I feel like you can’t go anywhere these days without hearing something about the Enneagram. The concept has been around for ages, but has gained so much traction since 2016 and the release of this book, “The Road Back To You“.
So what is the enneagram? For those that don’t know, here’s a brief overview – it’s basically a personality typing system. There are 9 personality types, and essentially, we are broken down by number – or, one personality type. You can only be one number, but you can have a “wing”, or a number that is next to your number on the enneagram diagram and that is basically the second side of your personality.
For example, I’m a 3 with a 2 wing, or a 3w2.
I won’t get too much more into the background of the enneagram, but you can find the most thorough information out there at the Enneagram Institute. This is one of the best resources out there if you want to start diving in. You’ll have to take a test to determine what number you are, but keep in mind that your test results aren’t always right. Here’s why: as a friend and enneagram expert at Niche Coaching, Amber Ayers, explains, “we take tests idealistically, not realistically”. And that’s exactly what I did the first time I took the test. Actually, I took the test from the standpoint of referencing myself in my 20’s and not who I am today. Of course, you don’t inherently change from your 20’s to your 30’s but I definitely think I led differently in my 20’s due to insecurities and overall instability in my life. After I took the test, I really started to dive into the enneagram, reading the literature, becoming more in tune with myself, and discovered who I really am – with the help of this tool. Don’t get me wrong…we all know who we are. But I think the enneagram helps us put words to things about ourselves we otherwise wouldn’t have. And allows us to have grace for others, once we understand their personality types more.
For the longest time, I actually was convinced that I was an enneagram 7. There are SO many things that resonated with me about being a 7. It had to be true. But, as friends that (I was reading an enneagram book with) observed me started to point to the idea that I may, in fact, be an enneagram 3, I started to dive more into that number. It took me a LONG TIME to discover I was, in fact, an enneagram 3. It was just all so confusing. I resonated with both a 3 and a 7 so much. But ultimately, it was my basic fear and what I found to be most true about myself, that led me to rest in this…I am definitely an enneagram 3.
So what’s it mean to be a 3? At my core, I have a fear of failure. A deep desire to be valued. So, what do I do? I work my ass off and do all the things, to prove just how valuable I am.
graphic via Brush and Barley
Being a 3, I’m in the heart triad of the enneagram – or, the feelings triad. I do feel things so deeply and intensely, but I usually bottle them and push them aside, because they don’t “serve me”, instead of letting myself feel them. And they don’t “serve me” because…I have shit to do. I don’t have time, or I don’t make time, for my emotions.
graphic via Just My Enneatype
3’s are also known for being competitive, which is where I struggled to understand how I was a 3, because I don’t find myself to be very competitive with others. It’s when I realized that I am competitive with myself, always trying to be better than before, that I understood how this quality played out in my life.
Enneagram 3’s are often praised in childhood for their accomplishments. So, they grow up with a sense of thinking that they are loved for what they do – not just who they are. This is their life struggle. To feel worthy and valuable and loved, without having to do anything. This is my life struggle. Or has been. And perhaps will be stronger again one day. I feel like I’m in a really good place with this aspect and do feel self-worth, just for being. But sometimes this self-doubt creeps in and I have to work to shut it down, because at the end of the day, I know that’s not really truth.
I also have a clear idea on what I want these days, which is something I’ve really had to fight to find, being a 3 that is more concerned, typically, with performing and “impressing” others. I don’t care about that any more…truly. I know who I am, and I’m like….take it or leave people. Do I have moments when I fall back into bad habits and unhealthy parts of myself? Of course. I’m human.
Being authentic to myself and doing why I want (not what I think other’s want from me), being still, not working myself to the bone, not overfilling my calendar, fighting lies that I’m not fully loved…these are all my daily battles. I’m fortunate enough to have some of the best friends in the world that constantly remind me how loved I am, just for being me, and that helps tremendously. But, I still have to fight these things, because at the end of the day…I am the one responsible for how I think and feel and how that plays out in my life. No one else can wear that burden for me.
graphic via Enneagram and Coffee
If you’re wanting to dive more into the enneagram, I recommend the following resources:
The Enneagram Institute – Take the test, but know that the test is a guide. You will probably be one of your top 3 numbers, but not necessarily the highest scoring number. Read through the numbers on the enneagram institute to decide what resonates most. Reading through where the numbers go to in health and in stress is so helpful!
The Road Back to You – This is a book that takes a deeper dive into the personality types of each number. They also have a podcast where you can hear other people talk about what it means to be their number.
The Path Between Us – This book takes a relational spin on the enneagram and how we relate to different numbers. Highly recommend.
There are also countless podcasts available in the podcast app on Apple. I personally like The Enneagram Journey, but this podcast episode by The Liturgists gives a GREAT overview of all the numbers and is an awesome place to start.