We’re all familiar with the Zodiacs. We’ve seen the Zodiac memes flooding our Instagram explore feeds and send them to our friends when we see one that’s frighteningly accurate with comments like “omg this is so you.” Lately, though, I’ve been seeing more and more Enneagram content on my feeds and people talking about the Enneagram types on my stories. If you aren’t familiar with the Enneagram, it’s basically a personality test (a bit similar to Myers-Briggs but not quite) that puts you into numerical categories, or types from 1-9. It describes patterns in how people conceptualize the world and manage their emotions. Since taking the test myself, I’ve been increasingly curious about what it all means and where the Enneagram even comes from. Keep in mind, I don’t completely believe in Zodiacs or the Enneagram types, but they do interest me. I happen to identify pretty strongly with being a Libra whenever I see posts about a Libra’s characteristics or tendencies, which tells me there has to be some truth behind them. That being said, I’m still skeptical and wonder about the origin of these Enneagram types. So first, let’s dig deeper into where the Enneagram types come from.
I did a bit of research. According to Truity, a website all about personality tests and types, the name “Enneagram” comes from the Greek word ennea meaning nine, and gramma meaning something that is drawn or written. There are many assumptions about when and where the Enneagram symbol was first seen within history, however It was first introduced to the modern world in the 1930’s as more of a spiritual symbol by Georg Ivanovich Gurdjieff, a mystic and spiritual teacher. As time has gone on, researchers have begun to focus more on the psychological side rather than the religious side.
Each of the nine types has a particular view of the world, and this makes it easier to explain why people might behave in certain ways. “By describing how the basic personality adapts and responds to both stressful and supportive situations, the Enneagram shows opportunities for personal development and provides a foundation for the understanding of others.” The Enneagram types are visible in their most basic form as a nine-pointed geometric shape on which the nine types are labeled clockwise on each point. Everyone will have a core type, and the other types may represent wings or other types we can transition into to develop a fuller understanding of ourselves. For example, I’m a 2 wing 9 (or 2w9), meaning after taking the test I’m mostly a 2 but showed lots of traits for being a 9 as well. Each type has its own name that describes that type at its core. 1= the reformer, 2= the helper, 3= the achiever, 4= the individualist, 5= the investigator, 6= the loyalist, 7= the enthusiast, 8= the challenger, and 9= the peacemaker. It’s possible that you could identify more with your wing than your core type (like I do), or you might even identify with a whole different core type. This is fine, because these aren’t 100% accurate and won’t be an exact blue-print for your personality. There may be a few traits that you read about and are like, “that’s totally me”, but others may be far off. If you meet another person with the same type, that doesn’t mean you’re the same. This should be obvious, but I just need to get it out there. It can be easy to take things too far and start blaming your significant other’s annoying tendencies on their Enneagram type (when in reality, our personalities are infinitely complex). Don’t be that person. Though a personality test can never be truly accurate, I do believe there’s some truth behind it especially knowing that it’s based on real psychological research on people’s behavior, just like Myers-Briggs. I also just find it super interesting and fun, especially when you see beautiful illustrations on Instagram about your type and you can identify with it. It somehow feels like a source of comfort when you’re feeling insecure or need reassurance. For example, here’s the type I identify most with, type 9:
The main purpose of the Enneagram test is personal self-knowledge and to learn about your individual personality which can aid in things such as conflict resolution or emotional intelligence. It can also be applied in “areas such as counseling, psychotherapy, business development, parenting and education.” If you’re curious about your Enneagram type, here’s a free online test that only takes 10 minutes! The website also has in-depth information on each type that you can read about after learning your type. I think the main difference between Zodiacs and the Enneagram types are that, first of all, your Zodiac sign is based off of your birth month rather than on your behavior/emotional tendencies. There’s no test for the Zodiac, though it can still hold some truth for you. Enneagram types might be more accurate since they’re based off of a curated test based on psychological research. Whether you believe in this stuff or not, it’s still a fascinating topic to explore and can be a fun tool in learning about yourself and how you relate to others.