If you’ve done some reading about the Enneagram, or been to a dinner party where it has come up, you’ll undoubtedly have heard that there are multiple “types” attached to the Enneagram, with each giving a personality outline of sorts for individuals. But how is it possible for only nine types to describe everyone?
Systems identifying certain patterns in human personality have been present throughout the ages, all the way from ancient times, to the 21st century. People have always had a fascination with understanding themselves better, due to the fact that we are so wonderfully complex, and that as much as we have certain traits in common with each other- we are all so different. Throughout the ages, people have looked for patterns that can be identified in human beings, the same way we have studied the patterns of the waves in the ocean and the changes in weather throughout different seasons. Studying patterns in human personality is a lot like studying the patterns of the waves in the ocean- it depends on the perspective of the person observing the patterns.
Colleen-Joy Page uses a wonderful analogy for this concept; If you ask a surfer to explain the waves to you, they would explain them to you from the perspective of finding the best waves to surf. But if you ask a meteorologist, they will explain the waves to you from a different perspective because they have a different point of focus to the surfer. This same concept applies to observing patterns in human personality. There are many different personality typing systems, each providing insight from a different perspective- depending on the point of focus. Just like the ocean, humans are too complex to be understood in one way only.
The Enneagram works with 9 core types. Rather than being limiting “boxes” that says there are only 9 types of people, they can rather be explained as 9 primary “lenses” that people seem to view the world through. Seeing and experiencing the world in a particular way (or through a particular lens), seems to result in certain patterns and tendencies of thinking, feeling and behaving. This doesn’t mean that everyone who shares the same core Enneagram type will be exactly the same- far from it.
You’ll now know that with the Enneagram, we see nine core personality types. There are many ways to describe people, and it is important not to see any of these as absolute for everyone. While the types give you an indication as to how you see the world, as well as the relationship styles you adopt, the more granular data comes from digging a little deeper within each of the types. We cannot assume that just because we share a broad type with someone else, that we will be the same in every way.
You may have similar motivations to me, and may even see the world in a similar way, but to expect things to be the same for everyone, when humans are diverse and complex, would only set us up for disappointment. The nine core Enneagram types form the groundwork for a broader path to understanding yourself. There are many factors that make up who you are in every detail- the Enneagram provides insight from one angle.
All nine core types form a unified system, with each type carefully designed in relation to the other types. The system works because all of the types are in harmony, and each describe the core world views of the people who ascribe to them.
It can be daunting to get started and to discover your type, but you have nothing to fear. Firstly, a massive congratulations to you for taking the plunge into self discovery! If you need a little bit of help along the way, I’m more than happy to set up a free 20 minute introductory call with you, to answer any questions you may have and to help you get started on your journey. Finding your type and learning more about your personality should be an exciting, challenging and wonderful prospect, and I look forward to being a part of the process with you.
Written by: Karen-Sophia