Five Things The Enneagram Taught Me About Myself

As I coordinate schedules in hopes of getting my pilot Enneagram group going soon, I’m thinking about how much I’ve learned about the Enneagram since I began studying it about two years back.

The Enneagram is an ancient tool for learning more about yourself and how you relate to other people. Unlike astrology or Human Design, someone doesn’t tell you your type, based on particular facts about yourself, like when you were born. Instead, you study the nine types (traditionally, this is done as an oral tradition, and our group will be watching videos to learn our type), and from that study and through engaging with other people to learn more about it, you can discern which type you are. Knowing your type gives you a path to follow toward a more whole and healthy life. In my case, it’s also made a major difference in my marriage, and it’s helped me to understand my family and friends better too.

Here are the top five things the Enneagram taught me about myself!

I Get Frustrated

Okay, so maybe that seems obvious to you if you know me personally. Or maybe you’re reading this and thinking, don’t we all get frustrated sometimes? But the Enneagram taught me that most of the time, when I don’t know how to put what I’m feeling into words, or when I feel angry, or a lot of other negative emotions, what’s honestly at the root of it all is frustration. And while that frustration is often directed at other people, more often than not, at least if I dig deeper, I will find out that I’m most frustrated with myself.

I Am My Own Worst Critic

Again, this might be obvious to some of you, and to some of you, you may assume everyone is their own worst critic. But as a 1 on the Enneagram, I’ve got a fun little voice in my head that likes to spend all of its time pointing out flaws in the world, but most especially my own flaws. Recognizing and identifying that voice is the first step in some major acceptance of who I am. It’s also helped me to recognize why it is that I get so critical about little things when I am tired or under stress. It’s also given my husband more compassion for me, rather than simply feeling angry or hurt, when I default to wanting things clean or fixed or put away on my schedule (rather than on OUR schedule).

I Verbally Process Things

Before studying the Enneagram, I knew I sometimes verbally processed (thought things through out loud, in conversation). What I hadn’t realized is that verbal processing is the way I like to process everything! One of my favorite tips from podcaster, author, and Enneagram expert Suzanne Stabile has been that I should end each day verbally processing what’s happened with my husband (or a friend, roommate, or even a journal or cat might work in a pinch). It’s something that I’d generally done with my husband, but studying the Enneagram made me aware of how healthy and important this is for me and my mental health.

People Tend To be Past, Present, or Future-Oriented

Before studying the Enneagram, I knew I was very aware of the present moment. I knew that some of my clients and friends struggled with looking ahead to the future or resisted spending time talking about the past, even wanting to put up a wall and avoid revisiting tough experiences.

I now know that each of us either past, present, or future-oriented. I happen to be oriented to the present, and for me, that means I have no problem supporting someone right now, but I can get easily distracted by a present task (or email or question) and lose sight of the bigger picture ahead of me.

I’ve also learned that some people (including a very close family member) are oriented toward the past, which can help explain why it’s tough for them to create goal and find motivation toward the future. Likewise, my more future-minded family members are constantly thinking about what’s next, so much so that it can be hard for them to enjoy the present moment. Of course, there are practices to help with all of this. In our ideal worlds, we’d all find balance between all three, so we can take steps to get there.

Just knowing this is a normal distinction and pattern has really helped me to understand why other people do what they do.

You Aren’t As Special, Or As Normal, As You Think You Are

What do I mean by that, exactly? There are so many pieces of the puzzle when it comes to who we are. In addition to the circumstances I experienced growing up, I am an Enneagram 1, a highly sensitive person (HSP), and an introvert. I’m also the oldest of four children, a white cisgender woman without any children, I grew up fairly well off in the Northeastern United States….

I could go on and on, of course, but the point is, there are tons of factors that come together and make us unique.

At the same time, I can find community, finding a LOT in common, in any of those groups. I might bond with one person who grew up visiting the White Mountains of New Hampshire, find traits in common with fellow introverts or with oldest siblings, or find people who sound an AWFUL lot like me who also identify as Enneagram 1s.

Some of my “weirdest” quirks I have in common with a lot of other people. And knowing that feels vulnerable and also super cool.

If you want to figure out your own Enneagram type, or if you know it, but you’d like to learn more about it and get to know people of other types as well as your own, please reach out to me and join our pilot.

And as always, if you’re looking for support in finding out what you truly want in life, and then figuring out how to make it happen, I’m your woman!

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