The Enneagram & Your Favorite Mistake
I grew up worshiping Sheryl Crow. She embodied brilliant writer, instrumentalist, singer, and entertainer all in one while looking really strong and sure of herself along the way.
While major labels were throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars at production budgets for artists back in the early 90’s, she managed to make pure magic with 40k on her debut recordTuesday Night Music Club.
I see her from time to time around town, typically in a Starbucks, and have a full-on girl crush attack, geek out moment. Thankfully, I’ve never been a total train wreck and embarrassed myself those handful of times, though I’ve come scarily close. (I have a much different story about standing behind Micheal Stipe in a local coffee shop. I’ll save that for a blog post about overcoming humiliation.)
I recently listened to an interview with her on NPR and learned of a much different, fragile side of Ms. Crow. She admitted a lifelong battle with self-doubt and depression. She even went so far as to say this larger than life persona she’d created over the years felt paper thin, and contrary to the reality of her own broken self-image.
Guess what? You and I are no different (well, besides the arsenal of Grammy’s perhaps). We learned early on which masks looked really good on us that would also double as a protective shield. They would help us show up and be seen on this daunting stage called life.
After all, the word personality is derived from the Greek word, “persona”, which means “mask”.
We all wear certain masks of personality to protect ourselves from rejection and failure—to be liked.
Your personality is NOT a bad thing either! It’s one of the loveliest things about you.
Things gets pitchy though when we over-identify with that mask and eventually lose touch with the reality of who we are—the authentic essential self.
I believe the Enneagram is one of the best, most accessible tools for self-understanding. It serves as a roadmap, guiding us on the journey of self-discovery and relational growth. If you’re new to this tool and want an introductory peek into its wisdom, this online indicator is a great place to start.
We make one whopping mistake with the Enneagram, though. Just as we over-identify with certain personality traits or masks we wear, we can also hugely over-identify with the classic and obtuse characteristics of our specific number or “type.”
We attach to the safe construct of this number as opposed to allowing it to help us “unlearn” certain behaviors that got us into trouble in the first place.
For example, when I first discovered I was a four on the Enneagram (the Romantic), it was like someone had given me a handbook, or a language, for all the reasons I do what I do. The melancholic tendencies, the shame, the need to be special, the obsession with aesthetic, all of it! I thought I was just crazy all those years!?! (Ballot's still out there).
Finally, I had insight into the complex story I’d been living out of
Initially though, instead of allowing this insight to help me shed the unhelpful parts of my personality, I took the information and completely indulged in it. Instead of “I’m Katie, and I identify with type four on the Enneagram,” it was, “I’m a four. Oh, and my name is Katie.”
Are you tracking?
In essence, if you are letting your type define you as opposed to allowing it to unlock the beauty and nuance of your purest, truest self, you’re still hiding in a box.
Don’t worry, it’s my favorite mistake too. I camped out in Four Land for a good five years before I understood how much bigger and more powerful the Enneagram really is.
It doesn’t want to type you just to leave you there. It wants to guide you home to wholehearted living without the entrapments of all those fearful masks.
Here's the thing: You are in a league of your own. You're more than a number or a type on any personality indicator. Thankfully though, this gift of the Enneagram can support you in discovering all the intricacy, uniqueness, and power that lies outside the box and inside of you. I'm pretty thrilled I get to support you as well.
Love & Gratitude,