Recently, as I’ve been undergoing a path towards spiritual and mental wholeness, I’ve discovered a personality system known as the Enneagram. I was introduced to it by a friend of mine, who told me about how it has helped him as a person — giving him a better understanding of his emotions. It has helped me in a similar way. It has given me a sense of self-awareness, and as a result, I have a better sense of my personality, how I respond to stress, and why I often find myself behaving a certain way. It’s been a very important tool in my journey.
What the Enneagram Is
According to Wikipedia, the Enneagram is a “typology of nine interconnected personality types.” The history and origins of the Enneagram aren’t really known for sure, but in the contemporary sense, it is based on the teachings of two Latin American spiritualists named Oscar Ichazo and Claudio Naranjo. Like most personality typologies — the Myers-Briggs system being an example — you have to take a personality test in order to determine your personality type out of the nine, which are:
- The Reformer
- The Helper
- The Achiever
- The Individualist
- The Investigator
- The Loyalist
- The Enthusiast
- The Challenger
- The Peacemaker
This web page here explains each type in detail. If you are curious by now, I am a five. I am a pretty cerebral person who is obsessed with information and knowledge.
What the Enneagram Isn’t
The Enneagram is not like astrology or similar systems in the sense that it merely describes you. The entire purpose of it, as I mentioned earlier, is to be aware of what makes you “tick”. It’s making you aware of the negative emotions that your type is more susceptible to. The Enneagram is about being aware of who you are so that you can improve and change. This is in contrast to astrology. From my own observation, many people in our society simply use astrology as an excuse for their behavior.
“I’ve cheated on all of my partners because I belong to this sign!”
“I’m angry and rude to everyone because I belong to this sign!”
This is NOT what the Enneagram was designed to be, and if this is how you choose to look at it, then you’re doing it wrong. I cannot stress enough that the purpose of knowing your Enneagram type is for you to be aware of who you are, and the behaviors that you need to change. It should not define who you are.
Being self-aware has helped me in combating my addictions and vices. The Enneagram has made me aware of why I do things, and repeatedly perform certain behaviors. Fives, according to the Enneagram have a tendency to be miserly control freaks. I see this in my own life. I am extremely controlling and stingy when it comes to information, money, property, etc. It is hard for me to loan people money, my car, or anything really. It is something that I seriously struggle with, and it stems from growing up in poverty and receiving hand-me-downs from my older brothers — I never really owned anything growing up, and it made me extremely protective of the things that I did earn on my own. Being aware of this, and why it exists, is gradually enabling me to be less miserly. I still struggle with these issues, but by the grace of God, I’m improving in this area of my life little by little.
The Enneagram should be something of benefit for all of us who are on the journey towards wholeness. It is a powerful tool. You can take a free test here.