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The Wisdom of the Enneagram
It has been many years since I was first introduced to the Enneagram. Back then, I was new to the philosophy we teach, and there were many things I was learning about the Creative Process and how to rebuild my life in an image of ease and grace. One of the issues I was having was that I did not understand my motivations in life very well. I was learning that I was doing counter-productive things, but I did not know why. This understanding of my motivations was the piece of the puzzle that the Enneagram was able to give me.
The Enneagram is fundamentally based on an ancient understanding of our personalities and how we tend to move through life. In the 1970’s it was expanded to include a more modern view of psychology. It will type us into one of nine different personality types. Rather than doing it by looking at how you express in your life (think about the Myers-Briggs test, which will tell you if you are an Introvert or an Extrovert based on how you show up in groups), the Enneagram instead looks at why you show up as you do.
My personality type is a 6, so I am motivated to find security. As a child, my life was chaotic. Constant moving, a violent divorce for my parents, my mother's mental issues, and more were the fabric of my young life. It bred not just a desire for order but a need that is basic to how I look at life. Looking back now, it seems so obvious, but at that time, I did not know myself at all. The Enneagram taught me who I am at the core of my being.
The underlying feeling for a 6 is fear. When I was trying to figure out which of the nine types I was, I started by knowing that I could not be a 6 because I do not feel fear. At an early age, I understood that I did not react out of fear in the way I have seen others. I know now that fear is a natural feeling that I have suppressed. My loathing of being a six was a pointer that I was actually a six. Accepting my “sixness” and all that went along with it has been one of the most significant learnings of my life.
By accepting who I am and not judging it as bad, I have been able to go from using my abilities in an unhealthy to a healthy way. What a gift I have given myself (and those around me). I am presenting a workshop on the Enneagram starting with two sessions in December. Maybe you will give yourself an early Christmas present by joining me. I hope to see you there.