WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER?
This question has been asked for years now by a creepy guy at a bar, a cute girl in a coffee shop, or even that obnoxious coworker who won’t leave you alone.
But the subject of this ubiquitous question has changed dramatically within the past few years. Now it’s about deducing your personality all the way down to a single number.
The enneagram was almost unheard of two years ago. Sure, some people had written books about this new personality test, others had devoted their lives to the research of it, but not much of the general population was familiar with it until last year.
Oscar Ichazo, the primary researcher associated with the enneagram, searched all his life for methods in which people could self-identify with certain personality traits and find out their ‘number’. He studied personalities from many different points of view, starting from a psychology base and moving to spirituality, and even integrating genetics. In his studies, the monk was able to make a symbol that connected certain personalities in an intricate way.
The result of his studies found nine different root personalities that were applicable to all people.
All this to say; move over astrology and make way for the enneagram.
The enneagram consists of nine different types. Each of these types is immensely complicated and unique. There are different motivators, fears, objectives, stresses, and so on for all of them. Learning your type seems to be a way for you to earn a layer of understanding with people. You say you’re an Eight and all the sudden, people who are familiar with the enneagram seem to understand you completely and see where you’re coming from and why you do everything you can do. And while the enneagram is a valuable tool, it’s not an excuse to pretend you know the inner depths of someone’s soul just because they uttered a single number.
In The Road Back to You, an inspiring and educational book about the enneagram, the author Ian Cron says, “What’s important for us to learn as we study the enneagram is that we can’t change the way we see, but only what we do with what we see.” He suggests that we learn about the enneagram all we can, but only to see a little more of what people are about, not fit them into a box defined by a number that they have chosen, sometimes wrongly.
All this being said, I do love the enneagram and it has helped me with everything from my mental health to my relationships with others. So let me start to explain these unique and wonderful nine types.
1- The Reformer
This type is also known as the perfectionist. People who identify as Ones will strive to be right and to make everything in their life ideal. Their goal for perfectionism may come out as harsh or judgemental, but improvement is their way of showing love. Often, they will not understand or see the impossible standards by which they are holding people in their lives to and become confused when others are offended by their ‘help’. Many people will first think of the clean freaks as Ones, but Ones often will put their perfectionism, time, and devotion into other sections of their life like being the most out together in the office, the best soccer mom, the impeccable baker. You name it, they want to excel in it. In order for Ones to improve, Ian Cron suggests they could simply “work on being less helpful” and thus, alleviate some of the stress for themselves and others around them.
2- The Helper
The Two is the selfless and loving number. This type most people aspire to be when they first hear about the enneagram due to the almost loving kindness that is attributed to the Twos. But people who are enneagram Twos can love others to death, often not caring for themselves and creating harmful environments in the process. The Twos will unknowingly love in order to see their love reflected back onto them so they might feel the love they so often give to others. They want to be a blessing, but even though they might not admit it to themselves, they want blessings in return. Twos can get trapped into thinking that they have to be needed before they can have love. How can we help them? Maybe simply by returning favors, being more conscientious of the amount of love you give versus what you receive, and if you are a two, maybe by asking for a return of love too.
3- The Achiever.
The enneagram Threes of this World can often be in the form of the CEO’s and valedictorians in the world. Threes are driven, accomplished, and often proud of their accomplishments. But their pride is paired with a constant self-assessment on whether they are doing enough. Threes can also often muddle success and love together, seeing no difference between the two of them. As a result, they value their actions over themselves. In order to avoid and protect themselves from harm, Threes will often devote themselves fully to their work. The difference between Threes and Ones are Threes succeed to feel loved, Ones seek perfection as a form of love. We can help our Threes by not just noticing and praising them for what they do, but who they are apart from their accomplishments.
