The Enneagram Episode
Elisabeth Bennett of @enneagram.life joins the podcast to discuss the personality typology taking over the internet: The Enneagram. In this episode we discuss:
What IS the Enneagram and where did it come from?
Attributes of each number
How to best love each type
Description of wings
How your type is “assigned”
Is the Enneagram a good tool to use with children?
Why is the Enneagram so popular within faith-based communities
Book mentioned in the Podcast: Road Back to You
Listen to the episode by clicking your preferred platform below
Janny: All right. Welcome to The Very, Very Quite Contrary Podcast. It's Janny Organically, and with me I've got Elisabeth Bennett, who is an Enneagram coach. It's a coach, right? It's an Enneagram coach, or is there a qualifier in there?
Elisabeth: Yeah, well, we say certified Enneagram coach, just because there isn't a real formal thing you have to do to become an Enneagram Coach since it's so new and it's not like you can go to college for this. Saying that I went through a program and I became certified, that gives me a little bit more of a distinguished-
Janny: Enneagram, I think a lot of people have been seeing it on their social media feeds, at least that's where I see it a lot right now. Maybe they're seeing it from their friends saying, "Oh, this is how to best love me. I'm a five", and, "I am a six", and they are, "What are you talking about? What are these numbers?" I remember when I first experienced this. I was on an airplane and I was reading. You know Bob Goff, right?
Janny: His wife, Maria, sweet Maria, she wrote a book. I was reading the book, and she kept saying that she was a nine and Bob's a seven. I'm, "What are they talking about?" I just Googled, "I'm a nine," and, "I'm a seven." Enneagram came up. I took the test on the airplane. That was a few years ago, whenever Maria's book had come out. Perhaps everybody who's in the same boat as me wondering what these numbers are, Elisabeth, can you give us a little overview about the Enneagram? What's it all about?
Elisabeth: Yeah, of course. I'll give you a little bit of a history, and then I'll go a little overview about what each of the numbers are.
Elisabeth: Basically, I'm not sure if you've seen a picture of the Enneagram if you are listening, but it's a circle with all of these interconnecting lines. It can freak Christians out, because it looks a little bit like a pentagram, but it's not. There are multiple Enneagrams. This is the Enneagram of personality. No one really knows quite where the first initial drawings came from. We do know that the word Enneagram is Greek. It means Ennea which means nine, and then gram, which means drawing. How we think of the Enneagram today really came about in the '60s with a guy named Oscar Ichazo, which I hope I'm saying his name right. He is a Bolivian-born philosopher. He is who assigned each of the points on the Enneagram a number and a virtue and a fixation and a deadly sin. All these things that we know about the Enneagram today and all the verbiage we use, he's really the founder of that. Really, it's only not even 100 years old that we know that type of stuff. And then about 20 years ago Father Richard Rohr wrote a book, The Enneagram of Christianity. That's when it got influenced more in the Christian realm where it actually is pretty big in Catholicism, because he was a monk. That's where it became more of this thing.
Elisabeth: And then only more recently in the last couple of years, Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile wrote a book called The Road Back to You, which really made the Enneagram more accessible for the first time. They call their book a primer, so it's really basic. The Enneagram can get really confusing pretty quickly. That's where people like me learned about the Enneagram. I did a deep dive after that, and I researched a ton of stuff. I got really into it. The Road Back to You is a really good starting point if you're brand new. That's where a lot of people have learned about it for today.
Janny: It's like a personality test. Would you call it a personality test?
Elisabeth: Yeah, well, not necessarily a test. It's a personality philosophy, I guess.
Janny: Profile. Philosophy.
Elisabeth: Think of a typology, I guess. Similar to Myers-Briggs or StrengthsFinder, but does focus a little bit more on the negative attributes of yourself, which is one of the reasons why I like it with Christianity. Because it's not as, I don't know, conceited, I guess. It gives you room to grow and see where you need to change.
Janny: Yeah, because you mentioned the pentagram like symbol that it has. It's like a clock, only it doesn't go to 12. It goes to nine. Each number veers off into two other ... They connect to two other numbers on the circle. If I'm understanding correctly, those are called wings.
