The sacred Enneagram and I have a love/hate history. I’ve long been intrigued by it and have had a healthy respect for it, but I used to resist it because I thought it was just another personality test that was ‘putting me in a box’.
As you might know, the Enneagram pulls no punches when describing your ‘type’. I happen to be a type 9 or ‘the peacemaker’. ‘Peacemaker’ is a nice way of putting it. When reading the description of the peacemaker, what I read was more like ‘people-pleaser’, ‘conflict-avoider’, and/or ‘human punching bag’.
This challenged the view I had of myself and compromised my personal identity. I grew up with a very masculine-centric father. He didn’t take the Enneagram test, but I’m certain he’d test as a solid type 8, aka ‘The Challenger’. He was all fire and fury (our current president is most definitely an 8) and very seldom revealed his softer side. A man who believed that men should stand up for themselves and fight, fight, fight for what’s right.
I was and am not my dad’s ideal image of a man. I’m more of a let’s-meet-in-the-middle kinda guy. And seeing this exposed in the light of my Enneagram description was painful to see even though I’d quietly known it all along.
But I’ve come to look at the Enneagram differently as of late. My pastor is a long-time trained facilitator of the enneagram. When I voiced my past hesitations about how I feared the Enneagram placed us in a box and that we were much bigger than any single number.
And that’s when he schooled me on the Enneagram…
He told me that the Enneagram was actually a system designed to get us out of our box. Sure, we had our box (our type) and there’s healthy and unhealthy parts of that box, the latter being something that emanates from the false self — results of wounds from childhood (genetics, even?) keeping us confined by our defense mechanisms to a certain ‘type’. This forms our lens through which we see the world. Once that lens is put into place, Enneagram experts say, it stays pretty much fixed.