With a rise in social media, we find ourselves seeing posts that involve “Self-Care Sunday,” “Self-Love” and “Mental Health Awareness.” We are seeing people open up more about their depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues as we try to break the stigma against mental illness. But where should you start? With people constantly addressing “their journey to loving themselves” it’s hard to know where to begin your own journey. Well, the first step to loving yourself is learning about yourself. Through the Enneagram diagram, you can begin to learn about your personality type and understand how you react in certain situations. Not only will the enneagram tell you about your good traits, but it will also force you to look deeply at yourself and address your weaknesses. With each personality trait comes a deadly sin, or passion, that rears its ugly head when we become mentally unhealthy. Perhaps you are too proud, too gluttonous, too lustful, or too angry. Throughout The Road Back to You, you can find out which deadly sin you are likely to adopt as well as which traits you adopt during times of need and stress.
Not only can you gain insight on your own weaknesses, but you can also begin to see how those around you view the world. Perhaps there’s a person in your life you fail to get along with, well, by learning about their personality, you can begin your journey towards understanding and enlightenment. Authors Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile introduce an easy-to-understand, comprehensive way of accessing the Enneagram wisdom that allows you to explore yourself and the others around you.
Chapter 1: The Origins of the Enneagram
If you find yourself scrolling sites like BuzzFeed mindlessly taking quizzes like “Which Disney Man Is Your Soulmate?” “What’s Your Serial Killer Personality?” and “Which TV Gang Do You Belong In?” then you probably enjoy learning about yourself. While most quizzes are just silly sets of questions, they all have something in common. They assume that they can guess the type of person you are based on your answers, right? They assume that each person can fit into a specific box that describes their personality. While this is somewhat true, the Enneagram takes personalities and digs deeper. More than just a personality test, the Enneagram is an ancient system that identifies nine core personality types and describes how they interact and view the world.
With beginnings in ancient Christian theology, the true origins of the enneagram are unknown but many people believe it can be traced back to Evagrius Ponticus, a fourth-century Christian monk and theologian who is credited for creating the seven deadly sins. These ideas and traditions were then brought to life by Bolivian philosopher Oscar Ichazo in the 1970s who formed the modern Enneagram structure. Later, a student of Ichazo would move from Chile to America and introduce the teachings to his students in California, one of which was Father Robert Ochs. Ochs went on to become a Catholic Jesuit priest and educator and spread the spiritual teachings to his clergy and congregation.
But what exactly is the enneagram structure? The enneagram is a nine-point structure and each point is linked to a number and personality type. Each number can tell us more about ourselves, why we do the things we do, and how we view the world around us. Furthermore, theenneagram can teach us how we react in various scenarios like during times of stress. Each number connects with another in some way, and each personality type can adopt the personalities of another when in times of stress and possesses a deadly sin.
So what personality type are you? What’s your deadly sin? What’s even the point? The enneagram is meant to reveal your faults so you can reflect on your flaws and continue your path to personal enlightenment. But it’s not just beneficial for you, it’s also beneficial for your friends, your family, even your partner so you can better empathize, understand, and learn how to communicate with one another.
Chapter 2: The Gut Triad
Do you operate from the gut, heart, or mind? In other words, how do you base your decisions? Perhaps you make instinctual decisions, or maybe you follow your emotions or your head. If you have gut reactions or are quick to anger, you might belong to one of the personality types found in the gut triad. Let’s dive deeper into the three types:
Type One is the perfectionist. Perfectionists, as the name implies, are motivated by the desire to live the right way and to improve the world and themselves. They are typically self-disciplined, ethical, dedicated, and reliable. They view the world as black or white and right or wrong, so they are easy to anger when they or others haven’t met their impossibly high standards. So it should come as no surprise to find out that the deadly sin, or passion, of type one, is anger. That anger will take the form of resentment and a judgmental or critical attitude towards others.
The next personality type in the gut triad is Type Eight, the Challenger. Challengers are motivated by a desire to assert their strength and power. Typically commanding and confrontational, type eights will be the first to speak their minds and are natural leaders. Similar to perfectionists who harbor anger and resentment, type eights display their anger with verbal or physical conflicts. With their desire for control and power, their weakness is an inability to become weak or vulnerable and form meaningful relationships. This lack of vulnerability contributes to the challenger’s deadly sin: lust, which can be seen through a type eight’s passionate energy in satisfying their cravings for whatever they desire: sex, food, power, or more.
The last personality type in the gut triad is Type Nine, the Peacemaker. The complete opposite of type eight, type nines are motivated by the need to keep the peace and wish to avoid conflict at all costs. A natural mediator, peacemakers are pleasant, diplomatic, and accommodating. However, their weakness comes from never wanting to assert themselves which results in never getting what they want out of life or relationships. The deadly sin of type nine is sloth. Because they try so hard to avoid conflict they fall asleep on their passions and desires and find it difficult to know who they are. They suppress their anxiety and frustrations and merge with others to make everyone around them happy.
