And all the white girls cheered.
I know, I know, it’s overdone and annoying and can someone please tell everyone to stop talking about the Enneagram? Especially people who skimmed one book or listened to a couple podcasts and now they know why everyone does everything, and what number you are, and will FOR SURE make sure you know it.
Please stop using the Enneagram this way. Please stop using the Enneagram to correct other people’s behavior. Please stop using the Enneagram as a weapon to justify your actions. Please stop using the Enneagram to hurt or control others.
But why would I suggest studying the Enneagram then? Because it’s really good and powerful if used correctly. Here’s how you use the Enneagram correctly (not according to Mary Graham, but according to Enneagram coaches and experts and people who have been studying for decades): You use it as a self-reflective tool to become a better human and more like the person God created you to be.
That’s it. You use the Enneagram to get yourself healthier.
And if others want to do that too, GREAT. But you’re not in charge of anyone else, their Enneagram journey or otherwise. So stop worrying about everyone else and the Enneagram, and start paying attention to what it means for you and only you. Because you can become healthier whether you know your boyfriend’s number or not. Because you can become safer whether you know your mom’s number or not. And you can change your relationships whether anyone else can even pronounce Enneagram.
That’s why you should study the Enneagram this year: to be healthier, to be safer, to change your relationships.
The Enneagram identifies nine ways in which we suffer/suffered from not being loved and how that shapes our personalities. We can all acknowledge that sin and suffering exist (because we live in Fallen Eden), so the logical jump would be to figure out how we’ve missed something God created us to have and begin to heal the holes. Will the Enneagram (or anything else) completely heal us this side of heaven? No way. The Enneagram is not an end-all-be all; it’s just another tool in our toolbox to hopefully lead us back to the God-reflecting self we were created to be.
I’m not going to lie, it is always more fun when you have someone to talk to about the Enneagram. But it’s not necessary for growth or reflection. When I first started learning about the it, I was grasping at straws, trying to save a dead marriage. Reading the Enneagram Eight chapter in The Road Back to You felt like coming home. Suddenly I had someone pointing out my communication style, my tendencies to control when I feel unsafe, and my feelings of always being misunderstood, and telling me they weren’t bad–they were just different than most people’s. Learning about the Enneagram helped me understand other’s perspectives and have more grace and mercy for people. Not because I could meet someone and guess their number, but because I could finally understand they interacted in the world differently and there was nothing wrong with that.
For some people that sounds like common knowledge and DUH, MARY, but for me that was shocking. My brain has a tendency to see things in black and white and verrrrry rationally. I am drawn to fairness, justice, and protecting the helpless. I don’t see gray well, and lying infuriates me.
Studying the Enneagram has helped me to fight fairer with my husband. Notice I didn’t say not fight with my husband, but to fight on more equal ground, to not take advantage of my strengths and his weaknesses when we’re not getting along.
Studying the Enneagram has helped me resolve conflicts better. I know my point of view isn’t always the same as the other persons so learning about the other types made me more aware of how disagreements can just be based in motivation or scars or safety and less about being right and wrong.
Studying the Enneagram has helped me be kinder to myself. The world is not gentle or accommodating to female Eights. Seeing past interactions and struggles with this knowledge helps me forgive myself for some mistakes and also helps me forgive others.
Studying the Enneagram has made me a better parent. I’m aware of my reactions, good or bad, to situations and people more now which has led to more thoughtful and careful interactions with my girls. I do not think either one of them is an Eight so my communication style could hurt them in ways I don’t intend. Eights are not normally very affectionate, but I have two little girls who crave cuddles with their mom and hugs and kisses often. This isn’t a preferred way for me to show love, so I have to make a conscious effort to speak their language and not just mine.
Studying the Enneagram has made me a better friend. While we don’t try to type others, I have friends who are also interested in the Enneagram so we get to have helpful conversations about their types and how we engage with each other. I think my podcast co-host Jess and are having such a good time working and podcasting together because the Enneagram helps us see each other’s strengths and weaknesses with compassion. We are very different, but work together well.
The Enneagram (with a good helping of counseling) has–not exaggerating–turned my relationships upside down. My marriage is better because of the reflection and growth the Enneagram initiated. My friendships are more authentic and more well-balanced because of the perspective the Enneagram gave me. My writing is better because I’m more able to step out of my point of view and see the world from another side due to the Enneagram.
Chris Heuertz says the Enneagram is a “tool for self-remembering.” Getting us back to the beginning of ourselves, back to what God created for good, before the broken world got its hands on us.
If we want to change our lives, we always start with ourselves, and I think a good place to start would be with the Enneagram.
Want to get started but don’t know where to begin? Here are some resources that might be helpful:
-I think the most accessible introduction is The Road Back to You
-We did two episodes on the Enneagram on the Not Terrible podcast (episodes 24 & 25)
–Enneagram test a coach I know recommends (cost: $10)
–The Sacred Enneagram by Christopher L. Heuertz
–The Modern Enneagram by Kacie Berghoef & Melanie Bell
–Principle of the Enneagram by Karen A. Webb
–Self to Lose, Self to Find by Marilyn Vancil
–The Road Back to You podcast
–Typology podcast with Ian Morgan Cron
–Enneagram Journey podcast with Suzanne Stabile
-Suzanne Stabile Instagram account
-Ian Morgan Cron Instagram account and website
–The Enneacast podcast
–Enneagram for Idiots podcast
–The Path Between Us by Suzanne Stabile (book and workbook)
-Richard Rohr Enneagram books: start here
-Your Enneagram Coach Instagram account
-Enneagram apps: Enneapp and Enneagram Personality Test
-PBS documentary: Breaking Out of the Box: Discovering the Enneagram with Helen Palmer
-Helen Palmer, Enneagram coach: start here.
-The Liturgist podcast and Enneagram shirts
-Sleeping at Last podcast and songs
I plan on more this year, but here are some posts I’ve already written on the Enneagram:
Meet the Grahams: Mary the Eight
Meet the Grahams: Chris the Nine
Meet the Grahams: The Enneagram in Our Marriage
*DISCLOSURE: Affiliate links used.
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