A Fascinating Overview of How the Enneagram Personality System Works

Seven years ago I began learning about the Enneagram Personality System. It has changed my life for the better. I am much more compassionate and forgiving of myself. I have a lot more patience and compassion to work with people who experience the world differently from me. I am a healthier and happier person. It has helped me so much I want to share it with others.

This is a story of how the Enneagram the Enneagram personality system works.

Ennea means nine, and gram means figure in Greek. So together it means a nine-pointed figure. What is its history?  Here is a short synopsis:

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The symbol dates back about 2500 years. The actual date of its beginning or where exactly it started is unknown. It is a coming together of the wisdom of many different spiritual traditions. Much of it has come from Christianity, Buddhism, Islam (especially Sufis) and Judaism.

Much of this spiritual wisdom, was forgotten for hundreds of years. In 1875 Gurdjieff re-discovered the symbol in his search for the knowledge of the esoteric religions of the past. He formed a group called Seekers After Truth.  He and his friends traveled through Egypt, Afghanistan, Greece, Persia, and India.

Gurdjieff used the Enneagram as a tool to help his students to find their way in the world through dance and movement.

He explained that the Enneagram has three parts that represent the three central laws that describe divine law which governs all existence.

The circle represents unity, wholeness, and oneness and symbolizes that God is one (Hudson, 1999).

The next symbol is the triangle. In Christianity, this is referring to the Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit or in the Enneagram world, the Law of Three. This symbolism found in the Kabbalah, an esoteric teaching of Judaism. The ancient traditions do not see the world as a place of opposites but of non-duality. Hence the world is full of many hues of color rather than black and white (Hudson, 1999).

The third part is the hexad, referring to the Law of Seven. It demonstrates to us that nothing is static. Our world is continuously changing, recycling and evolving or de-evolving. The Periodic Table and the Western musical octave are all based on the Law of Seven (Hudson, 1999).

The modern Enneagram as we know it came to life in California in the 1970’s under Claudio Naranjo.  Naranjo and many others since him have woven psychology into the Enneagram to bring it into the modern age. He used panels of each type as one way to teach the Enneagram.

Today the Enneagram teaches that when you are born into the world, your ego chooses one of the nine fundamental ways to survive in the world. These represent the nine Enneagram types. This is how the Enneagram personality system works.

You could not have survived without the ego type your inner self chose. No one knows why we choose the type we do. It is probably a mixture of genetics mixed with early life experiences.

Our personality can begin to get in the way when we become adults if we do not become aware of the limitations of our nature.  When you are stuck in your personality, you are only using one-ninth of the tools given.

All the things you do without thinking are your personality speaking. When you begin to be aware of your limited pattern (type) talking, you then become open to responding in new and different ways.

I always say to my clients that when you can notice your personality acting out, you then have the option to respond in ways that are more appropriate for the situation in which you find yourself.

The Enneagram is like a map. It shows you when you are healthy, and not so healthy. It points you in the direction you need to go to get healthier. It warns you when you are getting stuck in old habits that no longer serve you.

When you look at most Enneagram images, you will see arrows pointing in the different directions of integration and stress (disintegration).

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The Enneagram is never static. The health of your personality is never static. Each day you go up and down depending on how much stress you are experiencing.

There is movement on the Enneagram as you move to ether your integration point or your stress point.

The integration points you toward the functional aspects of another type when you are dealing with life well. When you are integrating, you are living beyond the trappings of your personality.

There is nothing wrong moving towards the stress type. The stress point is a safety valve. It prevents you from moving down to a lower level of health than you have ever been before.

Just to learn the types can be a fun thing to do. It can be a great party conversation. But it is only of use if you commit to learning through this tool through workshops, reading, reflection, counseling, and coaching.

The only person who can tell you who you are is yourself. For many people, it takes time to discern what type you are. It is easy to misidentify when you are not self-aware.

