Journeying With The Enneagram

20 years ago, as a very young person trying to find myself, I was introduced to the Enneagram system through the lens of Christianity. I was given two books, “The Enneagram And Prayer – Discovering Our True Selves Before God” by Barbara Metz/John Burchill and “The Enneagram – A Journey Of Self Discovery” by Maria Beesing/Robert J. Nogosek/Patrick H. O’Lery.

I studied the two books, favouring the second book over the other, and was pleased to use it as a tool to understand myself better and enhance my spiritual life.

I learned that the Enneagram consists of Nine types, they are namely:

  • Type 1 – Reformer
  • Type 2 – Helper
  • Type 3 – Achiever
  • Type 4 – Individualistic
  • Type 5 – Investigator
  • Type 6 – Loyalist
  • Type 7 – Enthusiast
  • Type 8 – Challenger
  • Type 9 – Peacemaker

The names of the types may be different in different books by different authors, but they do carry the same meaning.

I did a test (though I cannot remember how and what was the process of the test) but it was determined that I had shades of every spectrum of the Nine Types, but the Five had a slight edge over the rest. I was fascinated. The more I read about the strengths and weaknesses of the types, the more I could identify where I needed to make the necessary adjustments in my own thinking, feelings and behaviour.

Here’s a list of Avoidance of each personality type (extracted from The Enneagram – A Journey Of Self Discovery):

  1. Ones avoid anger…..very important to them not to become angry and not to express anger to others…..dedicated to being perfect….bothered when things are not done right
  2. Twos avoid recognising they have needs…..preoccupied in noticing what needs others have…..pride themselves in being helpful…..important to them not to admit being in need
  3. Threes avoid failure…..always working for success in their lives……identifies with the success they attain…..seek to avoid failure of any sort…
  4. Fours avoid ordinariness…..important to them always to be special…..experience themselves as persons of refinement and sensitivity……think others do not understand them because of the uniqueness of the feelings they have experienced, especially concerning the sorrow and even tragedy of their lives
  5. Fives avoid emptiness…..preoccupied with growing in their store of knowledge….deep need to know more than they ever say to others……important not to get caught in social involvements which are boring to them….
  6. Sixes avoid deviance……they see life as governed by laws, rules and norms……preoccupied that all regulations be observed, especially those given by a person in authority or set down in writing. They see this in terms of loyalty to the group….
  7. Sevens avoid pain….they are optimistic and fun loving persons….they avoid noticing pain or distress in the lives of others around them…..often fail to carry out what they have planned to do because of the difficulties and discomforts involved in its execution
  8. Eights avoid weakness……they glory in being strong persons…..ready to meet head on whatever is wrong and unmask its injustice and pretenses…..they are watchful not to be taken advantage of, and take extreme care not to let others see them as weak in any way
  9. Nines avoid conflict…..feel uncomfortable with any tension or lack of harmony between people….nothing is as important as peace and restraint….feel a need for others to draw them into activity, otherwise they lack incentive to do things….

These being just extracts, would not give you a complete picture so I highly recommend that you read more about it or consult an Enneagram expert like Cindy Leong (see paragraph below for my experience with Cindy)

As a very young person, subjects like these were mind blowing to me and I thoroughly enjoyed psychology, astrology and the likes. But like any young person, my attention was also short lived. I tucked my Enneagram books away after a while and they stayed on the shelves for a long time.

Cindy Leong, relationship coach from Relationship Studio

In recent years, Enneagram appeared once again in my life. And this time, it was through Cindy Leong from Relationship Studio. Cindy is a relationship coach and she uses the Enneagram system as a personal development tool for her clients. She coaches individuals, couples and companies on how to have better relationships with others, by first understanding self.

I did my test with her and we also had a one-on-one consultation.

The test revealed once again that the Type 5 is still my pre-dominant energy.

In the system that Cindy uses, the types are called:

  • Type 1 – Perfectionist – the need to be perfect
  • Type 2 – Helper – the need to be needed
  • Type 3 – Performer – the need to succeed
  • Type 4 – Individualist – the need to be special
  • Type 5 – Investigator – the need to perceive
  • Type 6  – Loyalist  – the need for security
  • Type 7 – Epicure – the need to avoid pain
  • Type 8 – Challenger – the need for power
  • Type 9 – Peacemaker – the need to avoid conflict

As you can see the meaning is similar to what I have extracted from the books.

Taking the test as I have done 20 years ago was a good first step. But what I have found highly beneficial this time, was the one-on-one consultation with Cindy. As she is an expert in this field, and I know that she has travelled long distances to meet her mentors/teachers to help her to stretch and expand her learning, Cindy was able to give me more insights than what the test showed me. At that point, I wished I had seen someone 20 years ago with my test results!

But as they say, it is never too late to learn anything new.

The test showed my responses to the questions, and there were raw scores and percentile scores given as well. Without Cindy’s help, I do not think I would be able to interpret the scores effectively. She helped me to see where I was at, and what strengths and resources I was not using at that point, and also how I could enable myself further positively by using some of the other qualities in the other Types that were available to me.

All in all, I would say that I really enjoyed the session, it was like a coffee date with a girl friend who was able to be fully present and completely honest with me who offered me new insights and revelations about myself. Cindy was professional, approachable and open in her approach which I truly appreciate. As Type Fives go, we tend to be stingy with sharing our minds and hearts, and I know I have a tendency to only share transparently with people I have taken time to trust. But Cindy made it possible for me to open up quite candidly, so that she is able to assist me further in my understanding of self.

So here’s a big shout out to Cindy Leong from Relationship Studio! 🙂

I highly recommend Cindy if you would like to learn more about the Enneagram and how it can assist you in your personal development. I can also see how the Enneagram can help couples to improve on their relationship and learn how to communicate more effectively.

Another area which the Enneagram should be adopted is at the workplace. Can you imagine running a business and being able to understand your staff well through this system? You would be playing up the strengths of each person and giving the right people the right tasks! And I know Cindy is also very experienced in this particular area of corporate work.

If you wish to contact Cindy, do drop an email to my assistant assist@shamalatan.com and she will help you to get in touch with her. Sessions can also be done via Skype.

© 2016 Shamala Tan