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  • Writer's pictureChelsi Myer

10 tips if you're new to the Enneagram

It's not a race, it's a journey. No one saw fruit from a seed they just put in the soil.

Chelsi's Top 10 Tips

1. What is the enneagram? The enneagram is a personality typing system that identifies motivation rather than one's behavior. Best described by Richard Rohr, "Enneagram isn't meant to put you in a box. Enneagram is meant to help you see your box, so you can be freed from it." There are nine types: 1: The Perfectionist/Reformer, 2: The Helper, 3: The Achiever, 4: The Romantic/Individualist, 5: The Investigator, 6: The Loyalist, 7: The Enthusiast, 8: The Challenger, and 9: The Peacemaker.

2. Tests are fun, but not effective. My favorite online info about the enneagram is by Riso-Hudson at There is a $12 quiz on their website and there are free ones online, but I would urge you not to waste your time or money. Tests/quizzes gauge someone's behaviors, not their motivations, thus, they are often inaccurate. Take your time when learning the enneagram. THE FUN IS IN THE PROCESS, Y'ALL! Read about each type, I believe we can find a little of ourselves in each type, but there will be one that sheds light on the deepest parts of you and that's when you will know. My favorite book recommendation if you want to know your number is by Suzanne Stabile, The Road Back to You.

3. Be okay with the journey. When first reading the type descriptions, I cringed at the type 1 descriptions. Mainly, I rolled my eyes that some people could be "like that." Initially, I settled on type 2: The Helper. I loved the sound of it and I resonated with many characteristics. Several months later when I decided to delve a little deeper, it came to my attention that I am very much a type 1: The Perfectionist/Reformer because all the shadow-side (unhealthy) characteristics were the very things I wanted to keep secret and avoid. I do have a big 2 wing, which I will explain later.

4. The Enneagram is not the be all and end all. As I described, the Enneagram is a tool and nothing more. No one needs it more than the gospel. People can have a completely fulfilling life void of the Enneagram. In the past year, however, I have found a great deal of freedom in understanding myself and how different each personality is from another. How intricately made we are and our personalities certainly shed light on that fact.

5. There are 3 centers of intelligence: thinking, feeling, and doing. We are all dominant in one center and repressed in another. When dominant in one center of intelligence, they are separated into three decision-making centers or triads. The doing/gut dominant triad is 8, 9, 1. The feeling/heart triad is 2, 3, 4. The thinking/head triad is 5, 6, 7. Diving into triad understanding is best done after identifying one's Enneagram number.

6. The center repressed or considered your weakest center is separated into stances. There are 3 types of stances: 3, 7, 8 are in the aggressive stance, 1, 2, 6 are in the dependent stance, and 4, 5, 9 are in the withdrawing stance. Described by Suzanne Stabile, "People in the Dependent Stance move toward others, those in the Withdrawing Stance move away and those in the Aggressive Stance move independently."

7. We all need more empathy. Understanding oneself can lead to emotional growth. Having humility and self-awareness can develop a deeper relationship with God and with other people. The Enneagram is a tool for empathy. It helps people see that there are 9 different ways to see the world.

8. You have one personality, meaning you cannot have two Enneagram numbers. We are all engrained with one personality although we can directly relate with four other number types. Everyone has two wings (the number before and after your number). Example: Enneagram 1 has wings 9 & 2. There are also stress and growth numbers. This means that each personality has another number they take on characteristics of when in stress or disintegration. In the same fashion, each number takes on positive attributes of another number when in growth.

9. No two people are exactly the same even if their numbers are identical. We are all created in the image of God and let's be honest, if there is any mystery in this life, it is trying to figure out the holiness and purity of God. Claiming your number and knowing your personality gives a great deal of freedom. If "self-help" seems a little too "new age-y" then I believe we need to evaluate where emotional maturity versus spiritual growth lies.

10. Lastly, no number is better than another. Hear me say it again, I am not here to disclose the ugly parts of one personality while uplifting others. Every. Single. Number. has incredible attributes. I mean, God created each and every one of us. Every number also has an unpleasant side, also known as our "shadow side". Our level of health, whether that be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual health depicts our personality's behaviors.

All great spirituality is about what we do with our pain. If we do not transform our pain, we will transmit it to those around us. Richard Rohr

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