Saturday, September 29, 2012

My Enneagram Tritype: A Self-Typing Story, Part 6


How had I figured out which wing was more prominent on my core 9 fix?

First, I'd read plenty of descriptions and found that every time, it was the 9w1 that sounded definitely more like me than the 9w8.  Then I had double-checked by thinking hard about it and realizing that yes, indeed, my attitudes and behavior over my whole lifetime had shown more influence from Type 1 than from Type 8.

So, then -- how should I figure out which wings I had on my 4-fix and 5-fix?

I should start by reading descriptions of those types and how they differ when influenced by one wing or the other!

Excitedly, I took out my mother's Wisdom of the Enneagram book again and opened to the chapter on Type 4.  I found that Type 4 with a 3-wing, in that book, is called "the Aristocrat," and Type 4 with a 5-wing is called "the Bohemian."  A quick reading of the descriptions of these two subtypes brought on a thrill of amazement.  No way.  You're telling me that even THIS can be explained by the Enneagram system?!?!  I all but shouted aloud in delight.

As a child, I was accustomed to playing with other girls who wanted to make believe that they were princesses and such.  I could never relate with that.  I was always more attracted to the idea of a poor and simple lifestyle, and in medieval dress-up games, while other girls wanted to be fine ladies in lovely gowns, I hankered instead after the rough dress of a peasant maid.  The idea of trying to be fashionable, of showing off for others by insisting on having the "best" clothing and home d├ęcor, made me feel sick to my stomach.  I cannot even express how much I preferred the simple authenticity of just buying or making whatever I liked, irrespective of whatever the "trend" happened to be at the time.  I always prided myself on being logical and honest, even if -- or perhaps especially when -- the result of sticking to my convictions was that I appeared weird or eccentric to others.  As long as I felt certain my eccentricity would be seen as harmless, I actually got enjoyment out of receiving strange looks from others.  I dreamed of someday having a yard full of unkempt dandelions and moss and simply flashing a disarming smile at all those folks who would mentally be saying "tsk, tsk!" over the fact that I didn't have a neat lawn like everyone else.

Now, here I was finding out that all these characteristics of mine -- which to me had seemed so very unique -- were precisely the characteristic qualities of Type 4w5, "the Bohemian"!  Would I never come to the end of the Enneagram system's abilities to categorize and explain human nature???

To be continued...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

My Enneagram Tritype: A Self-Typing Story, Part 5


I can't even describe to you how exhilarating it was to discover what my Archetype was (i.e., which three Enneatypes I had in my TritypeTM).  When I'd read the Archetype Descriptions thread on PersonalityCafe.com, I hadn't recognized myself in the description for the 459 Archetype (also known as the "triple withdrawn", since it's composed of all three Enneatypes that are characterized in part by a tendency to withdraw from others), because this type was said to be extremely quiet and shy, whereas I'm usually very inquisitive and friendly around other people, and often have a loud, energetic, enthusiastic voice and manner.  But I realized it was, again, my so/sx (social-first, sexual-second) instinctual stacking that was responsible for my warm, friendly, sociable, passionate and excitable tendencies -- for the fact that I love people and find them very interesting.  My "triple withdrawn" traits are visible in the fact that I prefer being alone most of the time, don't have much inclination to have people over to my house, and accept others' invitations rarely and with hesitation.  I guess being a social-first triple-withdrawn basically means that my natural preference is to love people and learn about them from a distance!  (Not all the time, though.  I definitely do relish being with other people in person sometimes!)

After realizing what my Archetype was, I could go back and read the description again, and see so many things in it that did describe me well.  One thing that struck me was when it said: "Your life mission is to delve deeply into the mysteries of life and share your insight with others. A true philosopher (also, contemplative), you are happiest when you can write about your discoveries and discuss them with others."  That is absolutely true for me!  I've never been able to relate to the confusion experienced by other kids and young adults as to what career they want to have.  Ever since I was a toddler, old enough to understand the question for the first time, I've always known that I wanted to write when I grew up.

It took a short time longer before I had my specific tritype worked out (i.e., the order of priority or prominence that the three fixes take within my personality).  A helpful comment on a post of mine at PersonalityCafe.com was the catalyst that ultimately helped me figure out that I'm a 9-4-5.

Now, the next step for me was to find out what wings I had on my second and third fixes!

To be continued...

