Phil and I first saw the word Enneagram in a Richard Rohr book a few years ago. We looked it up briefly, just to understand the reference to it. Later, after reading more and seeing it pop up in multiple books we were both exploring, we studied it a little closer. Besides knowing that it is an ancient model of 9 personality types of the human psyche, we began to understand it as a spiritual guide capable of leading us back to our truest selves.
It is able to identify the way you’ve adapted to living or surviving in the world, but then points back to your “garden” self— the divine, inner being inherent in you— before any other influence or experience layered on top of your being. It is under or maybe next to your ego, and requires so much inner work to come back home. The Enneagram kind of lights the path.
There are nine personality types. When you take a test, you will more than likely be mostly one number— you came to understand how to live and thrive in the world, and one of these personality types helped you do just that. Once you know your number, you can also know which number you move toward in deterioration or stress and which number you move towards in growth and health. This healthy number is like returning to your truest self, your Garden of Eden, your inherent Imago Dei.
You will get a more accurate number if you take it as an adult, obviously. Even young adults are still working their way in the world, figuring out how to exist in a way that feels purposeful and significant. I still allowed both our kids to take the test. If nothing else, it will allow them to track where they’ve been along the journey of becoming. It also gave me a better understanding of their desires, motives, and strivings now.
I am a One. I need and love goals, getting things done, huge challenges, can envision the “ideals”, and perfection is something I often find myself chasing. I am self controlled, want to be “good,” and can be impatient and judgmental at times. When moving in an unhealthy direction, I tend towards a four. When I am growing in a healthy way, I am moving toward a seven— finding joy and embracing spontaneity.
Phil is a Six. He is much more cautious than me (thank God, he is my brake:). He is loyal, charming, responsible, and suspicious. Phil in a nutshell. In a relationship, he brings more warmth, playfulness, and emotional energy than I do. While Ones can often be the leaders in relationships, Sixes help us rethink, pause, and take inventory of our certitude. And Phil is way more engaging as a person than I am— so that makes double-dating with us much more fun.
Niamh is a Four. Philly is a Seven.
Knowing my people’s numbers is helpful to me, in marriage and perhaps even more in parenting. Knowing Niamh is a four helps me understand why she asks questions like “I’m not like every other teenager, am I?” and her constant fear of not having done something that matters. She is dramatic (which makes sense of why she loves theater as much as she does!), melancholy at times, incredibly creative, and very expressive. I know she is struggling when she is moving in a two direction, and this most often comes to the surface when she starts worrying about her friendships, making everyone happy, and controlling everyone else’s feelings towards her. When she embraces her one-ness (her healthy number beacon), she becomes a unique, creative energy that is just, industrious, and self confident.
Philly is a seven— fun loving, spontaneous, high-spirited. He just wants to eat candy bars, get a couple hugs a day, and have a damn good time. I know that he will find his truest self by moving toward a number five… having a great time, preserving the feeling of happiness, but also having the ability to focus his energies and talents, finding a fascination in the ordinary and mundane.
The Enneagram gives us a deeper understanding of where my kids are presently (knowing their numbers could very well change), and we are able to walk them through struggles towards healthy places where they can uncover their souls authentically. It is a tool that offers so much depth to understanding the people in our lives, giving us the opportunity to love and honor them as they are.
If you’d like to take the test, read more about the Enneagram, or even listen to some Enneagram-inspired music- check out the list of links below. And comment with your number! I think it is so fun to discuss our types!
Take a quick test HERE.
A couple easy books to check out if you want to read more in-depth:
The Enneagram A Christian Perspective
Listen to your number’s song HERE.
“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.”
-The Road Back to You