I recently spent 7 full days out of my home, attending a retreat and a course with a group of people seeking their truth, just like me.
I missed out on sending two kids back to school, some summer fun with my family, and missed being home to support a child making a big decision in his life.
And it was all worth it.
Those 7 days away may have been the most impactful 7 days on my lifetime journey of self-development.
It was not necessarily the course that had the impact; the immersion with a group of people who are also searching for something was what was powerful ~ I was with my people and that felt really good.
And I didn’t even know I was looking for people.
Let me start with a little historical perspective. About 21 years ago, I was introduced to the Enneagram, which at the time, I took to equate with a personality test. I’ve flirted with it over the years, but about 4 years ago, was reintroduced to it as part of a coaching workshop. I then did some studying, attended a weekend workshop, and some answers to questions I didn’t know I had started to emerge.
So I dug in and have been studying weekly, in a group with a master teacher, for a year.
This most recent time away included an intensive course at the Enneagram Institute with the man who “wrote the book on it.” Literally, co-authored the book I’ve been studying. It was powerful.
So what the heck is the Enneagram?
I could say a lot about this, but the quick and dirty (which isn’t so quick) is that the basis for the types came from the first Christian monastics around 250 BC ~ people who wanted to understand what it takes to create community and who wanted a direct experience of divinity.
Over time, what they came up with were the 8 things that distract people from God – they referred to these as the 8 ways one can “miss the mark” in their focus on divine-like living.
Over time, literally hundreds of years, these teachings have merged with other traditions, spiritual beliefs, and modern psychological frameworks, to become what we now call the Enneagram.
Russ Hudson, who, with Don Riso, co-authored The Wisdom of the Enneagram, refers to it as the “nine ways we forget ourselves.”
It sounds beautiful, to me.
The Enneagram describes the nine ways we leave our own truth, by leaving presence/consciousness and instead, engage in our “habits of usual” that help us to cope with the perceived loss of our natural gifts; our Truth; our Essence, if you will.
We all do this in varying degrees, but what I have learned, is that through a practice of mindfulness, or presence, I can quickly return to what is real for me, absent the projections or stories I might typically layer over reality.
When I am engaging in my personality, I think it is who I am, but really, it is a coping mechanism for addressing all sorts of psychological processes that exist to protect me.
But what if I don’t actually need to be protected?
What if living in my truth is safe for me?
Paying attention to your Essence and noticing when your personality has taken over or is fighting you to take over, is all we need to start this journey.
The Enneagram is a framework for helping you to remember your Essence.
Your type teaches you how you forget it.
And while it actually takes a fair amount of vulnerability to live without constantly (unconsciously) defending yourself, paradoxically, I believe it is the safest way to go about living.
Having your insides match your outsides is a pretty powerful place from which to operate in the world.
If none of this makes sense to you, maybe you can related to this: do you often feel angst? Anxiety? Worry? Are you longing for something and not sure what it is?
Do you wonder why your partner is so amazing but you sometimes want to chase them with a hatchet?
Or wonder why everyone else’s kids seem more loving, responsible, and socially competent?
Your answers might lie with the Enneagram.
I use it to support leaders in the workplace, moms who are longing for something different, and teenagers who can’t understand why their parents won’t get off their backs.
In its plainest terms, it makes clear what drives us. And once we know that, we can be on the lookout for all the ways that serves or doesn’t serve us.
I realize I haven’t even gotten to what I might want to communicate, so I’m going to do this in parts. Let’s consider this part one.
Your teaser is here: My type is 7 (with a 6 wing) and it explains SO MUCH.
This explains why I keep making shifts in my career, why I couldn’t sit still for the first 45 years of my life, and why I felt frustrated for much of my day, despite the fact that things were objectively pretty good. I
t also explains how I manipulate those around me and more importantly how to stop.
The flip side is that it also helps me to understand why having a good, genuine belly laugh is my favorite thing in the world.
It helps me understand why clients want to share their lives with me, and why I naturally see the bright side of a situation.
It’s not just about our pain points, it is also about those things that make us come alive.
Waking up to myself has been a powerful experience for which I am better.
I’d also argue that my family is the direct beneficiary of this work. We are all better because of it.
The Enneagram is dynamic ~ we move around in it depending on what parts of ourselves we need to call on in different situations.
And we have levels that we shift throughout depending on what triggers us or how present we are in a particular situation.
I’ve seen peoples’ “center of gravity” change ~ friends who seem to have gotten so much happier and more stable over time (moving up the levels) and others, who have developed personality disorders and really struggled (moving down the levels).
There is more…but I’ll leave it here.
It has been a game changer for me. The Enneagram explains it all. And more importantly, provides a path towards clarity and fulfillment.
I had no idea I was even looking for something when I started this work; it was an academic exercise for me that turned out to be anything but academic.
And it seems I’ve stumbled across something that has nothing to do with “professional development” and everything to do with my own wholehearted, authentic, living.
Want more? Stay tuned.
Want it quicker than that? Give me a call.