The Enneagram: A Tool to Understand and Embrace Your Authentic Self

live authentic, how the enneagram helps understand yourself, woman smiling

Okay, I am kind of obsessed with personality types. Does anyone else just lovvve discovering new tools to understand yourself and those around you better? The enneagram is kind of like a personality test, but with a spiritual spin. I want to share with you how to figure out your enneagram type + what to do once you know your type so that you can understand yourself better and embrace your whole, authentic self. I am not an expert by any means, I just love sharing how the enneagram has improved my life!

What is the Enneagram?

According to the Enneagram Institute, “At its core, the Enneagram helps us to see ourselves at a deeper, more objective level and can be of invaluable assistance on our path to self-knowledge.”

Personally, the enneagram has been a tool to help me feel like I understand myself + the people around me so much better. As I said before, I’m slightly obsessed. And one of my favorite things to learn about someone is which enneagram type they are.

I have convinced many of my family members, friends, and coworkers to figure out their enneagram type. Rule #1 is never telling someone what type you think they are! At least until they have decided for themselves, hehe. I experience an unusual amount of joy when I receive a text from someone saying, “Wait, I actually think I’m this type!” or “I made my partner take the test, and guess which one he is!” lol I just think it’s so FUN to talk to other people about our unique little quirks.

Helpful Tools to Discover Your Enneagram Type

I read a book called The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth. This book helped me in ways that the online tests + resources couldn’t. This book certainly has a spiritual angle, but you can always skip ahead to read the parts that resonate with you. Mistyping is common – I thought I was a Type Four for quite some time when really I’m a Type One. I discovered which type I actually am by reading this book.

Taking a test is one way to discover which type we are. But sometimes we answer questions in a way that isn’t quiteeee 100% honest, sometimes subconsciously. That’s why I think reading in depth about each type is the most accurate way to determine which one is truly you. There are tons of options, and you don’t have to read the particular book I mentioned.

A test is a good starting point though, so if you search “Enneagram Test” you’ll find some options. I have never paid for a test.

How the Enneagram Will Help You Understand Yourself

According to The Sacred Enneagram, the enneagram helps us understand:

  • Why we do what we do
  • What we were created for
  • How to bridge the gap between

The enneagram dives deep to the core of who we are as individuals and who we’ve always been. When someone is struggling between a couple different types, I ask which traits are most closely aligned with who you’ve always been. Think back as early in life as you can remember. Sure, we all grow and change as we get older, but there are certain tendencies that deep down are simply just there. Particularly when you don’t want them to be…

For me, it’s always been this obsession with being “good” and not making mistakes. I’ve become more comfortable with making mistakes as I get older. But when I’m being honest with myself, it’s something I’ve always struggled with.

I read somewhere that if you’re “happy” or “pleased with” your type, it’s probably not your type! Meaning, if you want so badly to be a seven, you’re probbbably not a seven. I used to think, oh cool, I’m a type four – even though there are some negative traits, I kind of like this one.

THEN, I read The Sacred Enneagram. As soon as I read the description for type one, I was like “well shoot, that’s me” lol. I didn’t want to be a type one! I didn’t want to look in the mirror and face the fact that yup, I can be overly critical, resentful, and perfectionistic – some of the trademarks of a type one. But there was no denying it after reading the in-depth description in the book (and after my husband, David, read it!).

I’m a type one through and through. So the best thing to do would be to accept it + start learning more about myself so I can bridge the gap between why I do what I do all the time (example: constantly trying to improve or “reform” things…they call type ones the “reformers”) and what I was created for (example: write about health + wellness in a way that empowers women!).

Pretty cool that the enneagram can help us understand ourselves like that, right?!

To add to it, the enneagram has helped me do these 5 things:

  1. Put into words the thoughts + feelings I haven’t quite been able to describe my entire life.
  2. Understand how some of my tendencies can come across negatively to the people that I love the most. Even if it’s unintentional.
  3. Call myself out when I’m not utilizing the strategies I’ve learned to step into the healthiest, most whole version of myself.
  4. Process intense emotions that I used to beat myself up over feeling.
  5. Embrace my entire self – my strengths, areas for growth, defense mechanisms, habits, quirks, and all.

Steps to Figuring Out Your Enneagram Type

Disclaimer: I am not an expert + have zero training in this. There are people who do this for a living and would probably be awesome to work with! This is just what I did to figure out my type.

  1. Read through an overview of each type. Here is a good resource to get you started: The Enneagram Institute
  2. Select the top 2-3 that sound most like you + write them down.
  3. Take a test, such as this one here at Truity. It takes ten minutes + is free!
  4. Compare your results to the 2-3 you selected after reading about the types.
  5. If you are still not 100% sure, do a deep dive into each of the types you are considering – remember, you can only be ONE type.

    However, most people have a wing, meaning the type to the right or left of your type. This wing acts like a sidekick to your primary type. For example, I am a Type One, Wing Two (1w2).

