The One System That Actually Helps You Grow
If you look at the self-help industry out there, 99% of it tells you to think positive, believe in yourself, and wait for all the good things that you most decidedly deserve. We think that's bullshit.
Not only is it wrong, it is harmful. Because unless you look at the dark sides of life, yourself, and your personality, you'll only stay stuck in the same loops you've treaded all your life.
But how do you escape the cycle? How do you even start?
Well, to begin with, you have to dig deep and take a hard, honest look at yourself. And to know where you should start, you need a good tool. There's lots of tools out there, but the best one we know is called the Enneagram. It's a system of personality that focuses laserlike on the way your personality shapes your life – good and bad.
And then it digs deeper.
Let's look at seven ways how that works.
What you will learn
Seven Ways The Enneagram Helps You Grow
1. You become aware of your patterns
The first and most simple idea behind personality work is what Mr. Jung is talking about in his famous quote above: That all of us – you, me, the entire human race – are all very good at not realizing what the heck we’re doing most of the time.
The Enneagram helps you do exactly that: making our unconscious conscious.
Day in, day out, we make decisions, do some things, avoid others, just generally live our lives, without knowing most of the time why we do the things we do. Even more, we often don’t know that we don’t know. It’s like we are running on autopilot.
Because we’re not aware of these repeating patterns in our lives, we have little chance to change them. Here is where the most basic power of the Enneagram shines: Pointing out the nine principal stories humans have told themselves throughout history to navigate their lives.
Realizing you're living in a story you have constructed for yourself that doesn't reflect reality – that's what's so eye-opening to so many people who encountered the Enneagram. Each of our stories leads to certain strategies to cope with that story, and each strategy comes with its own set of behavioral patterns, motivations, childhood wounds and internalized messages that shape our personality.
2. You realize that you're more than a personality type
Here's another big thought: You are not your story. The stragey you're running is not who you are or have to be. We’re all so comfortable using our strategies to get us through the day that we are used to thinking "this is just who I am".
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Actually, it’s not even supposed to. If the basic assumption of the Enneagram is that the human nature has told itseld these nine stories of how the world works, it means that – in principle – each of us can enter into all nine stories to engage with life – not just the one we unconsciously picked for ourselves in childhood.
If you’re next thought is „Alright then, what do I need to change about myself to make this happen?“, we have more good news for you.
3. No one asks you to fix your personality
The most prevalent idea in our modern society is the concept of self-improvement: Get better at being yourself. For that to work however, the underlying message has to be that you’re not okay the way you are right now.
No no, first, you need to fix yourself. Or at least those parts that other parts of you disapprove of.
This raises a few interesting questions though: Who’s the judge here, and who’s the judged? Which part of you claims the authority to be able to fix other parts of you? And how do they plan on doing that without leaving those other parts of us severely miserable?
That’s why the Enneagram isn’t concerned with „fixing“ you. It doesn’t want to change your personality, and it certainly doesn’t want you to get rid of it for something „better“.
Instead, the Enneagram invites you to discover and accept who you actually are. Which is not something else than your personality, but simply more.
4. It lets you see that there is so much more to you – and everyone else
Let’s do a little thought experiment. Think of yourself as a big house. There are lots of rooms, fancy curtains framing the windows, a big garden in the back for the dog to play in.
You own this house. It's all for you to explore, to inhabit, to enjoy. But instead of freely floating from room to room, you have locked yourself in the boiler room and spend all your life there.
This is what the Enneagram is trying to show you: By building your life and personality around the story you're telling yourself, you're locking yourself out of all the other options life offers to you. That doesn't mean you need to get rid of your personality, just as you shouldn't rip the boiler room out of the basement. There’s just, you know, so much more to explore and enjoy.
More options of how engage with life. More ways to handle your emotions. More viewpoints than just the one you've inhabited so far.
5. It offers you new options to approach your challenges
The thing with what the Enneagram calls your personality type is that, while it gives you certain strengths and brings its own sets of natural gifts, it also locks you into a specific set of behaviors.
To become aware of those patterns and how they get you into the same sorts of trouble all the time is what gives you the opportunity to have a choice: Do you want to continue repeating those patterns, or do you want to try something else? That’s why one of the things we repeat the most ist that:
6. You start to better understand the people you don't understand
This way, the Enneagram doesn’t just help you understand yourself better, it also helps you understand where other people are coming from. Everyone lives inside their own little story. This story shapes their personality type, their favorite strategies, or, so to say, the favorite room in their house they've decided to stay in.
By understanding people’s stories, their personality types, you will be able to develop so much more compassion, grace and appreciation for the people you've always struggled to understand.
7. You get to set out on a new path
There’s one last thing I want to mention at the end of this section: The kind of self-awareness and the freedom you acquire to enter into different stories than your current ones is not something that will happen in a single moment. It's not a magical form of enlightenment. There's no overnight change.
Instead, it's a path – a road that you will be travelling for the rest of your life. The Enneagram is a powerful tool for self-discovery and understanding the people around you, but getting good at using this tool is a learning process, just like learning to use any other complex tool would be.
Hey there, I'm Chris, Chief Editor of everything you can read on our website.
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Point 6 is super relevant to me as a type 8. It's super difficult for me to accept people I don't understand (hello 9s, 5s, and 4s). Learning that that's a general thing for type 8 and how other types see the world has definitely helped me to become a little less arrogant.
i was told all my life that you either eat or get eaten. but it didnt turn me into type 8. it turned me into type 6. im super careful. i guess its not just the story you are told, but more the story you than tell yourself. i knew i wasnt strong so i just decided to play it save.
How do you actually "enter into all nine stories" tho? I'm a type 4. I don't ever feel like I will understand type 6 or type 8. Much less be like them. Isn't it okay that people are just different? Maybe I never want to be like type 8, for example.
I know it's easy to tell people "You're good the way you are! You don't need to fix yourself." It's much harder to actually undo decades of thinking your'e not good enough. The Enneagram has helped me understand where those thoughts are coming from. But without actual therapy, I don't think it would ever have gotten better.
Can subscribe to point 6. I definitely helped me understand my sisters better. We're just sooo different, but I never really understood how we're different. Since we found out our Enneagram types, so much has become clearer. I was literally sitting there saying "THAT'S what you think?"