'TritypeTM' is a trademark of Enneagram Explorations and can only be used with permission.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My Enneagram Tritype: A Self-Typing Story, Part 4


On one page in a PersonalityCafe thread, I saw a link to the Fauvres' website and decided to check it out.  Once there, I saw that they had a free sample Enneagram test I could take, and I went for it.  It was designed with "Enneacards" -- rectangles filled with images and words that, in their research, they had learned that the respective Enneatypes characteristically associate with themselves.

The test proved difficult for me to take, but it also proved to be an invaluable experience, first of all because it exposed me to those characteristic words associated with the types and helped me gain a deeper understanding of each Enneatype.  (The type associated with each Enneacard was not revealed, but it was obvious enough to me after all the reading and research I'd already done.)  It was no surprise to me that Types 9 and 7 ranked high for me in this test, as well as Type 5 (I've always scored high on and related extremely well with Type 5, too).  The biggest stunner for me was Type 4.  True, I have often scored high for Type 4 in tests as well, and noticed myself behaving in 4ish ways; but whenever I had read descriptions of Type 4, my reaction was always, "Tends toward pessimism?  Enjoys wallowing in melancholic emotions??  No way!!  I do relate with the liking for romance and the creativity, but the overall big picture of Type 4, nope.  That's not me!  No question about it!"

But as I meditated upon the words on the Type 4 Enneacard, I was rocked by astonishment to suddenly recognize myself in them... in a big way.  OH, my goodness!  I gasped to myself.  I DO have Type 4 in me -- TONS of it!  Throughout my childhood, whenever I said to my parents or friends things like "This is my favorite ____, what's yours?" or "Here are the colors I imagine for each letter of the alphabet," I was exhibiting intuitive, creative, identity-seeking 4ishness.  I was FAMOUS for that kind of stuff in my family!  And I could never relate with the statement that Type 9s are humble and think they're nobody special, because all my life, I've been far more conscious of thinking I AM special, different, better than others, some kind of elite individual... which is none other than Type 4 rearing its head!!!  I was shocked, incredulous, but simultaneously delighted by this momentous realization.

After I finished taking the test, I wanted to rank each of the Enneatypes in the order in which they were most prominent to least prominent in me.  Type 9 was at the top, and my middle-to-lowest numbers were easy enough to rank, too.  The greatest confusion came right after Type 9, because I had chosen 4, 5 and 7 with equal or nearly-equal frequency in the test.  I was thrilled to realize that Type 4 must be my image fix!  But for my head fix, I still had to choose between 5 and 7.  I proceeded to ponder the question at length.  I mentally went back over my entire life, considering: which of these two types did I exhibit more of at that stage of my life? at that stage? at that stage?

My presumption had been that I would end up choosing Type 7 as my head fix, since that's the only other type I had ever seriously thought might be my main one.  However, much to my amazement, I had to admit after reviewing my life carefully that I'd always shown a ton of 5ishness, and not a lot of 7ishness!  There was a point at which I did show more 7ishness than 5ishness, but it was after I had grown up, and it was relatively brief, and now I had again reverted to behaving way more like a Type 5 again.  What was going on?

To find out, I made an effort to pinpoint exactly when my 7ishness had begun to manifest.  And what I discovered was that it was shortly after I got married.  My marriage was a difficult one in many ways, and my initial instinct was to use my 5-fix (i.e., investigative analysis) to try and understand the problems I was experiencing so as to be able to solve them.  However, since they proved difficult for me to do anything about beyond whatever I was already trying to do, I ended up deciding to go with my standard 9ish strategy of "just go on trying your best, tolerate the difficulties and hope it'll all get better someday."  This left my 5-fix with nothing practical or proactive to do in regard to my marriage, so what did it do?  It said, "Well, OK then, let's just have fun to take our mind off the trouble!"  And what is that strategy characteristic of?  Type 7!!  This realization suddenly sent me dashing into my mom's bedroom to find her Wisdom of the Enneagram book so that I could look something up.  I had a strong hunch that I was going to see a line of disintegration, a.k.a. a "stress line", connecting Type 5 to Type 7, and sure enough, that was exactly the case!  WOO-HOOOOO!  MYSTERY SOLVED!  The Type 5 in my nature morphed into Type 7 when I was undergoing the stress of a difficult marriage, and now that I'd gotten divorced and was again living with my highly supportive parents, I had reverted back to my healthy 5ish self!

