“The Enneagram is a geometric figure that delineates the nine basic personality traits of human nature and their complex interrelationships. Each of these nine types has its own way of relating to others, its own set of perceptions and preoccupations, its own values and approaches to life.”
-Riso-Hudson, Discovering Your Personality Type, 2003 p.5
Each of the nine types are motivated by the fears and desires that propel them into distinct patterns of behavior. Understanding the Enneagram helps us recognize the genesis behind these motivations and helps us see more clearly why people act and interact the way they do. It’s almost like having a secret decoder ring. It can be an extraordinarily eye-opening experience to learn about how our own filters shape the way we see the world.
Everyone has a mix of the nine types in their personality, some more than others. One of the types is the place where we spend the vast majority of the time.
The Enneagram Personality System works within the structure of three centers:
Each center contains three personality types. Each type utilizes different strategies for coping with the issues that arise from that center.
Your basic personality type isn't the total picture. Your type most often incorporates and includes an adjacent type on the geometric figure. This adjacent type/wing blends with your basic type in creating the way your overall personality presents.
For example, a type six with a five wing looks substantially different than a type six with a seven wing, while still incorporating the main aspects of the type six personality.
In addition to the nine basic type and wing combinations, each person also has a mix of three survival instincts that serve as highly influential components of the personality structure. The social, sexual and self-preservation instincts stack in different combinations that strongly determine our worldview and consequent behavior.
Due to a variety of environmental factors, people find themselves at various levels of clarity, self-awareness and mental wellbeing. Some of the factors that can affect this are situational stress, trauma, quality of childhood development and current overall environment.