Thanks to one of my nearest and dearest friends, the Enneagram — “an ancient personality typing system” — has become a very common topic of discussion amongst a certain group of my friends. We don’t see each other all that often, but when we do, we almost always talk about the enneagram at some point.
After literal years of saying, “I have got to take this quiz”, I’ve finally delved into “The Road Back to You” by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile and was (and still am) completely blown away.
A few months ago, I was out to dinner with that certain group of friends I mentioned above and of course, the topic of the enneagram came up, as it always does.
“My husband is a type ___, so that’s why he does ___”
“I’m a type __ with a __ wing”
“What type am I?”
That final question was the one that always, always got asked.
It was guessed that I may be a type 6, because it seemed fitting. After being told some of the characteristics of a type 6 (anxious, loyaI) I said, “That does sound like me!”
I went home after dinner, took the quiz, and was shocked by the results:
I started to read, “The deadly sin of the type 4 is envy.” My shock deepened. Envy? I know way better than to envy anyone, there’s no way this is right.
But then, I started to think.
Here are a few of the ways that the enneagram has deepened my understanding of myself and those around me.
It caused me to think about envy/jealousy in a new way
Yes, it’s true, I do know better than to envy people. I know that everyone lives a different life, filled with its own unique struggles, so to envy someone else just doesn’t make sense. It won’t get you anywhere, there’s no point, it’s a waste of time, it’s unproductive.
But, is it true that I don’t envy anyone ever? Not necessarily, but before I started to really think about it, that’s what I wanted to believe.
Before I asked myself if I envied anyone, I had always just assumed that I didn’t simply because I knew better.
I guess it is possible to know better than to do something but still do it sometimes. Here I was, all I had done was take an online quiz and read briefly and I was already opening my mind, becoming more aware of my thoughts, and shifting my perspective.
Personality is a mask
“Human beings are wired for survival. As little kids we instinctually place a mask called personality over parts of our authentic self to protect us from harm and make our way in the world. Made up of innate qualities, coping strategies, conditioned reflexes and defense mechanisms, among lots of other things, our personality helps us know and do what we sense is required to please our parents, to fit in and relate well to friends, to satisfy the expectations of our culture and to get our basic needs met.”– Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, The Road Back to You
I was less than 30 minutes into this audiobook and I was already mind blown by this concept of how we wear our personalities like a mask to protect ourselves. I instantly thought about some of my own insecurities that I was currently grappling with: questioning friendships, fearing that I act overly confident to compensate for insecurities, laughing at my pain.
According to Cron and Stabile, as we age, our personalities become so reflexive and natural that they begin to merge with who we really are, making it difficult to distinguish the true self from the version of ourselves that we present to the world.
“Now we no longer have a personality; our personality has us!”– Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, The Road Back to You
Understanding our authentic self brings us closer to God
“May you learn to see yourself with the same delight, pride, and expectation with which God sees you in every moment.”– Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, The Road Back to You
The concept that instantly drew me into the enneagram and helped me fully understand the seeming-obsession that some people have with it, was the idea of knowing oneself to get closer to God.
We all know that it’s in our nature to be flawed; no human is perfect. Through understanding the enneagram, we are understanding ourselves in the context of God’s creation of us. He crafted us all to be perfectly imperfect. Rather than try to change or fix our flaws, the enneagram motivates us to look our flaws in the face and understand where they come from.
Through getting to know our authentic, true selves, we get closer to the person that God created us to be, and in turn, closer with God.
The message that most deeply resonated with me: Nothing is missing.
As a type 4, I’m a deeply emotional person. I’m prone to mood swings and I often feel left out. Sometimes when I’m upset, I look at others and think that life is easier for them or that they have something that I don’t have. When I feel off, I search for the answer by thinking of changes I can make in my life. I’ve repetitively found myself trying out new diets, cutting out caffeine, adding a new supplement, or cutting back on alcohol, because I’m trying to feel better in some way.
Although these are healthy switches to make, I was searching for external solutions to internal problems.
Fours are moody and can sometimes identify with their feelings, thinking that they are their feelings. This can cause insecurity and uncertainty.
“Fours need to hear this loud and clear: there’s nothing missing. It may be hard to believe, but God didn’t ship them here with a vital part absent from their essential makeup. Fours arrived on life’s doorstep with the same equipment everyone else did. The kingdom is inside them too. Everything they need is here.”– Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, The Road Back to You
I could type and reread that quote over and over and it still gives me chills because of how deeply it resonates with me. When I find myself brainstorming what I need to buy next or writing out long lists of goals or longing for material items, I say to myself “nothing is missing” and these words instantly make me feel so calm and accepting of the moment. I’ll have to add this to my list of mantras.
In the past, when I’ve notice myself having stronger feelings than those around me, I think, “What’s wrong with me? Am I crazy?” But now I understand that I’m just a highly emotional person and not everyone is.
I’ve definitely only scratched the surface when it comes to understanding myself in the context of the enneagram, but I’m so excited to continue this journey. I definitely think I am a type 4 but some aspects of types 1 and 9 resonate with me as well.
Overall, I’m looking at everyone around me in a different light because I’m healing my relationship with myself. I’m starting to have a deeper understanding of my flaws, insecurities, and relationships and by accepting myself more, I’m more easily able to accept those around me.
I truly think that everyone should read this book.
Have you taken the enneagram quiz yet? What’s your type?