has the possibility of leading you toward a more intentional life.  The danger in these things is that it is easy to fall into a very limiting trap - seeing all traits as set in stone.

In the field of psychology, many would argue that personality is permanent, you are who you are.  To a certain extent, I agree.  Someone who prefers solitude to social interaction will probably always have that preference, with small variations depending upon age, relationships, and accessibility through their lifetime.  However, I am a strong believer in self-awareness - know who you are, both the good and the bad, so that you can develop what you like and move away from what you don't.  If you are content being an introvert, there is no reason to change it, it is a natural tendency that probably rejuvenates and restores you (introverts, see this awesome Tedtalk about your quiet power); however, if you wish you weren't such an introvert, knowing and understanding your tendencies can help you change.  You can't change something you don't know anything about.

Here is where we come to the Enneagram, one of several ways to learn a little more about your own natural tendencies.  With the Enneagram, there are nine "types", all are given names such as "The Individualist" or "The Helper".  Each type comes with a description of personality traits, preferences, fears, desires, etc.  The Enneagram Institute offers a truncated version of their test for free online, with summaries, comparisons, and even descriptions of how your Enneagram knowledge can help you in business, love, and parenting.  I want to reiterate that not all pieces will fit, no one can ever be all parts of their type all at once, nor is anyone totally and singly one type.  Human beings are complex individuals, impossible to define in a single paragraph, especially through a lifetime.  BUT, the fun here is that some of the descriptions are scarily accurate, as in "Wow, I totally do that" - and can even lead you to a couple of "Hmm, that makes sense" moments.  For example, for "The Peacemaker" type, one of its strongest desires is for both internal and external peace, hence the name.  While this may sound like a positive trait, and often is, it can also help explain why Peacemakers tend to detach from people, situations, and experiences - preferring peace at all costs....not always such a good thing.  If a Peacemaker wants to work on that tendency toward detachment they can now, knowing it can stem from a desire for peace, address their detachment with more clarity.

With any profiling or diagnosing my personal philosophy is to take it with a grain of salt.  No one really fits the mold perfectly (perhaps because there is no mold for human character). Hopefully, though, as you go through life you gain self-awareness, from whatever source (a good personal therapist being a solid one). Without self-awareness, we are reactive - responding to life in ways we never expected and cannot understand.  Knowledge is power; learn about yourself and you will see that you can choose how to walk through this journey known as life.