During the past few months I’ve devoured several books on the Enneagram, an ancient spiritual road map that helps a person grow lighter and gain clarity once they’ve owned their lingering darkness and confusion.
As I’ve read, I’ve captured dozens of pages of insights in my journals, often diagramming how the different Enneagram concepts tie together, while rapidly reframing decades of perceiving, believing, and suffering. Along with Buddhism, the Enneagram is providing me with additional context and tools for my decades-long, meta-pursuit of wholeness, growth, and happiness, in both my family life and professional work.
The Enneagram, generally believed to have been created by BCE mystics across different religions, was “rediscovered” and shaped during the latter decades of the 20th Century by psychological and spiritual thought leaders whom you can read about here. The road map displays nine different “types” of individuals, each of which is centered in a portfolio of healthy and unhealthy tendencies. And while each of us has aspects of all nine types hard-wired into our personalities and habits, it’s generally agreed that one type describes us better than all the others–and humbles (and even temporarily disillusions) us far more than the other eight.
Based on my study of the Enneagram, I most resemble a “Type 4″—and I’m certain that no other “personality type” model has “nailed me” as thoroughly as the Enneagram. I hunger to keep learning about it. I hunger, obviously, to write and speak about it with others.
I’ll say much more about the Enneagram in future blogs. For now, here’s a brief snapshot of each of the 9 types’ “deepest needs,” based on consistent themes in the most widely read Enneagram literature:
Type 1 – the need to be perfect
Type 2 – the need to be needed
Type 3 – the need to succeed
Type 4 – the need to be special or unique
Type 5 – the need to perceive or understand
Type 6 – the need to be sure, certain, or secure
Type 7 – the need to avoid pain
Type 8 – the need to be against
Type 9 – the need to avoid
This is usually the point when someone new to the Enneagram will begin a Google search to try and “figure out” their own type. Don’t resist that urge; go for it! And since you’re already thinking about your potential type, I suggest you visit here and pay a whopping $12 to take the most widely recognized Enneagram assessment, The Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator (RHETI® version 2.5).
Final thoughts: The Enneagram can be integrated into any religious faith practice or lack thereof. (I recommend The Sacred Enneagram as a starting point, along with the ulta-cool new book Millenneagram.) For me, as indicated above, the Enneagram happens to resonate the most with the Buddhist framework, which I’ve also written about on this blog.