I find personality tools to be fascinating. Ways to learn more about myself and other people from different perspectives. I recently took a workshop on the Enneagram. If you want to get straight to the heart of how you’re wired, dip your toe into this tool. I sat in a cramped room, snacking my way through a fire hose of information for four hours. Literally, an immense amount of information. Enough to scare away someone who hadn’t read about it ahead of time. Thankfully, I had.
In a nutshell, the Enneagram is a framework to give us tools to shed the masks we wear by discerning what is true and original from the false ways we’ve adapted so that our original essence can emerge. Strip off the masks and get back to the true self God made you to be.
What’s hard for some is seeing the ways they’ve adapted to survive the world around them. You must be willing to see that, even in an idyllic childhood, each of us had to cope with something. You may not have had a tragic childhood, or maybe you did, but you had unmet mental and emotional needs that resulted in the development of coping mechanisms. The coping mechanisms are what evolve into our adult personalities.
Over the last few years, I’ve spent endless hours reading, learning, to understand myself and my wiring. It’s not purely for the sport of it though. Nor is it to look back at childhood or earlier life experiences and criticize them or use them as an excuse. It’s simply to understand so that I can make informed, different decisions in my life. The Enneagram is one of the tools to do that. Where people make a mistake is believing it, or any other tool, is the end all be all. We are not one dimensional. God didn’t make us that way. He is not one dimensional and we’re made in his image. There’s more to each of us than meets the eye.
That said, the Enneagram explained what I already knew about myself. I desire harmony, to live in peace. Doesn’t everyone? It comes from a false belief that I’m only ok if everyone around me is ok. Consciously, I know that’s not true, but I also know I’ve constructed much of my life around that idea. My chosen career in human resources allows me to resolve conflict at work, keep the peace. I became a coach to help others resolve inner conflicts. I’ve done it in my life, I mediated my kid’s arguments because it was too stressful to have the tension. But I’ve also avoided conversations for the sake of keeping the peace.
There’s a quote I’ll butcher…”once you’ve seen, you cannot un-see…” that I believe reflects my thoughts about the Enneagram and other tools to understand people, me included. It put words to what I already knew about myself, consciously or unconsciously. I think this mid-life journey is about doing something with the wisdom and discernment I’ve gained with those tools. To ignore that knowledge and be asleep to my life isn’t who God made me to be.
And that life might be uncomfortable. It’s requires letting go of the coping mechanisms I’ve used in order to have true peace, harmony and love. To assert my own beliefs, needs and desires even when they might cause tension. Trusting that the peace I desire comes from God and there’s room for me to be myself in His vision of my life. It’s getting back to my authentic self, not someone different, simply the me that’s been in there the whole time. Is it a bold move? Maybe. But that’s the journey I’m on.