There’s understandable concern in the Enneagram community about how knowledge of the types gets used, especially in the wild world of social media today. People often get excited about their type and identify strongly with it, when we think they should be trying to dis-identify from it instead (as Mario Sikora recently lamented in “Once Again, You are Not Your Number”). Do we fear that the deeper message of the Enneagram is being lost, that we’re losing control of it? Perhaps that’s because we don’t have it right yet ourselves: we can’t tell people how type patterns arise in childhood, and what feelings drive them. If we could, there would be no more difficulty with the abstract issues that Mario discussed – what words mean, whether concepts actually exist, what we are or aren’t in whatever sense, or should try to be or do instead. Only our early experience would be left to deal with, a painful aspect of it that we’ve always avoided, and we could finally meet it accurately with kindness and compassion, and find out how that changes our lives.
In the absence of such understanding, enthusiasm actually strikes me as a very natural reaction to the conscious recognition of Enneatype, not only (as Mario observed) because ego loves identification, but because this very identification became a cornerstone of our personality long ago, when our type pattern first developed. It’s too late now to warn people not to embrace type as an identity; it’s the sort of person they’ve always tried to be without really knowing why, so finally seeing it more clearly can feel very good, rather like coming home. They might be thinking “I’ve managed life’s challenges pretty well, and now maybe I can do even better.” Surely we can find some patience for that experience, even if it seems to be doubling down on a mistake, missing the deeper point.
I worry more about the opposite reaction myself, which appears to attract less concern, possibly because viewing type as a problem can make it seem logical: many people feel really bad about their type, or even come to hate it. They might be thinking “My life has often felt painful, and now you’re telling me that was my own fault?” Consequently they may hesitate to admit their type at all, or be reluctant to read further or attend workshops. We probably don’t realize how common this difficulty is, since these people may either never show up, or quietly disappear. They actually need help feeling better about themselves and their type to be inspired to continue developing inner awareness. We can tell them that they’re more than just their type, but I haven’t seen that relieve much discomfort. Even pointing out some skill or gift of the type may not be very effective, if it just comes across as a sort of side-effect or consolation prize. We need to know how to help people connect with something that feels a lot better than that.
Reactions to our type can go strongly in either direction, good or bad, enthusiastic or aversive, loving or hating type; you may have experienced each of these yourself, at times. This is solid evidence that type mechanisms actually involve such feelings: both feeling bad about ourselves, and feeling good about ourselves instead, or wanting to. It should be possible to finally discover what causes type patterns to form and persist, and I’ve become convinced that these powerful feelings are the key (as I’ve been explaining in articles on my NinePoints page). And they do lead both ways. Amid all the too-familiar feelings of wrongness, there’s also something at the core of each Enneatype to be proud of after all, a genuinely good impulse toward others that arises from the basic goodness of our own nature. Rediscovering that goodness enables reconnection with the self we abandoned so long ago: the real coming home.
Copyright © 2019, Eric R. Meyer.