Using the Enneagram as a Tool for Growth

I took my first Enneagram test my senior year of high school. My best friend, who was obsessed with this personality test, sent me the link and practically begged me to take it. Wanting to do anything but my calc homework, I eagerly took the 14-page questionnaire and was amazed at how spot on my results were. After reading the description of my type (a 1w2), I felt enlightened, reassured, and relieved that something could help explain my basic desires and fears, and how these shape my approach to life. At the same time, I felt inclined to fix my flaws, especially since I now had a better understanding of them. I have learned that there is an art to balancing the acceptance of certain traits and pushing ourselves to change them. 

It can be very easy to fall back into the old ways of doing things after discovering your enneagram type. There is something so validating about understanding how you approach, act and react to all situations in life. It feels incredible to know that those inner thoughts and tendencies are experienced by others too. For me, when I read that type ones were always self-critical, I used that as a justification to continue criticizing aspects of my life. I wrote it off as just being something that ones do, so there was no point in trying to change this unhealthy habit. My best friend was also a type one, and we bonded over our destructive habits. It was fun to have someone that understood where I was coming from, and I found myself not wanting to change. I grew more and more comfortable with my flaws, opting to embrace them rather than fix them. 

After about a year of this mindset, I found myself in a worse place than when I first discovered the Enneagram. I finally realized that this was not what the Enneagram was meant to be; in fact, it was the exact opposite. Although it’s rewarding to know that you are not alone in how you act, the purpose of the Enneagram shouldn’t be to reinforce your ways of thinking. Instead, understanding your type should help you better identify those flaws and find ways to fix them. That’s the beauty of the enneagram. It makes you more aware of both harmful and valuable tendencies so that you can catch yourself before you spiral into unhealthy habits. It’s one thing to acknowledge your mistakes, but to truly utilize the enneagram, you must push yourself to change these traits. I’m not saying that you should change your whole personality, or that you aren’t allowed to have bad days or habits. Rather, the Enneagram should be used as a tool that helps us grow into a healthier version of ourselves. It should help us discover different ways to express our unique and valid feelings because once you can do this, you will be able to truly grow.