Do you believe that you know who you really are? Do your friends perceive you in the same way as you understand yourself? Have you ever been in an argument and realised afterwards how petty it was and couldn’t understand why you got involved? Have you wondered how we can interpret an event so differently to the way others may see it?
Get ready to go on a treasure hunt with your mind? First of all, do you believe you can focus on everything all at once at the same time? So how do you cope with the chaos in your world? The Enneagram describes survival strategies which we use to defend ourselves. It is an ancient wisdom about human development that reveals new insights into what drives our personality.
The origins of the system are rather mysterious, and until the Sixties remained a fairly secret teaching. Pythagoras drew the Enneagram as one of ten diagrams in his system to describe human consciousness.
However, it was not until the 1920s that the Enneagram was introduced to Europe by Gurdjieff in order to communicate an ancient wisdom which could free humanity from its own destruction. Since the Sixties there have been many contributions to its development particularly those of Ichazo, Naranjo and Palmer.
The Enneagram accurately describes the hidden filters in which each of us perceives our life. To elaborate, it means that everyone has a subconscious pre-occupation which acts as a bias in the way they view the world. This bias resulted in a loss of essence which was prior to personality. The newborn child is said to have essential qualities which have not been conditioned. There are no limitations, memories or meanings and they are all in unity with the world. Our pre-occupation can be used to guide us to higher abilities and alert us to our everyday habits which lead to a greater understanding of the self and others. Human interaction has more meaning when you can truly understand someone else’s point of view, rather than being biased in your interpretation.
Would you like to get in touch with people’s different internal representations of reality? Below is a brief description of each type to show some of their characteristics, but it is not possible to describe them with sufficient depth in an article. It is important to note that we are in motion with the Enneagram and when in positions of stress (move in the direction of the arrow) or security (move against the arrow) to acquire characteristics of adjacent types.
Outlook: The state of the world is imperfect, I must improve it.
Essence: Perfection, serenity
Harsh inner critic. Want to be seen as good and to get things right. Have own internal rules which set high standards that can never be reached. Critical of others who don’t live up to their standards. Anxious about decisions and making mistakes. One right way of thinking and doing. Can be playful when away from the tasks at home.
Outlook: I move toward worthwhile people who need my help.
Bias: Flattery, pride
Essence: Freedom, humility
Happy when meeting other people’s needs. Do not recognise own needs. Can adapt personality to give different people what they want. Want to become independent when feeling controlled by the demands of those dependent on them. Rely on appreciation for their help to gain self-worth.
Outlook: I strive for success, to be valued by others.
Bias: Vanity, deceit
Essence: Hope, honesty
Important to be seen as an achiever. Workaholic who has no time for emotions. Chameleons who can change their image to suit others’ expectations of success often believing the image is real. Convergent thinking. Competitive and efficient.
Outlook: I feel my life is lacking and notice the happiness that others enjoy.
Bias: Melancholy, envy
Essence: Origin, equanimity
A longing for someone or something that will make them feel special. A go for – pull away pattern in relationships. Finding everyday living too ordinary. Wanting to experience more intense emotions, leading to dramatic acts. Commonly feeling in the state of melancholy. Resisting people who try to persuade them to change.
Outlook: The outer world is overwhelming. I need to gain more understanding and knowledge.
Bias: Stinginess, avarice
Essence: Omniscience, non-attachment
A minimalist in needs, to avoid involvement. A detached stance to the world. Seekers and assimilators of knowledge. A holding back and hoarder of time and space. Economy in expending energy. Emotions replaced by analysis and then experienced in privacy. Isolates life into different sectors.
Outlook: I question and look for hidden meanings, to protect myself from potential threat.
Bias: Doubt, fear
Essence: Faith, courage
Fear can either lead to anxious hesitation where thinking replaces doing, or a counter-phobic stance which over-compensates in order to deny the fear. Afraid of authority yet can seek a strong figure to protect themselves or go against authority. Imagine the worst will happen and scan the environment for hidden motives. Can sabotage own success to avoid the spotlight. Dutiful and loyal.
Outlook: I want new and pleasant experiences and imagine a promising future.
Bias: Planning, gluttony
Essence: Work, sobriety
A creative schemer and synthesiser of new ideas. Open minded in their search for ways to improve their life. Can be anti-conventional. Avoid limitations and pain, which makes discipline and commitment difficult. Gluttony for lots of different experiences and adventures. Prefer to keep all the options open.
Outlook: I live in an unfair world. I do and say what I want.
Bias: Vengeance, lust
Essence: Truth, innocence
Get excess of intense stimulation through action, in the pursuit of pleasure. Dominate others to protect own vulnerability and dependency. Protective of loved ones. Rebel against authority. Autonomous and self-reliant.
Outlook: My opinions are not heard, so why bother. Things will work out for themselves.
Bias: Indolence, sloth
Essence: Love, right action
Overburdened by many things to do. Living through others by identifying with their agendas. Narcotisation – TV, books, food, is a way of distracting from real issues. Find it hard to say no. Stubborn when pushed. Can agree with all sides of an argument.
When you choose to go on an inner journey which involves letting go of unwanted habits, you can find the gifts which already belong to you. As you begin to have more choice in your life you will gain the fulfilment which you richly deserve. Honesty is required as Ego can often obstruct a person placing themselves within their real way of focusing as they can fall into the trap of believing they are what they want to be like, rather than seeing themselves as they really are. It is a system that can be applied to all areas of our lives. There are many uses in intimate and working relationships, sport, team work, correlation of personality to types of mental disorders, to name but a few. The Enneagram can be approached for psychological development of our personalities and from a spiritual perspective.
From a psychological viewpoint, this system points out the everyday positive and negative habits, i.e. those that benefit and the ones that do us harm, which could just be that they are repeated in the wrong context. Once you become self aware and these habits are brought to your attention, they cease to be automatic, you then gain more choice and control over them. Some can be dropped, others can be used more appropriately and the habits that are beneficial can be expanded upon. Hypnotherapy and NLP can de-hypnotise you out of negative trances that you have created for yourself and can allow you to adapt your personality and develop the beneficial behaviour that you find difficult. The Enneagram is also an accurate indicator of where your talents and abilities lie, which have often been buried under life choices. The secret is to recognise your talents and find ways of integrating them into your life.
For spiritual growth the Enneagram is the key with which we can unlock the doorway back to our true essence. We can regain our life energy which is being wasted in worthless defences and re-apply it to restoring more control over our lives. By meditating you become the observer and knower of your thoughts and realise that you are the creator of them. Meditation also reduces the impact of the underlying drive of your personality, which is away from essence and opens the way for spiritual potential. We can recognise a part of ourselves wanting to return to essence, when we want to gain the opposite characteristics of who we are, for example; people who live with anger at times wish they could be calm.
The Enneagram is a powerful revealing system which can be used to unravel many mysteries which until now have been left unexplained.
If you can notice your own personality that means that you are greater than your personality and if this is the case then what is the real you doing? You can become aware of this and realise that personality is an illusion of reality and when you speak to others you are actually speaking to their illusions. None of the types are better than the others, they all just have different ways of looking at the world. Let’s begin to create a future in which we all want to belong.