A Unique System to Understand Yourself and Others
A Brief Overview from Linda Frazee
Welcome to the Enneagram! This system provides a view into what makes you tick, what is your motivation, where you get stuck and can even reveal your blind side! This is an ancient system refined through the ages by people like Gurdjieff, Oscar Ichazo, Claudio Naranjo. In the 1970’s it began to flourish in the USA and was further developed by Helen Palmer, Doctor David Daniels, Don Rizzo and Russ Hudson, to mention a few. It is a deeper dive than many of the other personality systems widely used. One of the primary principals is that you are the leading expert about yourself. Therefore, even though there are assessments or paragraphs of descriptions about each type (like right here on this site) ultimately, YOU must decide for yourself which numbers you identify with most. And that is just the very beginning of the learning the Enneagram offers. It may seem too simple, complicated or confusing at the start. However, I can assure you that if you are serious about self understanding and are willing to observe your own behavior, thoughts and feelings, the Enneagram can give you key answers to why you do what you do. And even better, how to shift your habitual thoughts that can create patterns to get more positive results in every area of your life.
How Do You See Yourself?
Read the nine descriptions below (labeled One, Two, Three, etc.) and eliminate the ones that you do not relate to. Rank the remaining descriptions in order from the one you identify with the most to the one you identify with the least.
Because you may not relate to everything that is said within a description, consider each as a whole rather than focusing in on specifics. In other words, does this description fit you better-OVERALL - than another? If you are having difficulty, it may be helpful to think of how others would describe you. Also, consider how you have been throughout your life, not just at this point in time.
I believe in continuous improvement and therefore I focus on doing my best at work and in every area of my life. It’s easy for me to see error and what isn’t “right” in any situation. Because of that, I am excellent at correcting mistakes. I have been told that I can be critical and demanding but I think I just have higher standards than most people. Sometimes I get resentful because other people seem to be able to overlook mistakes, act irresponsibly or treat others unfairly without even considering the impact of their behavior.
I tend to think in black and white terms, so clear rules and guidelines work best for me. My internal critic is quite harsh and never sleeps. The advantage of this critic is that I am internally guided to act with integrity and be highly responsible. The disadvantage is that I am self-critical and feel constant pressure to try be a better person and to do things correctly. Because tasks and goals are my priority, I don’t take much time for pleasure and relaxation.
I am very sensitive to the pain and needs of others. People seem to confide in me with ease and tell me I am very supportive. It feels particularly good to me to be valuable and helpful to others, especially during their special challenges. If someone makes a request of me, it is almost impossible for me to say “no”. I am dependable and will go the extra mile to do what is asked of me. Very often I just seem to know what someone else needs or wants; they don’t even need to ask for help, I am already there for them. I can get so caught up in other people’s lives that I neglect my own needs.
I prefer to be part of a team or partnership and am not comfortable in the spotlight. I feel a great deal of pleasure in knowing that I have helped others succeed. But if I feel like I have been taken advantage of, or not appreciated, I get very hurt and disappointed. Relationships and being liked by others are extremely important to me. I see the best in people and enjoy complimenting them to help them see themselves positively. However, receiving compliments from others is very difficult for me.
My accomplishments are very important to me and, because of that, I tend to be an overachiever. I have received a lot of recognition throughout my life, which has been a positive motivator for me. I prefer high profile situations where I can really shine and be the best. Because I want to avoid failure at all costs, I have been known to overdo. Sometimes I am forced to take a few days off to gather my energy, but then I am ready to get going again.
Being seen as successful is essential to me. Therefore, I may cut a few corners to get the job done. Getting others’ approval is also very important to me. Because I am eager and competitive, I have been known to bite off more than I can chew. I am good at multitasking and am more interested in getting things done quickly rather than done perfectly.
I have an ability to sense how people want me to be and I can adjust myself to fit in almost anywhere. However, I can get impatient with others who move at a slower pace and take a long time to make decisions. Time with my family and friends gets lost due to my focus on getting things done.
I frequently feel that I am different than everybody else. Sometimes I feel special and unique and better than others but more often I feel like they are better than me. I am highly sensitive to the nuances of others’ feelings and I tend to look for the deeper meaning in life and experiences. I seek authenticity and am often critical of others who seem superficial to me.
Because I crave emotional intimacy, the search for deep connection has been a driving force throughout my life. When I do get my emotional needs met I still tend to find that something is missing and I become dissatisfied once again. When I fall into longing for something I don’t have, I become melancholy or depressed. Therefore it is hard for me to be satisfied in the present moment. Others sometimes call me moody.
I embrace the depth of all feelings and am an excellent listener to others in an emotional crisis. I am disdainful of the ordinary and mundane. I like to express my unique and special style in my dress and in my environment. Beauty is essential to the feeding of my soul.
