It’s hard not to use the Enneagram as a fun party trick. I’ve done it. I may, at times, continue to do it. It can hold the same power as really good gossip. Being a one-to-one Four, I don’t always thrive in holding court in larger social groups. I feel much more comfortable getting down to the nitty-gritty with just one person. And so, as a default, I seek to bring a unifying piece of information to bring together the disparate social crowd. Afraid that I may miss out of some conversation that is going on elsewhere, or fearful that I may be left out, I often take my place regaling everyone with some entertaining story, trying my best to hold everybody’s undivided attention. Add to that my newfound love of the Enneagram, and you can see how it can get dicey.
I love the Enneagram. I think it is endlessly fascinating. There is still so much for me to learn about it, and I still have trouble explaining the complex system to people who have never heard about it. I am aware that it can sound like some New Age-y, hokey, Self-Help juju. So, I try to make it accessible, I try to hook people onto it. Because, frankly, I believe in this system wholeheartedly, it resonates to my very core. And when you’re passionate about something, you, of course, want to shout it from the mountaintops. (In the same regard, I have tried to convince people of the merits of Ben Harper’s music, or the magical performances by Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix in Walk the Line. Full disclosure, in those last two instances, I almost got in knockdown drag out fights defending the honors of Ben, Reese and Joaquin.)
My therapist said to me yesterday, “Never explain, because your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe it.” I have always been one to overexplain, especially when I am passionate about said subject. However, in this case, I am keenly aware that my job with the Enneagram is to do just the opposite. I have to allow people to come to the Enneagram in their own time, in their own way. And the most important thing for me is to practice what I preach, not to cheapen the power of the Enneagram by making it a parlor game.
The Enneagram is more than just a cool identification of different personality types. It truly can be used towards spiritual growth and self-development. It is useful in letting go of old patterns to which we’ve long been slaves. I suppose all we can do when we are enlivened by something is to lead by example, let our actions speak louder than our words.