Elisabeth: No, actually-
Elisabeth: ... the ones that they connect to-
Janny: I don't know anything. That's why you're here.
Elisabeth: The ones they connect to, the lines are actually called, there's stress and security or integration and disintegration. They mean a couple of different things. One of the lines is where you go to when you are stressed and when you're not doing so hot. The other one is where you go to when you're feeling really secure and you're growing. You get the best attributes of that other number. The stress ones you get the worst attributes of the other number.
Janny: Ah, okay. Makes sense. Yes. Maybe for everybody you could do a high level overview of each number. If they already know their number, they'll be, yep, that's me. If they don't, they might be a little bit intrigued as to maybe they sound like one number or a couple.
Elisabeth: Yeah. I can do that. There are nine numbers. Number one is not better than number two. They all were just assigned a number. It doesn't really mean anything.
Janny: I wasn't under that impression, because I'm an eight. I thought it was a scale of one to nine.
Janny: I'm eight out of nine. No? I'm just kidding.
Elisabeth: I've also had people say, "Oh, for the test you get a two and a four and then you combine that and you're a six." I'm like "no."
Elisabeth: I'll just go through them one through nine. Each one of the numbers also has a name to tag it onto that helps you remember the base attributes of that number. I'll give you the name, too.
Elisabeth: Number one is called The Perfectionist. This is the type with a really strong sense of right or wrong. They're influenced by wanting to have integrity. They have a really strong inner critic that can bash them over the head when they make mistakes. That's something that's really unique to them. They typically have problems with resentment and impatience, but at their best they're wise, discerning, realistic, and noble.
Elisabeth: Number Two, they're called The Helper. Twos are empathetic and friendly and generous and self-sacrificing. They tend to be the glue in family situations as well as work places. They can have problems with possessiveness and acknowledging their own means, but at their best they're unselfish, altruistic, and they have unconditional love for others.
Elisabeth: Number Three, they're called The Achiever. This is the most charming type on the Enneagram. They're very ambitious and competent and energetic. They also are very image conscious, so they care quite a bit about what other people think about them and move what they want in life to how that's going to look to outsiders. They have problems with being a workaholic and with competitiveness. At their best they can be self-accepting, authentic, and everything they seem to be, they actually are. They're really good role models and really ambitious people.
Elisabeth: The number Four, they're called The Romantic. Fours are very creative, sensitive, self-aware, very empathetic people. They're emotionally honest and personable, but they can also be moody and self-conscious. At their best they are inspired and highly creative, and they are able to renew themselves and transform their experiences in beautiful ways. They can give words to feelings that other people have that other people can't give words to.
Elisabeth: The Five is the Observer. Fives are very alert and insightful and curious people. They love information. I tell people that fives think no information is bad information. They typically have problems with being eccentric and withdrawn. They sometimes can isolate themselves, because they are probably the most trueish introvert there ever is. At their best they're visionary pioneers, often ahead of their time and able to see the world in an entirely different way than other people.
Elisabeth: The Six is called the Loyalist. These are very security oriented people that really just want to be safe and feel secure. They have some anxiety that is related to protecting the people they love the most. They tend to be worst-case scenario thinkers, because they think, okay, I need to look for the problem so that I can stop them and I can protect the people I love. They can be cautious, indecisive sometimes, reactive, but also defiant and rebellious. This is the most contradicting type on the Enneagram. We talk a lot about this, sixes with anxiety. Some sixes get really frustrated with this, because anxiety is not all that they are as we know, but it's because they're so diverse that anxiety is really the only thing all sixes have in common. At their best they're very stable, self-reliant, very loyal, courageous, and they champion themselves as well as others.
Elisabeth: The Sevens, they're called the Enthusiasts. Sevens, I think, are probably the easiest number to spot when you're just out and about. These are extroverted, optimistic, spontaneous, playful, very practical people. They have many talents. They light up a room as soon as they come in. They seek new and exciting experiences all the time and can sometimes get distracted and exhausted by staying on the go. At their best they focus on their talents and worthwhile goals, becoming appreciative, joyous, and satisfied.
