Happy, Healthy Self: Part Two

October 18, 2019

In Part One, I offered a brief history of the Enneagram and a summary of the 9 basic types. I also shared that after spending some time getting to know the Enneagram I realized that I was actually not a Type 3 (what I tested as on the first online Enneagram survey I took). As I got better acquainted with the Enneagram, I discovered that underlying motivations and drives were far more accurate indicators than behaviors. I also spent time reading through Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile's Enneagram book titled The Road Back to You, which was incredibly helpful for better understanding the motivations driving each type. The book also describes the three distinct categories of the Enneagram: the gut triad, the heart triad, and the head triad. I found that thinking about myself as fitting into one of these three triads was much less overwhelming than trying to figure out my number. For me, ruling out the heart triad was quite easy as feelings rarely, if ever, drive my decisions. I ultimately realized that I had to be in the head/thinking triad somewhere because my head is the dominate way I interact in the world. I'm always thinking. In fact, it's hard for me to ever really shut my brain off. There are always ideas to flesh out, conversations to re-think, feelings to try to sort through and understand. Another helpful part of the triads is that each triad has a dominant emotion attached to it. For the heart triad, the dominant emotion is shame. For the gut triad, the dominant emotion is anger. And, for the head triad, the dominant emotion is fear. Fear definitely resonates with me. It's ironic because I have often opted for taking risks, a behavior that would suggest fear is not an issue for me. However, I know the underlying emotions beneath the risks I've taken; the emotions have consistently been fear, worry and anxiety. 


Discovering I was part of the head/thinking triad narrowed the numbers to three: 5, 6 or 7. I could easily rule out 7 as my husband is a 7, and I am definitely not the poster girl for 7. Sevens are enthusiasts. They tend to try and be positive at all times. They are usually the center of a party. And, they are almost always extroverts. I am the polar opposite of each of those traits. Seven was out. That left 5 and 6, and even after much contemplation, I wasn't sure if I was a 6 with a 5 wing or a 5 with a 6 wing so I had to dig deeper. I returned to The Road Back to You for further consideration. Ultimately, I settled on believing that I am a 5, and here's why.


Fives can take care of themselves and expect others to do the same. Fives don't always say things out loud, but can be quite sarcastic and cynical in their heads. Fives often feel awkward around other people. Fives are okay with being asked a few questions about themselves, but don't like it when people want too much information. Fives need alone time. Fives believe that if they want people to know how they feel, they'll tell them. Fives believe that thoughts are more reliable than feelings. Fives need a couple of days to process an experience or to figure out how they feel about something. Fives believe people are often wasteful. Fives would rather observe than participate. Fives trust themselves, so they think about things for awhile and then make their own decisions. Fives can't understand why people get together to "just hang out." Fives are listeners. Fives have to be very careful with their time and energy. Fives get tired after having to be with people too long. Fives sometimes choose to be invisible. Fives get uncomfortable being uninformed in group settings. Fives don't like large social gatherings and prefer to be with just a few people. Material possessions do not make fives happy. 


Out of the 20 "What it's Like to Be a Five" statements in The Road Back to You, I resonated deeply with 19 of them, and so I came to the conclusion that I'm a 5 and I seem to have even 4 and 6 "wing" influences.

After learning about the arrows for growth and stress that come off of each number, I was even more convinced that I was, in fact, a 5. When secure and in growth mode, fives go to number 8 on the Enneagram. Healthy eights are strong leaders, self-confident, assertive, protective, resourceful, straight-talking and decisive. They often fill positions like CEO of a business or Director of an organization. Martin Luther King Jr. is said to have been an 8. Knowing my capabilities to lead and oversee a business, it made sense that in security and growth I could connect with the 8. On the flip side, under stress and disintegration, fives go to unhealthy 7. Wow, did that information resonate with me! An unhealthy 7 becomes unfocused, constantly seeking new things and experiences as restlessness increases. She wants to have more options and choices available to her and becomes adventurous and "worldly wise." Having a 7 husband, I have seen firsthand the damage that can be done when we are both under extreme stress. Recklessness, overindulging, and running away from responsibilities toward new, more fun opportunities have all been temptations. Thankfully, however, self-awareness has given me the ability to recognize when I am under stress and moving toward disintegration. I can now choose to not act on the impulses I experience when I'm in that space. Thank God for that.


The Enneagram and knowing my number has truly helped me to embrace my self. Being able to embrace the basic essence of who I am has brought so much contentment and happiness--peace that I didn't know was possible. This understanding has served as a launchpad from which I have been able to grow and support my emotional and mental health. In fact, I believe that self-awareness and self-discovery are keys to holistic health, and through them we can experience the freedom and fulfillment from life that was intended for each of us. 


To learn more about interpreting your own results (if you've taken a test or have an idea what number you might be), click here. 


In Part Three I'm going to share some practical ways that I've been walking out this newfound freedom and fulfillment.



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