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.