Elisabeth: Number Eight, The Challenger. Eights are very self-confident, strong, assertive, protective, and decisive people. Although they usually hear at some point in their life that they come off as intimidating, they actually have a very sensitive soul. I've heard before that eights describe that they almost have some sort of a shield over their heart and soul, because they are so soft on the inside that they have such a strong exterior. Sometimes eights have problems with their tempers and allowing themselves to be vulnerable. At their best they use their strength to improve the lives of others, often becoming heroic, magnanimous, and inspiring.
Janny: Sounds familiar.
Elisabeth: I know. I understand that you are an eight.
Janny: Yes. When we first chatted or you saw my page, do you type people? You're, "Oh, she's an eight," right off the bat?
Elisabeth: Well, I try not to, because obviously I don't know anyone's inner world. I can't see that from the outside, but the more you know and understand the Enneagram, the louder people's numbers are. I do tend to find that my initial gut feeling about people's type tends to be right. I always try to give people the benefit of the doubt. I'm never surprised when they also aren't what I thought they were.
Janny: I'm liking hearing all these attributes, because I need to hear them, I think, a lot so that I can ... I don't want to jump to conclusions and, like you said, not give someone the benefit of the doubt. If it can help me understand them, I think that's the goal. Right?
Elisabeth: Yeah, exactly.
Janny: That we all connect well and communicate well?
Elisabeth: Yeah, that's one of the reasons why I'm so excited that the Enneagram is becoming more popular, because even though it sometimes is being used very poorly, it also is helping that a lot of people know what their numbers are. That's such a useful thing just with having empathy for other people and also understanding what they need. I do have one more type to go over.
Janny: I know. I'm cutting you off here. Okay, we have the poor nines. Go ahead.
Elisabeth: I know. I just didn't want the nines to have a heart attack. Oh, my gosh. They forgot about us.
Janny: Do nines have anxiety?
Elisabeth: Yes, they can. Especially when they're stressed they can have a lot of anxiety. Also, their deepest hurt is that they're overlooked, so I don't want to make any nines feel overlooked.
Janny: We got you.
Elisabeth: Nines are called The Peacemaker. They are very accepting, trusting, optimistic, supportive people. They care a lot about their inner stability and peace of mind. This can cause them to be conflict avoidant, and they also have this super power, and also not a great thing, but they can merge with other people. When they're around people that have really strong opinions, then the nine can also think they have those opinions. When they leave, they actually realize what they actually think and feel. It can be very different from the other person. In order to avoid conflict, that's one of their defaults. They can have problems with inertia and stubbornness, but at their best they are able to bring people together, heal conflicts, and they're called the sweethearts of the Enneagram. They just generally are very sweet, very nice people.
Janny: All right. So that's a nice summary there. There's obviously a lot to ... Do you feel like people can hear those and think they fit into many categories?
Elisabeth: Oh, yes, especially there's a couple of numbers on the Enneagram that tend to be, oh, I can see a little bit of each of these in me. That tends to usually be nines and sixes, because they do have such, I guess, objective view of the world. It's pretty easy for them to see all sides of a coin. People like that can tend to think that they can see all different attributes in themselves or they understand all of them. The Enneagram is very focused on your motivation. What's your motivation in your life? What has been your overarching motivation of your life? Each one of those is a little bit different for each type. That's usually where we point people to if they tend to think that they're all of them or many.
Janny: I think I had told you that my husband took the test on ... What's the actual test that you pay for? It's $12.
Elisabeth: The RHETI?
Janny: Yeah. He took it there, which is where I took mine, but I also did the inventory. We'll talk about that in a second. My husband, Charlie, was a five-way tie on the test, so I feel like I need to have him do it a separate way. I was, "Well, that doesn't help me at all." It was so funny, because when that happened and I had posted about it on my Instagram stories, I got so many people saying, "Oh, that's such a nine thing to do." Well, is it? Is that a nine thing to do to come into a five-way tie?
