I hate the Enneagram today

Just kidding. I don’t hate the Enneagram. I just hate what I see (some) people doing with it – which is robbing it of all usefulness and meaning by encouraging people to identify with the most shallow, surface level details and cling to them as an identity. That’s pretty harsh, isn’t it? Okay…How about helping people dress themselves up in yet another layer of clothing, instead of helping them strip down to what is real and true about their innermost selves?

Not that I have anything against clothes. Clothes are great. So are personalities. It’s the clinging that’s the problem.

enneagram symbol out of balance to thinking
A graphic depiction of when I’m out of balance – my thoughts get out of control and overshadow my other intelligence centers.

The Enneagram is a really solid framework for understanding what each of us are (consciously or not) motivated by. It is not a checklist or description of outer behaviors that we can group people by. And yet – that’s the temptation, right? It is always a temptation to freeze things into a form we can understand, because it makes us feel safe. But unless you’re a specific frog with antifreeze in its veins, to freeze something is to kill it. I’m afraid people are killing the Enneagram.

This blog on why it isn’t a good idea to get attached to your Enneagram type sums up my stance so clearly, I feel like I can relax. My mind can drop the imaginary arguments it was spinning out on. I can go back to making graphics and carving molds of the Enneagram symbol to make jewelry without worry that it won’t be understood the way my inner control freak wants it to be.

Why do I find seeing my ideas represented elsewhere or expressed by other people to be so reassuring? Because it proves I’m not alone. It rids me of the delusion that it is me against everyone else. I am not the only (possibly crazy / bitter / jealous / myopic / judgmental / ignorant / insensitive / insert-your-favorite-insecurity-here) person in the whole universe who doesn’t agree with what everyone else thinks is grand.

vessel hudson yards nyc
This structure is named the Vessel. I think it looks like a pine cone. It was expensive to build and apparently draws a lot of criticism. Many liken it to a “metal meat stick” or Shawarma. Is it art? Is it good? Everyone gets their own opinion.

And just like that – I no longer feel the need to defend anything. Personally, I think there are more layers of meaning and usefulness in the Enneagram than there are stairs in that Vessel thing. It doesn’t matter if other people think the Enneagram is just a fun label to rally others around their love of cozy blankets or checklists, because there are other people who “get” me.

I hate the Enneagram? No. That’s just my reflex, to hate something when other people “ruin” it. But I’m not a five year old. I can do better. I can stop tuning out my anger, hear what it is telling me, and choose what to do. Compare that to refusing to let anger surface, and then feeling endlessly confused and conflicted, as is my pattern as an Enneagram 9.

It is a gift to feel seen and understood. I didn’t understand just how much of a gift until I started letting go of my resistance to it. (I had this notion that I could somehow be safe if I didn’t ever “need” things from others. What a joke.) Because the Enneagram helped me see where I was stuck, I want to share it with others. But when I feel like someone else is threatening a concept by having their own ideas about it, well. That’s a sign I’m heading in the wrong direction. It is the same mental trick that lets people kill in the name of religion. Fundamentalism takes the fun out of everything.

I don’t need to tear down anyone else’s ideas, and I don’t need to force mine on anyone else. My heart knows full well that everyone has a right to their own experience, as it is right now. I’m happy that people are finding ways to feel seen and understood. The fear that people are boxing other people in with their Enneagram memes is just a mental abstraction. It isn’t actually happening in my life. If anything, the memes are helping me , so long as I accept my feelings and get clear about what exactly I am having a reaction to.

I’m accepting my need to explore what I think, feel, and create with people who are also interested in not just what they do, but why they do it.

Thanks for being one of those people.

PS – I am a Body Type. That doesn’t mean I can’t think or feel. We all have all three types of intelligence: body, heart and head. Check out my new Enneagram Resources page if you are still figuring out your type.

2 Replies to “I hate the Enneagram today”

  1. Sounds like the same kind of trap. We humans get caught up in little things and miss the big picture sometimes – but stepping back helps us have a more balanced perspective (which includes other people’s perspectives!).

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