My Spiritual Director is an Enneagram type one, and in my sessions with him there seemed to be too many similarities between our stories to ignore. When I went to the Narrative Enneagram training in the summer of 2018, I stood out as the only type two who saw new relationships as more of a burden than a blessing. I began to understand that I am task focused rather than relationship focused in my work. And a student with a good Enneagram background who attended one of my courses questioned my type. She said I felt more like a six or a one.
But it was the typing interviews this last year that really gave me pause. As I began to feel how the different types manifest themselves in behavior and mannerisms, I realized there were many ways I did not look or act like a two. It was particularly telling when I watched the videos of myself giving the interviews. At one point I commented to my coach that I “moved like a one.” Finally, my coach expressed his own doubt about me being a type two, and I decided to give it more consideration.
My coach had also mentioned a six or a one. But, I didn’t consider type six. I don’t focus enough on information or fear. Type one, however, seemed like a possibility, so I opened my mind to it. And the confirmations rushed in like a flood. I saw how constant my inner-critic is in my life. Before I had thought that all that editing going on inside my head was just me. I saw how much anger I have, and how it is my defining characteristic in times of stress. And I saw how much I focus I put on what is not perfect, on fixing things, on not making mistakes, andon hiding the mistakes I do make. I decided a good litmus test was to switch my Enneagram type in the daily Enneathoughts and see if the type one messages connected more. They did, a lot more.
Applying the type one learning to my life has connected so much more than the type two learning ever did. Just being aware of my inner critic and anger and being able to choose a different path has been so freeing. With this new insight into myself, I feel even more convinced and excited about the helpfulness of the Enneagram.
So, why, I and others have asked, didn’t I see this before? Why did the Enneagram tests consistently type me as a two, and why did I score so low on type one? And, how can we trust the Enneagram if people are mistyped like this? The answer to these questions lies in the fact that the greatest strength of Enneagram teaching is not typing people, but helping people to become aware of the patterns and motivations at work within them. And, once people become aware of those patterns, providing a map toward healthy, transforming inner change.
As I see it, the Enneagram did it’s job by helping me and others to see what a standardized test couldn’t see. I was denying both my strengths and weaknesses as an Enneagram type one. Factors in my childhood, plus my tendency toward perceiving rather than judging (as defined by the Meyers Briggs Typology Indicator) would not let me recognize the anger and judging that was really going on inside me. I simply didn’t want to be a type one, and I had hidden it well from both myself and others. The Enneagram teaching brought me to a place where I was willing to go deeper in myself to see more of my truth and how it was affecting myself, my relationship with God, and my relationship with others.
I’m still getting used to the idea of being a type one. It is fun to see how many things in my past fall into place with this perspective. And I am looking forward to further learning and growing as I continue down the life’s path with the Enneagram teaching both to guide and to challenge me.