The Enneagram and Me {The Grove: Personality}

The room was dark when I scooped up the scattered shoes and sprinkled them into the shoe-bench by the backdoor. The host of the podcast I was listening to asked the guest what her enneagram number is. With the precise measure of self-deprecation that charms, she answered that she is a Three.

There it is again! What is this thing? Innie-a-what? Where do I go to figure this outie?

I searched the podcast show-notes where the hosts had indeed placed an enneagram crumb. I picked it up along with a book (see below). I’m still picking up crumbs. It’s a trail worth following.

Finding My People

Shepherd, my nine-year-old, is intense. He was born wide-eyed and reaching. His energy is boundless, and his drive for stimulation and interaction is bottomless. He’s magnetic, and it’s easy to be drawn into his field.

But him and me? Our poles repelled all too often. To repurpose Calvin Harris’s 2017 hit My Way: I was the one thing in Shep’s way. I imposed the limits, and he fought them. That looked like defiance on his part and rigidity on mine.

He reached for me first (as he should!) to share his adventures and all his words, but bumped into the bottom of my barrel before he even got the plug secure in his. Impasse. Exhaustion. Fear. Anger. Shame. Repeat.

Mercy.

I didn’t approach the enneagram with this complex relationship in mind, but it quickly became both a mirror and a window.

Bird’s-eye-view of the Triads and Types

Ennea means nine in Greek, and gram means point. So an enneagram is simply a nine-pointed figure. In the personality system, each of the nine points represents a unique way of viewing, processing, and interacting with reality.

The numbers are grouped into triads. Each person will be most at home in one number, but the enneagram is dynamic, and the triads help show what’s shared and how.

Heart triad: twos, threes, and fours. The heart is the processing center for your experiences and the source of your motivation. You feel your way through life.

Two: The Helper. You love and demonstrate how God is Love. Pride happens when your love gets disordered. Humility is the grace that saves and the fruit you produce when you’re healthy.

Three: The Achiever. You get it done and demonstrate that God Works. Deceit happens when you become unwilling to fail. Truth is your saving grace and good fruit.

Four: The Individualist. You are creative and you demonstrate that God is Beautiful. Envy happens when you think others have something fundamental that you are missing. Equanimity is your way home.

Head triad: fives, sixes, and sevens. The mind is your processing center. You think your way through life.

Five: The Observer. You are wise, and you demonstrate and deliver godly wisdom. Greed happens when you endlessly accumulate knowledge and fail to employ or share it. Detachment is the grace that allows you to bring treasures out of your storehouse.

Six: The Loyalist. You are faithful, and you prove that God is Faithful. Fear happens when you think of all of the ways the things that you value can fall apart. Courage is your grace and way forward.

Seven: The Enthusiast. You are joyful, and you prove that in God’s hands are pleasures unending. Gluttony happens when you fear you can’t have enough or experience enough. Sobriety is your grace and glory.

Gut triad: eights, nines, and ones. The gut is your processing center. You intuit your way through life.

Eight: The Challenger. You are powerful, and you prove that God is omnipotent. Lust for power happens when you become uncomfortable with your vulnerability. Innocence is your grace and real power.

Nine: The Peacemaker. You are peaceful. Sloth happens when you sense a threat to your calm. Action is your antidote and the way you experience and dispense God’s Peace.

One: The Reformer. You are good, and you prove that God does all things well. Anger happens when you insist on perfection in yourself and others. Serenity is the grace that restores you and allows you to share good things.

The Rest of the Story

I am most at home in One space, and I encounter Shepherd most often in Seven space. When I’m doing my work to take good care of self and soul, which is say, when I am healthy, I am at ease instead of on edge with Shepherd. I can make him laugh first and hardest, and I know now how important that is.

I see love in his eyes when he looks at me, and I have grown from a long-suffering kind of love to deep affection for him and the way God crafted him. When we crash, I can help us both understand what’s happening and what might be the way forward. Shepherd sharpens my iron, but even better than that, he brings me joy.

