The Enneagram – what it means to me

Typing systems are supposed to help us navigate in the realm of social interactions. The Enneagram does not put you in a box – it shows you the box you are in.

As kids we all long for a safe haven to feel secure from the threats (or perceived threats) in our environments. In the face of all the stress that come with growing up we develop an armor around us for protection. This armor becomes our safe heaven (our own box) and also the baseline for our personality to evolve. This armor is constructed through a certain coping strategy. This is how our Enneagram type is born – which then gets fine-tuned by our subtype and wing.

So, the Enneagram does not put you in a box – it shows you the box you put yourself in as a child.

Now, while this armor was once life-saving and served our basic needs it becomes a source of pain and conflict as we mature and grow older. Sooner or later, it becomes a huge hindrance. It limits us in how we react to stress and conflict and how we interact with others. Most regrettably, it makes us suppress our true selves.

The sad news: no one can exit their own box for good – we remain there for the rest of our life. The good news: there is a way to make you feel comfortable in that box. A way to transform your armor into a comfortable suit to wear.

When I managed to identify my own type, when I successfully typed myself, it made me feel really uncomfortable and embarrassed. It hit me really hard. The Enneagram described me in the most accurate and profound way to myself – and this struck me. Honesty hurts. Working with the Enneagram takes a lot of honesty and introspection but as I discovered it is incredibly valuable for mental health. I never felt more understood than through the lens of the Enneagram.

Aren’t humans far too complex and nuanced to fit easily into simple categories?

Because the Enneagram is concerned more with what drives our behaviors than with the behaviors that characterize us, the only person who can type you accurately is yourself. Therefore, I believe, studying the types first and looking for features that resonate with us should be the path to follow. Never settle for quick typing based solely on an online test, it will only produce a superficial snap-shot view.

Also, finding your primary type should not be the ultimate goal. The feature that I like most about the Enneagram is that this is a dynamic system – it supports the evolving and maturing human journey. It is supposed to provide us with signposts to uncover the obstacles that prevent us from living fully and freely. Therefore, the wisdom of the Enneagram is most helpful when used in conjunction with other practices such as meditation and mindfulness.

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