Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Enneagram: "The worst thing is to be morally corrupt."

Last night at my leadership meeting, we discussed the Enneagram. For those who don't know, the Enneagram is a tool for exploring one's personality, motives, drives, needs, values, "shadows," etc. I've seen it mainly used in religious and spiritual groups, but it was developed by psychiatrists. The supposed Eastern origins of it are unconfirmed. According to the Enneagram, everyone is one of nine basic personality types. Everyone is a little bit of everything, but one type will emerge as dominant, and it's innate. It's your own way of being in the world.

In college, some friends of mine were learning about the Enneagram. I read bits of one of their books and took the survey in the back. Based on that inventory, I typed as a 3, aka "the achiever." I read a little of "the achiever as a child" and the another blurb in the book about 3's, and it sounded like me: hard-working, leader, well-liked by teachers and parents, efficient, gets the job done.

Last night, the presenter went into more depth (as much as is possible in a 90 minute presentation). She also focused a great deal on each type's motivations. Knowing a type's motivations can help one determine which type she is, especially if she can't figure out which type of two she is. Prior to all this, we took an inventory for our Enneagram type, but the email didn't tell us how to score it.

The first signal that I may not know myself as well as I think was when she discussed the 3 big categories of the Enneagram. Again, there are 9 personality types, but they can be grouped into heart, head and gut orientations. She gave us a worksheet where we had to check off whether we thought we were a head, heart or gut person followed by nine words. We had to choose the word we thought suited us. I checked off "head" and "good." The other two words I considered were "wise" and "productive." I don't think I'm wise or productive enough to check off one as those as my defining word. Also, I have always thought of myself as a "head" person. Maybe gut was my number 2, but heart was definitely not how I function.

However, when the presenter said that the "gut" people enter new situations and basically act like, "Here I am. Deal with me," that struck a chord.

She then started going into personality types. Enneagram type 1 is "the Reformer" or "The Perfectionist." Reformers value goodness and avoid anger because to them, anger is not good. They want to live life the "right" way. Hey, that sounded familiar. Then she said they value wholeness (me too...). They don't want to be wrong (neither do I...). Then she said that to a one, the worst thing is to be "morally corrupt."


Then she said that ones are big on repression and suppression in order to better themselves (yes...) and when those pesky emotions/instincts act up, they do something that's the exact opposite to fight it. For example, when they get really angry, they actually get really polite and nice toward the person that angered them (guilty, though I think my anger is becoming more obvious). Ones under-express their drives. And the presenter mentioned that when they, in particular, feel their sexual desires arise, they act the exact opposite: puritanical.

What's my blog's name again? I wanted to crawl under my chair and hide. Did she just sneak into my brain?

She did mention positives about ones, though. They always strive to be better, they are witnesses to the truth, they can be very wise, very hard-working, get things done early (that's usually true for me). I guess because I just might be the perfectionist One, I'm focusing mainly on my issues, my shadows. :-P

By the way, ones are a "gut." I thought that I couldn't possibly be a one, then. I'm so cerebral! I'm such a thinking, reflective person. Therefore, I resemble the Enneagram 5 type, "the Thinker," too. I thought, "I better reflect further on this and look deeper into the Enneagram so that I don't think that I'm the wrong type...wait a minute..." "Guts" are about holding their ground as they interact with the outer and inner world. Guts need reflection with action. To reflect and think endlessly without action (like the 5's do), is a waste of time to them. Ones have deeply held opinions or beliefs that "feel" right, and then they rationalize it.

That's actually how I make a lot of big decisions. I narrow down the choices to the ones that fit my specified criteria, and then I go with the one that feels right instantly. Isn't that what everyone does though?...Maybe not. I am very practical and don't take much interest in ideas or theories that don't have a practical application.

The presenter also said that another clue to your type is to see which of the "shadows" bug you the most. If there's a shadow you really don't want to deal with, that's probably your type. Later, I went online and looked at the description of extreme, unhealthy Ones: judgmental, self-righteous, intolerant, inflexible, dogmatic, absolute. Well, in two of my former crushes, the biggest turn-offs for me were that they were snobby and self-righteous. You couldn't be radical enough or Christian enough or whatever enough for them, and of course, they were the gold standard. Actually, all of those qualities of unhealthy ones sound horrible! I could not possibly be in a romantic relationship with someone like that!

Wait a minute, the extremes of the unhealthy One are my biggest turn-offs? Hmm...

By the way, that original inventory she emailed to us prior? I typed as a One (Three and Five were tied for second place).

So I think I'm a One. I know, essentially it's a personality test, and you shouldn't let it box you in. It's a tool. It's a tool to help gain a better understanding of yourself, and can give you tools to bring out the best in you, help you live more authentically and overcome your shadows. Of course, I've been thinking about how the shadows of my One personality might be keeping me from being more successful in dating.

Being a "reformer" or "perfectionist" isn't all negative. There's nothing wrong with striving to be better, to improving oneself and wanting to help others improve themselves. Though it sounds limiting, it's rather secure to think, "I'm a perfectionist. That's just the way I am. I can't change it, but I don't need to change it." I just have to get to that "healthy perfectionist" place and stay there.

So the task is figuring out how to use my strengths to be more successful in romance!

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