All right -- so that was decided.  But if my head fix was not 7, then where did all my passionate, enthusiastic spirit and love of emotional "highs" come from?

From my 4-fix.  The Enneacards test made me realize that Type 4 is a passionate type, prone to strong feelings like desire, love and longing.  Yet at the same time, it's a withdrawn type; dynamic action "out there in the world" is usually not as easy for Type 4 as it is for Type 7.  Self-consciousness issues like pride and self-doubt, plus an obsessive fixation on their own internal landscape, conspire to inhibit Type 4s from interacting with the world without hesitationCertain things, like pouring their hearts out in creating works of art or literature, come naturally to Type 4s -- and they may contribute very valuably to the world in this manner; but, at least for some 4s, it's difficult to do a whole lot beyond that.  Aha!  Then that's why my intensely churning head- and heart-energy so seldom translates into practical action in any capacity other than writing, drawing pictures, etc.?  That's why I feel tormented by inability to act on my big, ambitious dreams?

I had rejected the idea of identifying with Type 4 for so long because it's a type that tends toward pessimism and melancholy, and I didn't recognize these tendencies in myself at all.  I've always been an optimist and much preferred happy, feel-good emotions over less pleasant ones.  But now, I could recognize that with a (positive-outlook, easygoing, tolerant) Type 9 core governing over my 4-fix and mellowing it out -- and with a so/sx (social instinct first, sexual instinct second) instinctual stacking, which I've heard yields the "lightest" and "least 4ish" Type 4 personality -- nothing else made better sense as a description of me.  I recognized that the 7's characteristic escapism, that tendency to flee from unpleasant emotions through distraction and/or denial, had never been present in me, except when I was unduly stressed.  Normally, I might not like unpleasant emotions, but I didn't fear them.  I preferred to be happy, but I valued knowledge and authenticity over pretended happiness.  If I needed to explore and talk out some painful feelings in order to process, self-cleanse, and shine light into the darkness, I wouldn't hesitate to do so.

In fact, as I watched myself over the following weeks with this newfound awareness, I began to notice how often I felt pushed away (and hurt or annoyed by it) when someone deflected or shut down my efforts to verbally air out thoughts or grievances.  It seemed that emotional self-expression -- of the good, the bad and the ugly -- was very important to me.  And astonishingly enough to me, I even found that now that I wasn't so chronically stressed out, I wasn't an incurable optimist any longer, either!  I still had an optimistic bent, for sure, but now I could see that my mother (who has two positive-outlook fixes in her tritype -- a core 2 and a 7-fix -- as opposed to my lone core 9) was way more skewed toward optimism in her views and expectations than I was.  I often had occasion to remind her, "Yes, this nice thing may happen, but it's also possible that this other unpleasant thing may happen.  Keep an open mind, and don't get your hopes up!"  Was it possible that this was me -- the one who had failed in marriage in part due to a dreadful blind optimism that stubbornly ignored our difficulties?  Apparently, yes... and I was now coming to know my real self at last!

To be continued...

Myers-Briggs vs. Enneagram: A Self-Typing Story, Part 3

There is a couple named David W. Fauvre and Katherine Chernick Fauvre who've spent the last few decades doing research and developing their understanding of what they call the Enneagram TritypeTM.  In the Enneagram system (independent of the Fauvres), the 9 types are divided into groups of three in various ways.  One very important way they are divided is into the three centers, which go by different names.  Types 2, 3, and 4 are located in the feeling, heart or image center.  Types 5, 6, and 7 are in the head or thinking center, and Types 8, 9, and 1 in the body, gut or instinctual center.  Someone with a core Enneatype of 2, 3, or 4 will be very much concerned with their image/how they are viewed by others; comparison of self with others, pride, false representation, and self-consciousness, all based on deep-seated problems with shame, are some of the large issues that may be experienced here.  A core 5, 6, or 7 revolves more of their attention around mental activity/figuring out how or what they think about stuff; whether they realize it or not, these types have deep-seated issues with fear.  Types 8, 9, and 1 don't dwell as much as other types in either their emotional hearts or logical heads; they instead tend to be guided more by instincts or gut-level feelings.  These three types have deep issues with rage.

