This is a post for all my perfectionist friends! I’m sure you’ve heard of the Enneagram by now. It seems like it is everywhere, and today I wanted to share how it has been helpful in my life.
Zach and I were first pointed to the Enneagram by our paster during a season when Zach was searching for a new job, and it was a stressful time for both of us. Together we read The Road Back to You, and when we came across our respective chapters, it felt like looking in a mirror. There were things described about our personalities that made us laugh out loud and others that made us cringe at the blatant truth spelled out across the page.
I identified as a 1 – a perfectionist, and Zach as a 9 – a peacemaker. The Enneagram felt very unique. Unlike most typing systems, it allows for growth and discernment of whether you are acting in a healthy or unhealthy manner. Especially in a season of stress, the Enneagram taught us valuable new ways to support and listen to each other.
Today I wanted to share a few of the things I’ve been learning about myself recently, in the hopes that it will encourage you in some small way.
- Anger / The first thing I noticed about my number was that it explained why I was angry. Each number has a deadly sin, and the perfectionist’s sin is anger. When I became a mother, it was the first time things were truly out of my control. In those early days of multiple crying babies, I would literally close my eyes and see red. This scared me! Some of it was probably hormones, but my anger kept popping back up well beyond the baby blues. Until this point in my life of having two babies 18 months apart and then three babies under 3, I had been able to control just about everything. I wasn’t an angry person until this season of young motherhood.
- Growing Up / Looking back now, I think there was a mercy in God giving my kids so close together, because I couldn’t “perfect” my children or motherhood. It had to be messy; there was no other way. He became strong in my weakness. However, once the Enneagram named my sin, I also had to own it. I realized that I didn’t have as much self-control as I thought I did. Life just hadn’t been that demanding! This was a huge moment for me as a 32-year-old to realize I needed to grow up.
- Health / So, what did that look like practically? You may remember when I talked about joining the gym and committing to regular cardio exercise. This was one way I started to process my anger in a healthy way. I started practicing patience by simply counting to 10 instead of rushing my kids along everywhere we went has helped too. Usually by the time I got to 10, they were done doing whatever was bothering me. With my mom’s help, I also came up with a proactive discipline plan, because I didn’t want to have a temper tantrum in reaction to my kids having one.
- Daily Habits / Memorizing a few verses from Proverbs 15 specifically about anger helped me to calm down when I was struggling. Starting my day with reading my Bible and a gratitude journal helped me to focus on the truth, God’s blessings, and to see the small beauty in my everyday.
- Inner Critic / This brings me to the inner critic. The Enneagram spells out how Ones have an inner critic that creates a monologue of negative self-commentary. It sounds silly, but it is kind of incredible to me that not everyone has this voice. I can’t really imagine my life without it, BUT it’s not healthy or even true most of the time. I’ve been learning not to take it so seriously, and to separate that voice from my personality. Many people suggest naming it to help disengage from the constant barrage of criticism.
- Preach to Yourself / Right around this time, my friend Hayley released her latest book, Preach to Yourself: When Your Inner Critic Comes Calling Talk Back with Truth. It’s chock full of science and scripture insights into how the we can renew our minds and replace toxic self-talk with God’s truth. I found it an incredibly helpful resource in both theory and practice.
- Marrying a 9 / When we started dating 18 years ago as high schoolers, we had never heard of the Enneagram, but I knew that Zach brought a certain level of calm and peace to our relationship. He helped to smooth out so many of my rough edges. Over the years, he has led me towards freedom from anxiety and stress about lots of different aspects of life. While we have many values that are similar, the way we approach life is opposite, and I am so grateful for the strengths we both bring to the table.
- Music / I think this song was written for teenagers, but Be Kind to Yourself has been one that I listen to on repeat. It’s so gentle and true! Another good one when I’m having a rough day is You Say.
- Love / There is an invitation in the Enneagram to see others and yourself more clearly. And when you see more clearly you can choose to notice someone’s shortcomings (a classic One move) or to love them in spite of seeing those. I can’t control how other people act, but I can control my own actions and thoughts. Motherhood and marriage have taught me so much about living closely with imperfect people (including myself!) and choosing to love them every single day. Perfection isn’t the goal, love is.
Thanks so much for reading and I hope you found a little something to take away from my story that encourages you. If you are curious about learning more, I would highly recommend reading The Road Back to You (and don’t take an online quiz – they tend not to be as accurate). If you are curious about the Enneagram in marriage and relationships, read The Path Between Us. If you feel plagued with negative self-talk, Preach to Yourself has a powerful practice for reversing that pattern. Highly recommend!
Let me know if you have any questions here in the comments or on IG. Lots of love to each of you!
top image via Drop Cap Designs