Elisabeth: Yeah, that definitely, I would say people probably pegged that pretty right. It's definitely a nine thing, but I said also it can be a six sometimes that does that. Other types tend to know themselves a little bit too well to have answered some things that look like other types.
Janny: He thought it was just he couldn't be pegged down and he's so well rounded.
Elisabeth: Oh, he's divergent, huh?
Janny: Yeah, that's what he's going with. And then I was, "Wait a second. I don't want to be type cast either." No, the eight described me really well. With those, I think maybe we should talk a little bit about how you go about finding your type and why you recommend not taking a test.
Elisabeth: Yeah. There are Enneagram purists that say never take a test and also, don't call it a test. Call it an assessment. And then there are people that are, "Oh, it's just fun. Just play the Enneagram bingo. Take the test. Whatever." I'm in the middle. I don't necessarily recommend that people take a test, because I feel like people take a test and what they do is they either, "I'm a two. I'm going to put that on my Instagram bio, and I'm going to embrace it. I'm only going to look at twos." I just feel like that gives such a disservice to the Enneagram. Really, what I've learned the most from the Enneagram is having grace for other people and how they think. Really, the best way that you can go about typing yourself is to buy a book or get one from the library like The Road Back to You that I mentioned. At each of the front chapters of The Road Back to You there is 20 I am statements. To type eight they would say I am often called intimidating. You would go through that list and you would answer yes, no to each one of these.
Janny: So it's a self assessment about a statement about you.
Elisabeth: Yes. You'd read through all nine different 20 questions and just see which one you relate to highest. This has been a pretty effective way to at least get two or three numbers to really deep dive into but also to get a really good sense on what all of them are like.
Janny: Do you feel like people self assess incorrectly? They are idealizing what they want to be, not necessarily who they actually are if it's a negative trait.
Elisabeth: Yeah, we tend to like the best parts of ourself, which who wouldn't? We really tend to focus on the good things sometimes. I see a lot of people that test as sevens, because we like when we're spontaneous. We want to think of ourselves as fun. A lot of people test as sevens, because that's what they want to be. It really depends, too, on what you're thinking of. Are you thinking of yourself last Tuesday when you're testing? Are you thinking of yourself when you were 20? All of those things can really change your answer.
Janny: When you're taking the self assessment, you're basically just in the moment you as an adult this is how I am?
Elisabeth: Yeah, usually you're only going to want to say yes if what they're asking is 100% true about you. Usually they want you to think if this has been true about you your entire life or at least in your early 20s usually your personality is at its strongest. If you feel like you've grown or, oh, I used to be like that, then yeah. Think of yourself now how you are, but also if something, oh, that was really true about me in my early 20s, I would probably also say yes, because that is when your personality is the loudest.
Janny: I do like, and I'm sure this is in a variety of different places, but on the RHETI test that we did, which is R-H-E-
Janny: ... T-I, right. It gives you an overview of the layers of health within each number. Even people who are eights I notice tend to feel like they have to apologize for being an eight, because there's such a strong association with it. Overbearing or forceful, domineering. When you look at it from a scale of unhealthy to healthy, there's still so much growth within that, within every number. What I've read are little blurbs about this is how you might act when you're unhealthy. This is how you might act when you're in between unhealthy and moderate. This is how you might act at moderate and so on. So there's different layers of each number, not just your basic personality test or your daily astrology. Boom. This is who you are. You can be somebody in your early 20s and maybe at an unhealthy level, and then 10 years later look and feel like a different person, but you're still that same number.
Elisabeth: Yeah, exactly. That's one of the reasons why the Enneagram is so different than other personality tests and one of the reasons why I found it to be a little more helpful is because there is that variation of, okay, this is me at my very worst. This is where I'm going. This is, by God's grace, how I'm growing. Also, with the stress and security or as we were talking about, it also allows for this would be me while I'm deployed in Afghanistan and I'm really stressed. This is me on my couch eating chips. You're going to be a very different person depending on what situation you're in. The Enneagram really does help cover all those things. The weird part is it's so true. I think that's what catches people off guard. You don't really feel like you can be pegged like that. It's been found to be so true.
