When I was in college in Chile, I participated in a workshop about Enneagram, an ancient wisdom tool used to understand human personalities and relations. We read and study how to use the Enneagram to understand yourself and others, and I was completely hooked by it. I discovered the great truth and practical wisdom behind it. Being a psychology student, I was skeptical, especially because of the mystical ground where it came from.
After 10 years, I revisited it. The Enneagram described 9 types, each of them with particular challenges and drives, and all of them connected through specific paths. These paths could be a growing one, which leads us to our true nature and freedom, or a self-inhibited route, in which we get trap in our own fears and ego. A common denominator of the healthy route is to create and increase self-awareness and the ability to observe our thoughts and feelings. We need to identify the limiting patterns of thoughts and feelings, and what specific situations trigger them.
What really interests me about the Enneagram, is that each type lives in a paradox. When growing to adulthood, each type develops a defense mechanism to cope with their own insecurities and fears. These defenses allow us to cope with pain and anguish when we were children, but they are barriers to grow when adult. However, in order to overcome them, we will have inevitably, and painfully, to face our own fears and compulsions.
For example, the type four, which is “the individualist”, learned to escape pain and loneliness by introvert himself into his own feelings. Doing this, he acquired the skill of introspection and to understand human nature and its whole rainbow of feelings. , developed a good capacity to understand their own feelings, and to have a grasp on human emotion. However, this introspection has a double effect, on one hand, allows the “four” to be conscientious and intuitive, but also diminish his ability to share his own feelings. They type four is encrypted within himself. The challenge is to stop thinking about their own feelings and focus on what happens outside of them.
Oppositely, type seven learned to cope with the world using curiosity and optimism They are constantly looking outside of themselves. Adventurous and creative, they like to explore, going from one subject to another; They develop the capacity of expression at the expense of losing some of the necessary introspection. They run from being in touch with painful truths by keeping constant motion. They escape by doing, however, this solution instead of being effective maintains and increase the anxiety, that came from hidden fears.
The Enneagram makes sense when you approach it with an open mind and healthy self-criticism. In times like now, when everyone is disconnected from being connected to the web, I think the Enneagram is more useful than ever. We need to understand our own paradox and then let our real personality shine.