The Enneagram Personality Test: What To Know And How To Use It To Your Advantage
Take out your pens, and open your hearts to start yet another process of self-discovery
You've probably seen a friend enthusiastically share their test results on their social media feeds or noticed its symbol floating around on the Internet like its the next big thing in New Age practices. But what is The Enneagram Personality Test, exactly?
It's a question that requires a multi-faceted answer, and if you're anything like us who've been wanting to learn more about the test, sit tight! We've got you covered. Here's your Enneagram 101 lesson, on us.
A bit of history
We can't fully appreciate the use of the Enneagram without first learning about its beginnings. But, as much as researchers have tried to pinpoint the exact beginning of the practice (i.e.: using the Enneagram for self-discovery, understanding others, and making sense of the world), they've been somewhat unsuccessful and attribute it to a number of ancient civilizations. Some believe its origins trace all the way back to the Babylonians (a civilization that existed more than 4,000 years ago), while others say the Greeks are to thank for its development. Yet another school of thought suggests that the more mystic approaches of Christianity and Islam are where it all began.
What researchers do agree on, however, is that the Enneagram served a more spiritual purpose in the past, but has mostly evolved to become a supplementary tool for those working in self-care.
A shift to modernity
But how does an ancient tool survive millennia, make its way to modern society, and retain its relevance in the 21st century? Well, we have Oscar Ichazo to thank for that, a spiritual practitioner from Bolivia who brought his knowledge of the Enneagram to the United States in the 50s. Come the 60s and 70s, when alternatives to Christian practice formed a big part of America's cultural transformation, the Enneagram's popularity shot up in mainstream society, and there it stayed.
Fast forward to today with when more and more people are discovering other expressions of faith and spirituality (and even interweaving practices and concepts from religion and other spiritual practices), the Enneagram looks like its enjoying another wave of popularity, but this time, of an international scale.
What you learn from the Enneagram Personality Test
Combining the words "personality" and "test" might convince you that the Enneagram is at par with the kinds of tools used by psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors, but it's not quite that. It's not valued for its scientific rigor and well-researched methods in describing personality (and shouldn't be used as a basis for a psychological profile of yourself), but that doesn't make it any less meaningful!
It's still able to reveal many useful things for those who take the time to understand their test results.
Composed of 36 items, the Ennegram Personality Test allows you to learn more about your strengths and weaknesses, (are you resourceful and energetic, or are you quick to be discouraged?), your general approach to the world (do you think all people are naturally good, or are you more cautious in giving your trust?), how you normally react to stress (do you withdraw from a situation, or do you prefer to confront a problem?), and perhaps most importantly, the best forms of self-care most suited to your personality (will tending to a garden recharge you, or is it better to go for a three-mile run?).
How it describes personality
According to the Enneagram Personality Test, all people fall into a total of nine major personality types, called core types.
From Type one to nine in order, they are:
- The Reformer
- The Helper
- The Achiever
- The Individualist
- The Investigator
- The Loyalist
- The Enthusiast
- The Challenger
- The Peacemaker
Take note that the numerical values assigned to each type don't signify that one type is "better" than other (for instance, being Type one: The Reformer does not mean that your personality is superior to that of a Type Five: The Investigator person). Each type is associated with a unique set of traits and tendencies (read more about them here).
It also doesn't mean that once you've been categorized as one type, you'll forever be boxed into just one type and can never grow or change as you move through life (more on this later).
Knowing which core type you are according to the Enneagram is simply discovering the backbone of your personality; this is the foundation of who you are and has the strongest influence in the areas mentioned above (your strengths and weaknesses, stress management and self-care styles, and so on).
The beauty of the flexibility of the Enneagram personality
Remember what we said about the Enneagram not boxing you into a fixed, rigid personality type for all your life? Here's what that means.
You'll need to look closely at the the symbol of the Enneagram itself:
Image from www.truity.com
Imagine that you're a Type nine: The Peacemaker. These people are thought to be agreeable, understanding, and easy-going, but on the flip side, complacent and evasive.
Notice how Type nine is sandwiched between Types one and eight: The Reformer and The Challenger. These don't actually represent "opposites" or "enemies" of your core type; on the contrary, these other types, called "wings," are potential types whose traits you can integrate in your personality as you mature and experience more of life's ups and downs.
Despite being a Peacemaker at heart, for example, you can become proactive about resolving issues, more assertive in standing up for what you believe in, or learn to take initiative more often.
Regressions and progressions
It doesn't end there; the Enneagram also attempts to explain how you've regressed, and in what ways you can still progress, based on its symbol alone.
Here's another example to illustrate that.
Image from www.truity.com
This time, imagine you're Type one: The Reformer.
To have become this type, the Enneagram suggests that you needed to repress certain motivations, desires, and impulses from childhood that you felt that didn't fit in with the kind of person you wanted to be in adulthood. The arrow that goes from Type seven: The Enthusiast to Type one symbolizes this process. (Some Enneagram practitioners also say that this regression happens when a person is faced with a stressful situation they're unable to effectively cope with. A person returns to a more immature version of themselves should a conflict they're unable to resolve arise).
On the other hand, the arrow going from Type one to Type four: The Individualist represents potential. This is what a person can become if they constantly try to learn more about themselves and engage in ways in which they can improve.
Do know that this is a rather basic presentation of everything the Enneagram is and does; there are nuances that need to be considered to be able to appreciate everything it offers for one's spirituality and well-being, which you can learn more about here.
There are also Enneagram-focused Instagram accounts you can follow that offer advice on day to day living depending on each personality type (not to mention their feeds are visual treats, too!). Their content often centers on practical tips for stress management, daily mantras, conflict resolution approaches, and even how to arrange a work from desk effectively.
So there you have it!
Take the Enneagram Personality Test tonight to begin this path of self-discovery!
Images from Pexels and Unsplash