How I discovered my type
I love this quote by Anais Nin, and I find it to be such a beautiful description of self-discovery, which is what the Enneagram is all about. The journey towards blossoming doesn’t start until you’ve arrived at your core type, however; there is also value in the actual process of discovering your type. It actually took me quite a few years to come home to my type, which gave me the opportunity to “try on” a few other types.
In 2009 as part of the Journey Practitioner program I went to a weeklong training event outside of Denver, CO, called the No Ego retreat. This is where I was first introduced to the Enneagram and I was instantly very intrigued by it. I was amazed by how much I recognized friends and family in certain type descriptions and I found it so interesting to learn about the motivations that drive our different behaviours.
Right away, I was drawn to the description of type Four, the Individualist or Romantic. It blew my mind to read what sounded so close to my own inner experience. I also felt embarrassed to the point of nausea reading about many of my typical behaviors. So as much as I recognized myself in the description, there was also a part go me that didn’t want the Four to be my type.
A few days later, before I left the retreat I had allowed myself to be convinced that my type wasn’t Four after all. I listened to other people who knew the system more and who told me I didn’t seem very fourish to them. In their opinions, I wasn’t dramatic enough and I was way too agreeable and gentle to be a Four. My reserved and soft personality was more typical of a type Nine, which made sense to me as well. I could certainly relate a lot with the urge to withdraw to my own cozy space and the instinct to be more of a wallflower. So I dismissed my own inner knowing and went home believing my dominant type was Nine, the Peacemaker.
I can’t remember exactly how long I explored the Nine domain, but I know it never felt completely right. I read a lot of Enneagram books and kept coming back to type Four. Then someone suggested that I should look into type Six instead. Once again, this was someone I figured had more expertise than me and hence would know better. The Loyalist was the type I had the least grasp of, but as I studied my books and learned more about the Six I could definitely find things I related to in this type as well. Interestingly, as I thought I was a Six I began to feel more fearful and doubtful than I had experienced being before.
It wasn’t until I went to the Enneagram Institute’s Part 1 training (also in Colorado) in 2015 that I finally knew for sure, without a single doubt, that my dominant type was after all type Four. This time no one tried to tell me what they thought I was. On the contrary, participants were invited to try on several types if we needed to when it was time to explore our types in panels. This is also where I was introduced to the instincts (sometimes called subtypes) and when I learned about the Self-preservation Four everything made sense to me. Reading Beatrice Chestnut’s description was like reading a page from my own diary.
Finally arriving at my core type truly felt like coming home. I found so much comfort in knowing that I wasn’t alone in my insecurities, my longing and my dreams. Moreover, it was actually freeing to realize that many of my thoughts and feelings followed a pattern typical to my personality type and that they weren’t necessarily true. I could clearly see the bud I had mistaken for being all I could ever be.
I don’t hold anything against anyone who told me what type they figured I was. It was me who allowed their opinions to be more important than my own instincts. I also don’t think there was any harm in taking so long to find my type. In “trying on” other numbers I gained more understanding for those types as well as the Enneagram as a whole. It is also important to note that we all have parts of all types in us.The most important thing I learned from my experience was to be cautious about telling other people what type I think they are. Even if I have a very good idea, no one else knows YOU as well as you do. I know the Enneagram system very well and I can guide you in your exploration and shine a light on your path, but ultimately only you can determine where your home is.
There are several tests online that give more or less accurate results. Even the most comprehensive test can be misleading though. It all depends on how honestly the questions are answered and where you find yourself in life when taking the test. Are your answers reflecting what you think you should say, what you wish was the truth, or what you’re experiencing in the moment due to a stressful situation?
Discovering your type is only a first step on a life-long evolving journey. Once you have landed on your core type, the adventure begins! It’s like you’ve located where you are on a map. From here you can gain a more clear understanding for how you ended up where you are, get a better scope of your surroundings and begin to detect your individual path ahead. This is the real purpose of the Enneagram, to help us uncover the traps that keep us stuck and prevent us from living fully and freely as our True Self and use our unique gifts for the greater good.
