There is joy in the journey.

My husband and I just wrapped up an introductory class on the enneagram. The enneagram (which translates to nine in Greek) is a fascinating model of human personality taught as an interconnected sphere of personality types. Helen Palmer writes, “Each of the nine Enneagram personality profiles has a distinct, well-developed coping strategy for relating to self and others. . .Each of the nine types has its own precise path to psychological and spiritual freedom, the key being compassionate and guided self-observation.”


It was really interesting/ a little annoying at times to embark on this study with one’s spouse and it reminded me a little bit of medical school. As medical students, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. While learning about various diseases, it is a rare student who doesn’t start to think they are dying of one ailment or another. The internal monologue while a horrific and often deadly disease was being introduced often went something like this. Tired? Yes. Red eyes? YES. Skin spots? Um, YES! Do they mean freckles- because I have about a million of those? What if some of these are not freckles but those skin spots he is talking about? How will I be able to tell the difference? Male and have Papua New Guinea heritage? Yes, wait a moment. No. Phew. I guess I am going to live.


As we embarked on the enneagram, it was fascinating to figure out which of the nine types we had the tendencies of. It was uncanny to find a sketch of yourself that really hit home as a number in an enneagram book. As the weeks went on, I feel as if I did get to know myself better thru the enneagram and at home, we had some great discussions about it.


Yet just like in medical school, there can be definite pit falls for beginners. Jim and I were pretty quick to nod knowingly to the other and say things like, “you are being such a 9 right now.” Or, “that answer is screaming 2.” We found that while it is perfectly wonderful to explore your own type, when your spouse calls you out on it, there is a tendency to get a little ticked off. There is depth and wisdom within each of the enneagram types and we were skimming the surface- a rookie mistake I am sure.


 There is also the tendency to try and figure out the enneagram types of your children, your parents, your friends and beyond. In fact, the idea to write this blog post came as I opened my computer this morning; looked out the window and noticed a squirrel. This little gray squirrel was hopping from one tree branch to another in constant motion as the yellow leaves fell to the ground like rain. I found myself thinking (and sadly I am not joking), “I wonder what his enneagram number is. Wait can animals even have enneagram types? Why are you even thinking about this! You are losing your mind woman!”

Red squirrel

I will never know where that squirrel lands on the enneagram wheel because as I learned in class, the only one who can figure out your tendencies is you! Like becoming a physician, I think true and deep understanding of the enneagram takes time. People study it for years and in that way, a depth of understanding emerges. I look forward to further study. In the meantime, Jim and I have called a truce on pointing out our own tendencies. Instead we are enjoying trying to figure out our children. 🙂