Transcend your limits with the Enneagram

The Enneagram is a personality typing system. There are 9 types total and 27 subtypes. I have completed several different personality assessments over the years and the Enneagram has been by far the most helpful. I'm a 7 on the Enneagram. My wings (the 2 numbers on either side that balance me) would then be 6 and 8. When you are doing really well, you actually start to act like the best trait of a completely different number (integration). For me, that would be a 5. When you aren't doing so well (disintegration), you start to act like the worst parts of a completely different number. For me, that would be a 1. My husband is a 5 and I have friends of all different numbers.

So...how is any of this helpful? I don't know if I can even count the ways. I know better how to identify my red flags if I'm not doing so well. I have more grace for myself and others. I set more realistic expectations and know better how to use my strengths. I have clear indicators of when I am doing well and can start healthy patterns more easily. The list goes on. In my marriage, it has completely changed our communication style and expectations of one another.

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Take exercising and eating well. As a 7, I like enthusiasm but almost always need an out. I can be a fire starter but tending the flame can take effort. How is understanding this helpful? Diet and exercise plans must always be exciting and changing for me to stick to them. A repetitive eating plan with a militant workout regime will last approximately 20 minutes (less if you yell at me). My favorite exercise programs have been swimming, Orange Theory, yoga, rollerblading, biking and for a few months one time I ran. I think I got up to 3 miles before I got bored and chapped. If it hurts too much, I'm pretty much out.

Just like the color orange, there are MANY shades of an enneagram number. Here's my 7 reasons why Orange Theory Fitness works well for this shade of 7. This is NOT a paid advertisement (yet....wink wink, nudge nudge).

  1. Good energy, bright colors, encouraging atmosphere, bumping music (FUN).

  2. Requires you to book classes in advance and pay if you don't show up (Accountability, no outs).

  3. Group setting provides good energy but going alone kept me from getting bored during sit ups and talking to a buddy.

  4. Provides a workout summary with feedback (remember I go to the high side of 5 when integrating).

  5. Combines science of heart rate, HIIT and music with most scientifically motivating Beats Per Minute. This makes my 5 side nerd out so much that my 7 side isn't even noticing the burn in my quads.

  6. 3 different stations with different workouts every day (doesn't get boring quickly).

  7. It doesn't feel competitive. Hard to quantify this but no Globo gym vibes.

I used to really beat myself up over diet and exercise. Now I know that I need excitement, non-repetitive encouraging exercise with no outs. It's pointless to even try repetitive exercise or routines because they send me into a low side of 1 shame cycle and self abuse. Then as a 7, dive face first into a bowl of ice cream or bottle of wine (or both) to ease my pain. Simply knowing my personality type saves a lot of unnecessary time and energy wallowing.

This example is simply about exercise. Imagine how this tool can helped with work, spiritual growth, community involvement, love life...

It is hard to improve and be effective when you are constantly bumping into yourself. Knowing your unique shade of one of the 9 types can help you get past some major road blocks. It can help you live beyond yourself.

I think Enneagram expert Don Richard Riso sums it up quite nicely:

“The testimony of the greatest humans who have ever lived is that the way to make the most of ourselves is by transcending ourselves. We must learn to move beyond self-centeredness to make room within ourselves for others. When you transcend yourself, the fact will be confirmed by the quality of your life. We will attain – even if only momentarily – a transparency and a radiance of being which results from living both within and beyond yourself. This is the promise and the excitement of self-understanding.”

Do you know your type? Be sure to comment and let me know your favorite aspect of your number. Check out these resources if you want to know more and add your own if you have a resource you love!

Suzanna Styles