Sometimes it’s easiest to see what it means to have an Enneagram type by seeing the stark differences among the types.
This morning, I was scrolling social media and saw a cute, funny, video. If you can’t open the link, it’s a video of a toddler, dancing to some music, and the caption reads: “When you only want good energy around you.”
My dominant type is Enneagram type seven so I related to this video immediately. But because I’ve done a lot of inner work with my Enneagram type, I also know that this isn’t who I am anymore.
“We don’t graduate from our type,” says the wise author and Enneagram teacher, Russ Hudson. As an Enneagram type seven, I’ll always gravitate to a cute, funny, gif that is aimed at making things a little more upbeat. But with awareness, I know that that isn’t the whole story.
To demonstrate this, I’ll focus on Enneagram type seven and Enneagram type four.
At my best, the Enneagram type seven in me experiences the world as full of wonder & spontaneity. I love the ever-changing sense of aliveness that naturally exists in the world. I have a lens towards this and, as I hunker down into my personality, I filter out anything that doesn’t reinforce this aspect of my personality.
At the average levels, I ignore parts of reality and push the proverbial square peg into the round hole and attach myself to the idea that the world must be a happy place. It can feel existentially terrifying to me if people, situations, and ideas around me aren’t happy, optimistic, and looking at all the options.
At my best, the Enneagram type four in me experiences the world as deeply meaningful, heart-centered, and mysterious. The Enneagram type four in me wants to be in touch with those very deep parts of myself that differentiate me from everyone else. The Enneagram type four in me can hold the darkness of the world – the grief, shame, and suffering – that can be hard for other types to hold in the same way.
At the average levels, those dominant in Enneagram type four forget who they naturally are and create an identity for themselves that will differentiate them from everyone else. They want to be seen as unique and a little bit outside the box. Their lens shifts towards the suffering and the ways they don’t belong in the mainstream world because their suffering can’t possibly be understood by the rest of you.
You can see how these two types, when not present, might struggle with each other. If I’m dominant in Enneagram type seven, I’m trying to filter out all the stuff that those dominant in Enneagram type four identify as the very substance of who we really are.
Here’s the thing, we need all of it. We need the parts of us that see the world as full of possibility, hope, dynamism, and joy. We also need the parts of us that can be with the suffering of the world; that don’t require us to turn away from grief, shame, and difference.
In order to be whole, we need to access the high parts of all nine points on the Enneagram. And if we only want the “good” energy around us or the ”out of the box” energy around us, we’re missing some really important parts of ourselves and of others.
If you want to know more about working with the Enneagram, join my mailing list at the bottom of this page (and you’ll get a free e-book when you do!) and be the first to know about upcoming programming, blogs, and other musings focused on using the Enneagram to move towards more wholeness and less suffering for all of us.