Are you familiar with the Enneagram? While often summarized as a personality test (similar to Myers-Briggs), it is in fact, so much more.
I was first drawn to research the Enneagram as a useful tool to help me develop Delilah as a fictional character. While I am well-acquainted with Delilah’s harsh critical voice, I wanted to discover her back-story. I truly believe Delilah originally came into my life to help me. It has only been in recent years that she became controlling and possessive.
While I enjoyed learning about Delilah (Enneagram #2), I soon became
obsessed interested in discovering my number. Since mid-December, I have read about five books on the subject and pinned numerous articles to my “Delilah” board. And yet… I feel as though I have just scratched the surface. There is SO much more to learn.
For now, however, I thought I would share about my number and perhaps… I will write a future blog series about the enneagram as a whole (or perhaps it could be the topic for the 2019 A-Z Blogging Challenge)
First, a very brief overview.
The nine numbers on the circle represent different personality types. The following is an overly simplistic explanation:
Based on these descriptions, I thought I was either a ONE or a FIVE.
No matter the test, my results were the same. I was either a ONE (no surprise) a FIVE (no surprise) or a SIX (what?!)
While I do consider myself a loyal friend, I don’t think the word defines me as much as Perfectionist or Thinker. However, I could not ignore the results.
All Enneagram professionals agree the tests only serve as a starting point. They suggest reading through the top three personality descriptions to discover which number resonates most. Many advocate that the number that humiliates you the most – that causes you the greatest discomfort – is your true number.
So, I began to read.
Each number has a basic need that it tries desperately to satisfy. In addition, a root “sin” or “passion” corresponds with this need.
- The need to be PERFECT (root sin is anger/resentment … try to void criticism)
- The need to be NEEDED (root sin is pride … try to avoid own neediness)
- The need to SUCCEED (root sin is deceit … try to avoid failure)
- The need to be SPECIAL (root sin is envy … try to avoid ordinariness)
- The need to be PERCEPTIVE (root sin is greed … try to avoid emptiness)
- The need to be CERTAIN (root sin is anxiety … try to avoid deviance)
- The need to be FREE (root sin is gluttony … try to avoid pain)
- The need to be IN CONTROL (root sin is lust … try to avoid vulnerability)
- The need to be SETTLED (root sin is laziness … try to avoid conflict)
Again… I could see myself as a ONE (somewhat resentful) or a FIVE (the desire to fill the void with knowledge). I wasn’t at all sure my root sin was anxiety.
So I continued to read.
The Enneagram may focus on one dominant number, but in fact, we are a combination of five numbers (and at times, have small remnants of all nine). The arrows in the Enneagram diagram showcase how our personality reacts in times of stress (taking on the weaknesses of another number) as well as in times of tranquility (taking on the strengths of another number). In addition, “wings” flank our dominant number on either side which add two more numbers to the mix.
I decided to look into the wings.
While I identified as a FIVE, I also knew my “thinking” is practical, not theoretical. And my thirst for knowledge limited. Based on these criteria, I decided I am more likely a SIX with a FIVE wing (6w5)… or I am a ONE.
I then did some research on the misidentification of Enneagram numbers.
Come to find out, a 6w5 is often confused with a ONE. Both are responsible, organized, and concerned with doing things the “right” way. The ONE has a highly developed inner critic (Delilah) … but the 6w5 can also have a highly developed inner committee.
The ultimate difference between a 6w5 and a ONE is confidence (imagine my surprise when I realized my word for 2019 completely supports this finding).
A ONE is certain. A ONE rarely deals with self-doubt. A ONE is never afraid to voice an opinion.
A SIX, on the other hand, is riddled with self-doubt. A SIX does not have a well-developed intuition. Instead, a SIX relies on others to validate her position.
The final piece of the Enneagram puzzle was to identify my subtype. The three sub-types for all Enneagram numbers include:
- Self-Preserving – which focuses on individual concerns (such as food, shelter, clothing)
- Intimate (Sexual) – which focuses on one-to-one relationships
- Social – which focuses fitting into a group
At this point, the puzzle came into perfect focus.
I am a SOCIAL 6w5. I am constantly worried about how I might fit in (see… there’s that anxiety I never realized I had). I want to know the rules – the expectations – the inherent hierarchy.
In fact, I think that’s why I became so obsessed with the Enneagram. I saw it as a way to learn how I fit into the world. I was desperate to discover others are just like me; I am not an anomaly or a freak. I am exactly who God made me to be.
Now, what do I do with this information?
I recognize my root sin – anxiety – is actually a lack of faith. I begin to develop trust and confidence in God and in myself. I stop comparing myself with others – or worse – imagining what they think of me. I let go of the need for outside validation.
I learn to recognize red flag warnings when I become stressed and begin gravitating toward an unhealthy level three. I use prayer and meditation to center my thoughts in reality instead of my imaginary worst-case scenarios. I get out of my head by taking a walk or doing yoga.
I have only begun to scratch the surface of this field of study. I look forward to learning more about myself – and Delilah.