Emily Carlson

So… what’s your type? 

If you know what the Enneagram is, then you likely know what the answer to this question is. If you’re feeling confused right now, you may have the latest personality test. As a self-proclaimed personality test junkie, I have always been fascinated by typing tools such as the Enneagram. However, I have seen some misunderstanding regarding how the different “types” within the system work. I will be giving a brief overview of the Enneagram in order for you to take that knowledge and learn more about the system—and yourself—on your own.

Despite its newfound interest in the world, the Enneagram is actually one of the oldest personality systems. The first person to put the Enneagram together was Oscar Ichazo in the 1970s, but the symbol of the Enneagram can be traced back to the word of Pythagoras. The word “enneagram” is from the Greek word, “ennea,” meaning “nine,” and “grammos,” meaning “figure.” This refers to the shape of a circle that the enneagram creates. 

While there are many books, podcasts and other resources dedicated to looking at the enneagram from a Christian perspective, “the philosophy behind the enneagram has roots in many different religions, from Christianity to Buddhism to Judaism,” according to Physcology Junkie.com. “That said, the enneagram is not a religion. It’s not a spiritual philosphy. … Ultimately, the enneagram is about self-knowledge and understanding. It’s about recognizing our core drivers, as well as the impact of our experiences, motivations, attitudes and fears.”

Breaking down this complicated world could take up an entire book. In fact, there are many books already written about the topic. My sister first introduced me to the Enneagram after she read about it in one of her freshman year college courses. She borrowed the book, “The Sacred Enneagram” to me, thus beginning my fascination. 

The Enneagram is mainly broken down into nine different types. According to the enneagraminstitute.com, the types can be briefly described as follows:

  • Type One: The Reformer, “is principled, purposeful, self-controlled and perfectionistic.”

  • Type Two: The Helper, “is generous, demonstrative, people-pleasing and possessive.”

  • Type Three: The Achiever, “is adaptable, excelling, driven and image-conscious.”

  • Type Four: The Individualist, “is expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed and temperamental.”

  • Type Five: The Investigator, “is perceptive, innovative, secretive and isolated.”

  • Type Six: The Loyalist, “is engaging, responsible, anxious and suspicious.”

  • Type Seven: The Enthusiast, “is spontaneous, versatile, acquisitive and scattered.”

  • Type Eight: The Challenger, “is self-confident, decisive, willful and confrontational.”

  • Type Nine: The Peacemaker, “is receptive, reassuring, complacent and resigned.”

Each person is only one of these numbers. You can’t be two at the same time—although you have connections to other types, which I will explain later. 

I am a Type Nine. Type Nine’s are in the instinctive center. The nine types are all separated in three different “Centers”—instinctive (Eight, Nine and One), feeling (Two, Three and Four) and thinking (Five, Six and Seven). These centers show the strongest unconscious driver of all of the types. For the thinking center, fear is the main driver. The feeling group has shame as theirs and the instinct group is driven by anger. 

Looking at the Enneagram diagram, you can see that each Type is surrounded by two other Types. These are the Wings. While your type represents the dominant part of your personality, “the wing complements it and adds important, sometimes contradictory, elements to your personality,” according to the Enneagram Institute. “Your wing is the ‘second side’ of your personality, and it must be taken into consideration to better understand yourself or someone else.”

Although I have only scratched the surface on the various aspects of the Enneagram, there are still many more to go. Each type has its own levels of development, from healthy to average to unhealthy. They also can move along the diagram toward other Types in Directions or Growth or Stress. Lastly, every person has a dominant Instinct—self-preservation, sexual or social. If you want a full understand of yourself through the Enneagram, it is important to dive into these as well. If you are just looking to start with the basics, just look into what your Type is. 

The best way for you to find out your Type is to read about all nine of them and realize, for yourself, which Type you are. Reading books such as “The Sacred Enneagram” or going to the Enneagram Institute is a great place to start. You can also take an online quiz to point you in the right direction to start off. Most quizzes will give you your most likely matches for a Type, then you can go read into each one yourself. I have found that the Classical Enneagram test on https://www.eclecticenergies.com/enneagram/test is a great free online quiz to take. 

If I have caught your attention and you want to know more about the Enneagram and yourself through it, check out the following online resources.

What is the Enneagram: https://www.psychologyjunkie.com/2018/09/05/what-is-the-enneagram/

How does the Enneagram work: https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/how-the-enneagram-system-works

The History of the Enneagram: https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/the-traditional-enneagram

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