The Enneagram, Being a Number 7, and Moving the big Rocks
A few years ago (2013 maybe) I was introduced to something called the Enneagram. Luke and I were listening to the Relevant Podcast and Shauna Niequest was talking about the Enneagram and how it's changed her life. Naturally, I immediately wanted to know everything about it because I'm a personality test junkie.
Give me any personality test or quiz I'll I'll take it 3 times! I'm just one of those people.
I got my feet wet with a few books and started learning the basics about The Enneagram and the 9 types. I immediately knew that I was a number 7, so I really only focused on my seven-hood and didn't pay attention to anything else.
Fast forward to this past summer and I dove back into The Enneagram with this book, "The Road Back to You." This book is amazing! The other Enneagram books I had were pretty scientific-y and kind of hard to digest, but "The Road Back to You" is hands down the most comprehensible book out there about The Enneagram. If you can't tell, I'm a big fan.
So I picked up "The Road Back to You" this summer and my obsession with The Enneagram turned up to 11. It came at the right time for me because, even though I didn't realize it, there were big rock things that God was showing me in my life, unhealthy things that needed development and change. Reading this new to me Enneagram book, it lined up perfectly with what God was showing. Isn't it crazy when things like that happen? When it seems like you can't get away from a particular thought or message?
So there's my long backstory about how I was introduced to The Enneagram, what I'm reading, and why it's suddenly become so important to me.
One of the most important things about The Enneagram and "The Road Back to You" is that it's not just about recognizing these habits, underlying fears, and motivations about yourself. It's an avenue for real change and personal development. It's not enough to just know this stuff about yourself, but you have to be willing to actively improve on the weak areas and lean into the strengths.
I'm a number 7, no question about it. It took me a little while this second time around to really accept my seven-hood. I could've easily slipped into a few other numbers/types, but when I really dug my heels in, did the reading and a little honest soul searching, there's no other number for me.
Before I continue on if you want to figure out your number and dip your toe into the ocean of The Enneagram, there are a few ways you can get started.
1. Purchase "The Road Back to You." There's not an actual quiz in this book, but there are assessment type questions in each chapter giving you an idea if you're that type or not. Again, the best way to know is by reading the actual chapters.
2. There is a good assessment in this book that will point you in the right direction as to what number you are. There are also weighted assessments before each chapter that confirm or deny your initial assessment results. Again, it's all about reading the chapters to really know.
3. There are free online quizzes that are okay. You have to pay for the good online assessments. I've never done it, but if you have you can let me know what's a good one!
4. When taking the assessments, be gut level honest. It's not about who you want to be or who you are at work. It's about the motivation behind your actions. The Enneagram is all about the underlying issues, why we do what we do, and what's made us who we are.
5. Remember that there's no bad number. Every number has negatives and positives.
Some of the main things that I've taken away from my reading are helping me recognize deep patterns and habits about myself that need to be changed at the root level. Learning and recognizing all of these things has actually been quite freeing. Just knowing that I'm not alone in how my mind works and how I'm not the only one who feels the way I feel helps me to know that I'm not crazy. That I'm not past help. That I'm capable of changing for the better. I know that with God's help and new knowledge about myself, I can make the necessary changes to be a better human and take care of myself.
Here are the top 3 things that I'm learning about myself and how I am addressing these areas.
1. It's normal for a 7 try to avoid pain.
I'm such an avoider it's hilarious. I'm not an avoider when it comes to conflict resolution and other people. I'm an avoider when it comes to myself. This mostly comes out in my health. I've avoided some pretty serious issues for a while now: High cholesterol, high weight, low tolerance for physical activity, and my PCOS diagnosis.
Some days I beat myself up about not doing enough to work on these issues. "Stop eating ice cream 4 nights a week." "Stop eating cheeseburgers and fries." That's easy, right? WRONG. I've never understood how people can just completely cut out food groups (for longer than a month, I'm really not sure how I survived my Whole30). It's like my mind can't even fathom long term limits. Being a 7 is all about wanting more and more experiences to deflect dealing with any type of pain. Limiting ice cream, burgers, and fries robs me of experiences with other people.
Now, it makes sense why other people can stick to food plans and I just can't.
2. It's normal for a 7 to fear commitment.
I never thought I was a commit-o-phobe. Most of the time we give that title to people who can't stay in a relationship with another person. That's not the case for me. Committing to Luke was and is easy because he's amazing and I love him. I never feared commitment with another person; however, it's hard for me to commit long term to anything. Obviously, jobs and big purchases (think house and car) are different. This is about a constant need for variety and options because there's always something else out there. How can I commit to just one thing??
Admitting that I have a fear of commitment was one of the most freeing things for me. Luke literally had to tell me and then make me say it out loud. I didn't want to! It helped me realize why I can't stick to an eating plan, diet, or exercise program. I get bored! Then I want to go have EXPERIENCES (ice cream, burgers, splurges, you get it) because I don't want to miss out on anything. It's a crazy cycle or is it a cycle of crazy?
3. 7s are good planners and dreamers, but terrible executers.
One of the major 7 things is the joy of anticipation. In fact, anticipating something is actually better than the present moment and that's so true that it's scary. I like making grand plans, setting big goals, and figuring out how I'm going to do something. When it comes around to actually doing it....... I. Just. Don't.
Armed with the information that this is normal and doesn't make me a bad person is a gives major relief.
Realizing all of these big rocks doesn't mean that I never have to work on them. I'm now responsible to make the right kind of changes and put new, realistic, expectations on myself. It's just comforting to know that these are my issues, they're real, and they don't make me less of a person. It's so easy to discredit yourself when you see other people excel in your weakest areas. I admitted here that I struggle with comparison. Reading "The Road back to You" has shown me that e v e r y o n e deals with real, hard issues. Even though I knew that, it was really important for me to learn what other types of people deal with on a daily basis.
To sum it up, the Enneagram is a helpful tool for self improvement and helps you play well with others. If you dig into it, it will help you understand other people and how to relate to them, which I think is really cool. I'm always happy to talk more about the Enneagram. Leave a comment or send me a message and we'll chat!