We here at MossyBrain are big fans of the Enneagram. The Enneagram is a personality typing system, within a spiritual framework, made up of nine interrelated personality types. Your type is not who you are. It represents an adaptive strategy you developed to deal with whatever life throws at you. As we grow, we learn to understand our coping mechanisms and how to move toward our true self.
You may relate to multiple types, but everyone has a dominant type that they most identify with. You can take online tests to help determine your type, but reading through the descriptions and talking with someone who knows the Enneagram well is a preferable way to figure it out. For some it will be immediately clear, but others may take a longer road to finding their type. Understanding the Enneagram and who you are is a tool that can help each of us relate better to ourselves and the world around us.
What does the Enneagram have to do with creativity?
We believe that expressing yourself creatively, however that looks for you, will help you understand who you are. Conversely, knowing who you are will help you get in touch with your creativity and how you want to express yourself. They two feed off of each other, and can become an inspiring cycle of self-realization and creation. Awareness, whether of self or others, is always a gift to creativity.
The Enneagram helps us learn about our personalities – what makes us tick, what we have to offer, our fears and challenges. When I understand my own strengths, weaknesses and motivations, I can begin to slow down and be intentional. In a moment in which I may have instinctively reacted previously, I can observe how I am feeling and why. I can then decide how I want to behave. I am not a slave to my feelings or my past. On the other hand, if we are unaware of our weaknesses, insecurities, and triggers, we are more likely to react in a negative or unhelpful way.
Knowing yourself helps you determine whether you are in a healthy or unhealthy place. Your level of health is not static. We can vacillate between the spectrum within a day, sometimes within an hour. The Enneagram explores levels of health for each personality and the behaviors and thoughts associated with each level. Self-awareness is key to understanding your circumstances and feelings, and those might help you identify your resistance to creating.
Knowing yourself also helps you understand your personal barriers to creativity. Some of us are extremely risk averse, others struggle with lack of motivation or drive, others have an excessive fear of failure, or of judgement. These barriers can prohibit creative pursuits if we are blindly led by them. Knowing our personal barriers can facilitate awareness and help us develop proactive tools to combat them. Each of us needs to embrace our unique personality, and the benefits and challenges therein.
Understand Others Better
It is useful to understand each of the Enneagram personality types, along with each type’s motivations, struggles, and gifts. This allows us to see through the simple actions and reactions of others. We become more compassionate when we are compelled to look beneath the behavior, and are look through their lens’.
There may be a particular personality type or certain attributes that rub you the wrong way. Once you understand their perspective, you will often see the why underneath and, in turn, offer grace. This ability is a gift to those you interact with, and to yourself, because you will stop being limited by long-held stigmas or prejudices. Each person’s strengths, abilities, and gifts will become more clear and therefore, your circle of collaboration will expand.
Creative collaboration means working with other people on creative endeavors, which we believe is important in living your most extraordinary and mossy life. Knowing ourselves and others helps us understand our creative compatibility with those we encounter.
It is helpful to learn how each personality type interacts with the other types. In her book, The Enneagram in Work and Love, Helen Palmer describes how the nine types relate in intimate and work-related settings. She goes through each combination of numbers, in both love and work, and describes potential relational strengths and struggles. She says, “Partnership demonstrates the differences between us. Each of us can be telling the truth, yet each can have a different story to tell.”
The Enneagram can help understand others’ outlooks, and see our relationships with clarity. When we look at how our personalities affect relationships, we can begin to understand the obstacles and pitfalls we may have experienced with others. Most importantly, we can learn how to work with every type, knowing that each one will come with specific challenges and gifts.
Go Deeper with the Enneagram
We are grateful for the Enneagram as a tool that facilitates more awareness of self and others, and therefore, helps us live more creatively. If you want to learn more about the Enneagram, check out our Enneagram Primer, go to www.enneagraminstitute.com, or read The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile. These are just a few of the plethora of resources available. It’s a great time to learn about the Enneagram! As always, let us know about your Enneagram journey, and what you are learning along the way!