Cracking the Code: Introduction to Enneagram

Understanding how our personalities, life paths, and core motivations interact with one can unlock a world of potential. When we can further understand our unique blend of traits, we can more readily accept and appreciate our strengths and weaknesses. It’s only then that we can effectively develop our strengths and work on areas for growth. 

The Enneagram is an ancient system of understanding personality types, divided into nine distinct patterns or points along a spectrum. While the Enneagram has seen a resurgence in recent years, it has actually been used by many spiritual teachers since the fourth century.

The nine distinct Enneagram types represent a broad range of traits and characteristics that identify our strengths, weaknesses, fears, and desires. It helps explain why we react in certain situations, make the decisions we do, and how others perceive us.

Yet’s it in understanding each type – and how they interact with one another – that the real value of the Enneagram lies. At AlignUs, we believe there is significant power in self-knowledge, and the Enneagram is one of the most useful tools for understanding ourselves and our relationships.

By exploring each type, you’ll discover how the Enneagram can help you better understand yourself and the people around you. You’ll learn more about your own motivations, behavior patterns, thought processes, and strengths – as well as those of others. In this series of articles, we are going to take a deep dive into the Enneagram – from the nine unique personality types to how they interact with one another. 

We hope this resource will serve as a practical guide for understanding yourself and others – and give you a better understanding of how we’re all connected!

Note: It’s important to remember that no personality test or type can perfectly describe any one individual. Each of us is unique and complex – a combination of our genetics and history – and the Enneagram is no exception. This system can be a helpful tool, but it’s important to remember that there is nothing one-size-fits-all when it comes to understanding people. 

What Is The Enneagram?

You may be familiar with personality tests such as Meyer’s Briggs or the Big Five, but the Enneagram is a bit different. The system utilizes a nine-point figure to represent the nine different personality types and focuses on our motivation, what drives us, rather than just behavior.

An excellent way to think of the Enneagram is that it reveals our core drive. It allows us to understand why we react the way we do and how our type affects our decisions, relationships, and outlook on life.

The nine types are divided into three triads, or groups of three: the Gut Triad (Types 8, 9, 1), the Heart Triad (Types 2, 3, 4), and the Head Triad (Types 5, 6, 7). Each type is unique and has its own strengths and weaknesses. There are also “wings” – two adjacent numbers on the Enneagram, which give us a better understanding of our type and how it plays out in different situations.

The 9 Enneagram Types

The Enneagram elucidates nine primary personality types, each unique in its outlook and response to the world. Here’s a succinct glimpse into each type:

Type 1 – The Perfectionist:

Individuals of this type are ethical, dedicated, and reliable. A desire for integrity drives them and strive for improvement.

Type 2 – The Helper:

Known for their nurturing and supportive nature, Type 2 individuals thrive on helping others and are motivated by love and appreciation.

Type 3 – The Achiever:

Driven, ambitious, and adaptable, Type 3 individuals are motivated by goals and thrive on recognition and achievements.

Type 4 – The Individualist:

Creative, sensitive, and expressive, Type 4 individuals seek uniqueness and have a deep longing for significance and authenticity.

Type 5 – The Investigator:

Inquisitive, innovative, and perceptive, Type 5 individuals are motivated by knowledge and are often deeply introspective.

Type 6 – The Loyalist:

Reliable, responsible, and cautious, Type 6 individuals are driven by a sense of duty and the desire for security.

Type 7 – The Enthusiast:

Optimistic, versatile, and spontaneous, Type 7 individuals are motivated by a desire for satisfaction and tend to seek new experiences.

Type 8 – The Challenger:

Commanding, resourceful, and protective, Type 8 individuals are driven by the desire to protect themselves and control their environment.

Type 9 – The Peacemaker:

Accepting, supportive, and reassuring, Type 9 individuals are motivated by a desire for inner stability and peace.

Every one of finds a majority of our motivations and behaviors being driven by our Enneagram type. For example, a Type 2’s motivation to be helpful and generous comes from their desire to be loved and appreciated, while a Type 5’s need for knowledge and understanding is rooted in the feeling of safety that it provides them. 

Though each type has its own motivations driving it, all nine types share common traits – such as a drive to improve the world, a need for personal growth and development, and an innate desire to help others.

What Is A Wing?

A wing is what we call the two adjacent types that support and influence an individual’s core type. For example, a Type 8 with a 9 wing will have access to traits from both the 8 and 9 types, such as assertiveness and a strong need for independence (8) combined with stability-seeking behavior (9).

Though having wings may make it easier to identify your Enneagram type, it is important to remember that each person’s experience of the type will be unique and cannot be generalized.

What Is Stress And Security For Each Type?

A strength of the Enneagram is its ability to identify how a person handles stress and security. Each type has different triggers for stress, as well as methods of regaining balance. 

For example, Type 1’s are motivated by their need for order and justice and tend to become anxious when they feel out of control. To regain balance, type 1’s must learn to relax their standards and accept uncertainty. 

Type 8’s, on the other hand, are strongly driven by their need for autonomy and tend to become overwhelmed when faced with feelings of vulnerability. To regain balance, type 8’s must develop trust and be willing to accept support from others.

Each Enneagram type has its own unique way of managing stress and security, which can provide insight into how to best support them. It is important to remember that each person is unique and may require different approaches depending on their individual needs. 

Delving Deeper: Enneagram Instincts & Subtypes

Beyond the core types, the Enneagram system delineates subtypes and instincts which provide a more nuanced understanding of personality dynamics. These subtypes are designed to further explore how each type’s particular style of behavior can be expressed in different ways. 

For example, a Type 8 might have either a Social or Self-Preservation instinct, which could lead them to express their assertiveness differently. For a Type 9, an Individualistic or Compliant style might manifest differently. It is important to remember that all subtypes are equally valuable and valid expressions of the type they belong to.

By exploring these deeper layers of the system, you can gain better insight into how someone’s behavior is shaped by their environment, past experiences, and other influences. This can help you to better unlock their potential and help them to reach their goals.

What Should I Do With The Enneagram?

The Enneagram offers a new lens through which to view yourself and others. While a key tenet is to never attempt to “type” someone, the system provides a foundation for self-discovery and personal growth. 

It is an effective tool to assess your communication style, identify your core motivations and values, learn about the behavior of others, and ultimately create stronger relationships with yourself and those around you. 

For instance, do you have struggles connecting with a peer in your workplace? A boss who you just can’t seem to get along with? By having a better understanding of the Enneagram, you can begin to uncover what drives them and how you might be able to work together better.

You can also use the Enneagram as a way to set more effective goals and create an action plan for achieving them. Using this system allows you to identify your strengths and weaknesses, establish an understanding of your core values and goals, and create a roadmap to reach them.

How Can I Determine My Type?

The best way to determine your Enneagram type is to take an official test or quiz that uses the nine-point system. There are several free online tests available, as well as paid assessments that offer a deeper analysis. The most accurate results are usually achieved by taking a few tests from different sources and comparing the answers.

You can also use the Enneagram as a tool for self-reflection, asking yourself questions about your motivations, emotions, relationships, and life path to gain a better understanding of your personality type. Doing this exercise can help you uncover patterns and habits that ultimately lead to the realization of your true type.

In future articles, we will take a deeper look into the various Enneagram types, the triad groupings, and the wings of each type. We will also explore how to use one’s knowledge of the Enneagram to better understand ourselves and others.

To see what your Enneagram type is, click here!

For more detailed information about the Enneagram click here

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