Monday Musings: Enneagram Part II, Samantha's Type
Updated: Aug 17, 2020
In last week’s post, I provided a brief overview of the Enneagram. This week, I will dive a little deeper as I share my personality Type and how the Enneagram has helped me this year. Please know that I barely scratch the surface in this post. If any of this information intrigues you or you find it relatable, I encourage you to start your study of the Enneagram. Last week’s post lists several outstanding resources.
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For those close to me, it probably comes as no surprise that I am a Type 1: The Reformer (or The Perfectionist). Type 1 is part of the gut triad, which means that Ones interact with the world instinctually -- by doing. Each Type has characteristics with healthy, average and unhealthy stages. When healthy, Ones are ethical, principled, reliable and have a high expectations for themselves and others. Ones have an “inner critic,” which is something that they manage on a daily basis. When healthy, Ones are able to offer grace and forgiveness to themselves to combat their thoughts of ineptness and unworthiness.
"When healthy, Ones are ethical, principled, reliable and have a high expectations for themselves and others. "
Average Ones often feel inadequate and compare themselves to others. They focus on what they are doing wrong and what is wrong with everything and everyone around them. Moreover, unhealthy Ones dial into small imperfections and resort to controlling things and people.
The genius of the Enneagram is that all of the Types are interconnected. The visual above shows lines connecting each Type. As you can see, the Ones have lines to the Types 7 and 4. This is because when Ones are in a season of growth they take on characteristics of a healthy Seven (The Enthusiast). When in a season of stress, Ones take on the characteristics of an unhealthy Four (The Individualist ). What does this mean? According to Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile in their book, The Road Back to You, when Ones are working toward forgiving themselves and not being critical or controlling of their world, they are willing to accept life as it is and are more adventurous and fun. These are healthy characteristics of a Seven. When in a season of stress, Ones feel overwhelmingly inadequate and full of shame. They are detached and withdrawn and don’t feel like they can improve in any measurable way. These are characteristics of an unhealthy Four.
"...when Ones are in a season of growth they take on characteristics of a healthy Seven (The Enthusiast). When in a season of stress, Ones take on the characteristics of an unhealthy Four (The Individualist)."
Admittedly, I can reflect on stages of my life where I have been in seasons of growth and stress. Knowing this about myself has allowed me to understand my behaviors and motivations. Moreover, I can better relate to the Sevens and Fours in my life. Right now, I feel like I am in a season of growth because I am taking on more challenges and unknowns but remaining optimistic. I am actively ignoring my “inner critic.” However, I do have days (during this pandemic) when I feel like controlling all that I can, and I feel inadequate as a mom, wife and professional. These days are far and few between. I credit this to my understanding of the Enneagram. I truly believe I would be an unhealthy One if I lacked this awareness of my behaviors when succumbing to the negativity I am susceptible to during stressful times.
Just as importantly, The Enneagram is a tool you can use for understanding family, friends and colleagues. My husband is a Type 9 (The Peacemaker). Type 9 is at the top of the Enneagram because Nines bring harmony and peace to all Types. If you ask many Enneagram researchers and experts what Type they’d pick for themselves if given the chance, most will say a Nine. Nines are unselfish, self-forgetting and often take on the viewpoints or beliefs of those around them in an effort to avoid conflict. Although they struggle to make decisions, Cron and Stabile argue that Nines are inspiring and self-actualized people.
My husband is easy-going but principled. He doesn’t like conflict but he’s not a push-over either. He can be passive aggressive where I’d like to talk bluntly about the issue and then move on. We share the same morals, beliefs and outlook on life, however, we take in the world and process it differently. His slower pace to decision making or reliance on my opinion often makes me uneasy. I am generally in touch with how I feel or what I think when discussing certain topics, but I want to hear his opinion because it matters to me. I know that in many instances if I talk first, he will more than likely go along with what I say or decide. As a One, I am guided by my ethical and moral compass, but I also question myself (“inner critic”) so I need for him to speak candidly and provide a different perspective. We have drastically improved in this area after 16 years of marriage, but it is a pressure point sometimes.
