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Benefits of the Enneagram Part 1: Self-Awareness

SELF UNDERSTANDING THROUGH THE ENNEAGRAM

I recently uncovered another gem from one of my favorite Enneagram books, The Modern Enneagram, by Berghoef and Bell. In this concise, yet brilliant book, they describe the benefits of the Enneagram to which I’ve added a few comments. 

These benefits fall into the categories of:

  1. Awareness of SELF
  2. Relationships - awareness of OTHERS and how we relate with them
  3. Putting the Enneagram understandings to use in the WORLD to generate grounded compassion and skillful action. 

Let’s start by exploring the benefits in the domain of self-understanding one gains when they access the wisdom of the Enneagram. 

Here are four points Berghoef and Bell make. 

  • Your coping skills will improve. Life will always throw challenges at you. When you lack self-awareness, you may address obstacles from a place of reactivity, and it becomes much harder to cope. With awareness, you can handle these difficulties from a place of grace and acceptance, and it becomes easier to remain positive and relaxed, and to make empowering choices.”

I recently upset Sarah, an Enneagram Type 2 Helper, who felt unappreciated from our interaction. Luckily for me, she was able to observe that when she read a text I sent she observed tightness in her chest, and assessed that I was not trusting her. Sarah was able to re-center, articulate her feelings, and remember her faith in our relationship. Whew! Her ability to use the Enneagram saved us a lot of time, heartbreak and stress, and got our relationship back on track in no time.

The Enneagram gives us the capacity to understand and observe our triggers, and choose to re-center so we can respond to life, rather than react from a place of triggering. When we react, we take action that generally makes things worse. When we respond appropriately we tend to make things better.

  • You will heal yourself. When pain remains buried and unaddressed, hurt lingers in your body, making you more likely to reach to the present from the place of your past pain. Working through your challenges makes it easier to act consciously and frees you from the burdens you carry. People tend to feel much better each time an issue gets resolved.”

Bill, an Enneagram Six Loyalist was triggered when he experienced a lack of responsiveness from one of his friends. Luckily, he was able to see how being treated this way was tied to past traumas he had worked through, and still needed more attention. Using his feelings as a way to heal, Bill was able to respond in a way that advocated for his needs without any accusations or biting remarks.  

As the saying goes, "hurt people hurt others.” By healing ourselves, we reduce our tendency to hurt others and our relationships. 

  •  “Your internal sense of balance will increase. Sometimes, you may feel as if you are on an emotional tightrope. Each emotion and reaction has the potential to hit you like a strong gust of wind, leaving you struggling to cling to the delicate balance you’ve created. Self-awareness gives you stretch, and acceptance makes you even stronger. You can maintain your balance and weather internal storms.”

Jane, an Enneagram Type 9 Peacemaker, was recently upset when a co-worker treated her as not important. This not only left her feeling unseen, but also forced her to face or turn away from an unwanted conflict. By understanding her type, and the way this feels triggering, she was able to return to center and face into the situation without becoming passive aggressive or "boiling over" and damaging the relationship.

The Enneagram helps us build the resilience we possess in the face of challenge. When we understand the contours of our type we can experience being challenged (or even triggered) and still practice returning to our center. The Enneagram helps us see that our type's patterns are one way, not THE RIGHT way. This little bit of space allows us to be in relationship with our patterns and triggers (making them an object in our awareness), rather than subject to, or driven by them. 

  • “You will develop presence and mindfulness. Being present allows people to live in the here and now. When we are focused on only the current moment, we don’t need to feel hurt by the wounds from the past or fear the unknown in the future. We find acceptance and joy in everything. We simply are. In presence, we see others and ourselves fully and compassionately.”

This week I had several prime opportunities to get bogged down in upset and even resentment. By noticing, attending to and then letting go of these feelings I was able to resume working on what is most important to me. 

When we are present, open and connected we can take action to bring about our desired future, while taking into account how we have been shaped by the past, without being held back by our history. 

I hope this is useful. Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 of this series, where we look at relationships and putting the Enneagram into action in the world!

The Modern Enneagram: Discover Who You Are and Who You Can Be

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