Are you familiar with the enneagram? If so, what has been your experience with it? If not, are you interested in it? Which crumb will you pick up next?

~~~~~~~~~

Crumbs 

Alice Fryling, Mirror for the Soul: A Christian Guide to the Enneagram

Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile
The Road Back to You: book and podcast

Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson
Book: The Wisdom of the Enneagram
Website: The Enneagram Institute

Elizabeth Wagele, The Enneagram of Parenting

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This is The Grove and we want to hear from you! You can link up your blog post, or share your practices, ponderings, wisdom, questions, ideas, and creative expressions with us in the comments below.

Here’s our Instagram collection from this week using #VelvetAshesPersonality. You can add yours!

20 Comments

  1. Jennifer September 21, 2017

    YES!! I am a one who is married to a seven!! And it has helped our relationship so much, especially when it comes to believing the best about each other, to understand that we are motivated by completely different things.
    How interesting that God has placed a seven in both our lives, as a one’s “direction of integration” is to take on more characteristics of a seven!! At first I really didn’t like that idea, but I’m growing and I’ve come to see that it’s true, being able to value “fun” is balancing for me.

    1. Kimberly Todd September 22, 2017

      Hi Jennifer, what humble insight. I love it. I, too, find it grace that Shep and I share an arrow. Keep on integrating. =)

  2. Amy Young September 21, 2017

    Kim, thank you for this article and fleshing out of what the enneagram looks like in real time. My Connection Group talked about the Enneagram and your post will help take our conversation further and deeper. Thank you!!

    1. Kimberly Todd September 22, 2017

      xoxoxo

  3. mandy falgout September 21, 2017

    I am curious about all of this too. At pre field training we did an inventory, the DISC, and it was so interesting to learn about my husband and I. I would love to know more and what resources are better suited for Christians. I did the online enneagram thing at Ian Cron’s site. I’d love to learn more.

    🙂

    1. Kimberly Todd September 22, 2017

      Hi Mandy, I love that Curiosity preceded Personality at VA. What a brilliantly matched pair of themes (nod to Amy). Heed that curiosity and see where it takes you. There’s an overwhelming amount of information and inventories, though. May I suggest getting really quiet to listen for the Spirit’s nudge towards which source is suited for you now. Of the crumbs I listed, The Road Back to You and Alice Fryling’s book are both approached from the Christian tradition. Two others (that I haven’t read yet) are:
      Richard Rohr on the enneagram from a Christian perspective: https://smile.amazon.com/Enneagram-Christian-Perspective-Richard-Rohr/dp/0824519507/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1506093208&sr=8-1&keywords=richard+rohr+enneagram
      And there’s a hot-off-the-press book about the enneagram and spiritual growth: https://smile.amazon.com/Sacred-Enneagram-Finding-Unique-Spiritual-ebook/dp/B01N0CSDNX/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1506093301&sr=1-1&keywords=the+sacred+enneagram
      Happy trails to you.

  4. Keri September 21, 2017

    The beginning made me laugh because that is similar to how and why I finally took this inventory. I am still early on the journey, but it looks like I am a 2w9. I have been such an MBTI nerd that it is a challenge to shake free from what I know and venture out. I am trusting him to give me insights that he will use to transform me. I ask that for each of us. Blessings to you, Kim.

    1. Kimberly Todd September 22, 2017

      Hi Keri, I receive those blessings. I think you’ll find the enneagram enlightens and expands the work you’ve already done with the MBTI. Journey on. =)

  5. Kelly September 22, 2017

    Love exploring the enneagram! Currently reading The Road Back to You. So fascinating! I am finding it true as I study enneagram and also read Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (with our team)- that knowing ourselves is vital to knowing God. Thanks for this fun week!

    1. Kimberly Todd September 22, 2017

      What a great pairing – TRBTY and EHS! Such an insightful truth, that to know self and God are intimately entwined. Thanks for reading and participating this week, Kelly!

  6. Ruth Felt September 22, 2017

