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What People Get Wrong About the Enneagram

What People Get Wrong About the Enneagram

The popularity of the Enneagram has exploded in recent years, and if you’ve followed along with its growth, you might think you’ve learned all there is to know about this insightful system. But the truth is, the Enneagram has many layers, and each layer is a vital piece of a puzzle that reveals your inner motivations and WHY you do the things you do. Here are two mind-blowing ways you might be using the Enneagram wrong and missing out on some incredible insights into your unique personality.

1) Assuming you only have one Wing.

The Wings are the Enneagram numbers directly next to your Main Type in the Enneagram diagram. So, for a Type 9, their Wings are Type 1 and Type 8. When you ask someone their Enneagram Type, it’s common for people to respond with their number and then tack on a Wing. For example, someone might say, “I’m a Type 9 Wing 1.” Yes, many people have a dominant Wing, but did you know you have access to BOTH of your Wings?

Both Wings are a part of you and will influence your life in positive and negative ways. Your less dominant Wing may not be as evident to you, but that’s why it’s so essential that you become aware of it. Not only are you unaware of the unhealthy attributes it brings into your life that can derail your goals and relationships, but you’re also missing out on all the positive attributes you can tap into!

2) Thinking you have one healthy Path and one unhealthy Path.

Your Enneagram Paths are the lines and arrows on the Enneagram diagram that extends from your Main Type. In Enneagram 101, it’s common to learn that one path is your Stress Path and the other is your Growth Path. But did you know that you can access BOTH these paths in unhealthy and healthy ways?

Let’s use Type 9 again as an example. Out in the world, the Type 9’s Growth Path to Type 3 helps them invest in themselves and feel more confident to share their talents and voice with the world. But at home or when they’re around the people they are most comfortable with, that Growth Path can turn into their Blind Spot Path. Here, the Type 9 might do busy work to distract themselves from more important matters, get easily hurt by constructive criticisms, or brag about their accomplishments to get recognition. These behaviors are not easily recognizable (that’s why we call it the Blind Spot Path), so if you’re unaware of this part of you, it will continue to derail your most important relationships.

The Stress Path is more easily recognizable. For Type 9, they move to Type 6, and their typical peaceful nature turns into a ball of anxiety and worst-case thinking. But this same path can also be accessed in healthy ways, which we call the Converging Path. Here a Type 9 can access the positive traits of Type 6 and have more courage to step out of their comfort zone and offer their loyalty, talents, and passions to others.

We usually live unaware of our Converging Path because it is much easier to slip into our Stress Path’s auto-pilot responses. But when we’re aware that the Converging Path is available to us, we can work with the Holy Spirit to bring this transformational path to the forefront of our life. It’s a challenging path to walk but so worth it!

All of this may sound complicated, especially if I just introduced two new layers of the Enneagram that you didn’t know existed! But rest assured that you’re already familiar with these parts of your personality, even if you don’t realize it at this moment. For example, have you ever had to make a hard decision and said: “There is a part of me that feels this is the best choice, but another part of me feels something different.”  This is just one example of how the different layers of the Enneagram (or parts of your heart) show up in your life.

The truth is, your main Enneagram Type is the driving force behind WHY you think, feel, and behave, and you always remain your Main Type. But it is not the only part that influences your life. The other Enneagram numbers your Main Type is connected to (Wings and Paths) are working alongside your main Type, and they can bring misery or joy depending on their alignment with Gospel truth.

To help you get to know all your Enneagram parts, we’ve developed a brand new concept called the Enneagram Internal Profile (or EIP for short). EIP shines a light on all the parts of your Type and simplifies the Enneagram to make it more accessible and practical to use in your everyday life. With EIP, you will learn how to recognize, name, and compassionately lead all the parts of your heart towards health. To find out more, check out our new book More than Your Number: A Christ-Centered Enneagram Approach to Becoming AWARE of Your Internal World.

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