Enneagram,  MidLife

My Enneagram Type: Social 6w5

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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:

  1. Perfectionist
  2. Helper
  3. Achiever
  4. Individualist
  5. Thinker
  6. Loyalist
  7. Adventurer
  8. Challenger
  9. Peacemaker

Based on these descriptions, I thought I was either a ONE or a FIVE.

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I then took one of the many online tests (although the book, The Wisdom of the Enneagram offers a comprehensive list of 140 questions that I found quite thorough).

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.

  1. The need to be PERFECT (root sin is anger/resentment … try to void criticism)
  2. The need to be NEEDED (root sin is pride … try to avoid own neediness)
  3. The need to SUCCEED (root sin is deceit … try to avoid failure)
  4. The need to be SPECIAL (root sin is envy … try to avoid ordinariness)
  5. The need to be PERCEPTIVE (root sin is greed … try to avoid emptiness)
  6. The need to be CERTAIN (root sin is anxiety … try to avoid deviance)
  7. The need to be FREE (root sin is gluttony … try to avoid pain)
  8. The need to be IN CONTROL (root sin is lust … try to avoid vulnerability)
  9. 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.

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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.

BINGO!!

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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.

 

21 Comments

  • Trisha

    Very interesting! This subject came up in our writer’s group Saturday. I came home determined to research this more…and then got busy & didn’t. Your posts seems to validate that I need to look into this. Thanks for sharing!
    Sharing on MLSTL

  • Leanne

    Molly this was such an interesting post – you always look at things so thoroughly and I can see myself in a lot of those numbers! I think I’d be too scared to delve too deeply into all my sins and failures – but I like that you’re willing to undertake the journey to becoming a better and more balanced person. I’ll be interested to follow along with your discoveries.
    Thanks for linking up to MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    • Molly Totoro

      I had the same initial reaction, Leanne. I didn’t want to delve too deeply into “sins” and failures because I was afraid I might become even less accepting of myself. But the enneagram explains sin simply as “missing the mark” … that is, we allow our fatal flaw (for me it is anxiety) to keep us from becoming all we can be. For me, that made “sin” a little more palatable – and in some small way, it gave me great hope. I AM capable of more. I just need to be aware of my anxiety and how that it is holding me back.

      I’m not sure this makes much sense – but I hope to learn more and later be able to explain better.

    • Molly Totoro

      The Enneagram has been around for centuries but did not become “mainstream” until the 1970s. I first became aware of the Enneagram when a fellow book blogger (Catherine Ensley) made it the topic of her A-Z challenge a few years ago. It is a fascinating topic, if you are into this kind of thing 🙂

  • Kay

    Molly, this was very, very interesting. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of Enneagrams, though I have heard of other personality tests and taken them long ago. I see myself in many of the paths you mentioned here, but now you’ve got me curious. I always saw myself as a perfectionist, but, like you, I suspect I might fit in better with #6. I’ve often felt I didn’t fit in and tried to mold myself better in order to do so (or hid in the corner). I’ve worried way too much about what other people thought about me and became very much a pleaser. I thank you for this article and will think about checking out these books. And I’ll look forward to where your Delilah journey takes you.

  • Pat

    Molly, I’ve never delved as deeply into Enneagram as you have, but I have taken the on-line quizzes, twice in fact. Both time I came out as a ONE. Feel right. I’ll have to find the results and see if there was another secondary number besides the stress/growth arrows and also look more at the wings. Maybe pick up a book or two. Very intriguing blog read!

    • Molly Totoro

      Thank you, Pat.
      As I said in the post, I have MANY Enneagram one tendencies too 🙂
      I’d love to hear how you like the study if you decide to jump in.

  • Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond

    Hi Molly, this was fascinating and I think I have hear of Enneagram but never actually taken a test. I took the test through one of your links and I’m Type 2: The Helper, Type 6: The Loyalist and Type 3: The Achiever. I think this actually describes me pretty well but as you have written you have to go deeper to get the full understanding. I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts about this subject. Thank you for sharing at #MLSTL and have a beautiful week. xx

    • Molly Totoro

      I think it is so interesting to hear others results, Sue. I wonder if you are perhaps a 2 with a 3 wing (?) or vice versa. Online, you come across as someone who truly cares for others and wants to help them (the 2). But you also have a very successful blog which probably came from a drive to achieve (the 3) 🙂 See… I know just enough to recognize how little I don’t know. It is a fascinating topic though!

  • Christie Hawkes

    How interesting, Molly. I’ve taken several personality, strengths, or passions tests over the years, but I haven’t heard of this one. I think at some level I’ve been trying to find out what my “purpose” is, which could be interpreted as where I fit in this world. Also, if I’m perfectly honest (and vulnerable), I’m seeking validation that I am special or worthy in some way. I appreciate that you have a plan for using the information you have learned about yourself and look forward to hearing more about your journey. #MLSTL

    • Molly Totoro

      Christie… we have SO much in common. I am constantly pondering my “life purpose” and seeking outside validation for our self-worth is one of the hallmarks of a “six” That is why my word of the year – confidence – is so fitting. I need to develop the inner confidence to combat that need for that outside validation. This year is going to be an interesting journey – but I’m looking forward to the ride 🙂

  • Mary Lou

    Clearly I have only begun to skim the surface of this too Molly! Interesting that you point out that there’s a bit of each personality type in us. When you throw in the ‘wings’ it gets even more complex. I took the test and came up with a tie between 9 and 6 as the highest score, and the second highest score a tie between 4 and 5. I’ve read Richard Rohr and like what he says. I think I’ll delve a bit more into all this. Thank you and I’m sharing on FB and Twitter for #MLSTL.

  • Janet Mary Cobb

    Thanks for this great refresher on the Enneagram. I took my first course on the Enneagram in 1989 in Hong Kong. It was a psychology and spirituality course — all taught in Cantonese! I took a few other workshops in the early 1990s but life was VERY crazy then – I don’t remember where I landed! I have wondered for a few years what my number might really be now that I understand myself more. I have a handful of books on my little bookshelf (maybe 15 books) that I consider keepers. Perhaps I’ll get back around to exploring soon…thank you!

  • Molly Stevens

    I’ve not heard of the enneagram test before, Molly. Very interesting and what a good way to help develop a fictional character! I just took the test and was shocked at my results. I expected to be a 1 or 5 and I was a 6! With 4 and 5 coming in at 2nd and 3rd place. When I read about each one they did fit for me. I’m so relieved I can give up my identity as a perfectionist! #MLSTL

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