Over the past two months, Zach and I have been learning about the Enneagram, a personality test which has proven to be very helpful to us – both individually and in our marriage. I’d love to share a little about it today. If you have questions about it or have studied it yourself, let’s talk in the comments!
If you’re just starting out, like we were, I would start by listening to The Liturgists podcast episode, The Enneagram, interviewing Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile. This two-hour long episode gives a broad overview, but also a personal look at how the Enneagram plays out in real people’s daily lives. We listened to this during a road trip to South Carolina, and it was equal parts entertaining and enlightening. It left us wanting to learn more, and I had a good guess at what my number might be.
At this point, I would recommend the book, The Road Back to You, written by the two interviewees above. Ian and Suzanne flesh out the nine numbers, or types, of the Enneagram. This is a great place to learn more details and study your possible number. A chapter is dedicated to each number, and it begins with a series of 20 statements that are true of these types of people. This was a very quick way for me to narrow down to my own number.
Lastly, you can take an online test to identify your number (this version has been recommended by multiple people as the most comprehensive). After a long series of questions, you can discover not only your type but also your health level. While this is certainly helpful, like any personality test, it is dependent on your self-awareness, accuracy, and honesty answering the questions. You’ll want to print out a copy of your results and interpretation. NOTE: The overwhelming advice was to take a test last, and get the full overview first.
So… I realized that I am a ONE, a Perfectionist, and Zach is a NINE, a Peacemaker. I won’t speak for him, but here are some things that have stuck out to me from this process.
First, the Enneagram is known for pointing out one’s weakness. They refer to it as the deadly sin, and mine is anger. Until I became a parent, I had never dealt much with anger. This is probably largely in part because I was pretty good at doing things the “perfect” way I wanted them done. I was in control. Obviously, as a new mother, everything was wildly out of my control, so in hindsight, it makes sense why I was often seeing red and wanting to run away from the challenges I faced as a parent. Especially in high stress times, like the early newborn days or during temper tantrums, it would have been helpful to understand why I felt so much anger. Now that I’ve named it, I am learning healthier ways to process and notice this about myself.
Second, the Enneagram is rooted in the Christian faith. Perhaps you’ve already caught that with the deadly sins bit. Unlike most other personality typing systems I’ve used before, it was wonderful to see my personality connected to the way God has formed me and the way sin has corrupted some of everyone’s personality. The ways I can be more healthy and mature are absolutely interconnected with growng in Christ-likeness and faith. The chapter ends with ten paths for transformation, which are encouraging after seeing yourself up close in the figurative mirror.
Third, the Enneagram is extremely helpful in stressful times of life. Because the Enneagram explains the way a person changes between stressful and calm seasons, it was enormously insightful during a season of transition for our family. Of course, it’s always good to learn about yourself, but to understand why you’re reacting to stress by eating a bag of potato chips or avoiding your friends or going on a shopping spree, can help curb negative choices. Our pastor recommended the book to us, and I think it resonated because we needed the tools of the Enneagram right in that month we were reading it.
The system is not perfect, but it is helpful and I would highly recommend trying it.
A few other notes:
- Check out The Road Back to You Podcast for interviews in each of the nine types.
- Ali Wren spent 31 days blogging about the Enneagram in October, if you’re hoping to connect with other women and learn more about your number. Her blog is a soft place to land in the internet world, and I always love learning from her.
Thanks to all of you who commented on this Instagram post with feedback, advice and discussion. The comments there are great! Special thanks to Emily Wehner, who was my student in another life (before kids) and is an amazingly smart and lovely woman. Go follow her if you don’t already.