    There seems to be some discrepancy on whether or not people have two wings or just one. Of course, we all have a little of each of the nine types within us to some degree. Generally speaking though, most people have one dominant type and one wing.
  6. Now here’s the fun part. Recruit someone who knows you better than you know yourself sometimes, and ask them to help figure out what your type is. When I was debating between a couple types, my husband, best friend, and mom were all like UH YEAH YOU ARE A ONE, HONEY.
  7. If you are nerdin’ out like I do with this stuff, there are lots of podcasts + books on the enneagram that can further solidify which type you are.

    One day, I was listening to a podcast episode on how type ones can grow – kind of a nicer way of saying what a type one needs to work on…

    To give a little background, my husband at this point did not “believe in” the enneagram. He viewed personality tests as generalized traits found in a lot of people. But I was listening to this particular episode while I was in the shower one day. And he opened the bathroom door and said OKAY I BELIEVE THE ENNEAGRAM IS REAL NOW. He was so surprised by how well this podcast was describing my, shall we say, not so positive traits 😉

    So, if ya need just one more layer of verification, find some podcasts on the types you’re debating between or grab a book.

What To Do Once You Know Your Enneagram Type

  1. Figure out your Center of Intelligence –
    head or thinking,
    heart or feeling,
    gut or instinctive.

    Type Ones are gut or instinctive, so I generally take in life through my instincts. Honestly, all three centers kind of resonate with me, but I function best when I listen to my gut rather than my head or my heart.

    For years and years, I would get wrapped up in my thoughts + feelings. I felt paralyzed when I had to make a decision. I always had a little voice guiding me, but time + time again, I would shove that voice down. Later on, I wondered why I didn’t trust that little voice. Looking back, that was my gut or instinctive center guiding the way. Learning to embrace this part of myself and really tune into my intuition has been life-changing.
  2. Determine your Dominant Negative Emotion –

    This part of the enneagram has been pivotal in helping me understand myself better. When I found out that Type Ones’ dominant negative emotion is anger, I thought to myself, that can’t be me. I feel like shame and fear resonate more than anger.

    However, after learning more about how anger manifests in Type Ones, I realized this is one of those feelings I haven’t quite been able to put into words my entire life that I was describing earlier: I’ve often felt the need to control + repress any feelings of anger or instinctual energy, I feel like it’s so important to stay under control, and I’m super hard on myself. What I learned is that all of this is because I repress my anger.

    It’s hard for me to admit that I have anger, but it’s a human emotion that we all experience. Now that I know this about myself, I’m better about recognizing my frustration and finding ways to release it rather than shove it down deeper.
  3. Find out your Directions of Growth + Stress –

    If you feel like you really identified with a number on the enneagram that isn’t next to your type (in other words, isn’t one of your wings), this could be the type you “integrate” toward or “disintegrate” toward.

    For a while, I thought I was a Type Four. This is the type that Ones disintegrate toward or gravitate toward when experiencing stress + pressure. The type that I integrate toward or move toward when I am experiencing growth + health is a Type Seven.

    This is helpful because I can more easily recognize when I am moving in an unhealthy direction. And it also helps to become more conscious of how I can grow + bring balance into my life by focusing on the positive Type Seven traits.

    This is SUCH a cool component of the enneagram in my opinion! Knowing which number I move toward when I’m healthy helps me to be more intentional about creating experiences that allow me to be my whole + well-rounded self. For example, I tend to be perfectionistic, controlled, and self-critical, but I try my best to embrace my more spontaneous side. One of my goals is to focus on doing more of what I want to do as opposed to more of what I should do.

    Knowing this piece of the enneagram has been transformational for me. Whenever I feel myself tensing up or feel a sense of heaviness, I’m better at identifying it + asking, how can I tap into my Seven-ness right now?

Final Thoughts on how the Enneagram Helps Us Understand Ourselves

The enneagram is so complex that I could talk about a dozen other areas to dive into once you know your type. But the three areas I just outlined are really helping me understand why I do what I do + learn how I can embrace the fullest, most whole version of myself through the enneagram. So to recap, take a look at your type’s…

  1. Center of intelligence (head, heart, or gut)
  2. Dominant negative emotion (anger, shame, or fear)
  3. Directions of growth + stress (which two types do you move toward when you’re growing vs. when you’re stressed)

I’m going to leave you with a few notes from my journal that I jotted down while reading The Sacred Enneagram. I think they give a little glimpse into how the enneagram is helping me understand how to embrace my whole, authentic self.

Learn to rest + open myself up to undeserved grace.

Find rest by continually returning to the present moment.

Stillness = renewal.

Drop me a note telling me what type you are below! I’d also love to hear how the enneagram is helping you to understand yourself and embrace your truest, most authentic self.

all about the enneagram, a tool to understand yourself


love always, nik

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