I may have lost count of how many Enneagram books I’ve read, but I feel like I’ve learned at lot. It is both surprising and helpful to find that different authors apply different names to the nine personality types. My stance is that it is much better to find your Enneagram type by number, not by name – even though you’ll come across many, many names.
- Numbers are value neutral here. There are no points. It is no better to be a One than an Eight or any other number.
- The Enneagram is not personal: that’s kind of the whole point. You are not claiming an identity to cling to when you discover your type. You are simply identifying a pattern in your personality structure. It is not the whole story of you. Not even close.
Each type is defined by an emotional habit, a characteristic pattern of thought, and a style of relating to others, which together produce a distinct point of view.Helen Palmer
- Name types cater to stereotypes. They can be helpful when you’re first learning what the different personality patterns are like, but if you stop there, you’ll be sorry. Each Enneagram number has three subtypes based on their primary instinct (self-preservation, social or sexual), and just to keep things interesting, one of these three types always runs counter to the type. This means 1/3 of all Enneagram Fours will look *nothing* like the stereotype summed up by the names Romantic, Artist, Individualist, etc.
- The most popular and accepted Enneagram names overlap with titles and roles that we all fulfill as humans at different points and in different ways: The Helper, The Artist, The Achiever. This can make it easy for us to choose a type based on how we *want* to see ourselves, or who other people see us as, rather than who we actually are. For example, not all artists are Enneagram Fours. Not all Enneagram Fours want to be artists. Not all Enneagram Eights show up in life as The Boss, etc.
Labels are hurtful and limiting – even when they appear positive and affirming! So limit the hurt and limitations by looking at your Enneagram type as just a number. Of course, the more people refer to Enneagram numbers, the more they become a shorthand or stereotype in culture. Resist the urge to think you can know someone just because you know their number.
Still looking for your Enneagram number?
Find your Enneagram type by number by reading lots of different descriptions of the Enneagram Types. The audio and video clips on Helen Palmer’s website are super helpful. Pay attention to how you react. Strong feelings of like or dislike are excellent ways to learn about yourself, even if finding your Type is not as quick and easy as taking an online quiz. (It might be. But don’t worry if it raises more questions than answers.)
There are many people you can consult with to determine your type, but since that isn’t the path I took, I can’t offer you recommendations there. However, if you’re looking for a book to read, I’m your pal. (I hate, hate, hate the term “gal.” WTF does it even mean? Part of a gallon?)