Sense of Purpose 11-6-2016
Cincinnati, OH at a 3-day Enneagram Intensive Training Program
At the risk of providing a very incomplete and somewhat inaccurate description of the Enneagram system, I am sharing my early understanding of this complex pathway to higher consciousness. There are many books and websites available to learn more. I like sharing what I am learning as I go along because I can integrate it more easily.
The Enneagram is a psychological-spiritual personality type system with the following premise: we are born into life completely open and receptive. We must, by the demands of reality, build a protective shell around our core life force in order to survive. The Enneagram system identifies 9 unique, yet interconnected personality types for this filtering and protective function, along with three subtypes, which constitute 27 specific ways in which humans have built personality types to defend against pain.
The overall strategy of the Enneagram system is for both personal growth and improved relationships with others. Through an understanding of the system, observing the patterns, and practicing conscious choices in how we respond to stimulus, we can begin to loosen the habitual thoughts, feelings, and actions that our personality type plays. The neuroplasticity of our brains allows us to rewire our programming and move into a new 2.0 version.
With practice over time, support from others, and the discipline of observation, we can begin to learn that we will not die if we do not engage our protective shell each and every time we are about to feel pain. We can learn into the pain, notice it, and relax into what is next. One of the facilitator shared with us that “feelings are not an emergency.” Underneath the protective shell is immense life force. While expressing patterns are exhausting, expressing life force is not.
The system is intricate, in-depth, and revealing. I am a number six personality, which means in general, I am habitually seeking protection from sources outside of myself. I have a tendency to doubt my decisions and look outward for affirmation that I am on the right track and that things will turn out OK. I fear chaos. I tend to mistrust my own intuitions. Knowing how this personality type functions, and learning from thousands of others who identify with the type is immensely helpful. Given my personality type, turning inward and learning that true security comes from the inside out helps to loosen up the patterns and create new neural pathways to a richer, fuller life.
When I am stressed out, I lean into the 3 personality and turn on the Performer in me that is seeking attention from others by, in my case, performing as a speaker, musician, writer, artist, funny guy, etc. The qualities of the 3 are potentially fun and satisfying, especially if I disentangle the compulsion for attention from the motivation. When I perform for the sheer joy of channeling creativity and putting a gift out of my talents out into the Universe, then I am tapping into the higher frequencies associated with the 3 personality.
I can also move easily to the 9 personality known as the Mediator. Part of what has been borne out of this personality in my life is Circles. I have a large social driver within me and the 9 encourages the convening of people from diverse backgrounds to accomplish a mutual goal like ending poverty.
As a 6 personality, I have “wings” that I use as well—a strong 7 and more moderate 5. The 5 is the student in me that wants to keep learning how to end poverty, as well as compose music, draw, photograph, study history, and keep learning how to become more conscious. It is the 5 in me that wants regular solitude without interruption.
The 7 wing is stronger yet in me. It calls me to explore every possibility each and every day. I want freedom, adventure, and new experiences. One of my favorite questions is “what’s next?” I rebel against limits and often find myself exhausted from stirring up too many options. It’s hard to say “No” to life.
There are also three subtypes described as legs to the stool that we put our personality type on each day. They are “one-on-one”, “self-protection”, and “social”. Again, understanding the primary subtype that we use is invaluable because we are then free to give ourselves these preferences more consciously, or contradict them by developing the strengths of another subtype as we wish. I identify with the one on one which means I tend to lock into connection with people one at a time and am less concerned with how the overall group is doing (social) or my comfort and survival needs (self protection). Although, I did learn we tend to have two of three active and I do have a strong second place subtype preference social drive, which again accounts for the development of Circles.
We each have some qualities of each of the nine personality types swimming around within us. The Enneagram system provides a framework and tools to fine tune our awareness to see the bundle of patterns we use most often to filter the information that is coming into our being in every moment.
I have always resonated with the purpose of becoming more conscious in order to experience a deeper, more satisfying life. The Enneagram appears to be an effective pathway to liberate oneself from the tyranny of habitual patterns that ultimately numbs us out. Fortunately, our true essence is like grass struggling to grow through the cracks of a concrete sidewalk. Deep down we want to live a full life. That feeling that life could be better is the blade of life force that insists on finding the sun.