The Enneagram

I was going to include my obsession with this book and podcast as part of my pop culture picks for April but then I realized the paragraph I was writing about them was spiraling into something way bigger so here we are.

Let's get one thing straight before we begin; I hate personality tests. For my psyche they are a special kind of torture. Having to choose answers in made up scenarios on a scale of "this sounds a lot like me" to "this doesn't sound a lot like me" makes my brain hurt. I never feel totally confident in my answers and I never am completely happy with the results. Meyers Briggs, DISC, you name it...I hate it.

And then one of my regular podcasts, The Liturgists, had two teachers of the Enneagram personality assessment on and I found myself checking their book ,The Road Back to You, out of the library that very day. Take a listen to the podcast featuring Ian Cron and Suzanne Stubile here. They briefly went over each number on the Enneagram but that wasn't what made me pick up the book and figure out my number. It was how Ian and Suzanne talked about the personality assessment.

Finding your number is not a quick fix for all of your problems. Rather, it is a way to begin to know yourself in a deeper capacity. In the Enneagram you do not need to move toward a different number than you are to pick up healthy habits, your worst characteristics are also your best characteristics. Best of all, the Enneagram has so much space for diversity within your number. As Ian said on the podcast if you go into a paint store to get a sample of red you'll find almost infinite shades of red to choose from. So it is with the Enneagram. You could meet two people who are a 4 on the scale and they may come across as completely different people. The Enneagram is not concerned with your actions so much as the motivation behind your actions. There are many people who in the absence of a clear leader will take over the group, but different numbers will perform that same action for different reasons.

If it sounds like I'm gushing I am. I took a couple of online assessments and still ran into the problem I usually have when faced with multiple choice questions. (Although now that I know my number I understand why that is.) But at the end of it I didn't really need to take an online test. Just listening to Ian and Suzanne speak on each number and reading their book made my number abundantly clear. 

There is a tendency to get too caught up in typifying ourselves. We spend all this time figuring out what type we are and that's all we do. It pigeonholes us. I'm going to quote Ian and Suzanne's book here where they say address this very issue.

"Fear not! The Enneagram doesn't put you in a box. It shows you the box you're already in and how to get out of it."

Reading that sentence was the moment I decided this was the book and path for me. I hope after reading my thoughts on it you too will give the Enneagram a try. I think you'll be surprised by what you find and simultaneously not surprised at all. 

Note: Suzanne and Ian host there own podcast where they go into discussion of all the numbers on the Enneagram. It's a great listen. Find it here

Janelle Saaybe1 Comment