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The Enneagram and Relationships – Do you know your “personality type”?

When couples know their enneagram personality types they get deep insights into their relationship dynamics. First and foremost, I see the enneagram as a system for understanding, appreciating, and managing differences between people in relationship. Obviously this has profound implications for relationship work, and it’s become a cornerstone for my work with many couples.

If you’ve worked with me personally in the past few years, then we’ve probably talked about the enneagram together. If you have not worked with me, but have been following my writing, then it’s time for an introduction to this powerful system for self-awareness and personal growth.

I’m going to provide a brief introduction to the enneagram, and then give you links to some of my favourite enneagram resources, including the Enneagram Global Summit online event that is happening right now (it’s free, and really worthwhile).

The Nine Types (From The Enneagram Institute)

The Rational, Idealistic Type: Principled, Purposeful, Self-Controlled, and Perfectionistic

The Caring, Interpersonal Type: Demonstrative, Generous, People-Pleasing, and Possessive

The Success-Oriented, Pragmatic Type: Adaptive, Excelling, Driven, and Image-Conscious

The Sensitive, Withdrawn Type: Expressive, Dramatic, Self-Absorbed, and Temperamental

The Intense, Cerebral Type: Perceptive, Innovative, Secretive, and Isolated

The Committed, Security-Oriented Type: Engaging, Responsible, Anxious, and Suspicious

The Busy, Fun-Loving Type: Spontaneous, Versatile, Distractible, and Scattered

The Powerful, Dominating Type: Self-Confident, Decisive, Willful, and Confrontational

The Easygoing, Self-Effacing Type: Receptive, Reassuring, Agreeable, and Complacent

On the surface, the enneagram is a personality typing system that offers us nine primary “types”, and then many sub-types depending on how deeply you want to go into it. One of the things I love about it is that it is very accessible for beginners, and it also has enough depth and complexity to keep you engaged for a lifetime.

One of my enneagram teachers (and a leading scholar), Russ Hudson, notes that people are attracted to the enneagram initially because they see themselves mirrored in it. We find ourselves reflected in the type descriptions, and there’s an immediate and satisfying sense of being validated or being “seen”. And when a type description matches our partner, we feel amazed to see them so accurately described!

But beyond this initial intrigue, there’s a deeper challenge waiting. Once we discover our type, we (hopefully) become compelled to WORK with our type. Each of the different enneagram types is a kind of map for how we keep ourselves stuck in a particular pattern. Our personality type is simultaneously a beautiful gift, and a prison of sorts. Working with the enneagram helps us understand the gifts of our type, and can help us liberate ourselves from the limits that our type places upon us.

Interest in the enneagram has exploded in the past five years, and this popularization has had predictably mixed results, including a fair bit of misunderstanding and misrepresentation. To save you time and get you on the right track, I’ve curated a collection of my favourite enneagram teachers and resources for you here. Although there are some differing opinions and approaches within the enneagram community, the list below only includes the most well-respected people and organizations working with the enneagram.

Enneagram Resources

Enneagram Global Summit (The Shift Network) – This is happening right now. It’s free, and it features an incredible selection of the world’s leading enneagram teachers and collaborators; the best of the best. I especially liked the conversation with Dan Siegel on the intersection between the enneagram and interpersonal neurobiology. (Recordings will probably be available.)

The Enneagram Institute – This is arguably the most established and well-respected enneagram organization. This is the place to take your enneagram assessments to find your type. You can read a short description of the types here. – Russ Hudson is one of the world’s leading enneagram scholars, teachers, and authors. I recommend his seminal book “The Wisdom of the Enneagram”. Watch the short video of him describing each type; it is very sweet and gives you an immediate sense of his style. – As an author and teacher, Beatrice Chestnut provides her own welcome and unique approach to the enneagram. Check out her enneagram podcast, “Enneagram 2.0” with Uranio Paes. I also really like her videos on youtube where she organizes panel discussions for each enneagram type.

(Note – I may receive a modest referral compensation from one or more of the links in this article. This in no way influences my recommendations.)

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