The Fauvres' contribution was to point out that although yes, most people may tend to be stronger in one of these centers than in the other two, nevertheless, it's part and parcel of being human to approach life through all three of these centers!  Just as everyone has a head, a heart and a gut, so everyone has their own special head-level, heart-level and gut-level ways of responding to and dealing with life.  Our individual tritype is formed when we select our specific way of approaching the world through each of these centers, and place these, our three main styles of interacting with the world, into a hierarchy of how important and integral they are to us.

This idea means that, far from there being just 9 Enneatypes to choose from, there are instead 27 Archetypes (combinations of any three Enneatypes, one from each of the three centers, in various configurations: e.g., the "125" Archetype can appear in any of 6 tritypes, namely the 125, 152, 215, 251, 512 or 521), and thus, there are ONE HUNDRED SIXTY-TWO specific Enneagram tritypes in all!  And this doesn't even take into account the wings on each fix (your Enneagram type in each center is called a "fix") or the strength of the lines of connection each of your fixes has to other types on the Enneagram!  In other words, with tritype theory, the ability of the Myers-Briggs system to categorize you more specifically is entirely eclipsed, and one can start to see that so much of the wonderful individuality in our personalities can be systematically explained using this amazing concept!!!

As I read through a thread on PersonalityCafe.com wherein the Archetypes (and tritypes) were being described, I felt my excitement mounting.  I love this stuff!  Eeek!  I can't stand it, this is SO cool and fun!!  I was almost ready to burst with the thrill of discovery.

Naturally, as I read, I kept an eye out for which of the tritypes I was reading about might belong to my family members, friends, or me.  I felt sure I had recognized several friends plus my mother by the time I got all the way through to the end, but I hadn't recognized myself with certainty in any of the tritype descriptions. 

No matter, I thought.  I've only just encountered this concept.  There's no hurry!  I have plenty of time for figuring out what my tritype is.  I want to savor this process -- as well as make absolutely sure and certain a conclusion is correct before I officially come to it.

Little did I know how soon and suddenly I was to figure out what my tritype was!

To be continued...

'TritypeTM' is a trademark of Enneagram Explorations and can only be used with permission. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Myers-Briggs vs. Enneagram: A Self-Typing Story, Part 2


When you open up the Wisdom of the Enneagram book at the beginning, the first thing the authors (Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson) suggest that you do is take their Quick Enneagram Sorting Test. This basically involves choosing which of the first three paragraphs (A, B, or C) fits you best, then which of the next three paragraphs (X, Y, or Z) fits you best, and then putting together the letter initials of your two choices, which leaves you with one out of nine different possible letter combinations. Then you look up that letter combination and it tells you which of the nine Enneatypes you may be.

I took this test (which they call the QUEST for short) blithely and easily, going with my instant gut-level feeling in choosing the paragraphs that best described me (which is the way they tell you to do it in the instructions), and lo and behold... it typed me as a 9. A bit startled by that result, I went back and took the test over, giving more conscious thought to my paragraph choices, and this time around I did get Type 7 as a possible alternative type.

So then I went on to read about those two types -- and all the others.  I could still relate very much with certain things about Type 7, but other things were as different from me as day from night.  The descriptions of Type 9, on the other hand -- especially 9 with a 1-wing, social instinct first -- for the most part fit me absolutely to a T.  I had to admit that if the descriptions in this book were to be the entire basis on which I made my decision, I'd have to consider myself a Type 9 for sure.  However, I still hesitated, because I'd heard so much about how in the Enneagram system, it's the question of what motivates you that counts most in determining what your type is... and I simply didn't feel like I could relate better with the descriptions of Type 9's motivation than with Type 7's.

Type 9 was said to desire peace above all: neither too much excitement nor too much distress, but for things to remain on an even keel.  To me this sounded terribly boring!  Type 7, on the other hand, was said to seek excitement, euphoria, and fun.  I've got lots of passionate spirit, and I just love it when I get excited about something.  I felt like I could completely relate with Type 7's desire to have tons of fun and help other people have fun too!  On the other hand, though, it's extremely hard for me to get to the point of doing something big that I've gotten all excited about.  It takes me years to find enough time to get something done that I've internally been hankering, burning to do.  And this was very much in line with the so-called "Deadly Sin" of Type 9, which is Sloth.  I felt a chill of recognition when I read that word.  Oh yes, that's me, all right... as much as I hate having that nature!!  Type 7's "Deadly Sin" is Gluttony (not just for food, but for any type of fun experience).  I can relate with that too, but not as much.  Nowhere near as much.