Chapter 3: The Heart Triad
Do you wear your heart on your sleeve? Perhaps you’re quick to show emotion or you make decisions based on your feelings. You might find yourself draining yourself of love and energy as you try to fill up the cups for everyone else. Or, you have a desire to be liked and to succeed. If any of these sound like you, then you might belong to a personality type in the heart triad. Let’s take a look at them:
Type Two, the helper. The helper is motivated by their desire to please others, they seek love and acceptance and are warm, kind, and caring. They give more of themselves than they have and tend to everyone else’s feelings before acknowledging their own. This leads to their inability to express their concerns and their feelings of resentment when they help others and don’t get the same in return. Twos might feel that others owe them something or that they are being taken advantage of. Additionally, the deadly sin of a helper is pride which is shown when they believe other people are being too needy or that they alone know what’s best for others.
The second personality type in the heart triad is Type Three, the performer. As the name suggests, the performer is motivated by a need to be, or appear to be, successful and avoid failure. Typically accomplishment-oriented, productive, and image-conscious, a type three gains a sense of self-worth as they continue to accomplish goals and move towards success. However, their weakness comes in the form of self-delusion and they refuse to take responsibility for their mistakes. Additionally, their deadly sin is deceit. Since threes crave success and admiration, they project an image they want everyone else to see. Deceit enters when others believe they are that persona. Even worse, threes might deceive themselves into believing they are the persona they put on, which leads to their struggle with identifying the emotions of themselves and others.
The last personality type in the heart triad is Type Four, The Romantic or Individualist. Type fours are motivated by a need to be special and unique and are naturally in tune with the beauty and tragedy of the world. Typically creative, sensitive, and moody, the romantic tends to isolate themselves which can lead to melancholy, self-absorption, and unpredictability. Additionally, their deadly sin is envy. Romantics struggle to fit in with others because of their creativity and moodiness so they feel a sense of jealousy when they see others find happiness and their place in the world.
Chapter 4: The Head Triad
If you haven’t found an identity that describes you yet, don’t worry, there’s still three more. The final three personality types belong in the head triad and each is motivated by fear. Perhaps you deal with some anxiety when you feel unsafe or insecure, or maybe you crave spontaneity and new experiences. If any of these sounds like you, then you might belong in the head triad. Let’s take a closer look at them:
The first of the head triad is Type Five, the Investigator. Motivated by the need to gain knowledge, conserve energy, and avoid relying on others, investigators are fiercely independent and enjoy sharing their wealth of knowledge with others. Typically analytical, detached, and private, type fives have an intense fear of having to rely on other people. This can come across as defensive and cynical from another’s perspective. Additionally, their deadly sin is avarice or greed. Because investigators are highly self-sufficient and they have a tendency to conserveenergy and avoid relying on others; therefore, when investigators withhold their affection from others they succumb to avarice or greed.
The second personality type in the head triad is Type Six, the Loyalist. Motivated by their need to feel secure, type sixes enjoy the safety and security of rules and order. Typically committed, hard-working, practical, and witty, the loyalist is committed to serving their family and community. However, their biggest weakness is the fear of losing that security. Sixes tend to over-think decisions and experience either small anxieties or extreme paranoia when their fear takes over. They can even create full-blown crises out of their own fear when a crisis is unnecessary. So it’s no surprise that the deadly sin of a loyalist is, in fact, fear. A loyalist questions their ability to handle life and succumbs to fear when they question their sense of safety and security.
The final personality type is Type Seven, the Enthusiast. Motivated by the need to be happy, enthusiasts seek adventure by planning stimulating experiences. They are fiercely optimistic and become very popular among their peers because of their cheery, exuberant nature. However, enthusiasts struggle to commit and chase pleasure to avoid emotional or psychological pain. They fear negative emotions, so enthusiasts are apt to have busy social lives, and they are likely to fill their homes with material goods, and set goals to keep themselves distracted. Additionally, sevens are most susceptible to addiction so, naturally, their deadly sin is gluttony. Because enthusiasts have a constant need to seek happiness, an enthusiast will gorge themselves on positive experiences and planning new adventures to distract themselves from negative feelings.
Chapter 5: Relationship with Wings
Maybe you’re thinking that you don’t know which personality type you fit in, maybe you know exactly where you fall in the enneagram structure, or maybe you’re thinking you fit in more than one! That’s okay. The enneagram is meant to account for all the different nuances our personalities have and doesn’t force everyone to fit in one neatly shaped box.