    Usually when I see the title of your posts come up in my inbox I think, “Yep, that must be Kim.” I know you so well. 🙂 I’m not surprised that you got turned on to enneagram. A friend recently introduced me to it and I’m still reading The Road Back to You. I am currently driving my friend crazy by saying, “Oh, I’m this number! No wait, I changed my mind.” It is surprisingly complex! I like how it goes deeper into the motivation of things.

    1. Kimberly Todd September 22, 2017

      I love that you know my voice and bent, Ruth. =) It is complex! but in the good kind of life-giving way. Have you asked your friend what number she thinks you might be?

  7. Elizabeth September 24, 2017

    I read a book on the Enneagram last year. I *think* I am a five (wing 4). They say you’ve found your number when you hate it, and that was true for me. I could only see the negative aspects of my number — I do after all live with myself each and every day. I know my own shortcomings. But I like seeing through any lens that tries to integrate heart, head, and body, and it seemed to me that the book I read (a really old one, from the 1980’s, borrowed from a long-time worker here) was making the case for that type of integration. Claiming that Jesus inhabited all the good aspects of each number (and of course none of the bad). That we are more human and whole and holy when we can integrate these aspects of our personhood too.

    No matter how many years I live on this earth, it seems I am still and always trying to recapture my heart and my physicality. Each year I claim, anew, that I want more integration. But if I revisit old writings, both personal journals and public blogs, I seem to be ever on the same journey. I am not there yet. Still, I love the idea and practice of integrating one’s head, heart, and body.

    1. Ruth Felt September 24, 2017

      Yeah, I’m thinking I’m probably a 5 too. The first time I read it I was like, “No, this sounds terrible. Surely this is not me.” But after re-reading through half of the numbers again, I decided yep…it’s the most fitting. Although, I did feel a little better when reading the description from the Enneagram Institute – “alert, insightful, curious.” Okay, so it’s not ALL bad. Plus there are a lot of brilliant people and great artists.

      1. Kimberly Todd September 25, 2017

        I love Fives. When I can identify a healthy Five, I start looking for their public work: writing, poetry, art, music, speeches, conversations. Gold. I’m not surprised that space resonates with you, Ruth.

    2. Kimberly Todd September 25, 2017

      Elizabeth, Five makes sense to me for you. You’re clearly a dedicated learner with a deep well of wisdom. Integration language is one of the great gifts of the enneagram. It was a charged awakening for me when I learned that I have to practice quieting my mind. That’s where I get stuck, stuck, stuck in obsessive, repetitive, critical (not the good kind) thinking. Thanks be to God for contemplative practices and faithful examples to show me how.

  8. Phyllis September 25, 2017

    I keep coming across this, too, but it really baffles me. I read the descriptions, and I don’t see myself anywhere in there. If I could understand something of it, I would probably get pulled in and dig deeper. So far, every time I look I can’t find a way in, though.

    1. Kimberly Todd September 25, 2017

      Phyllis, I love this comment. It’s so good to pay attention when something keeps surfacing for us, even when we can’t yet decipher it. Two things come to mind from your comment:
      1. Nines often have a hard time finding themselves in the descriptions because they can easily identify with so many aspects of the other eight numbers. Consider finding descriptions of the Nine in a couple of different sources and see what you think.
      2. Many people find their way in not through an individual type, but through a triad – heart (shame), head (fear), or gut (anger). Does one of those centers or experiences characterize you more than the other two? If you find your triad first, then you’re only searching three numbers instead of nine.
      BUT the whole point of the enneagram is to be helpful, so if it’s confusing and frustrating, maybe best to shelve it, at least for awhile.

      1. Phyllis September 27, 2017

        Thank you so much. You’re right. Nine sounds right for me. After I read around, I took a free online test, and I got… 9w1! 🙂

        1. Kimberly Todd September 27, 2017

          That’s so great!! Congrats on finding your type! What next? =)

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