Ever wonder why you behave the way you do? There is typically an underlying issue that triggers us to react - and we usually react in a predictable way.
The enneagram was translated into Western psychological language by Claudio Naranjo, a psychiatrist with a deep understanding of human development.
Studies show that learning this system improves communication and assists us in changing behaviors so we can reach our full potential It helps us gain greater self-awareness and gives us a tool to look deeper into the characteristics that shape our personality.
Most of us equate the idea of our personality with "who we are" - our sense of identity. Our personality may be viewed as our "false self". We develop defenses, or coping strategies, to compensate for unmet needs. This happens during childhood and is in response to our environment.
Our "true self" is the bigger picture - our awareness that we are more than just our personality. In developing our true self, we will need to accept and integrate all parts of ourselves, including unconscious characteristics (often referred to as our Shadow). The Shadow represents everything we refuse to acknowledge about ourselves that impacts how we behave (jealousy, anger, distrust, fear).
The Enneagram provides an organized and clear path to help us in the process of increasing self-awareness. It does this by showing us what to pay attention to, and provides a method for studying ourselves and understanding our behavior on a much deeper level.
By providing detailed descriptions of the typical thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that make up nine basic personality types (and the subtypes of each of those) it highlights how these patterns get enacted, and how we can recognize them.
We must recognize our habitual patterns before we realize we are being trapped in them, and so we can then break out of these old habits and realize our true potential. The Enneagram describes our personality in terms of conscious patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving, along with shadow aspects that we may not be aware of.
The Enneagram is drawn as a symbol. It is a nine-pointed star inside of a circle that points to a system of twenty-seven distinct character archetypes. According to Carl Jung, archetypes are patterns of perception and understanding common to all human beings.
Carolyn Myss defines our own personal archetypes as "the psychic lens through which we view ourselves and the world around us." It helps us identify specific patterns by describing the habits and traits of twenty-seven "false selves". Beyond the three centers and nine types is another level of depth that divides each of the nine types into three distinct subtypes, based on the "three basic instincts".
The resulting twenty-seven subtypes are unique personality types based on how each of the nine types are shaped by three instinctual drives that we all share: Self-Preservation, Social Interaction, and Sexual (or One-to-One) Bonding. Each of the nine types has a motivating central feature (passion). Passions are motivated by a sense of lack, and our personality is organized around striving to meet that basic need.
There are many online tests and resources to help you figure out what type you are. For some people it can be very easy, and for others it will take considerable time and effort. For example, it may appear initially that self-preservation is your top subtype, but maybe your parents taught you to save, or instilled a "never enough" attitude. Since our childhood environment can significantly shape our beliefs and values, it is helpful to observe your behaviors and see what areas of your life you seem to be triggered the most.
If you feel as though everything is right with the world when your relationship is going well, and every aspect of your life is affected when it's not, you may be a sexual subtype. Becoming aware of your enneatype can help you become more self-aware and recognize patterns of behavior that may not be serving you well.
I have included some online resources here:
To take a free personality test to find out which type you are go to http://similarminds.com/test.html
For more information go to the following websites:
I write about human behavior, meditation, body awareness, and a variety of other things that pique my interest.