During the recent Chat & Chew – An Intimate Conversation on Women’s Mental Wellness event I mentioned a tool I learned about during a session with my therapist (YES.. my therapist! You betta get you one!). It’s called the Enneagram. The Enneagram is a test composed of a series of questions and a resulting model used to explain the psychology of individuals by personality type. You’ve heard it on TV shows and movies, “I’m a type 1", etc…What they’re referring to is the Enneagram (think the Zodiac but even more in-depth). It’s believed that everyone naturally falls within one of these nine types primarily with a tendency to lean secondarily to either the type that proceeds or follows, that would be defined as the Wing. For instance, a Type 4 may lean toward a 3 secondarily, which would be identified as Type 4, Wing 3.
The Reformer - The Rational, Idealistic Type: Principled, Purposeful, Self-Controlled, and Perfectionistic
The Helper - The Caring, Interpersonal Type: Demonstrative, Generous, People-Pleasing, and Possessive
The Achiever - The Success-Oriented, Pragmatic Type: Adaptive, Excelling, Driven, and Image-Conscious
The Individualist - The Sensitive, Withdrawn Type: Expressive, Dramatic, Self-Absorbed, and Temperamental
The Investigator - The Intense, Cerebral Type: Perceptive, Innovative, Secretive, and Isolated
The Loyalist - The Committed, Security-Oriented Type: Engaging, Responsible, Anxious, and Suspicious
The Enthusiast - The Busy, Fun-Loving Type: Spontaneous, Versatile, Distractible, and Scattered
The Challenger - The Powerful, Dominating Type: Self-Confident, Decisive, Willful, and Confrontational
The Peacemaker - The Easygoing, Self-Effacing Type: Receptive, Reassuring, Agreeable, and Complacent
Source: The Enneagram Institute
So why does it matter?? The Enneagram explains your natural character and behavior and if you’re like me, on the journey to beauty as I call it (self-mastery, self-awareness, and evolution), it’s important to understand your natural God given tendencies. I appreciate how my therapist put it in so many words, if you’re trying to tame a giraffe you wouldn’t use the same methods you use to tame a tiger. You must understand what type of animal you’re dealing with (the animal being you and me..no offense) before you can understand what you’re up against as it pertains to areas of challenge as well as what positive attributes you bring to the table.
I took the Enneagram test through the Enneagram Institute, it took less than an hour, and the results were immediate. I’d say my results were pretty accurate and the depth of the explanation was surprisingly on point, even parts of it that I didn’t necessarily want to own up to, if I’m honest I saw some truth even in them. The overall benefit of taking the test that I’ve personally seen is that it allows me to have a more balanced view of myself. Introspection allows me to acknowledge certain behaviors and characteristics that are just natural to me, both positive and negative. For those that I wish to change I understand that I’m "going against the grain" so to speak, so my method of taming the “animal”…(or perhaps the ego), should be adjusted accordingly. And for those natural qualities I understand how I can strengthen them and bring balance to my life experiences by using them to counteract the negatives.
There’s lots to learn about the Enneagram and I’m no pro. I only share here what I’ve been able to tap into and how it’s personally helped me. You can also read more on the in-depth descriptions as well as specific scenarios of each personality type that I mentioned earlier, click here. My therapist also recommended the book, The Wisdom of the Enneagram, as a good resource to expound on the subject.
A word on therapy,
I know the stigma around mental health and seeking professional help still exists. I share openly and honestly here. I see my therapist as my partner to help me strategize, a coach. A therapist is a tool and not only to be used during challenging seasons but also for planning during up seasons. It’s more than mental health during states of depression or sadness it’s balance, it’s knowledge, and its self-care. If you are in a dark season right now I strongly encourage you to seek professional help. If you are not in a dark season right now I strongly encourage you to seek professional help to gain awareness of how it can be a tool for your life’s success and happiness. None of us have it all figured out and it helps to know you’re not taking the journey alone.
Peace, Blessings, and Beauty!
Meet the Artist:
Happy to feature here an original painting by Charlotte NC artist, Ingrid Long. See more of her work at https://ilong2desyn.com/