Type 7 is described by Riso and Hudson as often being hyperactive, living life at high speed and getting way more done in a short time than others can do in a long time.  Is that me?  I wish!!!!  I have SO many ideas that I want to turn into reality, but nope -- I am the opposite of Type 7 in this respect.  I have tons of energy, but it just animates my heart and mind and almost never translates into real-world action.  I feel tormented as I watch life passing me by while I cross very few things off my list of long-cherished goals.  How could I possibly be a Type 7 in this case?

After researching on many Enneagram websites, I finally came to the point of concluding that I was a Type 9 with a 1-wing.  The vast majority of everything pointed to that.  Yes, I still felt that I had a more passionate heart than 9s generally do, but what of that?  We are supposed to have some of each of the types within us, so it was natural that I wouldn't relate exclusively with Type 9.  All the Type 9 descriptions were continuing to fit me perfectly otherwise, and the Type 9 problems were by far my biggest problems.  The pieces of advice given for Type 9 were by far the most important for me to hear.  Whatever I might be at heart, I was certainly a Type 9 in practice.  And I'd begun to doubt my own analysis of my motivations, too.  Perhaps my most deeply-buried, fundamental desires were 9ish, and I just didn't realize it.  How else could you explain the fact that, all my life, I had acted like a textbook 9?  That type of behavior, according to all the years of research the Enneagram authorities had done, was supposed to flow as a natural result from a deep desire for peace.  And it's not as though peace sounded so terrible to me!  I preferred it by far over the melancholy that Type 4 sometimes likes to wallow in.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized, "Hey!  Yes, I do love it when things make me feel thrilled or ecstatic, but it's certainly true that I don't like it when things are TOO loud and neon and flashing and over-stimulating; and upon thinking about it... now I remember that when I was deciding which of the books I'd read were my favorite of all, my criteria were which ones were the most pleasant for my conscience... i.e., stories that made me feel morally nurtured and guided/encouraged on the right path... because they enabled me to feel what?  PEACE OF MIND!"

I was glad to have my Enneatype decided on.  I didn't have that same sense of excitement, astonishment and "oh wow, you guys TOTALLY nailed me!!!" regarding my Enneatype that I'd felt on reading the INFJ and INFP type descriptions, but after all, that wasn't surprising.  There are 16 Myers-Briggs types and only 9 Enneatypes!  OF COURSE you'd be described more specifically, "pegged" more perfectly, when yours was one out of 16 different types rather than one out of 9.  So my first reaction was to conclude that the Enneagram was OK, but I personally preferred the Myers-Briggs system.

As the days wore on, though, I began to notice something.  After reading so much about each of the 9 Enneatypes in the course of my research, I could now see them in action in my attitudes and behavior.  My core type, 9, as well as both its wings, the more prominent 1-wing and the lesser 8-wing, came up to influence me now and again; but also I regularly observed Types 4, 5 and 7 showing up in my dealings with the world.  It was extremely fascinating and exhilarating to be able to "step outside myself" in this way and notice objectively what I was thinking or doing while I was thinking or doing it.  This new level of awareness enabled me to question whether or not it was truly in my best interest to use that particular strategy of dealing with the world -- to ask myself, "Is this really the best way to get what I want in this situation?" -- rather than simply falling prey to long-standing habit, or "going along with my programming."  In other words, it gave me POWER over myself!  Rather than remaining controlled by the compulsions of my own personality, by noticing what was really going on, I could become the conscious controller of my choices!  Suddenly I understood why both my counselors had recommended the Enneagram system so highly.  True, I thought -- the same shock of recognition might not be there for me that I experienced when reading about my Myers-Briggs type; but, the Enneagram system is so much more amazingly useful in helping you get in control of yourself and your life!  I was officially won over.  I still love Myers-Briggs, but from that point on I decided that the Enneagram system was indeed very exciting, too!

And so things stood, until one day this year... when I saw the word TRITYPE for the first time.

I was immediately intrigued and knew that I had to find out more.  I decided to join PersonalityCafe.com, the site where I had seen that first reference to the concept, and began investigating the subject on there.  What I eventually found out completely and utterly blew me away.

To be continued...