4- The Individualist
Type fours are the romantics and dramatists of the enneagram. Often the type is found in the art profession. They are often called over-dramatic due to their constant focus on their feelings. They do see others as less dramatic and emotional, and they actually envy the normalcy and comfort the other types have with just ‘being’. A Four will often be the one people go to when they need someone to cry to or with. Fours are often melancholy and deeply in touch with their emotions.Fours need help from their loved ones to see the positive side of life as much as they are familiar with the negative.
5- The Investigator.
These are the researching introverts of the enneagram. The type fives of this world will go to great lengths to learn all they can about specific subjects and they can often detach themselves from the world in order to fully devote all they can to their findings. They work so hard to familiarize themselves with every subject because they have a hard time when faced with a situation that they feel ill-prepared for. Fives are one of the most self sufficient numbers because they are so worried that they will not be enough or that they will not fit in. They are also the most withdrawn numbers. We can love the Fives by allowing them to flex their knowledge, but also letting them know that they are safe not to know. Also, maybe buying them a good non fiction book or two.
6- The Loyalist.
The person who identifies as a Six is the one you want in your friend group. As their nickname suggests, these are the most loyal of the enneagram numbers with the desire to maintain community and communion with those they love. Sixes are reliable, loving, and excellent problem solvers. More often than not, they are prepared for anything. However, often the type Six will live in fear and often will plan for the worst-case scenario. They do that so often that they are shocked when they realize that they might be the most fearful of any group. You love a Six by calming and reassuring them. Sixes, trust that the people around you will keep you safe and secure.
7- The Enthusiast.
This type is the adventurer. They never lack energy or turn down a crazy idea. Their spirit is constantly seeking something new and they want to find satisfaction and contentment in all they do. These are the people who love the countdown to Christmas more than Christmas morning. They are so filled with anticipation, but too often, reality falls short of the fantasy which they have created in their heads. Because of their obsession with the future, they often will have difficulty remaining present and appreciating life as it is.Their main objective is to avoid fear, deprivation, and pain. You can love the Seven by celebrating with them, but also calling them to be present in the moment which they are in. Sevens, see the good in every situation, not just the next fun thing.
8- The Challenger.
Often considered the harshest or meanest section in the enneagram, Eights are the ones you want in your corner rather than opposing you. Eights are strong in themselves and their beliefs, often not backing down from a fight or an argument. They present their tough exterior because they fear being seen as weak or vulnerable to others. Eights will fight to the death to defend their friends, usually those in the heart triad (2, 3, and 4) and seek justice in any and all situations. If you have an Eight in your life, lucky you! Love them by seeing just how often they fight for you and also telling them when they don’t need to fight. Eights, take a lesson from your more emotional friends and know that courage isn’t about being tough all the time, but being able to admit to when you’re not.
9- The Peacemaker.
This type longs for peace and attempts to make everyone around them get along at the expense of their own well being. While Nines and Twos are often very similar, their core motivation for helping people is different. The Twos to receive love back and the Nines to distract them from their tasks. Often quiet and low-key, Nines will do all they can to avoid conflict- with themselves or others around them. Nines can favor a passive aggressive and stubborn look on life when they are trying to avoid conflict. Nines often want to be the ‘good’ ones in the group, so make sure that they feel valued and seen as such. Also, love them by not putting burdens on them- they strive to have a burden free life, so help them in that. Nines, you are not the saviors of the world, so take that stress off of you!
Now that you know the basics of the types, you can start to evaluate yourself. Today, as the enneagram has increased in popularity, there is no shortage of tests and information which you can look up in order to know your type. Instagram is overflowing with accounts that create artwork, entertainment, or even assurance for all of the personalities. You can read books about how to interact with different types and the ways in which to love people who you might not understand.
The enneagram can be such a helpful tool to understand yourself and others around you. We can constantly check our behaviors and see if they are gravitating towards our stressors or staying the same. We can better understand why we act the way that we do. And we can connect with people who we barely know.
And all of this information comes by asking the age old question, “what’s your number”.
Follow on Instagram: @markey_battle