The Enneagram can be a very helpful parenting tool. A few years ago, while driving in the car with my three children, I realized I forgot to do something important. I can’t remember what exactly it was but I voiced my disappointment with myself out loud. I was deflated. My oldest, probably 10 years old at the time, said “Mom, not everything has to be perfect. No one is perfect.” I should have known then that my tendencies and behaviors were not hidden from anyone, including my children.
"I should have known then that my tendencies and behaviors were not hidden from anyone, including my children."
Most researchers agree that a person will fully develop into their personality Type around the age of 20. However, my husband and I have a feeling our oldest, who is a teenager, is likely to be a Seven (The Enthusiast). Even with all the changes going on during her teenage years, coupled with a global pandemic, she is a fun-loving, optimistic and a goal-oriented adolescent. For her birthday earlier this year, she asked for a Yeti water bottle. She has decorated it with stickers that represent her well. Take a peek below.
The top sticker is so her -- she is always keeping a positive outlook on life. It’s infectious. I can’t decide if the bottom sticker is her way of expressing a personal philosophy or if it’s the middle-finger salute to her Type 1 mom. You be the judge.
It makes sense that when I am in a season of growth and exhibit healthy Seven behaviors, I can better relate and show compassion for my free-spirited, fun-loving and easily distracted child. I try to honor my daughter’s approach to life although I know she finds my perfectionist tendencies to overpower my decisions and discussions on many occasions. In return, my study of Sevens has offered me a broad picture of who she is becoming. Although she does things in ways I would consider “unconventional,” I know that my ways aren’t perfect (although I like to think they are) and her’s are usually just as effective. Additionally, she probably hasn’t lost any sleep fussing over the details like I have. She inspires me. The Enneagram can be humbling.
An exciting aspect of studying the Enneagram is learning about famous people and fictitious characters who share your number. Some well-known Ones are Nelson Mandela, Eleanor Roosevelt, C.S. Lewis, Margaret Thatcher, Hillary Clinton and Mahatma Gandi. One of my favorite Ones to read and listen to on any topic is Franciscan friar, Father Richard Rohr. Father Richard is known as one of the modern day Enneagram experts. Jen Hatmaker’s For the Love podcast’s Enneagram series featured Father Richard in the episode dedicated to understanding the Ones. It was a powerful discussion. I had never felt so known in my life as I listened to him to talk about Ones and his life experiences as a One. (During the series, Jen interviews Enneagram experts who are each personality Type.) Father Richard shares the Ones’ gift, which is serenity, “When you stop making the imperfect world a problem, you actually become more serene than other people.” He goes on to explain that after years of working on himself and growing, when he is in stressful situations, “I’m often the most calm in the room.”
“When you stop making the imperfect world a problem, you actually become more serene than other people.” - Father Richard Rohr
My all-time favorite book is Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. I have read it close to six or seven times in my life. I first noticed the book as a child -- it sat on our family’s bookshelf. When I was in 8th grade I decided to read it. One day when I brought it to school for our designated class reading time, my language arts teacher asked me what I thought of the book. I explained my love for the characters and Atticus’ fight for what he believed was right. The book had a profound influence on many aspects of my life.
While reading The Road Back to You, my heart swelled when the authors explained that Atticus Finch is a healthy One. They recall one of my favorite parts in the book, when Scout asks her father why he would bother to defend Tom Robinson when he had no chance of winning. Atticus explains, “Before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person's conscience.” Atticus clearly sums up the motivation and drive that healthy Ones live with each day.
I hope this post was informational and inspires you to do your own Enneagram studies. As I’ve said before, it’s life-changing and you’ll want to share it with others. The Enneagram is the gift that keeps on giving!
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