Are you interested to know how the enneagram personality system works? Why do we behave in the way we do in various situations? Are there motives that work behind our actions and behavior? Is your personality type exclusive and unique? We will get you covered on all these basic queries in this article.

The Enneagram is a model of personality typing that describes human beings on the basis of certain personality traits that signify a particular type. 

How does the enneagram personality system work?

The Enneagram system of personality classification describes the patterns through which people interpret their surroundings and manage emotions in the real world. The system shows 9 interconnected personality types with one basic type and two adjacent types, popularly known as the wing types.

The Enneagram of personality or the nine enneagram personality types, whatever you would refer to the system refers to a model of personality typing. It describes humans on the basis of nine personality types that are exclusive yet related to one another in subtle ways. 

The 9 personality types are based on certain basic fears and desires that act as the guiding principle to how human beings behave in specific situations. The model of enneagram can be used for professional growth, relationship management, and inculcating values in humans that will help in the overall growth of their innate powers.

Before we dive into the details of the system, let’s understand the origins of the term Enneagram. Enneagram is a Greek word that is further divided into ‘Ennea’ and ‘gramma’. 

Simply speaking, Ennea means nine while gramma refers to something that is in the form of writing. The system talks about 9 separate personality types that are built with values and motives.

The system describes the finer motives behind our thoughts, feelings, and actions. As a framework of personality typing, the enneagram model speaks about self-awareness. It helps to analyze what subconsciously drives us towards certain behavior patterns; why we choose certain decisions over others and why the personality growth plan is so different for all of us.

The Enneagram personality typing not only discusses the characteristics or traits of the 9 types, but it also gives a complete idea behind the motives and values of life. This system talks about a dominant or core personality type that is represented by the enneagram number; such as an enneagram 1 or enneagram 2.

The system is a useful tool to understand your self-limiting tendencies and how you can overcome them while walking along the path of empowerment.

Basics of the Enneagram System

The model of enneagram personality is based on certain key concepts. They are as follows:

  • The model proposes that personality is a more or less stable entity. The person with a specific enneagram number does not change much from the characteristic traits of the main type
  • All the nine personality types described in the enneagram system can apply to males and females. There is no type that is gender specific.
  • The core enneagram type oscillates between healthy, average, and unhealthy dimensions from time to time, as per the life circumstance the person is in.
  • None of the types is better or worse than the other. All the types carry traits that are unique and exclusive.
  • A larger enneagram number and a smaller enneagram number are not comparable. It means that enneagram type 9 is not better or worse than enneagram 1. 

The Basis of Enneagram Wings

The fundamental nature of the Enneagram is based on a nine-point geometric symbol. This symbol has an outer circle in which the nine personality types are arranged in a clockwise manner. The circle of the enneagram is symbolic of unity and uniqueness. 

Inside the outer circle, we also have a triangle joining points 3, 6, and 9. The model also symbolizes the wings of the main enneagram number. The adjacent types lying on either side of the main enneagram type are known as the wings. For example, if you are an enneagram 9, you will have two wings, such as enneagram 1 and enneagram 8. 

These wings give a flavor to the main type. The enneagram wings influence behavior and actions subtly. Maybe seeing them as just adjacent types is not worth it. They will heavily influence each and every aspect of the main enneagram type. 

These wings also give an elaborate description of the varied and complex nature of personality. By understanding how these wings function, we will be able to get a better idea of how to enhance our existing strengths and diminish our weaknesses to reach the highest potential in life.

At the same time, when you know how your wings function, you’ll also be able to get clarity about your motives and fears associated with an action. Moreover, you will also gather information about your talents and interests, so that you can make wise career choices in the future.

Although each of the 9 types can be influenced by both enneagram types, it is usually the one-wing type that has more influence than the other. Thus, your enneagram wing does a lot of things to unlock who you are from deep within.

The Enneagram Centers

In the enneagram model, the 9 personality types are arranged in a 3*3 arrangement known as the centers of the enneagram. It means each center has three enneagram types under its influence. These three centers are known as the instinctive center, the feeling center, and the thinking center.

The model describes the presence of three centers and each center has three enneagram types in it. The inclusion of each type in their respective center is not done arbitrarily. Instead, it is based on an unconscious emotional response and the loss of contact of this emotion to the core ‘self’ of the specific type.

Sometimes, the centers of the enneagram are also known as enneagram triads. The types that come under one particular center share specific motivations, feelings, strengths, and weaknesses. Therefore they are together. For example, The gut center comprises of enneagram types 8, 9, and 1.

The heart center is made up of enneagram types 2, 3, and 4. The third one is the Head center consisting of enneagrams 5, 6, and 7.

Enneagram gut types or instinctive types

The instinctive center or gut center is made up of enneagrams 1, 8. 9. These types are impacted largely by their intuition and innate anger.  These types are those who believe in controlling their immediate surroundings. 

They have a strong need to remain free from others’ influence in their daily life. People under this gut type are angry-prone, impulsive, and can get angry quite easily. Nines will naturally reject the idea that they have hidden aggression because they prefer to remain calm and composed in front of others.

As these types are body-based, they focus on personal security, control, social belonging, and taking the right action at the right time.

Enneagram emotional center or the heart center types

The emotional center is made up of types 2, 3, and 4. These enneagram types are caring, compassionate, and believe in developing authentic human connections. People under this center are ruled by their hearts. They have the ability to feel the feelings of others and remain sensitive to the needs and wants of others. 

The heart types are able to build loving and caring relationships in their lives. The emotion that subconsciously binds these types together is a shame. Type twos are likely to express shame when they start to give too much to others in order to receive the desired praise. 

Threes may get too involved in their professional life and become an achiever because they also are seeking admiration and adoration from all others unconsciously. People with enneagram 4 want positive feedback and affirmation to boost their self-esteem. 

Enneagram Head center or thinking center types

The thinking center is made up of enneagram types 5, 6, and 7. These types are insecure and have less confidence especially when they turn to their unhealthy style. Their mind is loud, overactive; and noisy and they are keen to gather as much knowledge as possible in their life.

The personality types under this center hold the ability to think deeply and analyze each aspect of a situation closely. They can perform complicated cognitive tasks and make plans that can lead to a bright future.

To Sum Up

An overall conclusion can be drawn by highlighting the fact that the enneagram system is insightful and helps the person know his or her varied strengths and weaknesses in finely drawn ways. Each enneagram type has wings that give the idea that personality can have diverse shades as well. 

The model though seems complicated, is not actually so. It reveals an individual’s personality type making them aware of their core beliefs, traditions, and habits.

Moreover, the person understands the subtle motives that guide their actions and behavior. It helps each type to appreciate diversity and embrace the fact that each enneagram type has something best to offer to the world. In one way, we are born exclusive.