Janny: Do you think that even applies to people who maybe they have a job where they have to act a certain way, and then at home they're completely different, because they don't have to be a certain way? Different parts of maybe their assertiveness and decisiveness come out at work, whereas at home they're way more playful and indecisive. How does that work?
Elisabeth: Yeah, I've seen this. I've even seen this with my own husband being very confident in his job and being pretty assertive and making decisions. When he gets home he's so much more secure and he feels like he can be more himself. We're not assessing him, his job performance. We're not going to leave, so he is so much more playful and so much more himself and can let down his guard and be more vulnerable. I think each of us have that in different ways, but each number is going to react to that a little differently. There are some numbers, like fours, that can't really hide how they are. Four, they can just get really quiet, but their emotions are so loud in their face that they can't really turn it on and turn it off as well as other types. Each one is going to do it a little differently, but, yeah, it does really affect them if they have expectations put on them in different situations. And then they go to other places where they're secure or there's a place that's really stressed. All of them are going to act a little differently.
Janny: Oh, well, that makes sense. Now I can't stop calling it a pentagram, because you've got that in my head is where you go at stress. That makes sense.
Elisabeth: Those lines and arrows.
Janny: I did want to talk. The Enneagram accounts and podcasts even seem to be primarily run by faith-based people or organizations. I didn't realize, you mentioned it earlier, that one of them was a priest or a monk.
Elisabeth: Yeah, I think he was a monk. Richard Rohr, he's probably written a couple of the most popular Enneagram books at least over the last 20 years.
Janny: I feel like in the Christian community that I've encountered they're either full on board, they're churches are having Enneagram conferences, and then there's other people that are, "It's just like Christian astrology." There's these two different camps. Obviously, I think if they think it's Christian astrology, they just don't know enough about it yet. Some people are full on board. They're really embracing this almost as a true Christian tool for growth. I haven't been to one of them. In looking at the Enneagram and listening to stuff, it's just a theme that popped up. Do you think it was Richard Rohr who made it more comfortable for faith-based communities to embrace it?
Elisabeth: Yeah, I feel like that's probably part of it. Some of the verbiage that's used in the Enneagram, like the deadly sins, it's the seven deadly sins. Each one has one of them plus two, because there's nine, obviously. There's that verbiage used. There's also the virtues. Each type represents different virtues of what God is. They show a certain part of his glory. I feel like the verbiage of how when we were talking in the beginning that Bolivian-born ... What is his name? Oscar Ichazo. Him. When he named these things, I think he had a very Catholic background. So he made it very comfortable, that verbiage, for Christians and for people that believe in God, which make it feel very weird to people that don't.
Janny: Okay, so there's definitely some Biblical weaving in throughout the Enneagram.
Elisabeth: Yeah. I think that makes it more comfortable for Christians to embrace it. Obviously, some people that don't, I really do think that's fine. If you've really struggled with placing your identity not in Christ and you really struggle with wanting to prove yourself and having this identity, and the Enneagram is becoming a stumbling block for you, then it's not for you. That's totally fine. I don't want to proselytize the Enneagram necessarily, but I have seen it used as such a great tool, especially as a Christian, having grace for other people. Understanding that my inner world and the way I think is not the way other people think, a big majority of the way other people think. It's really helped in my marriage for me to understand my husband and to not take him as personally. The way he is is not him reacting to me. It's him reacting to himself and to his inner fears and that type of thing. I've seen it just used as such a great tool in that. Also, with just seeing where my blind spots are. It's really helped me in my faith to be I didn't know I had a huge problem with envy, but I do. When it was pointed out to me in the Enneagram, I was, "Okay, is this true of me?" I just observed my behaviors for a couple of weeks. I was, "Oh, my gosh. This is so true of me."
Janny: What number are you?
