I believe that every single person just wants two things: To be loved and to be safe (and those two things can be very intertwined). The way every individual goes about getting loved and getting safe can be very different. Some are positive: soul-searching, healthy friendships and finding hobbies. And others are negative: building walls, pushing people away, being an asshole so you’re never the one to get hurt (“Hey, I warned you I was messed up.”) Whatever. We’re all just trying to get ok. An Enneagram test is a tool to help identify your basic desires and basic fears and your communication style. I think this is huge. A lot of times we act without even knowing why. Sometimes it takes years to figure it out. But once we know what it is that we want or that we’re afraid of, we can deal with it. Sometimes identifying it is half the battle.
Enneagrams basically say that there are nine main personality types (yes, we can all argue there are more, and yes they can overlap and such, but stick with me on this one). Everyone basically falls into one of these nine types. They are all based on the idea that we all are motivated by a basic fear and a basic desire.
The Nine Enneagram Types:
1. The Perfectionist – Productive, organized, wise, ethical and reliable, this type of personality is concerned with doing things right, living right and improving themselves and things around them. They can be judgmental, critical, controlling and anxious as well. Basic Fear: Of being corrupt/evil, defective. Basic Desire: To be good, to have integrity, to be balanced.
2. The Helper – Generous, insightful and caring, Helpers must be loved to feel their value and react positively to others. They can also be martyr like and possessive, and sometimes overly accommodating. Basic Fear: Of being unwanted, unworthy of being loved. Basic Desire: To feel loved.
3. The Achiever – A pretty self-explanatory personality, the achiever is driven by success and hates failure. At their worst, Achievers can be vindictive, narcissistic and pretentious. Basic Fear: Of being worthless. Basic Desire: To feel valuable and worthwhile. Basic Fear: That they have no identity or personal significance.
4. The Individualist – A key character in almost every plot line, the Romantic is addicted to emotion and must experience her feelings. She doesn’t wish to be ordinary and can sometimes be self-conscious, moody or self-absorbed. Basic Desire: To find themselves and their significance (to create an identity).
5. The Observer/Investigator – At their best, they are analytical and consumed with knowing and understanding the world around them. At their worst, they can come off as critical of others, intellectually arrogant and negative. Basic Fear: Being useless, helpless, or incapable. Basic Desire: To be capable and competent.
6. The Questioner/Loyalist – “Do I fit in?” is a common thought for the Questioner, a personality driven by the need for security. While they can be compassionate and warm, they can also be paranoid, defensive and rigid. Basic Fear: Of being without support and guidance Basic Desire: To have security and support.
7. The Adventurer/Enthusiast – True adrenaline junkies, No. 7’s thrive on activities, want to contribute to the world and don’t enjoy suffering. Their confidence and spontaneity can sometimes be interpreted as narcissism and lack of discipline. Basic Fear: Of being deprived and in pain. Basic Desire: To be satisfied and content—to have their needs fulfilled.
8. The Asserter/Challenger – The Asserter doesn’t want to take “no” for an answer and wants to be self-reliant. Authoritative, energetic and loyal, No. 8’s can also be rebellious, self-centered and aggressive to avoid feeling inferior or dependent. Basic Fear: Of being harmed or controlled by others. Basic Desire: To protect themselves (to be in control of their own life and destiny).
9. The Peacemaker – Nines hate conflict and want to smooth things over, but their emotional responses to various situations can vary from genteel and polite to obsessive and forceful. Basic Fear: Of loss and separation. Basic Desire: To have inner stability “peace of mind.”
So first, find out your number (1-9) by taking a free version of the Enneagram Test.
Forget all that other stuff it tells you at the end, just get your number. Next, find your type description. Read the overview here. How well do you relate to it?
Next, scroll down to the “More Depth By Levels” section. I think this is the most helpful part of an Enneagram tool. Levels are divided by “Healthy,” “Average,” and “Unhealthy.” Read the descriptions of actions, behavior and emotions. Where do you fit? I use this to sort of do an emotional tune-up every once in awhile. Am I falling into unhealthy patterns? Am I “Average” right now, and recognize things I can do to get healthy? Do I recognize behavior in others that can now be explained by this? Can it help me understand them better now, and maybe be more empathetic?
Finally, once you know yourself better, you can force all of your loved ones to take the test, too, then analyze your relationship. They call this “Relationship-Type Compatibility,” as it tends to focus on two people in a romantic relationship, but I find that it works just as well with two friends or family members. Understanding the driving fears and desires of the people in our lives and how they relate to your own can be sort of revolutionary in learning how to best communicate and just be with them. Compare types here.
Again, I don’t claim that there is some quick fix to self-discovery or being the best, healthiest individuals we can be. It’s a long, never-ending journey. But using Enneagrams as a tool has helped me better understand myself and others immensely.
What’s your number? How accurate do you find it to be?