I have always been interested in human nature. Why people do the things they do. How much our upbringing plays a role in the person we become versus how genetics affect who we end up being. And lately, I have been wondering these very things about myself…more than I usually do anyway. Why have I made the choices I have? Why do I think the way I do? Why am I wired the way I am? While we often don’t have any control over the environment we are raised in and we surely don’t have control over our genetic makeup, I do think the better we understand ourselves the more control we have over directing our lives toward the things that are really going to make us feel happy and fulfilled.
After making some difficult life choices recently, I found myself sitting back and wondering why I seem to make some of the same mistakes over and over again. I know enough to know there are parts of my personality that have helped me thrive in some aspects of my life and other parts that seem to be almost self-destructive. I figured it was time to explore both these sides of me a little bit more in hopes that I can lessen the self-destructive parts and enhance the parts that have served me well over the years.
So, I took a test. An Enneagram test to be exact. If you are not familiar with the concept of an Enneagram, it is basically a system of personality typing that describes how people deal with their emotions and interpret the world. Its origins go way back to ancient Egypt and Greece, early Buddhism, writings of the early Christian mystics and can even be found in the Kabbalah in Judaism. The Enneagram system, at its core, seeks to describe the chief features of a person and can help with things like building relationships, career choices, and even personal development. There are nine Enneagram types (I will go into more detail about them below) and the main goal in finding out which Type you is to become the best version of yourself….and that is exactly what I am after!
The 9 Enneagram Types & The Test
It is generally believed you are born as one of the nine types, (Ennea meaning nine in Greek) and that type is referred to as your Dominant Type. No one type is better or worse than the next and they are used universally meaning they apply equally to all genders. Each type is unique and contains characteristics that can be seen as both assets and liabilities.
Again, while it is widely believed you are born with a dominant type, you can often see a little of yourself in each of the nine types. In fact, in addition to your dominant type, you also have what are called your “Wing” types. These are a couple of the types closest or adjacent to your dominant type. These wing types can influence your personality, but they never change your dominant type.
The Test Itself
Now there are a lot of Enneagram tests out there you can take to determine your Type, some are free, some cost a few bucks. The one I chose after doing a bit of research was given by the Enneagram Institute and is called the Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator (RHETI v2.5).
It consisted of 144 questions that have you choosing between one of two statements that best reflect your general behavior throughout your life. I tried very hard not to over-analyze the two choices and just went with my first initial reaction to each scenario. There is obviously no right or wrong answer but the more honest you are with your choices the more accurate your results will be.
After about 40 minutes I had completed the test and up popped my results! Turns out that I am a Dominant Type 6, which is The Loyalist, and my two wing types were Type 1, The Reformer, and Type 3, The Achiever.
The particular test I took actually broke down how much I scored on all Nine Types (which you can see below) and also went into a lot more detail about my Dominant Type, how I form and behave in relationships, what other types I am compatible with, and even how I behave under stress.
For me, these results were pretty spot on! I find myself to be reliable and hard-working, but I can also be very suspicious and anxious. Feeling secure is very important for me and there is no doubt in mind that I am a perfectionist!
While my results validated much of what I already knew about my personality, it was the suggestions about how to improve upon my shortcomings, or what the Enneagram Institute calls “The Personal Grow Recommendations”, that I found really interesting and the most helpful! See below for four Personal Growth Recommendations that really struck me the most….
My Personal Growth Recommendations
- Deal with Anxiety – A big part of the Loyalist personality, like I mentioned above, is we tend to be anxious. Oh boy, if you have been around my blog for a little while you know that anxiety has been a big part of my life. One of the most interesting pieces of advice for a Type 6 when it comes to dealing with anxiety is to learn to come to terms with it. Embrace it. Learn to use it as an energizing tool. I never thought about anxiety in this way. It was always something I thought of as purely negative and had to be avoided at all costs. Maybe instead of fighting so hard against it, learning to harness the energy and use it for positive results is something I need to explore more.
- Learn to Trust – Another big one for me. I could dedicate a whole separate post to this topic but for the purposes of the here and now let’s just say I have some definite trust issues. I am self-admittedly overly skeptical of people and fear rejection so much so that I would rather push people away to beat them the punch, even if that punch never would have happened. I know, I know…I told you I have self-destructive tendencies! So, part of what I need to work on is allowing myself to trust even if it means rejection in the end. Facing that fear to have more meaningful, longer-lasting relationships is a risk I am willing to start taking!
- Learn to Relax – Whew another big one for me. I have a really tough time shutting off. I often feel like if I am not doing something productive every second of the day I am not doing enough. While I know it is not logical or even feasible to be “on” 24/7, this is an area I still need to work on. I need to take more time to read, to think, to meditate even. Rushing around from one activity or assignment to the next, sometimes just for the sake of being busy is not a healthy or even productive way to live. Often, I think I get less done or at least what I get done isn’t as good quality as it could be because I am always in a rush to get to the next things on my to-do list. Reading my Personal Growth Recommendations is a great reminder that the world will not fall apart if I take a break every now and then!
- Find Security from Within – This might be the biggest one of all for me. I have a very strong need to feel secure and tend to look outward to find it. Apparently, that is a classic Loyalist trait. In really thinking about it, I feel as if I have been chasing security my whole life. After all, my parents have been happily married for 51 years. Who wouldn’t want that for themselves!? Unfortunately for me, I think I have been placing too much stock in finding a relationship like the ones my parents have in order to fill some insecurity within myself. I do know that I am a strong, capable person and after reading over my test results and all the explanations of my personality type I believe I need to focus more on looking inward for a true sense of security. After all, things change. People come and go. But knowing that I am enough and can deal with anything that might come my way is a priceless gift I can know I can give myself!
After taking this test and spending some time reading over and absorbing all the information about my Dominant and Wing personality types, I truly feel like I have a more focused idea of some of the areas I need to work on within myself. While I wholeheartedly agree with and immediately recognized a lot of the characteristics explained as part of my Type 6 personality, the deeper dive into how those traits were affecting all parts of my life was extremely interesting and even eye-opening for me. Knowing something about yourself but then seeing it spelled out in black and white with it is positives and negatives turned out to be a very humbling experience. Self-reflection is something I have now vowed to do much more of because, in the end, I want to be the best version of myself to give to the world, but I also want to be the best version of me for me.