The Enneagram is no excuse to behave in a particular way. The gift of the Enneagram is that it points out to you the personality box in which you find yourself. A healthy person will develop strengths in all nine types. This is how the Enneagram personality system works.

Learning the Enneagram together with someone that knows you well such as your spouse can be a lot of fun. Your partner can help you to see who you are. When we are so close to ourselves, we can easily deceive ourselves into believing our desired image of our self when in reality people around us experience us differently.

The Enneagram teaching is an excellent tool for any group such as spouses, a whole family, congregation or business to learn how to get along better with each other. You begin to understand your differences because of how you see the world through your different lenses.

I expect at some time in your life you assumed that everyone thought the same as you did—until you got a rude awakening.  We all have different ways of seeing and experiencing the world.

You will discover that most people don’t want to annoy you. They just see the world in different ways and have different priorities.

The nine Enneagram types divide into a triad of gut, heart, and head. These are our three energy centers. Your type suggests which one of these energy centers you either avoid or overuse. It just means this is where you are most comfortable but to be healthy, we need to keep all three of these wisdom centers open.

You can also use another triad of assertive, withdrawn and dutiful.

The assertive types of people move out into the world with force and conviction. They are a force to be taken seriously.

The withdrawn types when under stress like to withdraw into themselves to recharge. They are usually great observers of what is going on around them. They are easy to get along with.

The dutiful types when under stress feel responsible for taking care of everyone around them and making sure everyone stays safe. The dutiful types can often feel overly responsible.

The Enneagram is all about finding ways to live with as much presence as possible. Presence is the ability to stay open to the wisdom of your three energy centers: the gut, heart, and head.

The Enneagram is meant to help you move out of the fog of life. When you are stuck in your personality, it is easy to go to sleep to your true self. You live out your image of yourself without any self-awareness. Your life becomes more and more limited unless you find the courage to discover who you indeed are.

Using the Enneagram takes time and intentionality. It is a tool that will give you new things to learn each day no matter how old you are. It is no quick fix.

If someone claims you need fixing with the Enneagram, run away as quickly as you can. These teachers are dangerous!

I love the Enneagram! I hope it can help you as much as it has and continues to help me. I learned that being a type six explained why I had had lots of anxiety issues through my life. I have a lot more compassion for myself. I have learned how important meditation is for me to quiet my mind.

The Enneagram can change the world!

Learning that I am a type six has helped me to acknowledge my strengths such as my ability to look for problems before they become serious.

It has been a blessing in my relationship with my wife, Jen. She is a type five (the investigator). She thinks everything through before she says anything. She finds it difficult to express herself especially when she doesn’t feel that she has enough information.

I am the opposite. I think out loud. I learn through my conversations with others. We have had to learn much. I have learned to give Jen lots of time to think. She has learned that she needs to tell me what she is thinking, especially when it is a decision that affects both of us. We now laugh together instead of cursing each other.

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I invite you to try out the Enneagram. It is a productive tool that reflects the complexity and holiness of each person.  It shows you where you are right now and where you need to go to get healthier.

This fantastic tool helps you to find your true self or God self. The Enneagram shows you a way to be aware of your sensations that are full of wisdom. The Enneagram shows you a way to remain open to your emotions through your heart. This is how the Enneagram personality works.

You learn that your feelings shine the light on how you are experiencing the world in each moment. Then your mind, when quiet, helps you to connect with your intuition.

Please join me on this journey to new life. May it be full of surprises, wonder, and hope.

 

Roland Legge offers coaching through REL Consultants for individuals, couples, families, and executives to help them to be the best they can be. For more information, please arrange for a free 30-minute discovery call by phoning Roland at 1 306 620-7478, or you can email Roland at rolandlegge@relconsultants.com

 

Originally published at http://www.relconsultants.com/blog

Author: Roland Legge

 

 

Relationships are not always for Ever

Gefangen im Liebeschaos

 

Getting out of an unhealthy Relationship

Are you in a relationship you need to get out of? What is preventing you from leaving? Is it more about what others will think of you if you leave. Is it about the money? Is it about the wellbeing of your children?

