The Enneagram has been an extremely useful tool in bringing people together to understand themselves and each other. When I first learned about the Enneagram, I fell in love with it almost instantly, from its overall framework to all of its specificities, it provides the most in depth look at the human psyche that I have ever encountered. Being the Type Seven enthusiast that I am, I felt the need to share it with my friends and get them as excited about it is I was. I cannot even begin to describe the joy I get from witnessing a friend discovering his or her Type and being able to truly see themselves. It brings about a new level of connection and relationship as well as opening up a whole new conversation, one that we all have been just itching to have but could not find the right way of articulating. Who doesn’t want to dive further into the human condition and understanding?
In studying the Enneagram I have had the privilege of meeting other young adults who are just as fascinated with it as me. I have also been able to get some more friends interested in it and excited by it. The idea for this article was to get a broader picture of how the Enneagram has affected my friends and acquaintances. I was able to ask my peers two questions and below is a synthesis of their responses.
The responses I received were both touching and revealing in terms of impact and self-disclosure. It was interesting to identify the different Enneagram Types, how they shone through in their responses. Of those who were interviewed there were two Fours, three Ones and one Eight, and all are in their early twenties. We are all in the midst of a transitional period of our lives. I was able to identify some patterns in each of the Types responses, which was fascinating to me. The Type Eight seemed to emphasize the practicalities of the Enneagram in human interaction as well as in conflict. This highlighted his value of learning how to better relate to others while appreciating the need for differing views. The Ones tended to focus on self realization and improvement, and breathing into a state of acceptance and serenity. The Type Fours were able to gain perspective on their feelings and a sense of relief in learning that they were not alone. They emphasized feelings of compassion for others, and how in learning more about their strengths, they could help others realize their own.
Q1: In what ways did learning about the Enneagram affect you?
All of the responses emphasized self-understanding, compassion for others and improved depth of relationships. Many expressed feelings of relief and a sense of coming home in learning about their Type. The Type Eight of the group, who expressed some initial skepticism about the Enneagram, realized that there must be some truth behind this after figuring out his Type and learning more about it.
One response in particular captured my attention because of how it went beyond personal experience and described the broader context behind the Enneagram and its purpose. Being of the Type One, there would be better way for me articulate her thoughts than a direct quote:
It gave me insight into the human condition. More specifically, learning about the Enneagram showed me that we are not just a collection of random thoughts, emotions, and reactions interacting with the world around us. There is a pattern. The way we feel when something happens and the way we want to react makes sense. In fact, each of us tends toward certain patterns of response more than others and this provides more of a specific framework in which to understand how we function in day to day life.
The emphasis on compassion for others came through in almost everyones response; recognizing how the Enneagram helped them in understanding others, why we are all unique and how each of us feels. People mentioned a certain curiosity in navigating the Enneagram and mapping out their loved ones into each Type, as well as getting a better idea of how others see them. One of the Type Fours found the experience of learning about her self had a huge impact on her life, allowing her to stop living in sadness and confusion and to snap back into reality.
Q2: Do you find the Enneagram to be of use for you?
The most common uses of the Enneagram were:
- Understanding and getting along with others
- Acquiring self awareness
- Finding a way to amplify their strengths in their future relationships and careers.
A Type One emphasized the Enneagrams use in helping her with social interactions and situations, while the Eight emphasized its use in arguments and coming to more reasonable understandings with others.
Self-awareness came through for several people as being the most useful aspect of the Enneagram. Another Type One felt encouraged by the Enneagram to be more self-aware and made a conscious decision to put effort into stopping the automatic inclination to seek out other peoples faults, while figuring out how to change of perfect them, and to instead come from a place of understanding and curiosity as to why people might react differently than she would in any given situation. For her, the Enneagram was very helpful in allowing her to pause in times of upset, to recognize her feelings and the situation, and to avoid jumping to conclusions. The emphasis on self-awareness and enhanced understanding of our own minds was felt to be of extreme use for everyone in getting to know themselves better and planning for the future. There was also a sense of self-acceptance and finding compassion for others. Learning that not everyone is like me and that we dont all share the same opinions and conflict styles is extremely useful for getting along with one another.
Lastly, my peers found the Enneagram to be of great use in planning for their future in terms of improving relationships with others and deciding on their career paths. This could be done through finding ways to amplify their strengths in helping others. One Four was able to realize a change in her career path, and was motivated to start her own blog. The emphasis on motivation for change and self- realization was prominent. In seeing ones weaknesses, there was a great sense of motivation in working with them in order to heighten their strengths. Learning about the Enneagram resulted in a sense of confidence for all Types, allowing them to feel better equipped to pursue the future which is one of the greatest gifts we can receive at this point in our lives.
Overall, the responses I received from my friends further instilled in me how valuable the Enneagram is for all of us. It gave me a great sense of appreciation for its many gifts, and for what it still has to teach us about life.
Jessica Marasse lives in Ottawa, Ontario and is a psychology student at the University of Ottawa. She was introduced to the enneagram by her mother, Heather Marasse and has since developed a passion for it. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, food and travel, and music and dance.