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the enneagram

You can think of the Enneagram as a graph that describes and explains human behaviour in an accurate and accessible way.

The Enneagram shows us those common repeating patterns of behaviour that we all tend to exhibit unconsciously, and it reveals the underlying motivations or drivers of this behaviour. Knowledge of the Enneagram model and your Enneagram type is hugely beneficial in deepening awareness of oneself and of others and provides insight into the nature of our relationships.

It depicts nine personality types and their related behavioural patterns. It’s worth bearing in mind that none of the nine styles is better or worse than any other. All can function exceptionally well and positively when they are operating at their best. Equally, all can be damaging and destructive when operating at their worst. The Enneagram touches on something that is fundamental to the human condition. Evidence of this is that people from many different cultural, national, and ethnic origins, and from a wide variety of spiritual and philosophical traditions, can recognise themselves somewhere in the nine characteristic styles described in this model.

Each Enneagram personality type tends to pay attention to different aspects of the environment and has particular habitual ways of thinking, feeling (emotion) and acting in the world. We display aspects of all nine Enneagram types, and different contexts or environments may draw out certain behaviours that are not usually characteristic of us. For example, our behaviour often changes when we’re feeling particularly stressed relative to when we’re relaxed. Each of the nine personality types in the model is connected to two other styles by lines which indicate how our behaviour can change under certain conditions.

The Enneagram shows us those common repeating patterns of behaviour that we all tend to exhibit unconsciously, and it reveals the underlying motivations or drivers of this behaviour. Knowledge of the Enneagram model and your Enneagram type is hugely beneficial in deepening awareness of oneself and of others and provides insight into the nature of our relationships.

It depicts nine personality types and their related behavioural patterns. It’s worth bearing in mind that none of the nine styles is better or worse than any other. All can function exceptionally well and positively when they are operating at their best. Equally, all can be damaging and destructive when operating at their worst. The Enneagram touches on something that is fundamental to the human condition. Evidence of this is that people from many different cultural, national, and ethnic origins, and from a wide variety of spiritual and philosophical traditions, can recognise themselves somewhere in the nine characteristic styles described in this model.

Each Enneagram personality type tends to pay attention to different aspects of the environment and has particular habitual ways of thinking, feeling (emotion) and acting in the world. We display aspects of all nine Enneagram types, and different contexts or environments may draw out certain behaviours that are not usually characteristic of us. For example, our behaviour often changes when we’re feeling particularly stressed relative to when we’re relaxed. Each of the nine personality types in the model is connected to two other styles by lines which indicate how our behaviour can change under certain conditions.