As the title of this chapter suggests, each personality type takes on the wing of another type. Perhaps you think you fall in the enthusiast personality but you aren’t quite as exuberant, then you may have the wing of a peacemaker to complete your personality. Think of the wing as a means of support. To find your wing number, look left or right of your enneagram number. Let’s look at an example.
The type Four, the Romantic is typically a creative type and thrives as an actor, writer, filmmaker, and artist. The Romantic loves a good story with a flair for the dramatic and they crave a sense of belonging the most. This sense of belonging leads to their acceptance of their uniqueness and their attempt to stand out among the rest. But a romantic will take on the personalities of one of its wings. Either the type 3 performer or the type 5 investigator.
So let’s assume the romantic takes the wing of the performer. This will make him a “4w3.” A performer, remember, is competitive, goal-oriented, and productive. So when a romantic takes on the personality of the performer then not only will he want to be unique and stand out, but he will also feel he needs to be the best. 4w3 will conduct themselves in a manner that istypically more socially acceptable than a pure romantic, and they will be more likely to bring their ideas to life since they will take on the productive trait of the performer.
On the other hand, a romantic could take on the wing of the investigator. This would make him a “4w5.” If you remember, the investigator is more independent, private, and introverted. Similar to the 4w3, he will embrace his uniqueness, but unlike the 4w3 he will not feel the need to stand out and be the best. The 4w5 will find socializing to be exhausting and drain him of all his energy, he will need time alone to refill his tank and regain his energy. The biggest difference is that he will be more likely to hide his emotions rather than to share and act on them like the 4w3. As you can see, there may be 9 personality types, but within them are nuances that account for even more types of people. The same type 4 romantic can have different wings which would make them vastly different in comparison.
However, it doesn’t quite end there. While you may know your own enneagram and wing, it goes a bit deeper as you learn that you can become influenced be even more numbers.
Chapter 6: Security and Stress Number
While each personality type has its strengths and weaknesses, they become even more important when going through times of stress and security. You see, when you’re feeling safe and secure then your security number lends its positive characteristics to your own personality number. In other words, you can borrow the good traits of your security number. But you can’t just choose any personality type to borrow traits from, there is a certain pattern behind the madness.
If you know your personality type, then great! You’ll be able to determine which type you borrow your security traits from; however, if you don’t quite know yet, that’s okay too. You can follow along based on the type you think best fits you. So here’s the pattern:
Beginning with Type One, the Perfectionists borrow security traits from the Enthusiast; the Helper borrows from the Romantic; the Performer borrows from the Loyalist; the Romantic from the Perfectionist; the Investigator from the Challenger; the Loyalist from the Peacemaker; the Enthusiast from the Investigator; the Challenger from the Helper; and lastly, the Peacemaker borrows security traits from the Performer.
So lets put this theory of borrowing traits into practice. For example, take type one, the perfectionist who borrows from the enthusiast. If you remember, the enthusiast craves happiness, full social calendars, and new adventures. So if a perfectionist’s security number is seven, then that means they feel most secure when hanging out with friends, or on vacation. During these times, the perfectionist will take on traits of the enthusiast and when they feel secure they become sociable, self-confident, and adventurous.
But when you can have a security number, you can have a stress number as well. Meaning during times of stress, you can adopt the traits of another personality type. And like the security, there is a pattern, so here it is:
When experiencing stress, the Perfectionist will borrow from the Romantic; the Helper borrows from the Challenger; the Performer from the Peacemaker; the Romantic from the Helper; the Investigator from the Enthusiast; the Loyalist from the Performer; the Enthusiast from the Perfectionist; the Challenger from the Investigator; and lastly the Peacemaker will borrow from the Loyalist.
We’ll take a look again at the perfectionist. A time of stress could be a myriad of things including going through relationship problems or having to make a deadline at work that seems impossible. During times like these, the perfectionist will borrow traits from the romantic which means their self-esteem might suffer and become sensitive to criticism. They’ll begin to question their self-worth and compare themselves to others which could lead to depression and severe insecurities.
By knowing your security and stress numbers, you can better reflect on how you act during those times. Especially during times of stress, if you can understand why you are feeling and acting the way you are, then you can the steps to overcome those feelings. You can learn more about yourself and others around you to help you understand one another and make better decisions.
Chapter 7: Final Summary
With roots in Christianity, the Enneagram is an ancient diagram designed to help you on your journey of self-knowledge and understanding. With nine different personality types, the enneagram doesn’t force you to fit in one single box. Instead, it allows you to find your differences and your nuances as you determine your personality number, wing, and your stress and security number. By identifying your personality type, you can better understand how you respond in certain situations and you can take action to make better, more informed decisions. Additionally, you can learn about those around you and seek to understand how they respond to certain situations. Knowing the personality type of your friends, family, and partner will further allow you to make informed decisions together and lead to better communication as you seek to know one another better.