How to Use Your Enneagram Type to Better Understand Yourself
Before we discuss how to use your Enneagram type, let’s talk basics. What are Enneagram types, and how can you find out yours?
Okay, let’s slow our roll. We can’t jump from zero to ten! If you want to understand how to use your Enneagram type to gain better self-understanding, you better know what an Enneagram type is first. If you already know, feel free to skip this explanatory section.
You might have heard of the Myers-Briggs (MBTI) personality type indicator, which describes personality in terms of sixteen personality types composed out of sixteen permutations of four letters. Compared to MBTI, the Enneagram personality theory is somewhat simpler. It describes personality in terms of nine types, each of which are represented by a single number (1-9). When you take an Enneagram test, you receive a primary type as well as a wing — the type “next” to yours that fits you more strongly. For example, my Enneagram type is 8w7, meaning that I’m a type 8 with a 7 wing, since my personality bears more strongly towards 7 than it does towards 9.
But where can you get your Enneagram type? It’s extremely findable, I promise you! There are a few ways you can do it. First, you can take a test. For starters, try this free version from Truity. It also has some FAQs that answer a few more questions about the Enneagram theory that I haven’t touched on here.
The other way to figure out your Enneagram type, which I actually lean towards recommending, is simply by reading a description of each of the types and figuring out which one sounds the most like you. It’s important to be honest with yourself, though. Try reading these descriptions from the Enneagram Institute.
And, yes, once you read the descriptions, you’ll know the secrets of my personality. Some of them, at least.
How to use your Enneagram type to better understand yourself
Once you’ve found out your type, do research. Read about your type. Watch YouTube videos about your type. In the process, you’ll learn more about how others perceive your strengths and weaknesses.
At the time I found out my Enneagram type, I’d already taken the MBTI personality test. I’m an ENTP, for those who were wondering. My Enneagram type is a fairly common one for ENTPs (yes, there are some correlations between MBTI and Enneagram), though not the most common. One thing that struck me right away was the list of fictional characters and real people that were given with my Enneagram type. Ernest Hemingway? Russell Crowe? Oskar Schindler? Um, all people who had resonated with me in some way, either through their work in the first two examples or through their story. Because, as horrible as it sounds, I’d probably be the type of person to help people more through my business ventures than through any altruistic urge. I’ll freely admit it. I’m not wired for altruism (as you’ll probably see if you read more about my type(s) — either or of them).
And, yeah, if you read about the type 8 or the ENTP, you’ll see President Trump on those lists. No one said I had to be proud about what my personality type can turn into if given the chance.
But here’s the thing about Enneagram. It allows you to understand exactly that — what you could turn into if you went in certain directions. What you’re like when you’re under stress, and what you’re like when you take a plunge and begin becoming a horrible human being. I can now rest assured that if I ever let my ego go to my head, I could become dictator-like. Or, even worse, a sociopathic maniac. Yeah…
Learning about people who share your Enneagram type (or any other personality type) can also aid you in achieving greater self-understanding. Historical figures are some of my favorite people to compare to. Now, you have to keep in mind that we don’t always know the personalities of historical figures to the greatest degree of accuracy, but in the case of more modern examples the figures themselves may have taken the personality indicator in question, and in the case of earlier examples we can judge from their recorded words and actions. According to what everyone’s decided, my historical personality twin is Alexander the Great. He also happens to be my favorite historical figure. I’m not sure whether these facts have bearing on each other.
Knowing your Enneagram also gives you an idea of your common behaviors, bad habits, and what you should avoid. For example, my type 8 has an issue with avoiding medical appointments. Which is so true. I hate the doctor, the dentist, the therapist… Anything to do with healthcare. Type 8 also has issues with over-indulging in food and alcohol. Yeah… Sounds familiar, too. And I reportedly have control issues.
Now that I have these pieces of information, I can easily put them into action. I can make an effort to keep up with those medical visits (yeah, no chance). I can make an effort to moderate my alcohol consumption (a much higher chance of this, given that I also suffer from mental health issues that are exacerbated by high levels of alcohol consumption). And I can try to relinquish control (and not just through barking orders and delegating) whenever possible. This is a very hard thing for me to do.
You, too, can put your Enneagram type into action once you discover it. I hope that this brief write-up has inspired you to find out your type and put it to good use!
Below are the nine Enneagram types in their customary organization with their one-word titles, by the way.
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Tell me in the comments what you think about personality theory and this write-up. Is it all a bunch of phooey? Do you know your Enneagram type? Are you going to find it out? Tell me anything!
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