Here Are 5 Ways to Find your Enneagram Type
By Lynn Roulo
What you will learn
Everything the Enneagram system has to offer starts to unfold once you find your Enneagram type.
But that process is sometimes a complex one.
Unlike some other personality profiling systems like the DISC and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), uncovering your Enneagram type may require more than answering a standardized test.
The discovery process is, in itself, an experience in personal growth, because self-typing is one of the key tenets of the system.
How Self-Typing Works
Self-typing means that to relate to an Enneagram type, you must recognize yourself as one of the nine types.
Even as an Enneagram expert, I can’t tell you what type you are. You must self-identify. This is a key element of the system and is important in many ways.
- Self-typing recognizes that motivation and behavior aren’t always aligned. Only you truly know your motivations for doing something, and it's these motivations that determine your Enneagram type. Other people can help you uncover your motivations, but only you can say why you do what you do.
- Self-typing allows you to identify your type at your own pace. The Enneagram is a deep and rich system that gives you a full path to personal growth. This path includes shining a light on the shadow side of each personality and exposing some dark corners. I have found some people just aren’t ready to go down that part of the path yet, and self-typing gives them the agency to go at their own pace.
Now that you understand that self-typing is a foundational part of the system, let me show you five different methods you can use to find your type.
First Way: Read the Nine Personality Profiles
Many people can recognize themselves by reading the different personality profiles. These profiles reference the habit of attention of each type and the behavioral patterns that radiate out from this habit of attention. Remember that to be an Enneagram type, you are most of the things, most of the time. You will likely relate to some traits of all nine types, but if you start to think you are “80% or more of the traits 80% or more of the time,” this might be your dominant thought pattern.
You can start right now. Here are all nine type descriptions:
Second Way: Take an Online Test
While online tests aren't always definitive, they can serve as useful data points. These tests strive to determine where your attention goes through a series of multiple choice questions. The tests often focus on behavior (versus motivations) and may miss subtle nuances, like the behavior of Enneagram countertypes and subtypes (more on those in future posts). That said, they can help eliminate the types you are likely not and give clues about where to focus.
There are many online Enneagram tests out there. Some are free, others are paid. Some have just a few questions, and others have hundreds of questions. Besides the one you can take here, there are many other options. I personally like the test from the Enneagram Institute, as well as from well-regarded teachers like Beatrice Chestnut and Uranio Paes at CP Enneagram.
Third Way: Work with an Enneagram Typing Professional
Enneagram typing professionals are trained in the art of typing people and can be really useful in helping you find your type. In the hundreds of typing interviews I’ve done, I’ve noticed trends and subtleties that don’t appear in books or online tests. An Enneagram typing interview typically lasts 60-90 minutes, and through a series of questions, the interviewer can help uncover your key thought patterns and habit of attention.
Make sure your typing professional has a good understanding of subtypes, because this can sometimes be the reason you have struggled to find your type. Since the interview process is dynamic and more open-ended, you can have a real-time discussion with an expert about why you do and do not relate to some of the types. Often these discussions can clear up confusion and lead you to recognize your Enneagram type.
Fourth Way: Remember back to when you were about 25 years old
Some of you will discover the Enneagram system in your mid-twenties (or younger). If you do, consider yourself lucky. This is what happened to me. I bought the Riso-Hudson Enneagram book "Personality Types" when I was 24 years old and easily identified myself as a Type 7, Enthusiast.
Why is it easier to identify our Enneagram type when we are younger? Because in our mid-twenties, most of us are still pretty “raw”, acting out our habit of attention. As we grow older, we begin to adjust our behavior based on experience and feedback, and this can make it harder to uncover our type.
At 24 years old, I went out every night of the week and filled my day planner with a wide range of fun activities. These days I stay home most nights and maintain a much more relaxed schedule. But my habit of attention is still Type 7, and I am constantly planning for a positive future.
Remembering back to your 25-year-old self can help illuminate your core habit of attention.
Fifth Way: Study the Subtypes and Countertypes
I find it incomplete to think about the Enneagram as only nine personality profiles. I like to think of it as nine core habits of attention, expressed with three different instincts. That gives us 27 personality profiles in total. And if 27 profiles weren’t complex enough, within each of the nine types, there is a countertype, a personality that behaves almost opposite to what you would expect based on the habit of attention.
If you feel really confused about your Enneagram type, studying the subtypes and countertypes can be a useful exercise. I recommend Beatrice Chestnut’s book The Complete Enneagram as a great place to get started.
Which way do you want to try to find your Enneagram type?
As you can see, finding your Enneagram type is part of the self-discovery journey. It’s important to take your time and approach the process as part of the learning.
The Enneagram invites us to wake up to our subconscious habits as a way to break out of them. It shows us our strengths while shining a light on our dark shadows.
The very process of learning your Enneagram type will alter your consciousness and raise your awareness. And it is just the first step in what can be a deeply enriching and endlessly fascinating journey.
So, which way do you want to try?
And for those of you who already know their type: How did you find it? Share your personal story of how you found your Enneagram type in the comments below.