I’m going to narrow it down a bit more from my last post, because focus is important, and the trait theory I am concerned with sharing about is, and will mainly be, heretofore, the Enneagram. The Enneagram has quickly become an enlightening, humanizing lens through which to see other’s and myself. I’ve been studying it for over a year now, and finally am feeling confident enough in my understanding and interpretation of it to begin sharing my perspective on it.
The Enneagram is an incredible tool with an impressive capacity for explaining the depths, the core, the heart, and the motivations of people. Of course, there are skeptics, and I myself started off as one, but as I dove in, I quickly observed a pattern in the loudest voices of the harshest critics on this typology. The pattern was that the louder the objection, the less informed the protestor was about the actual workings of the Enneagram. [It’s still a vast curiosity and potential pet project of mine to really pour over those writings, and meet with those people again so that I may type them and possibly uncover a greater pattern of certain types contending more than others.] As I noticed this pattern, it only provoked my curiosity further, because another pattern I have noticed in life is that the more adamantly against any given thing, stance, concept, or belief system that [ignorant, or uninformed] people are, the more you should pay attention to the thing they are opposing, because it is often found to be quite the opposite of what it is played off to be, or at the very least, is terribly interesting. [Take feminism for example.]
A lot of people just honestly love arguing. This is for a variety of reasons, truly depending on the person, and one might argue—their type. For example, Eights often argue for the sheer fun of opposition, or an excuse to assert themselves [not that they ever need an excuse]. Fours often argue for the drama of it, or for their unspoken desire to perceive that they are emotionally supported through passionate discussion with those they care about, almost as if they see arguments as a chance to prove the strength of their bond with their contender. Threes argue because they want to be seen as knowledgable, an authority, a person in power or prestige, they want to be someone that people can look up to, and what better way to do that than by being right all the time? Fives don’t particularly enjoy arguing, but they will do it when necessary, or when they feel like it, because arguing takes a lot of energy that they’re simply just not willing to spare sometimes. These are merely brief, surface-y examples of potential type motivations to argue, and even on this point I could go much more in depth into the thought process and justifications of each type, but for the purpose of this example, I digress.
Because everyone is doing life differently, and not because they are wrong, but because they are different. Trait theories help us understand and empathize their differences, without putting them down for it. The Enneagram is particularly adept at this task as it’s main goal is to afford you a deeper understanding into your own motivations, mode of being, and orientation to the world. It also has the added bonus of helping you understand others, or at the very least, that everyone does not operate exactly how you do. I think that might be the single greatest lesson I learned through all of my readings in various trait theories— that everyone does not operate the way that I do, and in fact, most people do not. This completely revolutionized my worldview. It was such a game-changer, I honestly couldn’t believe that I ever considered that concept a possibility. It seemed so ignorant in retrospect, because it was. Truly. I mean, on a planet that is home to 7 billion other humans, who am I to think that my way of orienting to the world is so right and so true that it is t h e w a y ? Wild. What a wild thought. The MBTI was the trait theory that instigated that realization, but the Enneagram is the one that brought it home with the deepest, most accurate, specific, and insightful descriptions of how different humans are that I have ever encountered to this day.
As of now I have read four books [totaling over 1,300 pages], scoured the internet for hundreds of hours soaking up information, both scholarly and opinion pieces, spent even more hours in in-depth conversation about the types, completed the Enneagram in Psychology Assessment class through Union Institute & University, which related the Enneagram to the DSM-V and taught on ways to type and assess clients using the Enneagram. I’ve typed everyone in my immediate circle of influence with accuracy, and have begun conducting sessions with people to be typed, and go over their type in real time, and in detail. Assessing, and addressing questions, concerns, doubts and affirmations alike.
I’m an autodidact, meaning that I am mainly self-taught, I prefer to learn at my own comically accelerated pace, high intensity interval learning, if you will. When I find a subject that peaks my interest I figuratively lose myself in the acquisition of information on the topic, system, or subject and I only come up for air when I have exhausted all of my resources. Then with a satisfied, “huh.” I generally move on to the next subject. The Enneagram is one of those systems for me, only this time I’m trying something different. My goal is to use my knowledge of the Enneagram to help people like you on a journey to greater self-awareness that will hopefully lead to a deeper satisfaction and understanding of yourself and your life. I hope that it will expose your strengths, weakness, biases, and further prove to you the unimaginable shades of grey that our world exists in. I hope that it will put words to those things that you’ve always known about yourself, but never knew how to express. I hope that it gives you the dialogue to open up about your inner life, and that it expels any shame you’ve felt about being too much, or not enough. I hope that it exposes and explains your anxieties and fears, and that you are able to listen to the difficult truths as well as the pleasant. I hope that you are able to use it not diagnostically, or as a labeling system that gives you license to be your worst self, but as a description of where you are and how you can get to where you’d like to be. I hope that you are able to use it to make more informed decisions, to truly take control of your life and your personality, but also, I hope that it teaches you to have grace with yourself, to treat yourself gently, and with patience. Ultimately, I hope it will help you to find peace with who you are, to love yourself, your true self—not your persona, and I hope that your journey to that place of peace will be shorter, easier, and smoother each time due to your newfound discernment.
As a Five, I have a tendency to learn about things with fervent passion, and then to simply store it away and move on. However, something the Enneagram has taught me, personally, is that it’s important for my growth [and hopefully yours, too!] to share what I learn with the outside world, to use it not as a tool to disconnect, but as a method of reconnecting with confidence, empathy, and compassion.