Once a week I still aim to share some of the life lessons I’ve learned along the way. This is a post long overdue too!
I’ve always taken a personal interest in personality tests (yes, even the quizzes in the magazines. I secretly do the Facebook ones too — heeheehee!). I used to do it for me. And then eventually it was used to understand my husband-then-boyfriend, better. Now I do it because I want to understand my kids, and how I can be a better parent to them.
Of all the “tests” that I’ve had to answer or use — from Myers-Briggs, to StrengthsFinder, and even the Love Language test, I keep coming back to the Enneagram most of all.
I first learned about the Enneagram from my spiritual mentor Ester. She had a whole document, and when I read it I was overwhelmed. So I attended some seminars on it at Don Bosco many moons ago. The thing about that is, you’re discovering yourself and others of your type in a room full of strangers. So while some of it was educational, a lot of it was still intimidating. And at the end of it all, I still didn’t fully grasp the 9 different personality types. In fact I re-took the test at different points in my life, and I got even more confused because it would shift between two or three numbers.
Fortunately, I found out that my good friend Jake is an Enneagram guru. In fact he teaches it in his leadership classes at the Ateneo Graduate School. Jake, Kris’ other half, is a triathlete and the producer behind shows like Green Living TV and Gameplan (which is now back and getting bigger and better!).
Jake teaches it because he believes that a person who knows himself better and is more self-aware can be a better leader. And wouldn’t the world benefit if there were better leaders out there? (Go Jake!)
Ever since then Jake has been my Enneagram guru and go-to person. And he was happy to hold an intimate #BetterMe session with the other SoMoms on it. As pre-work, he had us all take the free online test to get a baseline of our numbers and personality types.
As I mentioned before, the Enneagram is a test that “divides” the way we type or classify people into 9 different personality types. It was started by Don Riso and Russ Hudson who eventually founded the Enneagram Institute. I don’t know much more apart from the fact that the Enneagram also shows the relationships between the types, and the underlying motivations for specific actions. Like any other tool, the Enneagram is key to better self-knowledge and self-awareness, and is the most comprehensive that I’ve found so far. It’s fascinating! There’s always much to learn.
The trick is not to get overwhelmed by the lines and arrows. And maybe think of assessing yourself (and your number/s) in 3 buckets.
Find Your Center. Focus on the highest number first, which will be your “center”, or your default. The test will help you determine your highest number. If you hit two or more, read through the descriptions and see which ones resonate most with you, particularly the motivations. One other way, Jake says is to also check physical manifestations and symptoms. Normally head people (types 5, 6 and 7) often get migraines or bad headaches. The ONE types on the other hand look very put together, very prim and proper.
Study the Wings. From that which is your center, check the two numbers on its right and left. As a “2” for instance, my wings are 1 and 3. Meaning, I’d have to consider the good and bad traits of the 1 and the 3 as how they blend in with the personality type of the 2. With Jake’s help, I understand now that this was where my initial confusion stemmed from. As a younger form of myself, I related more to the 3, the Achiever. When I became a parent, my 1 wing stood out more. But Jake was the first one to point out that my motivation and behavior was that of a 2. So it’s possible that life stages and situations will make you exhibit the traits of another type, but in the end you still go back to your center.
Learn the Integration and Disintegration. And now for the arrows. If you look at this Enneagram diagram, you’ll see that each number has an arrow which “points” to another number in the circle.
In my case 2 for instance, a Healthy version of myself will integrate with the positive qualities of a 4. As a Helper, I “automatically” give of myself and have a hard time saying no, sometimes to a fault. I can learn from the 4 (the Artist), to sometimes put myself first. The opposite is also true and an unhealthy 2 will disintegrate and exhibit the negative traits of an 8. I rarely get mad but when I do, I explode — just like an 8 would.
It’s all a lot to take in, but definitely worth the time to understand. And it’s one of those things you can keep going back to (as self-understanding takes time!). What’s nice about learning it with an intimate group of friends, is that now you all have the same language. In fact some of our conversations have statements like, “It’s because she’s a 6,” as the only explanation. Or, “That is the 1 in you talking.” It helps keep you self-aware when other people can help you using tools you understand.
Now as for the parenting part of it… the Enneagram Institute says that it’s difficult to use the testing and typing for children under the age of 14. That’s because they’re not fully aware of who they are yet, or why they do things. But as a parent, Liz Hill (from the Enneagram Administrative Support) says, ” the most important thing is to begin to understand how you fit with whatever type your child is — that’s where the work is for you!” They have a whole section on parenting in their website if you’d like to check it out.
There is no perfect number or better number. You can’t change the number that you are. To quote the wise professor Jake: “You learn these things so that you can be the best version of your number as you can be; for yourself and for those around you.”
Thank you “Sir Jake” as always.