The Enneagram

The+Enneagram

Hannah Shaw and Melody Thrasher

For decades, people have been using numerous systems to define their own personality. These include MBTI types, astrology signs, DiSC, the Enneagram and plenty of other ways to assign yourself a specific personality. Some people love these tests and find them entirely accurate while others question how reliable they are. The Enneagram, in our opinion, is the most accurate test by far. The Enneagram has nine different personality types one could fall under. You could be a one, two, three, four and so on up until number nine. Each personality type has specific strengths, weaknesses and characteristics unique to its number. That is not to say that everyone falls into one specific category and doesn’t waver. Everyone has what is called a “wing”, which is an adjacent number that you may share traits of. The gritty details of this test are far too complicated to explain in a three-page article, so for more information visit the Enneagram Institute online.

One: The Reformer

Ones, above all else, strive to make change. They’re the “reformers” of the Enneagram because they often feel like they have a greater mission or calling that they must fulfill. They are driven by a strong moral compass and have a desire to be useful. That’s not to say every One is an outspoken political activist; they just care deeply for the things they value. This personality, unfortunately, is commonly accompanied by a deep-seated need to be perfect and control all the disorder going on around them. They resist feeling their emotions out of a fear that they will lose control, which can lead to aggression and anger towards those around them.

A healthy One finds happiness in being helpful and making change in the world while also understanding that nobody is perfect. They practice self-discipline, but are patient and kind. An unhealthy One is unable to ignore even the tiniest imperfections and comes off as micromanaging and condescending. If you are a One, try to be more forgiving when it comes to yourself and other people. It’s okay to make mistakes. Just get up and try again.

Two: The Helper

Twos are arguably the most kind of the nine Enneagrams. They find joy in helping others and strive to be the most compassionate version of themselves. It’s not that they want to devote their lives to being a stepping stool for others, but they have a passion for being generous and nurturing and highly value their relationships. That being said, some of this generosity can come from a feeling of wanting people to think they are helpful, rather than actually caring for someone. Twos need to be needed.

A healthy Two is aware of both their needs and the needs of others. They understand boundaries and have meaningful long-term relationships. An unhealthy Two is highly controlling of the people around them and do whatever they can to get people to love them. If you are a Two, remember that it is not your responsibility to fix everything and people will still care about you even if you take time to care for yourself.

Three: The Achiever

Threes have a lot of talents in general and are able to contribute to their community. Their success is often inspiring and impressive as they strive to be the best version of themselves. It is important to them to have success in whichever way they deem fit: money, family, work, etc. However, sometimes this desire for success can lead to a loss of self, as they attempt to bend to fit everyone’s expectations. In summary, Threes can have an obsessive need for validation but are also determined and persistent individuals.

A healthy Three sets their goals and conquers challenges, but does not let this determine their self-worth. They find balance in their lives that allows them to work and rest in a healthy medium. An unhealthy Three is defensive of their failures and may exaggerate their accomplishments to preserve self-image while also looking down on others. If you are a Three, remember that one failure does not define who you are, and it is okay to take a break. It will not make you worth any less.

Four: The Individualist

Fours feel as though they are different from others. Not necessarily different in a positive or negative way – just different. They do not find it difficult to distinguish their own faults, which can lead them to struggle with their self-image and personal expectations. Fours have a rare ability to discuss deeply personal things about themselves to those they trust. Despite this, they often feel like something is missing from their lives and cannot pin-point exactly what it is. They’re considered the “romantics” of the Enneagram and want someone to come into their life and help them figure this so-called ‘fault’ out.

A healthy Four is not afraid of being inferior and has learned to live with everything they consider to be a personal fault. They are creative, honest and make meaningful relationships that lead to self-discovery. An unhealthy Four victimizes themselves to keep the relationships they have because they are ashamed of what they see in themselves. If you are a Four, try to remember that self-discovery and growth will only come when you stop criticizing yourself so harshly. Allow yourself to appreciate the little things.

Five: The Investigator

Fives desire to be knowledgeable and independent. They want to contribute to the world in a significant way through their unique perspective and curiosity. They’re often somewhat detached from others, as they highly value their time alone. Observant and thoughtful, Fives seek to have a deep understanding of the world and environment surrounding them. Their attention is typically drawn to the unknown, unusual and bizarre aspects of life. Whatever they’re passionate about they will intensely focus on in order to satiate their craving for knowledge and understanding.

A healthy Five engages with others and sees themselves as part of the environment rather than separate from everyone and everything. They seek to make groundbreaking discoveries through their ability to view the world in a special way. An unhealthy Five doesn’t allow anyone in, and is often defensive due to their want for security and privacy. If you are a Five, try to share more of who you are and your life with others, trusting that they won’t misuse that information. Try to process your emotions in the moment, rather than bottling them up to save for later.

