I finished The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery last week. I know personality frameworks are all the rage right now, and for some people, they can be a little eye-roll-y because they usually aren’t based in any actual science. And yet… there’s something about them that appeals to me.
Because even if they aren’t based in actual science, they are rooted in human experience and thoughtful analysis. Personality frameworks allow me to get to know myself better, to figure out exactly why I am the way I am, to learn coping strategies that will help me during stressful or difficult times in my life. They make me feel a part of something. They help me realize that I’m not alone, no matter how weird I think my personality is.
After reading the short descriptions of each type during the introduction of the book, I was feeling confident I was an Enneagram Four, but also had a strong connection to the way Enneagram Nine and Enneagram Six were described. Fours were noted as being “creative, sensitive and moody” while Nines are “pleasant, laid back and accommodating” and Sixes are “committed, practical and witty.”
After reading through the entire book, I was still on the fence. I was able to take Enneagram Six off the table, but I felt truly emotional reading about the characteristics, flaws, and motivations about both Nines and Fours. After rereading the chapters and truly digging into the strengths and weaknesses of each type, I think I can safely say that I am an Enneagram Nine. Here’s why:
I am a peacemaker to a fault.
Nines fears that expressing their preferences or asserting their agenda will put important relationships at risk and upset the calm surface of their inner sea.
A pattern of behavior I’ve started noticing in my life is my tendency to let other people make the decisions and to keep my opinion to myself the majority of the time. It’s something I do because I don’t want to rock the boat; I don’t want anybody to have any reason not to be friends with me. I always want to keep the peace and for some reason, I have this internal belief that the way to do that is to always follow the crowd and avoid conflict at all cost. It’s good in the sense that I am easy to get along with, but bad in the sense that my needs sometimes aren’t getting met in my relationships.
I’m passive in my romantic relationships.
Nines drop their healthy boundaries to fuse with a more assertive partner, whom they idealize and from whom they hope to glean a sense of identity and purpose. But after a while they don’t know where they end and the other person begins.
This passivity I have in my romantic relationships is something I’ve discussed extensively with my therapist. I want to be a strong, independent woman who stands up for what she wants and asks for what she needs, but when push comes to shove, I always fall over. I let him decide what restaurant we’re going to have dinner at, even if it means a 30-minute drive for me and a 5-minute one for him. I let him take control over how quickly the physical part of our relationship accelerates, even when I’m not completely comfortable with it. I take on his opinions, not wanting to assert my differing ones because what if he won’t like me when I do that? I’m not proud of this and it’s part of the reason I took a long break from dating. I needed to figure this out, so I can have healthier romantic relationships. So, it’s really not surprising this turned up in my Enneagram type. Not surprising at all. I’m just glad I’ve identified this, and now I can move forward in learning to be more assertive in my dating life, even when it’s wholly uncomfortable.
Making decisions can be paralyzing for me.
Because there are so many angles from which to examine an issue, so many factors to take into consideration, and so many pros and cons to fret over, Nines often never get around to deciding. They sit on the fence and agonize over what to do while waiting for someone else to make the decision or for the situation to naturally work itself out on its own.
Oh, do I ever struggle with making a decision, especially when the decision involves other people. For example, I agonized over where to go for my birthday dinner because I wanted to choose a place that everyone would enjoy and nobody would have to drive far to get to. When I make dinner plans with friends, I barely ever make a decision on where to go, instead following their lead. It can take me forever to finally push “order” on an item, even when I know it’s something I need. Making decisions is just not my forte, which means I’m probably not suited for a management role and that’s something I’m A-OK with.
I don’t often believe my opinion is important.
Nines will sometimes abandon their own opinion or defer to someone else’s, either because they’re uncertain or simply because they want to blend in and get along with them.
I am conflict avoidant to the extreme, and it’s never more obvious than the times I have to give my opinion. Since I’m very attuned to people’s thoughts and feelings, I can often give them the opinion they want to hear, not always the one I think is right. I want to be opinionated and stand up for what I believe in, but when I come faced with the choice to do so, I will always defer to the other person. For a long time, I believe I was a conservative, pro-life Republican because that’s the way I was raised and I didn’t want to rock the boat. I wanted to keep the status quo until enough was enough. It’s then I realized what I believe in and what’s important to me when it comes to politics, and it was not being a conservative, pro-life Republican. And this is the one area of my life that I have begun to be more vocal and assert my opinion, and it honestly feels so good to do so.
I’m an easy person to get along with.
Loyal and kind, they will go above and beyond the call of duty to support you. They’re fun, flexible and don’t complain too much. They love life’s simple pleasures.
I don’t ask for much from other people. Now that can be good and bad because it means sometimes my needs aren’t getting met, but for the most part, it’s a good quality. It means I’m just happy being with people, full stop. I don’t expect the world from them and I want to support them in any way I can. And I’m fiercely loyal to those I call my own. If you’re in my circle of trust, I will defend you to my death.
I am a natural mediator.
Supportive, nonjudgmental and inclusive, they build bridges and bring people together in a spirit of cooperation.
As a Nine, my goal in life is peace. I want inner peace, outer peace, world peace, all the peace. I want peace in my relationships, in my work environment, in my home. And I will work hard to make sure that happens. I am inclusive and cooperative and supportive to every kind of viewpoint. I can see both sides of every issue and I want to bring people together.
I am my best self in a low-stress work environment.
Creatures of habit, Nines appreciate structure, predictability and routine in the workplace. Nines don’t like to bring work home, and they definitely don’t like interruptions on weekends or vacation.
My current job is perfect for me. I am given free rein to work at my own pace and prioritize my own tasks. I do not have a boss breathing over my shoulder. I am also not required to work overtime or work on the weekends, even when I’m behind. I have a set monthly schedule and life at work is predictable for me. And I love that. It’s not that every day is the same, but that I have a predictability to my workflow that is determined by me and that’s exactly what I need to feel confident and happy at work.
When stressed, I become more anxious and self-doubtful. In security, I am goal-oriented and confident.
In the book, the author makes a point to talk about how each type reacts in times of high stress and times when we’re feeling safe and secure. This is the area where I could really type myself as a Nine over a Four. When I’m stressed, making decisions is harder than ever and my anxiety is through the roof. And, even worse, my temper has a short fuse and I can react emotionally to even the slightest barb. When I’m feeling secure, though, there’s no better feeling. I can make decisions with confidence and genuinely understand my place in this world and why I matter.
My “wing” is One.
Nines with a One wing have a strong sense of the difference between right and wrong … The 9w1s are more critical, orderly, introverted and passive-aggressive than other Nines.
One of the things I love about the Enneagram is the fact that it takes into consideration that we’re human and fluid and ever-changing. Our motivations never change, but the way we react to external stimuli can. This is why each type has two wings, and you fall in one wing or the other. For me, I’m a Nine with a One wing.
So, what does all of this knowledge mean for me now? Well, to be honest, I’m not really sure. I do know it will prompt me to acknowledge when I’m acting more in line with the “negative” parts of my type: not being decisive, passivity in relationships, feeling like my opinion doesn’t matter, etc. In doing so, I am hopeful to work towards being more of a healthy Nine, someone who is a peacemaker but not a pushover, who is inclusive to all points of view without forgetting her own, who can make decisions in a confident manner.
It’s up to me to take this knowledge and let it guide my life in a healthy manner. I think I’m up for the challenge.
Do you know your Enneagram type? If so, let me know what it is!