THE ENNEAGRAM (pronounced “ANY-a-gram”) is a geometric figure that maps out the nine fundamental personality types of human nature and their complex interrelationships. It is a development of modern psychology that has roots in spiritual wisdom from many different ancient traditions. The word Enneagram comes from the Greek for “nine”—ennea—and “figure”—grammos.
“What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves?”
-- THOMAS MERTON
Presence (awareness, mindfulness), the practice of self-observation (gained from self-knowledge), and understanding what one’s experiences mean (an accurate interpretation provided by a larger context such as a community or spiritual system) are the three basic elements needed for transformational work.
INTRODUCING THE NINE TYPES
Read the following type names and brief descriptions to see which two or three strike you as being most typical of yourself.
Type One: The Reformer
The idealistic type.
Ones are ethical and conscientious, with a strong sense of right and wrong.
They are teachers and crusaders, always striving to improve things but afraid of making a mistake.
Well-organized, orderly, and fastidious, they try to maintain high standards but can slip into being critical and perfectionistic.
They typically have problems with repressed anger and impatience.
At their best, healthy Ones are wise, discerning, realistic, and noble, as well as morally heroic.
Type Two: The Helper
The caring, interpersonal type.
Twos are empathetic, sincere, and warm-hearted. They are friendly, generous, and self-sacrificing, but they can also be sentimental, flattering, and people-pleasing.
They are driven to be close to others, and they often do things for others in order to be needed. They typically have problems taking care of themselves and acknowledging their own needs.
At their best, healthy Twos are unselfish and altruistic and have unconditional love for themselves and others.
Type Three: The Achiever
The success-oriented type.
Threes are self-assured, attractive, and charming. Ambitious, competent, and energetic, they can also be status-conscious and highly driven for personal advancement.
Threes are often concerned about their image and what others think of them. They typically have problems with workaholism and competitiveness.
At their best, healthy Threes are self-accepting, authentic, and everything they seem to be—role models who inspire others.
Type Four: The Individualist
The romantic, introspective type.
Fours are self-aware, sensitive, reserved, and quiet. They are self-revealing, emotionally honest, and personal, but they can also be moody and self-conscious.
Withholding themselves from others due to feeling vulnerable and defective, they can also feel disdainful and exempt from ordinary ways of living. They typically have problems with self-indulgence and self-pity.
At their best, healthy Fours are inspired and highly creative, able to renew themselves and transform their experiences.
Type Five: The Investigator
The cerebral type.
Fives are alert, insightful, and curious. They are able to concentrate and focus on developing complex ideas and skills. Independent and innovative, they can become preoccupied with their thoughts and imaginary constructs.
They become detached, yet high-strung and intense. They typically have problems with isolation, eccentricity, and nihilism.
At their best, healthy Fives are visionary pioneers, often ahead of their time and able to see the world in an entirely new way.
Type Six: The Loyalist
The security-oriented type.
Sixes are reliable, hardworking, and responsible, but they can also be defensive, evasive, and highly anxious—running on stress while complaining about it.
They are often cautious and indecisive but can also be reactive, defiant, and rebellious. They typically have problems with self-doubt and suspicion.
At their best, healthy Sixes are internally stable, self-confident, and self-reliant, courageously supporting the weak and powerless.
Type Seven: The Enthusiast
The busy, productive type.
Sevens are versatile, optimistic, and spontaneous. Playful, high-spirited, and practical, they can also be overextended, scattered, and undisciplined.
They constantly seek new and exciting experiences, but they can become distracted and exhausted by staying on the go. They typically have problems with superficiality and impulsiveness.
At their best, healthy Sevens focus their talents on worthwhile goals, becoming joyous, highly accomplished, and full of gratitude.
Type Eight: The Challenger
The powerful, dominating type.
Eights are self-confident, strong, and assertive. Protective, resourceful, and decisive, they can also be proud and domineering.
Eights feel that they must control their environment, often becoming confrontational and intimidating. They typically have problems with allowing themselves to be close to others.
At their best, healthy Eights are self-mastering—they use their strength to improve others’ lives, becoming heroic, magnanimous, and sometimes historically great.
Type Nine: The Peacemaker
The easygoing type.
Nines are accepting, trusting, and stable. They are good-natured, kindhearted, easygoing, and supportive but can also be too willing to go along with others to keep the peace.
They want everything to be without conflict but can tend to be complacent and minimize anything upsetting. They typically have problems with passivity and stubbornness.
At their best, healthy Nines are indomitable and all-embracing; they are able to bring people together and heal conflicts.
it is always possible to be wrong in one’s self-diagnosis—just as, unfortunately, it is easy to be wrongly diagnosed by an “Enneagram expert” of some sort. Therefore, take your time identifying your type.
live with the information for a while and talk about it with those who know you well. Remember that self-discovery is a process, and that the process does not end with discovering your type—in fact, that is only the beginning.
When you do discover your type, you will know it. Waves of relief and embarrassment, of elation and chagrin, are likely to sweep over you. Things that you have always known unconsciously about yourself will suddenly become clear, and life patterns will emerge. You can be certain that when this happens, you have identified your personality type correctly.