What is the enneagram?

Prefer to read?

The Enneagram has been around for over 1600 years and is an ancient way of understanding and explaining how we view the world. I describe the Enneagram not as a personality profile but more as a philosophy, a way to thinking, that focuses on our why more than our how. It describes the lens with which we view the world.

Unlike personality profiles, our core Enneagram type stays the same throughout our life because our way of looking at things, our “why,” doesn’t change. But how we behave can change. Why is that?

Think of it like this: the Enneagram helps us understand that we see the world through our own perspective. This includes things like how we were brought up (or not), what society and culture expect from us, what our family wants for us, and what our religion teaches us.

You know that debate about whether we’re born a certain way or if our environment shapes us? The Enneagram sort of talks about both. It says our basic, fundamental nature is like a starting point, and how we see the world around us is shaped by what we’ve experienced.

So, if we notice that the way we act doesn’t fit with what society, culture, or our family expects, we might change how we act. We might put on a bit of a mask to fit in, based on what we personally think it means to belong.

But here’s the thing: sometimes we wear these masks and pretend to be a different Enneagram type for so long that we forget who we truly are. We lose touch with our real selves, the way we naturally see things. The funny part is, that natural way of looking at things still drives what we do and how we behave. It’s what makes us react in certain ways, even if those reactions aren’t very helpful. This is a big reason why many of the people I work with end up feeling burnt out.

The work that I do in my practice as a counsellor/coach specialised in the Enneagram is to help people find themselves again. It’s a bit of a tough but really powerful process. A challenging but empowering process of self-awareness, acceptance and accountability.