As someone who has an undergraduate degree in psychology and a Master of Social Work (MSW), it’s not surprising I love studying ways of understanding people. I first discovered the Enneagram in 2011 when my then-employer paid for the entire staff to take a long-form test and be part of day retreats to unpack what our results meant. I was amazed when I, along with many of my coworkers, found it eerily insightful and questioned how this personality typing system worked.
In the past seven years, I have found myself returning off and on to the Enneagram, and each time, I gain something new. My husband and I often reference the enneagram now that he’s learned more about it, too. We’ve found it incredibly beneficial for our relationship and our parenting because we have deeper self-awareness about why we respond to certain situations and stressors differently and how to help ourselves and each other better.
What makes this different from other personality tests?
Although it is becoming increasingly popular in certain circles, the Enneagram is actually not new and combines aspects of ancient traditions. I have found it much more nuanced than other personality typing systems because it explores in detail how we respond when we are emotionally healthy, how we respond when we are emotionally unhealthy, and how we relate to the other types.
There are nine types, numbered 1-9, so ideally after reading in-depth descriptions or taking a test, you will discover which number you identify the most with and also which number is your “wing.” Although you may identify with aspects of all the numbers, it’s been said that whichever number’s description makes you feel most uncomfortable and “seen” is likely your primary number.
Once you are confident about your primary and wing numbers, you can go even deeper, but I won’t get that detailed in this blog post. See all my resources at the bottom of this blog post, including where to go to read or listen to information about all nine types.
1 The Reformer
2 The Helper
3 The Achiever
4 The Individualist
5 The Investigator
6 The Loyalist
7 The Enthusiast
8 The Challenger
9 The Peacemaker
Why is it important?
Understanding how I respond as a human, let alone a mom when I’m emotionally healthy and unhealthy, has been invaluable to me as I reflect on who I am and what kind of parent I am and aspire to be. Improved self-awareness is the beginning of changing and being more compassionate with myself and others. I am a type 1 wing 2, so my biggest motivator is to be perfect and above reproach. A small example of this is me wanting my home to be perfect, which is impossible, especially with a toddler running around. However, it is essential for my well-being that the dishes are done (or in the dishwasher) and toys are picked up at the end of each day before I go to bed. Being a type 1 is so much more than being “type A”, and I am validated by realizing I’m a completely normal type 1 while also growing to become an emotionally healthier type 1.
The Enneagram Institute This website has everything you need. You can even sign up to get your specific number’s daily enneathought (see below), which provide helpful reflections based on your personality.
The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile I read this book in the early fall and highly recommend it! I literally gasped, read many paragraphs out loud to my husband, and even posted some takeaways on my instastories as seen above.
The Liturgists Podcast Episode 37 This podcast came out in 2016, so I haven’t listened to it recently; however, I think it would be a great starting point if you’re completely new to the Enneagram.
Sleeping at Last Enneagram Podcast Series Once you know your Enneagram number, one of the first things you should do is listen to your number’s podcast, which includes a painstakingly thoughtfully created song. I almost wept when listening to the type 1 song because it was so thoroughly (some might even say perfectly!) done. I’m anxiously awaiting the type 8 song because I hope my husband has a similar reaction when he hears “his” song!