The Enneagram System, What Your Number Means, and How to Use It

The Enneagram System, What Your Number Means, and How to Use It

If you’re into wellness and self-care and happen to be social media savvy, chances are you’ve seen an Enneagram test or encountered an Enneagram number in the bio of a person of influence. You may be wondering, what’s behind this latest self-discovery technique?

It may surprise some that it has ancient roots, connected to ancient mathematics, Pythagorean theorem, and geometry, and has been used by psychiatrists since the 70s. Remaining ever popular today, below, we’ll unpack the mysticism of this numerical self-discovery system and how to explore its unfurling paths.

What Is an Enneagram?

Most simply, the Enneagram visually consists of a diagram with nine points, in which each point represents a different personality type that all focus on action, feeling, and thinking.

Each of the nine personality types is defined by a set of behaviors, motivations, and deep fears. The more you understand them, you can make the most of your strengths and address your weaknesses to become your best self.

How to Find Your Basic Enneagram Type

You can take several tests or answer questionnaires similar to other personality tests and get an idea of what you may be; however, they’re not always accurate. Experts say the best way is for you to determine your type by deep diving into each of them individually and honestly assessing yourself. It may take more time, but your personal growth is worth the exploration.

What Are Adjacent Enneagram Types

The Enneagram theory suggests we are not one single type. Instead, you’re a mix of your basic Enneagram type as well as one or two adjacent types known as "wings.” The wings influence your overall personality and may even change with age, as people are always evolving depending on their environment.

You might identify with multiple traits in different types, but the Enneagram suggests that it is your basic type that is the most significant.

Enneagram Types

The Enneagram is rooted in the belief that there are nine core motivations driving human behavior. These descriptions are just a brief overview of the types, but you can read detailed descriptions of all of them from the Enneagram Institute. Once you come across your type, you’ll likely just know.

nine core motivations of enenagram

The Reformer (or sometimes called The Perfectionist)

♦ The rational and idealistic type
♦ Principled, purposeful, and self-controlled
♦ Can be judgmental and uncompromising
♦ Strives for integrity and perfection
♦ Has a strong sense of what is the “right” and “wrong” way of doing things

The Helper

♦ The caring and interpersonal type
♦ Demonstrative, generous, people-pleasing, and possessive
♦ Has a strong desire to be loved, sometimes denying their own need to make others happy
♦ Puts a lot of energy into their relationships, which is sometimes interpreted as neediness
♦ Is genuine
♦ Is a good listener

The Achiever

♦ The success-oriented, pragmatic type
♦ Adaptive, excelling, driven, and image-conscious
♦ May sometimes be an overachiever or workaholic
♦ Is more focused on success than feelings but is good at communicating

The Individualist

♦ The sensitive, creative type
♦ Expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed, and temperamental
♦ Is visual and forward-thinking
♦ Can sometimes be self-centered
♦ Has a strong sense of identity

The Investigator

♦ The intense, cerebral type
♦ Perceptive, innovative, secretive, and isolated
♦ Smart, logical, and likes to think deeply about things
♦ Quiet and objective
♦ Detached and unemotional

The Loyalist

♦ The committed, security-oriented type
♦ Engaging, anxious, and suspicious
♦ Tends to be responsible and like things being reliable
♦ Has long-lasting relationships
♦ Is trustworthy and devoted
♦ Tends to worry and dwell on the negative

The Enthusiast

♦ The busy, fun-loving type
♦ Spontaneous, versatile, and scattered
♦ Extraverted. They are social and love to meet new people
♦ Highly adventurous and always on the lookout for fun
♦ Easily distracted and unfocused
♦ Quick thinking
♦ Good at maintaining a positive attitude

The Challenger

♦ Powerful, dominating type
♦ Self-confident, decisive, and willful
♦ Bold and confrontational
♦ Often successful in leadership roles
♦ Sometimes seen as domineering and aggressive
♦ Outspoken and action-oriented

The Peacemaker

♦ Is an agreeable and easy-going type
♦ Is self-effacing and complacent at times
♦ Avoids conflict whenever possible
♦ Promotes harmony in groups
♦ May ignore their own wants and needs just to ensure peace 

You’re the only one who can discover to which you belong. It takes some introspection and a willingness to look at yourself with honesty.

therapist explaining how enneagram works

How to Use Your Enneagram

The purpose of knowing your type’s characteristics and traits isn’t to live by them; it’s so you can get out of your own way. Enneagrams teach deeper parts of who you are and bring to light your shortcomings. So, when used mindfully, it has the power to set you on a path toward the healthiest version of yourself. 

On your journey, it can help you reflect and evolve your thinking, behaviors, and communication, similar to astrology.

Forging Ahead

Your journey doesn’t end simply with the identification of your type. So, now what? Understanding the Enneagram can help you feel seen and forge a greater sense of self-compassion. Since the Enneagram allows you to see your coping mechanisms for stress, it can illuminate which self-care practices will be most impactful, which is vital. Your quest to find your type is to hopefully guide us to experience real transformation.