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It’s trendy, it comes with fun memes…. but what IS the Enneagram?
Many people are familiar with personality systems like Myers-Briggs or DISC or Strength Finder. Often they were introduced to these systems by work because their work place realized the value in understanding their team better.
The Enneagram is one such personality system… only it provides even more value!
What Is The Enneagram?
The Enneagram is a personality typing system that shows us the nine ways that people in the world default to in order to live their life.
Many personality systems just tell you what “box” you are in and leave it at that. Many personality systems will highlight only your strengths but not show you were you need to grow.
The Enneagram not only tells you what box you are in but it shows you how to grow out of that box…because nobody wants to be boxed in or limited to just a label.
The Enneagram also provides you with not just your strengths but your weaknesses too. This of course is why the Enneagram can sting a bit once you do find your type.
Personality systems tend to determine your type by what you do; your traits and behavior.
The Enneagram explains the why of all that we do, think, and feel.
These nine types are based on our core motivations and when we delve into the Enneagram we can better understand ourselves and begin to grow.
What Is The Purpose of the Enneagram?
Like most personality typing systems the Enneagram is to help you understand yourself better. It allows you to understand the reasons for why you have certain traits and behaviors, why you respond a certain way when stressed, why certain qualities are very important to you.
On top of that, it also helps you understand others better. It opens your eyes to the fact that not everybody functions like you do.
It helps you realize that more often that not, people are not as mean/emotional/distant/etc as they appear but rather they are working from their own set of core desires and fears that are just as strong as yours are to you!
Their actions and behavior can now make sense (even if it doesn’t seem the best choice to you) and you can now relate and interact with others better.
The Enneagram Symbol
The Enneagram is from Greek; “ennea” meaning nine and “gram” meaning something written or drawn.
As you can see there are nine points on the Enneagram symbol; each for one of the nine main Enneagram types.
The Enneagram Circle
Those nine points are gathered together in a circle (some Enneagram symbols actually draw the circle, I prefer a more simplistic symbol and I leave the circle out although still indicated).
The circle is there to represent that those nine types are connected and there can/should be unity. There is no one type that is better than another.
You’ll also notice that since the types (named as numbers) are in a circle, there is a type on either side of them. These two flanking types actually show which wings each type has access to.
Contrary to many an Enneagram test interpreted incorrectly, a person’s wings can only be the types on either side of their number. Example, a type 1 can only have wing options of 9 and 2. I have more info in my “what are enneagram wings” post.
The Enneagram Lines
In addition to the circle, you’ll notice connecting lines. These lines show the paths that connect each individual type to two other types.
These paths are often called growth and stress lines or lines of integration and disintegration.
We tend to default to using one path on the more negative side, that path is usually known as a stress path. And we tend to default to using the other path more naturally in growth which is why it’s usually known as a growth path.
In reality both of those paths offer the ability to help your type grow so please do not think your stress path is something to be avoided; there is good that comes from understanding and accessing that path.