The Enneagram …
I’ve been a student of the enneagram, which is a personality typing system, for many years. I use it to better understand my own and others’ behavior. Most of all, knowledge of the enneagram provides excellent help in creating the characters in my novels.
Briefly, the enneagram sorts personality into nine basic styles. (And I do need to write posts about them!) There are three variations within each style, known as Instinctual Subtypes, for a total of 27 personality style variations. You can read about the enneagram subtypes in my posts, links below.
First, some very general information about the Enneagram.
Each of the nine types has good traits, bad traits, and downright ugly traits. Each type also has a potential for greatness. Each has a particular gift that your type best bestows upon the world.
While you might be thinking you should understand your style to become a better example of it, that’s not the only reason we study the Enneagram. Because we all have all nine styles within us.
In stressful situations, we fall back on our dominant style. You probably know that a definition of insanity is trying to solve a problem the same way, time after time, and getting the same result? That’s what we all do. We use habitual reaction patterns and get the same results. It’s a recipe for self-defeat.
Self-awareness can be gained through intense scrutiny of our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. It gives us a baseline for change. If we thoroughly understand other Enneagram styles as well as our own, when another style’s behavior in a given situation is better than our habitual responses, we can choose that instead. That’s known as character growth.
Even if we never try on other styles’ behaviors (to our own lack of growth), an understanding of all the styles will help us see where others are coming from.
For help in understanding yourself, others, and characters in in a novel, you couldn’t find a better system to study.
If you want to begin studying the Enneagram, you should first determine your type. There are many websites devoted to the Enneagram. For excellent information, as well as taking an online test, my favorite is the Enneagram Institute.
There are also many other great sources of information:
Once you have an overall understanding of each of the types, you can start studying the 27 enneagram subtypes
We all have three centers of intelligence. There is the mental center, which includes our ideas, plans, thoughts. There is the emotional center, where our feelings come from. There is the body center, from which come the three primary instinctual drives.
The drives are known as Self-Preservation, Social, and Intimate (otherwise known as One-to-One or Sexual in Enneagram literature).
We each have a distinct preference for one of the drives, which influences how we express our overall type.
If the Self-Preservation instinct is our primary drive, then we focus on material security, which includes food, shelter, warmth and family.
If the Intimate (or otherwise known as One-to-One or Sexual) instinct is our primary drive, we seek to bond with one person or a few close friends. We may or may not be especially sexual, but people whose Intimate instinct is primary tend to be more energetic overall than people whose other instinctual drives are primary.
If the Social instinct is our primary drive, we feel the need to belong and to be members of groups that extend beyond family into the community.
For the sake of the A-Z blogging challenge, for which I first wrote these posts, I named each of the 27 subtypes with a different letter of the alphabet. If you read about the subtypes elsewhere, you will run across different names in many, if not most, cases. So I also included the overall enneagram style and the particular subtype within the style, at the beginning of each post.
Here are the links to the posts on the 27 enneagram subtypes