Your Enneagram Personality
7 billion people, 9 personality types
A few years ago I went to a therapist in Philadelphia. I was in need of some help getting back on my feet after ending a crappy relationship and figured a licensed therapist was a good place to start. I googled some in the area and found one that sounded like a great fit.
Having never been to a therapist before, I thought it would be like the movies: a sofa, a box of tissues, and a therapist asking tear-provoking, “and how did that make you feel” type questions. To my surprise, my first visit was not like that at all. Before we even got to the reason I was there, she asked if I wanted to take a “Personality Inventory”. I told her I had no idea what she was talking about, but yes! I do (I love to try new things). She explained it was called the “Enneagram” (pronounced any-a-gram) and that the test for it would consist of a long list with pairs of statements, and I was to choose the one that sounded “most like me”. She said I should pick the statement that speaks more to who I am as an adult (not as I was as a child) and that the statements were not necessarily opposing.
I couldn’t wait to take the test. I rushed home and after about an hour and a half of reading and choosing between pairs of statements, I calculated my score and the test revealed that I am a Type 7: “The Enthusiast”. I read the short description of the 7 (there were 9 personality descriptions) on the back of test and I was amazed at how much I could relate to it. Constantly seeking new experiences? Yes. Impatient and impulsive? Yes, and yes! Desires feeling content and fulfilled, afraid of being deprived and in pain? Oh my gosh, yes! How could a few short sentences sum up my inner thoughts, behaviors and feelings?
After a few more visits with the therapist, a few books ordered on amazon, and googling the “Enneagram” too many times to count, I was totally hooked. Type 1, that’s my mom. Type 5 sounds like my dad. Type 8, totally my sister. Type 9, yes, that’s my brother! The descriptions were so accurate. As a “typical” seven (loves to share experiences with others, gets overly enthusiastic about things!!!), I told everyone who would listen about the Enneagram. So if you’ll listen too, here it goes…
The Enneagram, developed by Don Riso and Russ Hudson, is a system of nine personality types. The system breaks down people into 9 “basic” personalities. The types are numbered from 1 to 9, and each personality has a basic fear and a basic desire/motivation. Below are short descriptions of the types, but keep in mind, the Enneagram is much more involved than these descriptions. It takes into consideration how “healthy” you are mentally and emotionally (called “levels of development”), and there are variations of each type based on which “wing” (adjacent number) is stronger (i.e. a seven has two wings, the 6 and the 8, but typically one has a stronger influence on the basic personality). You also integrate and disintegrate into a type, and each type is part of a “Center” (Feeling, Thinking, or Instinctual) but I won’t get into all of that here. In any case, below are the names and descriptions of the 9 Enneagram personalities. Any of them sound familiar?
Type 1: “The Reformer” is your “perfectionist” friend who wants to make things better because whatever it is, it’s not good enough. They’re organized, meticulous, detail-oriented, and ethical. They may have “OCD” tendencies. They like to be in control; can sometimes come off a little uptight and critical. They strive to do the right thing and love to “teach” others. At the healthy level, they are wise, rational and fair. Unhealthy, they can be judgmental and obsess about the wrongdoing of others. (Hilary Clinton is a one)
Type 2: “The Helper” is caring, empathetic, people pleasing, and loves to be loved. They live to help others, and want to feel needed. They fear that they are unworthy of being loved. They tend to put others’ needs before their own. At the healthy level, they are fun-loving, unselfish and sincere. At the unhealthy level they can be manipulative and possessive.
Type 3: “The Achiever” is your success-driven, charming, competitive friend. They are concerned with their performance, afraid of failure, have high self-esteem. Healthy, they are driven to achieve their goals and want to motivate others to be the best they can be. Unhealthy can be narcissistic, image-conscious, and deceptive. Threes fear they have no value, and are motivated by being admired and feeling worthwhile. (Think Tiger Woods, O.J Simpson, Tony Robbins)
Type 4: “The Individualist” is reserved, creative, artistic, and emotionally complex. This type feels like they are unlike others (they’re “unique”), yet they yearn to connect with others, to be understood. They like to do things in their own way. They often are “searching for themselves”. They may feel like they are different or defective, but long for someone to come in and “save” them. When unhealthy, they tend to withdraw to protect their self-image, and can become moody and depressed.
Type 5: “The Investigator” is your “know it all” friend; they have a thirst for knowledge and learning about things in depth. They develop ideas in their heads, can be brilliant innovators but don’t necessarily have the social skills of other, more extroverted types. They fear being incapable and are motivated by having everything figured out. (Think Mark Zuckerberg, Albert Einstein, Bill Gates)
Type 6: “The Loyalist” is your “worry wart” friend, constantly worrying about what will go wrong. They need stability and support. They look to authority for security. They are committed and hard-working. A healthy six is reliable, loyal, and responsible. An unhealthy six is hysterical, insecure, anxious, and indecisive. (Jennifer Aniston and Ellen DeGeneres are sixes)
Type 7: “The Enthusiast” is the best type!! Just kidding… sort of ;) Sevens are spontaneous and scattered, enthusiastic, and constantly looking for new adventures. They want to feel fulfilled and afraid of getting “stuck” or feeling deprived or in pain. They are the “jack of all trades, master of none” as they get bored easily and move on to the next idea. Healthy they are excitable, optimistic, and multi-talented. Unhealthy they can be impulsive and erratic.
Type 8: “The Challenger” is sometimes easy to identify as they can be the most aggressive of the nine types. Eights want to be in control of themselves, they seek power and fear being controlled by others. They struggle with exposing vulnerability, even in intimate relationships. Eights are “strong”; they stand up for themselves and for their wants and needs. Unhealthy can be vengeful, ruthless, and prone to anger. Sound familiar? Like our new president, perhaps?
Type 9: “The Peacemaker” is your easy-going, agreeable, “whatever you wanna do is fine by me” friend. They avoid conflict, are calm and want peace and harmony around them and in their lives. They are optimistic and supportive. As “peaceful” as they are, they can be stubborn and unresponsive when unhealthy. At an unhealthy level, they will block the outside world, becoming numb and disengaged.
That’s all of them! What do you think? Anything ring a bell?
So why am I sharing this with you? Well, the Enneagram has had a huge impact on my life. Learning about my type has helped me become self-aware, identify patterns in my own behavior and understand the underlying motivation behind my actions. I learned to be more in control of my impulses, to observe them but not necessarily act on each one. I learned to stand still and be present- to try not to constantly distract myself, allowing myself to feel anxiety instead of running away from it. I make better choices for myself today, as I put more thought into what will be best for my future, not simply what is best for me in this moment.
The Enneagram has also helped me to accept my friends, family, and coworkers. Knowing that other people struggle with anxieties and insecurities that may be different from my own has taught me to empathize rather than get frustrated when people act or react differently than I would.
So basically, the Enneagram has changed my world. I hope it will change yours, too.
Ayala “The Enthusiast” Kramer ;)
To learn more:
Official Enneagram website: https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/
Another website I love: http://www.9types.com/index.php
Two books I recommend: