My Enneagram Typing Roller Coaster

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Depending upon how much you know me or how long you’ve followed me on Social Media, you may not know my story with finding my Enneagram type.  Let’s just say it was a journey.

For those who may be new to the Enneagram, let me explain a little bit about it, so that you aren’t completely in the dark. 

The Enneagram is a personality typing system that has roots in ancient traditions, but was put together in the modern way it is taught by a South American scholar in the 1950s.  The Enneagram contends that there are nine types of personalities in all of humanity.  Some may scoff at this idea, but given that there are many variations within those nine types depending upon wings, instinctual subtypes, tritypes, etc., I have found that it holds true for pretty much everyone in my life.  

The nine types are:

1 – the Reformer

2 – the Helper or Giver

3 – the Achiever 

4 – the Individualist or Romantic

5 – the Investigator 

6 – the Loyalist

7 – the Enthusiast

8 – the Challenger

9 – the Peacemaker

My best advice in finding one’s Enneagram type is to read up on the Core Fear and Core Motivation of each type.  If you haven’t downloaded my freebie yet, it contains this information – sign up to receive it HERE.

When I first learned about the Enneagram, upon reading all the types, I immediately thought I was a 7 – “the Enthusiast.” 

I would think that most people who know me would say I am pretty darn 7ish.  Type 7s love having fun plans to look forward to.  They often are planning their next adventure before they complete the one they’re currently in.  They also avoid pain/being stuck in unpleasant emotions.  To say that I have done that in my life is an understatement.  In fact, until I started working with my therapist, this was a hallmark of my behavior – avoiding pain at almost all costs.  Sevens are also known for exuding joy and positivity, and I related to all of these qualities very much.  I “tried on 7 for size” for a while, and while I thought it was a pretty good fit, there was something missing about it. 

 I have always felt deep, deep emotions – I can be pretty intense when it comes to how I feel, and even though I used avoidance of pain as a defense mechanism in my younger years, there is a part of me that doesn’t mind sitting in hard emotions for a while, and while I love having fun and being the life of the party, I also can be very thoughtful and introspective, I love being unique (especially when picking outfits and decorating my house), I am deeply moved by beauty, and I see it all around in the world.  Also, I consider myself to have the heart of an artist – a little tortured, a lot creative, always wanting to express itself.  

Because of all of this, I decided I must be a type 4, “the Romantic” or “the Individualist”.  I did also identify with the 4’s struggle with Envy and having the feeling that one doesn’t belong.  So I stuck with Type 4 for a long time – well over a year.  It seemed to mostly fit.  But then again, it didn’t.  I noticed how I always wanted to pull myself out of a bad mood – I was okay with it for a while, but then I decided it was time to get over it, and I know that most type 4s don’t do that – they are okay with staying in the depths.  Also, as much as I knew and loved my emotions, I also have a part of me that just wants to “get shit done,” and I just didn’t feel I was quite as deeply emotional as one must be to be a 4.  

I paid attention to myself some more, and felt like maybe I could be a 9, “the Peacemaker,” for a while.  Types 9, 7, and 4 can all be scattered (which I really can be), they all can be very creative and expressive, too.   Reasons that I thought I could be a 9 were that I don’t love conflict unless it’s absolutely necessary, I tend to want people around me to be happy, so I can be pretty go with the flow as long as it’s not something I have strong feelings about.  I think I also confused my tendency to look like a 2 sometimes as 9ish behavior, so I blame this mistyping on that in large part.  

After a while, sitting with the idea of being a 9 felt off, too. 

Goodness, how embarrassing for someone who is an Enneagram coach to not be able to pinpoint her own type!  But 9s can be extremely passive (not all of them, of course), and they struggle with sloth, which is an inability to engage in their own lives, or a falling asleep to who they really are.  I took a deep look at myself and decided my life force and “inner fire” was just too strong for me to be a Type 9.  

This became frustrating: I felt like I wasn’t exactly a 7, or a 4, or a 9, but I strongly related to them all in certain ways, and probably to 7 the strongest.  What type could I be?  It was honestly driving me bonkers.  I befriended an amazing gal on Instagram, who clearly knows the Enneagram much better than I do, and we started having long Enneagram discussions.  I told her a lot about my life, and she listened.  

One day, she suggested to me that while I related strongly to 7 and 9, I seemed to “big and bold” to be a 9, and 7 didn’t seem exactly like me….She said, “I think there is a good possibility that you are an 8, and you have spent a good deal of your life hiding behind your 7 and 9 wing, because the qualities of both of those were more socially acceptable in your family and community than the qualities of an 8.” 

I immediately bristled.  But also, secretly, the idea somehow energized me. 

But then I thought about it more – NO WAY.  

“8s are the WORST,” I thought in my mind.  Ick.  I had prided myself on scoring LOW on 8 on the tests I’d taken.  I had described people who were mean or aggressive to my friends, “She has SUCH an 8 vibe,” and they knew that it meant that that person turned me off.  

So when this friend called me an 8, I was at first VERY shocked.  Ewww.  I thought of how 8s can be so rude, so intense, so….uh oh….well, I AM intense.  Or I can be, about certain things.  And I can be really competitive, so much so, that I can embarrass myself.  Vengeance…yup, I have always felt the need for revenge, in a way that makes the “Good Christian girl” in me (more on that in another post) feel uncomfortable.  Lust is the “deadly sin” of 8s…and as much as I think it’s “bad” to be lustful, I see it in me – the strong life force and need for things to happen the way I want, inability to wait, addiction to passion and intensity…yikes. As much as I tried to embrace being a peaceful 9, or told myself I am a fun 7, or that I am a deep, unique, emotional 4, there was a voice deep inside of me that told me that I am what I feared the most – the big, mean, intense, BULLY type 8.  

“Please, no!” I thought to myself.  

Then I remembered how that very week, I had been reading a book called The Dark Side of the Light Chasers, by Debbie Ford, about Shadow work.  The idea is that when we hide or suppress “bad” qualities about ourselves, we are unable to be fully the opposite, good qualities, too.  For instance, when I don’t acknowledge that I have the ability to be judgmental, I suppress the ability to be open-hearted and open-minded.   When I don’t acknowledge that there is evil in me, I can’t be fully good.  I realized that I had not acknowledged all of the 8-like qualities in myself because I was ashamed of them and even afraid of being them – once I opened my eyes and my heart to the fact that they were there, I felt a huge sense of relief.  It was okay.  I could accept those qualities that I had judged in others that were also present in me.  

It took me a long time to fully accept that I am an 8. 

But I saw how I do go to 5 in stress, how very 2ish I can be in health, and especially so because I am the social subtype.  I will elaborate more on instinctual subtypes at another time, but Social 8s can appear less “8ish” than the other two subtypes (which are Self-Preservation and Sexual), mainly because they are more loyal, more overtly friendly, less aggressive, and are more willing to put the desires of others ahead of their own (sometimes).  I read the other day that one Enneagram Master teacher says that Social 8s are the second-most mistyped of all the 27 instinctual types.  This comforts me and makes me feel that my long journey to get to type 8 for myself was more because I was listening mostly to stereotypes of each type instead of looking more deeply at instinctual subtypes.  

Whew.  If you followed all of that, you deserve a medal.  One of the main reasons I wanted to share this story is that I know many people who are mistyped or are super torn between two types. 

It is okay for this journey to take a while. 

It takes a lot of self-observation, ridding yourself of judgment of any of the types, and patience.  No matter how long it takes for you, a huge gift of the journey is more self-awareness.  We could all use more of that!

Let me know if you would like for me to help you on your Enneagram journey!  🙂

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