Family and Friends

Have you considered that your close friends and family maybe wondering why you are still stuck in this unhappy relationship? They might even be willing to help you in your time of transition. People who love you want the best for you.

Relationships are not supposed to End

Most of us come into relationships expecting them to be life long. Relationships come to an end for many reasons. Sometimes we choose our partner out of desperation to feel normal and not alone. Other times we don’t invest enough time together in our relationship that one day we wake up and don’t know the other person.

Learning along the Journey

There are times when one person in the couple grows in self awareness while the other in the relationship stays stuck. One might be happy with the status quo but the other is not happy and wants change. No one can be forced to change. We can only invite.

Children are Impacted

If you are staying in the relationship to protect your children this is not a good reason. Children are very sensitive and will notice the conflict between you and your partner no matter how hard you try to hide it. Your kids will be much happier if they have two happier parents living apart.

I would never end a Relationship!

You may be like me, who never dreamed they would be the one to end the relationship. But often it is the one who is seeking change is the one who needs to take the initiative to ether seek help or begin the process to end the relationship. Your partner might be angry with you at the time, but in the end, they may even thank you. Destructive relationships are not good for anyone.

Breakup are never Easy

Even in the best of breakups they are never easy. If you can work through issues with a mediator this is much better than fighting in court. Working this out together cooperatively will be a win win for all.

Life is Precious

Our lives are too short to not enjoy what we have been given. What makes you shine? What do you love to do? What brings a smile to your face. Who are the people you really want in your life? So now might be a good time in your life to invest time and money into helping you to find greater joy, harmony and purpose in life.

You are Loved

I was amazed by all the support I got from friends and family when I ended my first marriage. I discovered who my true friends were. I was showered was love. It didn’t take my pain away but it sure made it much easier to move on.

You are not Alone

Remember you are not alone! We are all here on this planet to support and encourage each other. No person can to do it all alone. There is no shame in asking for help from a friend, a family member or a professional. This is more a sign of strength than weakness.

Learn from your Mistakes

I asked myself what I needed to learn from the breakup of my first marriage. Who would want to repeat the same mistakes again? This takes some deep soul searching. It can feel scary to go within but it is the only way to get beyond that which is holding us back from living the best lives we can. Each of us needs to take responsibility for our part in the relationship.

Would you rather smile or Frown?

You are likely angry at your spouse. Probably with good reason. But holding on this is not in your best interest. It takes a lot of energy to stay angry.  Here is something to try. Frown for a moment and notice all the muscles you use and how it feels and compare it with it how it feels to smile. I would rather smile.

Forgiveness is about Liberation

Forgiveness is not about saying to your spouse it is okay how you have hurt me. It is not about forgetting what they did to you.  It is about getting to place where those memories no longer trigger you and/or negatively impact future relationships.

Give yourself the Gift of Self Reflection

The best gift you can give yourself is time to slow down and really notice what is going on inside your body, emotions and thoughts. Avoiding these will only make them come back stronger at a time you least expect.

Pamper Yourself

As you go through your breakup take time to focus on your own needs. Go get a massage, they are a great way to connect to our body and it feels so good after the treatment. Spend time with friends and family you enjoy being with. Try some form of meditation to quiet your mind. This might be doing something you love such as walking, running, gardening, ceramics, painting or whatever delights you.

You are Worth It

Most of all as you move through this time of transition into a happier life do not be afraid to seek help. Whether it be a friend, family member, spiritual leader or professional there are people who want to help you.

You are worth it! Go and make the best of your life!  You have many cheering you on.

 

Roland Legge offers coaching through REL Consultants for individuals, couples, families and executives to help them to be the best they can be. For more information please arrange for a free 30-minute discovery call by phoning Roland at 1 306 620-7478 or you can email Roland at rolandlegge@relconsultants.com