You probably heard of some famous personality tests like the Myer-Briggs, DISC assessment, and maybe the strange-sounding Enneagram of Personality. Are they all the same? Why should you take the Enneagram test over another? Here’s a closer look into the Enneagram.
The Enneagram (pronounced ANY-a-gram) is the study of nine basic types of people. Ennea is Greek for the number nine. Gram means a diagram, so Enneagram means “a diagram with nine points” as you can see represented in the diagram.
The Enneagram reveals why we do what we do. It focuses on why we choose to relate to the world in a particular way. It reveals our heart’s intent, what we are seeking and avoiding, in our relationships and in ourselves in very specific ways. The Enneagram is seeking the personal transformation of our heart, not simply our behavior.
Why is it important to look at our interior world versus just our external behaviors? Let’s look at how the fields of philosophy, religion, and psychology. In the world of philosophy, existentialists point questions about behavior inwards to find inner meaning. In biblical times for example, Jesus taught to focus on the transformation of the heart instead of outward behaviors. Similarly in psychological assessments, clinicians may urge participants to take a peek inside why they do what they do. The Enneagram is a tool that reveals our inner world to us with startling clarity. It also guides us in a particular direction of growth uniquely caltered to each type.
Here is how each type works. The Enneagram begins with each personality’s Core Fear. This fear shapes how we see the world and how we relate to it. Our personality is simply the relational strategies we use to avoid our Core Fear and obtain our Core Desire. By understanding this dynamic in ourselves we find the most opportunity for change. We are often reluctant to enter into the space of conflict between our desires and fears. When we see our weaknesses and sinful strategies, we may use the knowledge to shame or punish ourselves. The Enneagram will help you navigate through that space with more understanding.
The Enneagram also can bring amazing transformation to relationships. Since we are more aware of ourselves, we can become more present to others. It also allows us to see how people relate to life from their personality type’s perspective. It helps us to know why they do what they do. Understanding another person’s personality type enables us to foster greater love, compassion, and understanding. Because we have received mercy and forgiveness, we are able to extend these to others. It can help us understand how we can love others better from their particular perspective. It opens the door for understanding, forgiveness, and reconciliation. This enables you to develop richer and more meaningful relationships with yourself, family, and people as a whole.
Another way of thinking about this is to imagine each type wearing a pair of glasses with different colored lenses. If someone is wearing a blue lens, then they would see everything completely different from another who was wearing a red lens. Each type fundamentally sees and interprets their world from a different point of view based on their Core Fear and Core Desire. As you read about each type below, try putting on their “colored lens” and see the world from their perspective.
Once you discover and begin learning about your type, you will begin to see yourself in a completely new light. This will be surprising, exciting, embarrassing, funny, and ultimately empowering as you begin to understand yourself and others more deeply to bring about personal and relationship transformation.
9 Personality Types
Here are the 9 Types with four general words that describe them, their Core Fears and their Core Desires:
Type One – The Moral Perfectionist: is principled, purposeful, self-controlled.
Core Fear: Being corrupt, evil, defective, bad, wrong, inappropriate, lazy, and unethical
Core Desire: To be good, to have integrity, to be balanced, to be right, fair, and accurate
Type Two – The Supportive Advisor: is generous, demonstrative, people-pleasing, and possessive.
Core Fear: Being unwanted, unworthy of being loved, worthless, unneeded, useless, discarded, lonely, and unappreciated
Core Desire: To feel loved for being me without needing to help or support.
Type Three – The Successful Achiever: is adaptable, excelling, driven, and image-conscious.
Core Fear: Being unsuccessful, failing, being inefficient, unmasked, found out, incapable, unable to do, unproductive, and/or second best
Core Desire: To feel valuable and worthwhile for simply being you without needing to achieve.
Type Four – The Romantic Individualist: is expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed, and temperamental.
Core Fear: That they would have no identity or personal significance, inadequate, flawed, defective, ordinary and mundane
Core Desire: To find themselves, their significance, to be unique and authentic
Type Five – The Investigative Thinker: is perceptive, innovative, secretive, and isolated.
Core Fear: Being useless, helpless, incapable, ignorant, without mastery, expertise or knowledge, mentally drained, obligated, annihilated, and without resources
Core Desire: To be capable and competent
Type Six – The Loyal Guardian: is engaging, responsible, anxious, and suspicious.
Core Fear: Being without support and guidance, alone, blamed, chaos, uncertainty, and being unprepared
Core Desire: To have security, support, and guidance
Type Seven – The Entertaining Optimist: is spontaneous, versatile, acquisitive, and scattered.
Basic Fear: Being deprived, trapped in emotional pain, missing out, being inferior, limited, and/or bored
Basic Desire: To be satisfied and content, to have their needs fulfilled
Type Eight – The Protective Challenger: is self-confident, decisive, willful, and confrontational.
Basic Fear: Being harmed or controlled by others, misrepresented, powerlessness, being manipulated, humiliated, and at the mercy of injustice
Basic Desire: To protect themselves and their independence
Type Nine – The Peaceful Mediator: is receptive, reassuring, complacent, and resigned.
Basic Fear: Being in conflict, loveless, uncomfortable, inharmonious, overlooked, discordant, unimportant, non-existent, lost in complications and/or shutout
Basic Desire: To have inner stability, peace of mind
Which personality type seems most like you? Please leave a comment below, and tell me which type you believe you are and why. I look forward to starting this fun conversation and reading your comments.
To learn more about the Enneagram and its connection to Christian beliefs, contact writer Beth McCord.
Beth McCord, Your Enneagram Coach
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Photo credit: Alexis Brown via Unsplash