The Enneagram: a personal journey.
To finish this series (I will return to it again at some point down the road) I wanted to offer a little perspective from my own journey with The Enneagram and how it’s helped me see, respond to and change parts of myself that have needed it.
I first encountered The Enneagram at least 15 years ago. A friend was exploring it and – as you do when it’s new – was offering it to her friends. I’m so thankful for that initial introduction and the exploration that followed. At that time, the first thing I did was take a test (not advocated as the only way to discover your type) and I came out strongly as a four. As I read about the four space and talked with my friend, it was apparent that I was indeed strong in that number, living out most of the unhealthy aspects contained within it. As a typical unhealthy four I was disappointed to discover that I wasn’t quite as unique and different as I had hoped and that I was living out a pattern of behaviour common to many other people. I could see how my childhood wound of abandonment had shaped ways of operating that were unhealthy and broken.
At that time I journeyed with it for a while, exploring the four space and responding to the invitations it offered for internal change. My life continued to unfold for a time largely without The Enneagram being centre stage but with the struggles and pain of life offering me the opportunity for continued transformation. A few years ago I returned to The Enneagram again and began to explore it more deeply. This return has been a much deeper dive and has included much more reading, listening to podcasts, having some training and talking with others who also love it. I now find myself in different places within The Enneagram and am not sitting in the four space alone.
Aspects of my four-ness still remain and I still notice when I operate from that space in unhealthy ways but I now see other numbers emerging alongside it. I now see a strong wing in the Six of the head triad and also that I have more of the healthy Two than I used to. I’ve really enjoyed this deep dive and the freedom that’s come with it. The Enneagram is not a tool to box us into type but a resource to help us understand who we are, how we relate to others and where we’re invited to accept the grace of God to bring change. It also leads us to seeing who we really are in the truest, divine place and how to live from that place in our day to day lives.
For me, The Enneagram has to be a resource that contains movement and freedom and that continually invites us to change. It can sometimes be used as a way to justify behaviours – “I’m an Eight, deal with it”, as opposed to helping us see who we are in the best and worse of ourselves. It invites us to a journey of wholeness and integration where we’re able to be at peace with those parts that still need work and healing as well as celebrating those parts that are truer and healthy.
As I continue to listen to The Enneagram ‘experts’, I hear them say that after decades of work within the realm of The Enneagram, with books on the subject having been written, with them having spoken at and run countless conferences, they still have so much more to discover. This is heartening, there seems no end to what The Enneagram offers us, there seems to be no final goal where we arrive at the place we were always meant to get to. It is a resource that can accompany us through a lifetime of struggle, joy, change and growth. It is an ever shifting, creative tool that contains much dynamism and invitation. It seems to pulsate with the heartbeat of God, of love and of heaven which is never still, immovable or stuck. For me, this is something that I can interact with, this is a resource that doesn’t judge me or box me in. Yes, it can be uncomfortable, it can painful to see the crap and the shadow, it can be highly confronting but all with the aim of drawing us onward, deeper, higher into ourselves and our relationships with others. It invites us to fullness, to wholeness and to living from our true centre. It helps us become the people we and the world want and need us to be.
Just this week I was listening to a wonderful podcast where Brené Brown was interviewing Chris Huertz (The Sacred Enneagarm and the Enneagram of Belonging). I loved the compassion and care he held for each number recognising that it’s hard being any of the Nine numbers, it reminded me that it’s hard being human and that’s okay, we’re in it together. It also reminded me that every number is needed in the world so I leave with you the invitation to celebrate you, whatever number you are, your broken places, your healed places, your shadow, your beauty. We are truly wonderful and at it’s heart, The Enneagram helps us see that.