Personal growth is a never-ending journey. The process is uncomfortable, painful, and sometimes even ugly. I just experienced all these feelings myself this past weekend. But I was also reminded by this quote that Jesus has gone through every painful feeling I’ve ever experienced and more. He’s right here with me to get me through.
I hope this quote will be an encouragement to you as well as we dig deeper into personal growth through the Enneagram.
Self-knowledge is tied with inner work, which is both demanding and painful. Change occurs amid birth pangs. It takes courage to walk such a path. Many avoid the path of self-knowledge because they are afraid of being swallowed up in their own abysses. But Christians have confidence that Christ has lived through all the abysses of human life and that he goes with us when we dare to engage in such confrontation with ourselves.”
~ Andreas Ebert
The Enneagram is a comprehensive system with a complex model. Don’t get overwhelmed though! Here are a few concepts that I focused on to get started:
Dominant Personality Type
The word Enneagram means “nine-drawing”. The structure is simply nine points equidistant from each other on a circle. Each point represents one of the nine basic personality types.
If you read the descriptions for each type, you’ll probably find a little of yourself in all nine types. That’s because we are complex human beings. However, we are all born with one dominant type. This basic type influences the way we feel, think, and act. It determines how we learn to adapt to our environment growing up.
*As you learn more about your personality type, please remember each type has its unique capacities and limitations and that no one type is better than another.*
The Fluidity of Our Personality
Although we are born with a dominant type, our personalities are fluid. Take a look at the structure again and you’ll see 2 lines from each type connecting to 2 other personality types. One line connects to a type that represents how you behave under growth and the other represents how you behave under stress.
I never realized this until my husband asked me one day, after me reacting negatively towards something he said, “Why are you getting so mad and defensive right now? I’ve said the exact same thing before and gotten a positive response from you.”
That’s right, we can be presented with the exact same situation yet react differently under different conditions. For example, ones, when moving towards health and growth, will display positive tendencies of sevens. When under increased stress and pressure, ones will act out like an unhealthy four.
Levels of Development
To me, the most encouraging part of this system is the growth opportunity. There are nine levels within each type that indicates how conscious we are of the self-image we have subconsciously created in our past. They are divided into healthy levels, average levels, and unhealthy levels. The more we are aware of our self-created image, the more we can grow toward healthier levels.
One of my favorite resources, The Road Back to You by Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile, starts each chapter with a description of each type at healthy, average, and unhealthy levels.
In the next few weeks, we’ll go over each of the 9 personality types—their tendencies at their best and worst, their basic fear, as well as their key motivation. This will help you better understand either yourself or someone you want to love better.