Nine Different Types of Personalities & How to Identify Yours
I believe every person is made differently, and everyone has a unique personality to create a well-rounded human existence. However, it goes without saying that none of us are perfect. I for one have always known that I have certain personality "flaws" I need to continually work on (more on those later). Even with the people I love most in this world, I would be critical about their shortcomings as well.
Sometimes it's difficult to accept what we don't truly understand. It's easy to look at other people and say, "That's not what I would have done", or "That's not how I would have reacted." For the first time in my life I'm beginning to understand who I was created to be, and I'm beginning to look at others and completely accept them for who they are, "flaws" and all. This is all thanks to the Enneagram.
The Enneagram is a personality typing system, with 9 different types. I know what you're thinking already. In a world of 7 billion people, how can there possibly be only 9 types of personalities? I thought the same thing. But, consider how there are only 12 colors on a standard color wheel, and yet there are infinitely many different varieties of each of those colors. While I have identified my number on the Enneagram, I know that still, there is no one else exactly like me in the world. However, I feel comfort in knowing that there are many people out there who identify with the same number and can relate on some level to my strengths and weaknesses.
My goal for this blog post is to (1) help point people in the right direction if they want to learn more about themselves and others and (2) to fully come to terms with who am and share how this has affected the way I see myself.
If I've peaked your interest, here are a few resources that will help you identify your number.
This Podcast: It's two hours, and totally worth the listen. I suggest listening on your commute, in the car, or on a flight.
This Book: I laughed, I cried, and I straight up slammed this book shut in frustration of the words I was reading... because they were so true at times it hurt.
This Online Test: There are a few floating out there. I think this is the best free version. It's worth the 10 minutes to see where you land, in case you aren't sure based on the descriptions below.
I've briefly outlined the 9 types below (content taken from this book). If you see a number that speaks to you, you can dig deeper by clicking on the header for more information.
- People have told me I can be overly critical and judgmental and I'm sometimes called a "perfectionist".
- I beat myself up when I make mistakes.
- I don't feel comfortable when I try to relax. There is too much to be done.
- I don't like it when people ignore or break the rules.
- Details are important to me.
- When it comes to taking care of others, I don't know how or when to say "no."
- I'm a great listener, and I remember the stories that make up people's lives.
- I am anxious to overcome misunderstanding in a relationship.
- I feel drawn to influential or powerful people.
- People think I'm psychic because I usually know what other people need or want.
- It's important for me to come across as successful or as a winner. I avoid failure.
- I love walking in a room and knowing I'm making a great first impression.
- I can be very persuasive.
- The keys to my happiness are efficiency, productivity, and being acknowledged as the best.
- I don't like it when people slow me down. I've been told at times I can be a "workaholic".
- I like things that are unconventional, dramatic and refined. I'm not a fan of the ordinary. I'm often referred to as a "romantic".
- I never really felt like I belonged.
- I have so many feelings in a day it's hard to know which ones to pay attention to first.
- Some people think I'm aloof, but I'm really just unique.
- In social situations I tend to hang back and wait for others to approach me.
- I can take care of myself, and I think others could do the same.
- I don't always say things out loud, but in my head I am pretty sarcastic and cynical.
- I often feel awkward around other people.
- I'm ok if people ask me a few specific questions about myself, but I don't like it when people want too much information.
- I need time alone and have to be very careful with my time and energy.
- I'm always imagining and planning for the worst.
- I often don't trust people who are in authority.
- People say I am loyal, understanding, funny, and compassionate.
- Most of my friends don't have as much anxiety as I do.
- I act quickly in a crisis, but when things settle down I fall apart.
- I'm always the first person up for a last minute adventure.
- When things get too serious for too long I usually find a way to get people to lighten up, often by telling jokes and funny stories.
- I don't like making hard and fast commitments to things.
- I suffer from FOMO - fear of missing out.
- Anticipation is the best part of life. Sometimes I get so eager for the future I can hardly wait for it to get here.
- I have been told that I'm too blunt and aggressive.
- Doing things halfway is not my thing.
- I enjoy a good verbal skirmish, just to see what others are made of.
- In relationships that matter to me I insist on being honest about conflicts and staying in the fight till things are worked out.
- It's hard for me to trust people.
- I'll do almost anything to avoid conflict.
- I tend to see two sides to everything.
- Sometimes I get lost in doing trivial tasks, while things that really need to get done get put off.
- I'm happy to go along with what others want to do.
- People seem to want me to be more decisive.
Every number is fluid and ranging from healthy to average to unhealthy. Each number on the Enneagram has an arrow pointing to it and away from it. The arrow pointing to your number is where you lean when you are feeling secure, and the arrow pointing away from your number is where you lean when you are feeling stressed. It's also possible to pick up personality traits of one of the numbers on either side of you, referred to as a "wing".
Once you've identified your number and the other numbers that affect you, you may have a mix of emotions, like I did. First, I had an "ah-ha!" moment of self-discovery, followed by a sadness in realizing the mistakes I've made are rooted in something much deeper than I ever realized.
I am a Type 7, with an 8 wing. Below are a few more bullet points from the book that ring true for me.
- I will come up with a million good reasons for doing whatever it is I want to do no matter what it will cost me or others.
- I have a compulsive need to devour positive experiences, stimulating ideas and fine material things in order to fend off suffering, hurtful memories, and a feeling of chronic deprivation.
- I have so much trouble remaining in the present moment that I never fully enjoy the adventures I'm having because I'm already thinking and planning for the next one.
- I always need and will have an escape hatch or backup plan in the event life gets scary, boring, or uncomfortable.
- I don't like being told I have potential because it means I feel pressured to buckle down and commit to cultivating a specific talent, which inevitably limits my options.
- I can walk away from a relationship with hardly any negative feelings at all, which can make me appear callous or lacking empathy.
- When I am stressed I become pessimistic, judgmental, and argumentative. I start blaming others for my problems and lapse into black-and-white thinking.
- When I feel secure, I stop consuming and start contributing, and begin to think about the meaning and purpose of my life.
I could go on-and-on, but honestly there are some bullet points that were too painful and too exposing to type out (another symptom of a "seven"). Learning these things about myself has answered so many questions about how I am in relationships and how I am at work. I understand more about who I am today because of my past and the experiences that have shaped me. I can also begin to transform by recognizing the good with the bad.
I hope the Enneagram can help you as much as it's helped me. I'll leave you with one last quote from the book:
What we don't know about ourselves can and will hurt us, not to mention others. As long as we stay in the dark about how we see the world and the wounds and beliefs that have shaped who we are, we're prisoners of our history. We'll continue going through life on autopilot doing things that hurt and confuse ourselves and everyone around us. Eventually we become so accustomed to making the same mistakes over and over in our lives that they lull us to sleep. We need to wake up.