Having arrived at my core type I continued to read, reflect and get to know myself more intimately. Looking back at my life I could recognize times when I had disintegrated to my stress-point at Two and become very codependent. I could also see more clearly times when my type One Soul Child (or Shadow) took over my behavior and I became harshly judgmental. In addition, having learned my instinctual stack shed so much more light on my life.
A few things my type helped me understand about myself;
I’m still continuing to go deeper and learn more, which is what I love about the Enneagram. It is such a profound body of wisdom and such an amazing tool for developing a new relationship with others and yourself based upon compassion. It recognizes the complexity of us humans and supports our ups and downs in life.
Yes, life still gets stressful sometimes and I still get caught up in my old patterns, but they are no longer in charge of me. Now that I’m more aware, instead of running on autopilot, I’m often able to catch myself in the act, pause and be curious. My new habit is to ask myself what’s really going on, what was the trigger and the motivation behind my behavior? What do I need to let go of, or soften around? Once I’m able to reconnect with my true core, my thoughts and feelings naturally become more expansive and my actions are more compassionate, both towards myself and others.
The last couple of years I’ve gotten to know my Inner Critic better. That voice inside my head, that sounds like me, but mostly puts me down. I have learned that her efforts to hold me back and keep me small are her ways of trying to keep me safe. I still confuse her thoughts for my own, and in a way of course they are my own, but I have gotten so much better at discerning which thoughts to believe. I have found that the simplest and most efficient way to tell a lie in my head from truth is to pay attention to the sensations my thoughts cause in my body. For me, when I’m believing a lie like “I don’t measure up” or “I should be different”, I feel pressure on my chest and my breath gets shallow. When I truly take in what is true on the other hand; that I am good enough and I have what it takes, my chest feels open and I’m able to breath deeply. You might experience different sensations. A great place to start is to notice whether a sensation feels constrictive or expansive.
Not only does the Enneagram help us recognize our limiting patterns and beliefs, it also shows us our greatest potential and how to reach it. Each type has it’s own inherent gifts and strengths. When you discover your type, your inherent gifts and strengths will most likely not come as a surprise to you. In my experience however, I didn’t see some of my great qualities as anything special, and sometimes I even saw them as weaknesses. Growing with the Enneagram and finding more compassion for myself has helped me appreciate and celebrate my gifts.
Thanks to the Enneagram I now also know;
More self awareness enhances our emotional intelligence and helps us develop a more intimate relationship with ourselves as well as improves our ability to see other people and situations as they are rather than as we perceives them based on our projections.
My passion for self-discovery and personal growth led me to explore several other modalities following the Journey Practitioner program and I eventually got certified as a Professional Life Coach in 2011. I believe coaching needs to be tailored to each individual, there’s no one size fit all formula to success. For that reason, I really wanted to use the Enneagram with my clients, but I didn’t know how and most of all I lacked in confidence.
When I learned about the Deep Coaching Institute and their Enneagram training for coaches I felt like I had stumbled on exactly what I had been looking for, but didn’t previously think existed. The Deep Coaching Institute teaches a powerful presence based coaching method using the ancient wisdom of the Enneagram, and this program turned out to be so much more than I expected! Not only did I learn amazing new coaching skills and gain a much deeper understanding of the Enneagram, it also taught me how to access my confidence, and most importantly it led me to discovering my WHY!
I’m so grateful that the Enneagram came into my life. With this profoundly wise system as my navigating travel companion I will always keep growing and become a more liberated being. Discovering my type was just the beginning of a lifelong journey.
It has brought me home and lit a fire inside me. On days when I feel doubt or fear that fire might be less intense, but it doesn’t go out. The fire is fuelled by my WHY; to use this tool to help others remember the beauty inside them and fall in love with themselves so that we can all create a more loving world together.