The Nine Enneagram Personality Types avoidances

The Eagle
The Eagle
Critical of others and seen as a perfectionist
Enneagram type 1’s set high standards and expectations and are often quite critical of what’s ‘not right’ or ‘incorrect’. This is because they generally want to improve things and change things for the better. They’re perfectionists in their own right and often point out mistakes and errors causing others to see them as quite picky and critical at times. Their need to be perfect most likely stemmed from them feeling highly criticised themselves as children, and as a way to avoid that criticism, they strived to become ‘perfect’.
The Dog
The Dog
Generous, helpful and supportive towards others
Enneagram type 2’s are seen as warm and generous, someone who truly wants to help others in practical ways. They have a need for people to appreciate and acknowledge them for what they do. A thank-you, a smile, a hug will often suffice. Often, they are sensitive to a lack of appreciation - when people don’t even say “thank-you” for what they do for others. Lack of appreciation can cause them to feel resentful or even angry.
The Fox
The Fox
Avoids failure and seen as successful
Enneagram type 3’s are very focused and have a driven need to achieve. They can be exceptionally competitive and have a strong desire for success. They can easily work themselves to the point of burnout because they are so focused on the end prize. When they don’t win they can feel like an utter failure and they do everything they can to avoid this. Their need for achievement may have been because, as a child, they were only really recognised when they did exceptionally well; mediocre just wasn’t acceptable.
The Cat
The Cat
Feels different, deeply emotional and unique
Enneagram type 4’s often experience significant emotional depth and have a strong need for things to have meaning. Melancholy is not a state of mind they can easily snap out of, and they don’t always want to be rescued from it. They often don’t know the depth of their own emotions, and continue to dig deeper and deeper into discovering their identity. Because they’re so unique, they can feel inherently misunderstood. They may have a need for people to support them, but not too much, because as soon as things feel ordinary, they’ll push them away.
The Owl
The Owl
Quiet, knowledgeable and seen as wise
Enneagram type 5’s are often very quiet and reserved, but their apparent aloofness is just them going deep within their minds and thought processes, avoiding being overwhelmed by too much external stimulation. They often collect a lot of knowledge on subject matters that interest them and can become real ‘subject experts’. Usually, as children, they felt uncomfortable or anxious in social situations and so tended to pull away from people, observe the world from a distance, and try to understand how things work.
The Wolf
The Wolf
Skittish, anxious and often seen as careful
Enneagram type 6’s often sense an inherent inner turmoil or an undercurrent of anxiety that leaves them feeling unsure, doubtful, and careful about accepting things at face value. They can easily project their fears into the world and sense real danger or anxiety in situations that might not worry others around them. Sometimes, as children, they may have felt uncertain and fearful because of an inability to read a situation that was potentially unsafe. For some, this stems from a volatile home environment or an unpredictable parent figure.
The Monkey
The Monkey
Happy go lucky and fun-loving
Enneagram type 7's are energetic and enjoy connecting with people. They can have difficulty completing tasks or projects because they see so many exciting possibilities and find it hard staying focused on one thing for very long. If they feel forced to focus on one thing for a long time they often lose interest and become bored. The big picture is usually far more appealing to them than the detail. Exploring exciting new possibilities and experiences is likely to energise them. They have an intrinsic need to avoid anything that is negative or perceived as painful or difficult, including making difficult decisions.
The Tiger
The Tiger
Strong and often seen as tough
Enneagram type 8’s are strong, assertive, and sometimes aggressive and controlling. But, underneath all of that there’s a soft, vulnerable part that’s hidden away and is only seen when they feel safe. If you oppose them they may retaliate with a power that’s even stronger than the threat. This is a defence mechanism designed to avoid being taken advantage of and feeling vulnerable or weak. Their strong defence mechanism most likely came from a childhood awareness of vulnerability, either their own or someone else’s, or having a parental figure who forced them to always show up as strong and never show weakness.
The Elephant
The Elephant
Peaceful and easy to get along with
Enneagram type 9’s want to avoid conflict as much as possible and don’t want to disturb the peace. Often, they are caring and seen as really good listeners. At times they appear quite passive and avoid challenging the status quo even when it really should be challenged. They might even delay making decisions until they absolutely have to, especially if they feel it might ruffle feathers. This stems from a need to maintain calm and avoid any disruption to relationships. It’s possible that as children they felt they needed to keep the peace in their own homes.
The Eagle
Critical of others and seen as a perfectionist
Enneagram type 1’s set high standards and expectations and are often quite critical of what’s ‘not right’ or ‘incorrect’. This is because they generally want to improve things and change things for the better. They’re perfectionists in their own right and often point out mistakes and errors causing others to see them as quite picky and critical at times. Their need to be perfect most likely stemmed from them feeling highly criticised themselves as children, and as a way to avoid that criticism, they strived to become ‘perfect’.
The Dog
Generous, helpful and supportive towards others
Enneagram type 2’s are seen as warm and generous, someone who truly wants to help others in practical ways. They have a need for people to appreciate and acknowledge them for what they do. A thank-you, a smile, a hug will often suffice. Often, they are sensitive to a lack of appreciation - when people don’t even say “thank-you” for what they do for others. Lack of appreciation can cause them to feel resentful or even angry.
The Fox
Avoids failure and seen as successful
Enneagram type 3’s are very focused and have a driven need to achieve. They can be exceptionally competitive and have a strong desire for success. They can easily work themselves to the point of burnout because they are so focused on the end prize. When they don’t win they can feel like an utter failure and they do everything they can to avoid this. Their need for achievement may have been because, as a child, they were only really recognised when they did exceptionally well; mediocre just wasn’t acceptable.
The Cat
Feels different, deeply emotional and unique
Enneagram type 4’s often experience significant emotional depth and have a strong need for things to have meaning. Melancholy is not a state of mind they can easily snap out of, and they don’t always want to be rescued from it. They often don’t know the depth of their own emotions, and continue to dig deeper and deeper into discovering their identity. Because they’re so unique, they can feel inherently misunderstood. They may have a need for people to support them, but not too much, because as soon as things feel ordinary, they’ll push them away.
The Owl
Quiet, knowledgeable and seen as wise
Enneagram type 5’s are often very quiet and reserved, but their apparent aloofness is just them going deep within their minds and thought processes, avoiding being overwhelmed by too much external stimulation. They often collect a lot of knowledge on subject matters that interest them and can become real ‘subject experts’. Usually, as children, they felt uncomfortable or anxious in social situations and so tended to pull away from people, observe the world from a distance, and try to understand how things work.
The Wolf
Skittish, anxious and often seen as careful
Enneagram type 6’s often sense an inherent inner turmoil or an undercurrent of anxiety that leaves them feeling unsure, doubtful, and careful about accepting things at face value. They can easily project their fears into the world and sense real danger or anxiety in situations that might not worry others around them. Sometimes, as children, they may have felt uncertain and fearful because of an inability to read a situation that was potentially unsafe. For some, this stems from a volatile home environment or an unpredictable parent figure.
The Monkey
Happy go lucky and fun-loving
Enneagram type 7's are energetic and enjoy connecting with people. They can have difficulty completing tasks or projects because they see so many exciting possibilities and find it hard staying focused on one thing for very long. If they feel forced to focus on one thing for a long time they often lose interest and become bored. The big picture is usually far more appealing to them than the detail. Exploring exciting new possibilities and experiences is likely to energise them. They have an intrinsic need to avoid anything that is negative or perceived as painful or difficult, including making difficult decisions.
The Tiger
Strong and often seen as tough
Enneagram type 8’s are strong, assertive, and sometimes aggressive and controlling. But, underneath all of that there’s a soft, vulnerable part that’s hidden away and is only seen when they feel safe. If you oppose them they may retaliate with a power that’s even stronger than the threat. This is a defence mechanism designed to avoid being taken advantage of and feeling vulnerable or weak. Their strong defence mechanism most likely came from a childhood awareness of vulnerability, either their own or someone else’s, or having a parental figure who forced them to always show up as strong and never show weakness.
The Elephant
Peaceful and easy to get along with
Enneagram type 9’s want to avoid conflict as much as possible and don’t want to disturb the peace. Often, they are caring and seen as really good listeners. At times they appear quite passive and avoid challenging the status quo even when it really should be challenged. They might even delay making decisions until they absolutely have to, especially if they feel it might ruffle feathers. This stems from a need to maintain calm and avoid any disruption to relationships. It’s possible that as children they felt they needed to keep the peace in their own homes.