The magic of discovering the Enneagram
by Veronica Croft
For most people, discovering the Enneagram for the first time is an exciting time filled with new understanding about ourselves and others. Suddenly our lives make more sense as we discover why we are the way we are, and why other people sometimes seem so infuriating or difficult.
I’ll always remember my initial experience of the Enneagram - for the first time I REALLY understood my husband and my two sons. What a brilliant moment that was!
One of the first changes that people experience as they get to know their type is an improvement in the way they feel about themselves. It is amazing how many people have issues of low self-worth - although few will admit this to others. They perhaps feel themselves to be deficient or compare themselves negatively to others, seeing themselves as less than or not good enough, and often wishing that they were different in some way. As you find yourself within the Enneagram the most amazing revelation is to discover that there is nothing wrong with you. Each of the nine personality types displays their own predictable patterns of behaviour – both positive and negative – and your patterns are just normal for your type.
(Many of us might not like to think we are ‘predictable’ but, in fact, when I know someone’s number, I can tell them so many things about themselves that they are astounded. I have, in fact, done this very thing with many people I have never met before.)
Better feelings about yourself
The accuracy of the Enneagram is amazing. Although no two lives are the same, each of us runs similar patterns to other people of the same type - patterns of thinking, feeling and reacting. The truth is we are who we are; We cannot help but be the personality type we are with all the accompanying patterns of our type, patterns both negative and positive.
It is wonderful to witness someone seeing themselves through the eyes of the Enneagram for the first time, and watching their feelings about themselves improve almost instantaneously. Realising that there are other people in the world (i.e. people of the same type) who experience life in much the same way and that these others have the same sorts of problems and the same sort of ways of reacting to those problems, brings feelings of relief accompanied by improved feelings about self.
Discovering that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with you and that the patterns you have experienced in life are just ‘normal’ for your type is such a gift.
Taking yourself lightly
As people make this discovery they seem to settle more easily into themselves and find they can view their more negative aspects in a totally different way. Many of us will even be able to see something funny (or at least a little amusing!) about the not-so-positive ‘stuff’ that we do.
Far too many people take themselves too seriously, and one of the greatest gifts of the Enneagram is that we can begin to smile now and then at our less-than-positive patterns. Instead of launching into self-criticism, how much better to be able to say to yourself: ‘This is just my One stuff, my Four stuff, my Nine stuff (or whatever type you are)’ and to treat it lightly instead of feeling bad about yourself that you’ve run that same pattern again. If we can offer to ourselves compassion instead of criticism at those times, we’re going to make our own lives so much happier for ourselves - and for the people we share our lives with!
Taking yourself more lightly does not in any way imply that you want to stay stuck or continue letting your negative patterns trip you up. On the contrary - with improved feelings about self and a real understanding of those patterns and why they came about, we can finally make some real changes. And then, as we begin to let go of the less-than-positive stuff, we can live through the positive gifts of our type.