I love to study and learn. Being knowledgeable and smart is very important to me. I'm quite observant and usually prefer to stand back and watch before - and sometimes instead of - participating. I sometimes find people and situations draining and I need time alone to recharge my batteries. Because of this, I'm quite protective of my time and energy. I enjoy spending time by myself and, because my inner world is rich and lively, I am rarely bored. I don't like small talk but enjoy interacting with others if it is in a setting that provides interesting conversation or in which I'm learning something.
Privacy is important to me and I afford that same privacy to other people in a sort of "live and let live" philosophy. I don't like intrusions into my private space and time. I am put off by unexpected requests and demands, but, if I have time to prepare, I can be an excellent teacher and communicator.
I consider myself to be quite self-sufficient and I like that. I'm uncomfortable with neediness and strong emotions. My reaction is to withdraw and analyze and it is often not until I am alone when I figure out how I feel about something. Because I need less emotional contact than many people I may come across to others as cool or aloof.
You may identify with both A & B below or with one more than the other. Make a note of which it is for you.
A. I'm an analytical thinker and I'm very good at strategic planning. I'm adept at anticipating what might go wrong, and at thinking of ways to prevent it. I tend to be skeptical, especially of authority figures. It just makes good sense to me to question authority
I am sensitive to nuances and hidden meanings and I have a good “bullshit” detector. I like to know where I stand with people. Ambiguity and uncertainty make me uncomfortable and I tend to push for clarity. This sometimes results in others seeing me as confrontational or accusatory. But if there is conflict, I prefer it to be out in the open so that I don't spend time being concerned about other's motives.
I don’t trust others easily, but once you have earned my trust, I'm very loyal. I tend to pull for underdog causes and often find it easier to act on behalf of others than on my own behalf. I am usually not afraid to do things that others consider dangerous.
B. I have an analytical mind that tends to focus on issues of safety and security. I'm good at playing the devil's advocate and anticipating how things might go wrong. I like to be prepared and my mind often goes to worst case thinking in order to be prepared for any eventuality. I consider myself to be a realist but others might see me as skeptical.
My imagination is very active in anticipating dangers and I often frighten myself with what I think about but I find that, in the face of real danger, I know what to do and am usually not afraid to act. I have a doubting mind and am particularly suspicious of authority. But I don’t like trouble or confrontation so I tend to be dutiful.
I am sensitive to hidden meanings and motives. I am difficult to convince and I need a lot of reassurance in my primary relationships. Even though I am frequently doubtful and uncertain, once I commit myself to someone or to a cause, I am very loyal.
I'm a natural optimist. I'm good at planning and synthesizing ideas - my mind is quick to make connections among seemingly unrelated information. To me, life is a wonderful adventure and I love to try new things. I'm excellent at getting people enthused and excited and I love to spin possibilities. I'm not always good with follow through, though, and I really get bogged down by routine.
I believe that "variety is the spice of life." I like to enjoy what I'm doing and usually look for ways to lighten up a situation and make it more fun. I prefer to focus on the positive and am impatient with negative thinkers. Others sometimes see me as avoiding deeper feelings in my effort to avoid the downside.
I prefer to keep my options open, and because of that, sometimes have a problem with commitment. I hate to limit myself. I often have so many interests going that I feel scattered. Sometimes I wear myself out trying to take in all that life has to offer. I prefer a work setting where my need for variety is met and in which I am able to express my creative mind.
With me, what you see is what you get. I tell it like it is and want people to be direct with me as well. I don't like it when people beat around the bush. I like to take charge and put ideas into action and I'm not afraid of conflict. To me confronting something head on is a good way to clear the air. I often find myself in leadership positions, even when I don't plan it, because I'll take over if I think it's necessary. But I appreciate strong leadership and can be supportive of a good, just leader. I consider myself to be strong, competent and in control and I am usually quite forceful. Because of this, some people might see me as bossy or pushy.
I'm a "more is better" kind of person and believe in living life to the fullest; the grand scale appeals to me. I am always going for the gusto in life. I trust my "gut" instincts and don't like getting caught up in a lot of small talk and analysis. Unfairness and injustice bother me and I often find myself sticking up for or helping out the underdog. I'm very protective of the people I care about, but I don’t tolerate whiners or complainers.
I like peace and harmony in my relationships and feel extremely uncomfortable when conflict erupts. However, in conflict situations that don’t involve me personally, I sometimes end up mediating because I can see both sides of the issue and prefer that everyone get along. Because of my ability to see all sides of an issue, people view me as very fair and non-judgmental.
I like clearly defined work situations and under those circumstances I get a lot of work done. When it comes to the things I want or need to do for myself, however, I am easily distracted and I have difficulty prioritizing because most things that I have to do feel to me to be equally important.
I have a difficult time expressing my own needs and desires and tend to go along with others to get along. Other people see me as easygoing and agreeable. Sometimes, because I go along with what others want so much of the time, I end up feeling pushed around or controlled and I finally put my foot down and get very stubborn, even angry, although that does not happen often. I tend to either get lost in details or lost in the big picture and frequently end up feeling overwhelmed.