What is the Enneagram?
Simply put, the Enneagram is an ancient tool for guiding a person into a deeper understanding of themself. It reveals nuances to a person’s heart, soul, and mind and provides clarity for change and wisdom. It offers nine different archetypes, most simply stated as the numbers themselves, that people can be dominant in. It is not merely a personality test but rather a soul tool for deeper understanding of oneself and the relationships you have with others.
There are many versions of the descriptions for the 9 types in the Enneagram. None of them are right or wrong. The Enneagram highlights strengths and weaknesses in an individual so you will note both types of descriptions in types.
The Enneagram diagram of a circle with many arrows inside can be an intimidating, confusing and even scary-looking graphic. While it may mimic other religious symbols that bring positive or negative reactions, it is truly a unique image to depict some of the depth of the Enneagram and interactions between the types. It is where things begin to get pretty deep so I will attempt to explain some of the aspects as simply as possible.
The types are grouped into “Triads”, which speaks to how people are emotionally driven by different centers of intelligence (heart, head, and body). This nuance to the Enneagram can bring a lot of depth in understanding how you respond to hardship, challenge and pain. Types 2, 3, and 4 represent the heart center of intelligence. Types 5, 6, and 7 are the head and types 8, 9, and 1 are the body center of intelligence.
The arrows of the Enneagram denote where a person of that number goes when under stress or security. It’s a way of knowing and identifying when you are operating in a healthy or unhealthy space.
Lastly, you will hear about wing numbers, which are the numbers to the left and right (before and after) your primary type. Many people will have a flare to them that borrows from one of these wing numbers and provides greater clarity on how they operate. When you see something like “8w7”, that denotes a person is dominant in type 8 with a 7 type wing.
How do I learn more about the Enneagram?
There are MANY sources circulating around the internet and social media related to the Enneagram. Many of these are novice, personal interpretations of the tool (like me and what I’m doing here). To get a solid understanding of the Enneagram, I recommend starting with these two, easy to read books:
FYI: This post contains affiliate links which does not impose any charges to you but helps support the work of Make Healthy Easy.
The Road Back to You also has a study guide, which I have not personally used, but I am sure is helpful.
If you’d like to get started by really diving in to the Enneagram, I highly recommend the book The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Riso and Hudson. These two men founded The Enneagram Institute and helped mainstream the concepts. This book is like an encyclopedia on the 9 types. It’s in depth but easy to read.
Next, I would encourage you to listen to some podcasts that help dive in the Enneagram with credible people. The first podcast I HIGHLY recommend is the Sleeping At Last podcast by sing-songwriter Ryan O’Neal. Ryan thoughtfully writes and composes a song for each of the Enneagram types which are tremendous works of art. He also has Enneagram expert, Chris Heuertz (see reference below), go into great depth on each type which is very enlightening. Personally, when I listened to the Seven song, I almost cried because it resonated so deeply with me. Do yourself a favor and listen to all nine of these episodes.
The other podcast I have really benefited from is The Enneagram Journey with Suzanne Stabile. Suzanne has been teaching the Enneagram for decades and bring great depth in talking with guests about their type. She knows all in the nuances of the Enneagram and can help you better understand wings and stances for sure!
If you are ready for a deeper dive into the Enneagram, I recommend Chris Heuertz book, The Sacred Enneagram: Finding your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth. It’s deep and very rich and helps bring light to just how powerful this tool can be. I’m about 1/3 of the way in and loving it.
How do I determine my Enneagram Type?
This attribute of the Enneagram is actually one I really like compared to other, straight up personality assessments. While there are official tests, which I will link to below, many experts believe it is something that you will be able to identify as you self study and explore your soul. This bit of work in researching can be an important part of self discovery. In his book The Sacred Enneagram, Chris Heuerts says “As you read through the materials, the type you feel most exposed by or most uncomfortable with is usually the one that ends up being yours.” (pg 62) It is also something that only you can bring out about yourself. Casting another person into a type is not really what the Enneagram is all about. So pick up one of the books listed above and get ready to discover your answer.
For more specifics on each of the nine types, The Enneagram Institute has a list of the nine types on their website, along with extensive, in depth descriptions HERE. This is a credible website that I would go to before others.
If you really want to do a test, Chris Heuertz recommends the Enneagram Institute’s RHETI test. It’s actually not very expensive at all ($12) so this could be a very doable option for people. Sure, there are a lot of free Enneagram tests online, and you are welcome to try them and will likely find them helpful. But the richest treasures of the Enneagram, I think, are revealed when you do a little self discovery and reading, or taking the reliable test above.
If you like learning audibly, Suzanne Stabile sells this audio lecture for $54 on discovering your Enneagram type. I have heard that it is very good and worth the $54.
Lastly, working with a trained professional or therapist can be a way to talk through which type you most identify with.
Why the Enneagram intrigues me
As a psychology minor (which, by the way, makes me an expert in nothing) and the child of a marriage and family therapist, personality has been a huge fascination of mine my whole life. I originally pursued a psych degree with a nutrition minor, until I realized switching those whose more in line with what I wanted to do in a career. I love learning how people tick, what motivates them, and how we are different. I’ve personally been through a lot of testing: Myers-Briggs, DISC, and more and I’ll be honest, I never really remember what I am exactly or how that tool is supposed to help me be better at something. (I personally think this is indicative of the Enneagram type I most associated with: Seven).
When I recently learned about the Enneagram, I was intrigued and read a book on the topic. I was immediately gripped because 1- it was rather easy to remember your dominant type and 2 – it offered insights into to my heart that I have not discovered before. It helped me make sense of some things that have been hangs up in my life for a while and gave me courage to take the next step.
As a registered dietitian (learn more about me here), I have been counseling everyday folks and athletes since the beginning of my career in 2005. I’ve noticed along the way that people respond to my style of counseling differently and learned how to adjust my approach based on the vibe a client gives me. Over the past few years I have had a growing desire to better connect personality to health coaching and counseling. This is for me (and others) as the practitioner to best tailor approaches to a person’s individuality for maximum effectiveness. It is also for those who want to change, but it’s been harder than they thought to do so. I have always loved helping people connect the dots between “I know what to do” and “but I don’t do it” and I think connecting to personality is a small slice of that answer.
Participate in Connecting Enneagram Type to Eating, Fitness & Health
The Enneagram seems like it could be a great tool to help me help others more effectively. To test out my idea though, I need some help.
I’ve created Nine, 12 questions surveys to begin collecting observations between Enneagram type and eating choices. These surveys are anonymous and no personal data is collected. Eventually I will also add surveys specific to fitness and wellness, so sign up to be on the email list for Make Healthy Easy Enneagram News and Results right here:
If you are also curious about this connection, and think of a question that would be a great addition to the surveys, submit it for consideration HERE.
Enneagram & Eating Surveys
Would you be willing to help me gain some insight into Enneagram Type and Eating? Please click on the link to your dominant type ONLY and begin. It should take about 5 minutes to complete.
Enneagram & Eating Coaching
If you’ve done some work on the Enneagram and feel like there may be connection for you personally to your nutrition, eating, lifestyle and/or wellness, I would love to help you walk through it. I offer nutrition coaching “in light of your Enneagram number”, meaning we will discuss your situation through the lense of your number, using the wisdom of the Enneagram to unlock solutions to the challenges you face in eating, wellness, or fitness.
To learn more and to book an appointment, visit the Nutrition Counseling & Coaching page.
Help get the word out
After you’ve taken your survey, would you please help me get the word out by sharing this page with a friend? The more feedback I get, the more helpful it becomes. Thank you so much!!
Many blessings to you on your inner journey and thank you for taking the time to read this.