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How Finding My Enneagram Type was like Finding the Right Pair of Glasses

Lens: (noun)

  1. (obsolete) plural of lens
  2. A device which focuses or defocuses electron beams.
  3. (geometry) A convex shape bounded by two circular arcs, joined at their endpoints, the corresponding concave shape being a lune.
  4. (biology) A genus of the legume family; its bean.
  5. (anatomy) The transparent crystalline structure in the eye.
  6. (earth science) A body of rock, ice, or water shaped like a convex lens.
  7. (by extension, figuratively) A way of looking, literally or figuratively, at something.


While facilitating a group today, I shared a humbling awareness: ten years ago, had you asked me what lens I saw the world through, I would have told you “the right one.” It was like there was one color lens and everyone else saw the world through some distorted version of that color. But to be clear, I operated from the belief that there was probably an objectively correct pair of glasses to be wearing.


Yes, I understood that there were different perspectives on specific topics, but ultimately, those perspectives were just demonstrated who was farthest ahead on the learning curve. The ones who saw the world like me wore the brightest, clearest glasses and others wore a cloudier, duller shade. I saw that everyone had the potential to wear bright glasses, but they just weren’t there yet. I could not have been more mistaken.


Did I mention how humbling this is to say publicly?


In this group, we are working on truth-telling. We are exploring those places where we part with our own very clear inner-knowing, available to all of us  {yes, everyone has this!}, but often blocked by stories we tell ourselves, cultural norms, and our socialization. So I decided to look up the word “lens” to see how the experts would characterize it.


It strikes me that in point #7 above, the distinguished folks at www.wordhippo.com note that it is “A way…” They didn’t say “The way.” Put this way, one can assume that there is more than one way to look at any one event or a collection of events that take place. One way is no better than any other way; they are all just “ways.


Each pair of glasses is bright and beautiful and each does their job for the person wearing them. There is no “best shade.” Each shade colors the perspective of the person wearing it.


The Enneagram of Personality and Essence is one framework to paint a picture of the 9 different lenses that characterize the 9 ways of seeing the world. To be clear, it also describes the 9 parts of your personality but we can assume that there is one lens among those 9 that stands out. It is both the root of your greatest strengthened indicative of the areas of life where you get tripped up. It shows you what drives you, what happens when you feel insecure, and what happens when you are under extreme stress. What I’ve noticed is that these are the places to which I’m most blind.


These are the places where I say, “I’m not stressed, you are being a butthead!” Usually, I see you as a butthead because I’m stressed. My lens is saying it’s all you and not letting me see the parts of myself that are actually what create the belief in your buttheadedness.

And, maybe you’re ALSO being a butthead.


Could you look at your life and figure this out yourself? Sure thing.


But the ego is tricky. It will lie to you and lead you astray. Think of it like a best friend who doesn’t really want you to succeed, but wants you along for the ride. You’ll think you’re headed in the right direction with this friend because they are cheering you on, having lots of fun, and feeling really close to them. At the last minute, they take off and leave you out to dry. You are left feeling alone, having disappointed those who really love you in the pursuit of this distorted vision of what you think you want.


The Enneagram helps you to tell the difference between someone leading you astray and the real thing.


It points you in the direction of those places you really don’t want to look (because you really like your shade) and invites you into a much broader view of your life.


All the truths you have told yourself about people and situations start to get wiggly and you are invited to see more possibility, more facets, and more creativity in those people. You see that there is more than one truth. It’s as if that one best friend who led you astray moves out of town, giving you the opportunity to make new friends who show you new and exciting options for travel, home decor, and your future.


Heck, you see that the former bff always drove you down Main Street so you never saw Oak Road, Franklin Circle, or the freeway. You now see what you’ve been missing out on.


When you work with the Enneagram, you see the pair of glasses you like best (your primary type), but you also see 8 other pairs of glasses you didn’t know existed before; or you decided were cheap and flimsy and not for you.


You start to understand that these different lenses account for why you’ve been

    • Arguing with a partner
    • Unable to settle into a routine or habit
    • Feeling frustrated more than not
    • Experiencing disconnection from people you used to enjoy
    • Continuing to do “the thing” that you beat yourself up for later


What happens when you start to discover these unchartered territories?

  1. You have more compassion for yourself and others
  2. You defend less and listen more
  3. You speak up where it falls in line with your true self
  4. You bring choice to the situations where you thought there was none


Everything is better when you stop hiding and see the world through all kinds, textures and color lenses.

Do you want to learn more about the Enneagram?

I’d love to have you join me this October.

Christina Granahan

Christina Granahan

Enneagram-informed coach + therapist

I teach you how to use your Enneagram type to realize the relationships and success that you’ve been chasing at work, home, or school. Let's connect and see how I can help you.

You have one life. Let’s get you living it.

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