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The enneagram is popular but there is misinformation! Make sure you don’t believe some of these common misunderstandings about the enneagram!
With the popularity of the enneagram comes a bit of misunderstanding. Some of this is because people were given incorrect information either from well meaning friends or very poorly constructed websites. Some of the misunderstandings also comes from people only giving the enneagram a passing glance and not taking the time to look into what the enneagram is all about.
We’ll be looking at some of the most common misunderstandings about the enneagram in this post to help clear up these issues.
If you already know about these, then share them with those who do not.
If this is all new to you, then enjoy and don’t forget to keep digging deeper into the enneagram! There is so much beneficial information!
But first! If you have no idea what the enneagram even is then you’ll want to check out my post titled obviously: What is the Enneagram.
Common Misunderstandings About The Enneagram
How to Pronounce “Enneagram”
Enneagram is pronounced any-a-gram or some say eh-nee-ah-gram.
Note, it’s also singular because it refers to the nine pointed drawing; there are nine types but one enneagram.
Misunderstanding: Enneagram Tests Are An Accurate Way To Find Your Type
Fact: Enneagram Tests Are Inaccurate
Okay, it’s better to say that even the best enneagram test is only up to 70% accurate so the tests can very often be incorrect. Therefore, you should never take the final result of an enneagram test as definitive!
However, enneagram tests can still help you find your type. I recommend using them as a way to whittle down the 9 types to about 3-5 types.
Take your top 3-5 results from the tests (good tests will provide percentages for all nine types), and then look into the core motivations of those 3-5 types. Explore which core desire seems the most important to you and which core fear terrifies you more than any other.
Check out my recommendations for free enneagram tests!
Misunderstanding: Traits Determine Your Enneagram Type
Fact: Traits Do Not Influence Yoru Enneagram Type
As I alluded to in the previous misunderstanding about tests being inaccurate, your type is not determined by your traits.
Traits often are more common for certain types (organization for type 1s for example) BUT you don’t not need certain traits to be a certain type (for instance, there are messy type 1s!)
Nor does having certain traits mean you must be a certain type (being creative doesn’t mean you must be a 4).
Traits are outward expressions of our core motivation. A clean freak could be any of the nine types. A homebody could be any of the types. Helpful people could be any of the nine types.
The important thing to ask is WHY. Why are you a clean freak, why do you like being a homebody, why do you like helping others? There are nine reasons and one of those reasons is connected to your actual type.
Misunderstanding: You Can Be More Than One Enneagram Type
Fact: You Can Not Be More Than One Type
Despite what you might feel, despite what a poorly worded test result might have led you to believe, you can only be ONE type.
You only have one core motivations. Although you can other surface motivations, only one is at the root of all that you do.
Now that said, the enneagram has so much more depth to it than just the nine types!
There are indeed just nine types (and you can only be one of those) but there are other aspects that add variety, shades, and nuance that make you uniquely you. Wings, subtypes, tritypes, overlays they all add variations to your type.
Misunderstanding: Your Enneagram Type Changes
Fact: Your Enneagram Type Can Not Change
Your enneagram type is set at a very young age and it will never change. That said, there are some reasons why you might feel like your type changed.
Stress – especially long seasons of stress can cause us to use our “stress number” so much that we start looking more like our stress number than our actual number (note this is trait based. Your core motivation stays the same which is why your type stays the same).
Trauma – if you have gone through trauma, it can cause you to use another type’s traits as a shield to protect yourself and your true type might get buried until you process the trauma and heal.
Self-Awareness – As you learn more about yourself, you might come to realize that what you thought were deep motives were actually surface motives, in which case you were mistyping.
Misunderstanding: Your Wing Is Whatever Type You Resonate With After Your Type
Fact: You Only Have Two Options When It Comes To Enneagram Wings
Some wings are impossible (3w7 for example). I blame most of the wing confusion on poorly worded test results and the fact that not everyone knows what wings are.
Many people assume that their wing number must be the second ranking result on an enneagram test. This is incorrect.
Wings are actually rarely found in the second place on tests. Some people even find their wings on the bottom of test rankings!
So which wings are actually possible? Think about actual wings (butterflies, birds, etc); they must be attached to you in order to help you fly!
Your wings are the two numbers on either side of your type. (so a type 7 has wings options of 6 and 8).
Misunderstanding: You Only Have One Enneagram Wing
Fact: You Actually Have Two Wings
We actually have access to both wings. However, not everyone makes use of both wings.
Most people use one wing dominantly which is why we see abbreviations such as 7w8). Although these people often see their other wing start to grow as they age.
Some people use both wings (balanced wings) equally or they might use one at work and the other at home.
A few people do not make use of their wings but they will likely grow into them later in life.
There Is No “Best” Enneagram Type (or Worst)
Sorry, but there is not a “best” type on the enneagram. The types are numbered (1-9) but that doesn’t mean there’s a hierarchy.
All types are equal. Each type has its own set of positive and negative traits.
The only way we can make the mistake of seeing one type as better than another is through our own faulty prejudices.
Examples: Type _ isn’t worse than yours, it might just rub you the wrong way (and more likely you’ve probably just experienced an unhealthy type _).
Your type is not worse than another type, you might just not realize the great characteristics that your type has.
Type _ isn’t the “ideal type”, it’s just what society may have caused us to believe.
The enneagram not about who we are better than but rather are we better than when we started.
Misunderstanding: Some Enneagram Types are Incompatible
Fact: All Enneagram Types Are Compatible
Or rather… all types are compatible and none of the types are compatible! Why?
Who you’re compatible with has little to do with what type they are, but it does have to do with their level of health (and yours!)
Any type can be compatible with ANY type so long as both people are working towards growth and understanding.
Any type can be incompatible with ANY type if they are unhealthy and not trying to grow.
If you want more info on how to grow and understand a significant other for a healthier relationship check out my post on what you need to know if you’re in a relationship with other enneagram types.
Now that we’ve covered the common misunderstandings about the enneagram, here are posts to help you learn about the nine types more in depth.
Type 1, Type 2, Type 3, Type 4, Type 5, Type 6, Type 7, Type 8, Type 9