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The picture above represents offers some of the best insights I have every received in to the human personality. It is called the Enneagram. Because the first thing most people say when they hear about the Enneagram personality typing is “What is that?” I wanted to supply some answers.
The Enneagram is a personality typing system that comes from the 4th Century. It is not based in religion but in spiritual and psychological principles. It was rooted in the question, “What stands before me and achieving my highest good?” Basically “What about my personality serves to block me/protect me from growing spiritually.” There are 9 different personality types each of them with unique traits and descriptors
I was introduced to the Enneagram about 15 years ago through my church when they brought Riso and Hudson two Enneagram experts to a day long retreat. I knew nothing about it but at the time I was seeking as much information as possible about personality and self understanding. I can’t remember ever being more intrigued at a retreat in my life. As we walked through the 9 personality types I became more and more drawn in.
The complexity and the simplicity of the Enneagram is what I love the most. It’s simplicity comes from the ideas that we all have developed obstacles within our personality that keep us from really seeing the Truth. Whether it be the fear of conflict, being alone, being vulnerable, being wrong etc. Each personality type has a basic fear and a basic desire which runs the show. Whenever we get challenged by growth we run up agains our particular personality obstacle which serves to keep us safe and secure. We all are ‘acting out’ and ‘viewing the world’ through our particular lens. We developed these lens as we grew up and developed our personalities. Once you can see and understand your lens you can start to change it and become more open to growth. You can start to see the world not just from your fears and desires but on a more global scale.
The complexity is seen in the flow. Unlike the Myers-Briggs which is more static and defined, the Enneagram has a flow to it. As you grow and change, so to does your lens. As you master your personality lens you can then move to another Enneagram type. At any one time we are operating in a healthy or unhealthy form of our personality type. So there is a richness that come from the Enneagram that I haven’t found in many other personality assessments.
Understanding and learning about the Enneagram has dramatically changed my life and my relationships. Understanding not only my personality patterns but those closest to me has enabled me to grow and change as a person. The Enneagram provides another way to look at yourself. It provides answers to the questions like;
What is my basic desire?
What is my basic fear?
What are my strengths?
What are my challenge?
What are my defense mechanisms?
Based on my type how can I grow and change?
Intrigued? Tonight I am hosting an Enneagram Wine Night at the Loft. You can register here or you can just show up. And In July I will be presenting a more detailed view of the Enneagram during the Saturday Seminar–which is July 19th. You can register for that here.
Can’t make it to the loft? Here are 2 of my favorite websites on the Enneagram.