Six: The Loyalist

Sixes are hard-working, responsible and reliable. They seek to have security and support in their lives. They are productive, logical beings, and they organize their actions around what would be best for the common good. Sixes are clear-eyed judges of character, and can often foresee problems before others. This can possibly lead them to become highly anxious and pessimistic. Ultimately wanting support and reassurance from others in their relationships, they seek to make meaningful and lasting bonds. Honesty, loyalty and reliability are all important traits to this type.

A healthy Six is self-affirming and trusting of themselves and others. Their self-trust leads to positive thinking, leadership, and powerful self-expression. An unhealthy Six will be untrusting of themselves and others. They will often project their insecurities onto others. If you are a Six, try to recognize the difference between legitimate fear and irrational fear. Try to develop confidence by trusting your inner self and accepting compliments without intense deflection or apprehension.

Seven: The Enthusiast

Sevens are very spontaneous, high-spirited and extroverted. They consistently seek out new and exciting experiences, and have a tendency to operate out of impulse. They’re a deeply adventurous type, always seeking out ways to have fun. Sevens have a deep gratitude and appreciation for the good things in life. They want to maintain their freedom and often question if they are missing out on opportunities. Although practical, Sevens tend to be undisciplined and a bit scattered.

A healthy Seven is grounded and is able to accept life as it is, instead of what they desire it to be. They have embraced that pain and disappointment is inevitable, and that growing from this is better than suppressing their feelings. An unhealthy Seven often sees themselves and their environment as inadequate and will often take more risks than necessary. They will try to avoid their pain, seeking to find instant gratification — which can potentially lead to a harmful addiction. If you are a Seven, practice moderation and restraint. Give yourself the opportunity to feel negative emotions instead of running away from them.

Eight: The Challenger

Eights are resourceful, protective and self-confident. They seek to have importance, be self-reliant and prove their strengths. They are often very direct and honest in their communication, which can lead to them coming off as confrontational and intimidating. This type often feels like they must control their environment due to their fear of someone having  power over them. Being indebted to someone in any way is something an Eight seeks to avoid at all costs. Through their innate ability to be independent, they are able to defy fears, guilt, and social norms. At their best Eights will use their strengths to improve others’ lives and lift up those around them. Eights are great friends, leaders and they often have no issues standing up for the underdog.

Healthy Eights use their power to their advantage and in the right measure. They are able to embrace vulnerability, and realize that it is a sign of strength rather than weakness. An unhealthy Eight may be overly worried that they will be betrayed and very slow to trust others. They may seek revenge when wronged, and be power-hungry seeking to control those around them. If you are an Eight, realize that vulnerability is necessary in your journey of growth.

Nine: The Peacemaker

Nines are peaceful, perceptive and trusting. Type Nines are often supportive and optimistic, and go along with what others want to avoid conflict. They resist disturbances in their environment and want to preserve things to keep them as they are. Due to their way of understanding multiple perspectives to try to keep the peace, they are often very non-judgemental people. Nines may often retreat into their inner thoughts and emotions rather than stay grounded in reality. Creative and optimistic, they are highly perceptive to understanding those around them and ways to resolve conflict. Although stubborn in certain instances, Nines are very self-actualized people and inspiring to be around.

A healthy Nine is flexible and inclusive. They make decisions based on their healthy priorities and are fulfilled in their life. Focused on the present, they are content with themselves and are able to form beneficial relationships. An unhealthy Nine may be overly dependent. They may dull or numb their emotions to maintain the illusion that all is well. If you believe you are a Nine, resist the urge to succumb to others’ opinions over your own to prevent conflict. Be honest and open about how you feel.

The Reliability of the Enneagram

How accurate is the Enneagram anyways? I suppose that depends on the person. Some people believe the test to be scarily accurate and trust it to understand them. “I think it’s more accurate because of all the questions and possible answers. Overall, I think it’s a pretty good indicator of my personality,” said Laura McWilliams (11). However, not everyone shares this optimistic sentiment. “I thought it was hard because the questions were just too broad and I feel like the understanding of the question is subjective,” said Shiksha Goyal (11). The reality of it is that taking an online seventy question quiz is not going to be better at understanding you than you are. Sure, taking the Truity test is a nice indicator of what you might be, but at the end of the day it is better to really read into each type and decide for yourself what you are.
Once you have a real understanding of yourself, your fears, desires, passions and internal monologue, you can learn more about how you can grow and develop into the best version of yourself. It can help you better learn why you act in certain ways, and why you communicate in the way that you do. I find it helpful for discovering how my actions come off to other people. Personality tests are not necessarily meant to put you into a confined box, but more so to push you into a better understanding of who you are.