Those of you who know me probably also know about my deep love and extensive knowledge of all things enneagram. If you have not heard of the enneagram, it is a personality test that types you as a number 1-9 based on your core motivations, desires, and weaknesses. This week I want to take the time to debunk what I have noticed to be the top 5 myths of the enneagram, because to be honest….the meme accounts are NOT all knowing.
1) The Test Knows All
First myth on the chopping block is the idea that what type you test as HAS to be your enneagram. However, the test is not always most accurate. Some tests are shorter and not as thorough, sometimes we answer questions a little dishonestly, and sometimes there can be multiple types that we score high for. While the test is one of the greatest tools we have for enneagram typing, at the end of the day you really need to read up on each of them and see which you most strongly self-identify with. Use the test to guide you and be honest with yourself, but if the type you test as doesn’t feel like “you” it might just be because it’s not.
2) Your Wings Don’t Have to be Adjacent
Okay, I have to be honest with y’all. I am so tired of hearing girls (guys, if you do this I am also tired of you) talking about “oh yeah, I’m a 4 wing 7!” No, you’re not, I’m sorry.
Just to explain what wings are, your wing can only be whatever numbers are adjacent to your main type. For example: a 6 can either be a 6 wing 5 (6w5) or a 6 wing 7 (6w7). Some people think of wings as “secondary types” or like your second “closest” type. In actuality though, wings are really types you pull from that support your main type. So, it’s more like your main type is the “why” you do what you do and your wing can show behaviors and things that explain “how” you get your “why.” For example, 3s like to be the best and achieve while 4s desire to be seen as special. So, my friend who is a 4w3 also likes to be the best, BUT she likes to be the best because it makes her special. Anyway, your wings are your wings because they are on either side of you and support your main type and they can’t just be any number you want.
3) Your Enneagram Type Determines Your Behavior
The cute enneagram memes and graphics on Instagram accounts might lead you to believe that your enneagram type also determines your behaviors and even aesthetic, but it doesn’t. While it’s true that some types can lean more towards certain aesthetics/behaviors (like type 4s prefer a more unique style, 8s will be more outwardly aggressive, etc.), it is not true that enneagram guarantees any of these things. In truth, enneagram determines your motivations and core desires and weaknesses like we mentioned earlier, this can be leading towards certain behaviors and aesthetics, but none of that is set in stone. So, if you strongly identify with a 9, but think you’re too outgoing or you don’t enjoy wearing lounge-wear all the time (I don’t know why that’s a common thought?) you can still be a 9 and it’s okay if you don’t identify with all the Instagram account graphics.
4) You Have to Stay Within the Box of Your Enneagram Type
Hand in hand with the previous myth we just debunked is the myth that we are bound to the parameters of our enneagram.
While enneagram is great at lending language that brings us to better self-awareness and understanding of others, no personality test is going to be perfect. We as human beings and God’s creation are each too unique and complex to be identified into 1 of 9 categories. That being said, enneagram is not an excuse for all of your worst habits. It’s not something you hide behind as a reason to not do things outside of your comfort zone. Enneagram is not an obstacle that keeps you from things you might really end up loving and being passionate about. Never feel like your enneagram type keeps you from being a better, more daring version of yourself. Instead, let’s appreciate the enneagram for letting us learn more about ourselves and others, but keep our minds open to the full complexity of humankind.
5) It’s Always Bad When You Move Towards Your “Stress Type”
Another misconception about the enneagram is that the type you go towards during times of stress is automatically bad and shows unhealthy behavior.
This also isn’t true! Each type has 2 other numbers it pulls from during times of “stress” or “growth” and both are entirely necessary for a healthy, coping person! For example, type 2s, like myself, move toward an 8 in times of stress. This is good and necessary for 2s who may have trouble creating healthy boundaries or asserting their needs, pulling from their inner 8 can be such a good coping skill. These reasons are why I prefer to use the terms “disintegration” and “integration” instead.
There are many, many other things I could say about the enneagram and other myths and stereotypes to debunk (maybe another time), but mostly what I want you to leave this blog knowing is that enneagram is meant to be a tool of understanding, not the ruler you use to measure yourself with. The enneagram cannot contain you and it is not the end-all be-all of your identity. So enjoy it and utilize it! But by no means should we ever live by it. Let your identity rest in the one who died for you and who loves you like no other. Let the enneagram be the way we become more aware of ourselves and more compassionate towards others who are different from us.
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Brianna Little- Communications