Elisabeth: I'm a four. Four, their deadly sin is envy. I don't think I would've ever said that about myself. The Enneagram really exposed that. I was able to bring that to God and really transform that part of my life and how I was reacting to other people out of envy. That's one of the reasons why I think ... I've become a coach, and I've seen the good in it. I've seen it used as a tool with Christianity. Of course, God being at the forefront, not something we meld into the Enneagram. God's wisdom is always the wisdom we defer to. I've just seen it transform my life so much and be such a helpful tool. I think a lot of other Christians have, too.
Janny: I think, at least for me, as a novice, I can only tell what people are. This is me trying to understand why are you respond to me that way, because sometimes I'd think that they don't know. I'm not going to just be, "Hey, have you taken the Enneagram?"
Janny: Before I answer your question, are you coming at me in such a weird way? I feel like if the more unhealthy they are or the more totally healthy they are, I'm more able to assign them in my brain. It's the ones that are in the middle that are moderate, moderate healthy I struggle trying to figure out, well, what number are you? If they're so glaringly the negative attributes are coming out, it's actually more helpful for me, and I'm more able to give them grace, because I can see it so much clearly. I was able to tell that somebody is a nine. The way that they were responding to me, where they were coming from. How I was taking it was totally different without them saying that they were trying to be a certain way. It was only because they were coming from such an unhealthy place. I noticed that my immediate reaction to them was coming from an unhealthy place. I felt this way, and then when I stopped and went, okay, hold on a second. This person is not me. I know that this person is probably this number. Then my reaction to them totally changed, because I was able to identify or just at least remind myself that. Because if that was me who had said it, what they had said to me, it would've been coming from a different place. Theirs was coming from some place that I don't come from.
Janny: I was, that's super vague. I'm just spewing words at this point. I think it's really helpful even as a beginner to try and pick up on traits. I think especially when you're at the grocery store or on the road and these things happen that you don't need to let them make you angry when somebody cuts you off or is rude to you. It's really helpful in understanding.
Elisabeth: Yeah, if you only have your lens to look through, that's the way you're going to see the whole world and the way you're going to assume people are thinking. Having nine lenses that you can understand a little bit better, yeah, it does. I can't tell you how many times I've heard the story you were just telling, even if it was vague. Yes, that's exactly the tool of grace the Enneagram can be.
Janny: Right. I have an endocrine disorder, PCOS. Even understanding my own hormonal issues gave me ... I had so much more grace towards people who were rude, because I remember feeling so misunderstood and people assumed the worst about me when I wasn't even in control of my emotions. I was, "I wonder if somebody under a hormonal rage is getting mistyped on the Enneagram, because they're not in control of their hormones." I'm over here over complicating it. I was curious, because this would be such a good tool for your kids. At what point do you think you're able to assess your child? Do they even have a type? Does it get ingrained in you at a certain point in your youth?
Elisabeth: Yeah. There is a couple of different ways we can get an Enneagram type. We believe it's both nature and nurture, which isn't a great answer. We think that you are born with a certain lens that you look through being a certain type. Trauma can change that. You are born a certain way. You can go through something that makes you into a different type, but I think about 75% of the time people are the number they were born. There is as young as three you can start seeing some tendencies for certain types, but really I don't think that kids are solidified in their type until they're almost about 15. Me being a coach, I've tried to even coach a 15-year-old, and it's just a little muddy. It's muddy for kids, because they don't know their motivations quite. They can't articulate it. They also don't have enough life experience to be, "Oh, yes, this is me. This is what I do. This is how I behave in this situation."
Elisabeth: Some kids will be very obvious one type or the other, but we encourage parents that if you're going to use the Enneagram, which it can be a great tool in parenting, is to not tell your children what type you think they are, even if they have glaringly obvious tendencies, because that can be even more of a crutch, too. Growing up, you're just such a one. You don't want to do that to your kids. I would recommend that if your child seems to be one Enneagram type, or you're not sure, the best thing you can do for them is to practice loving them the way that that Enneagram type receives love and see how they react. See if they bloom under that or if they seem indifferent. That's going to give you a really big clue to what their language is in the Enneagram.
Janny: I feel like you were going to share how you love each type. Maybe this is a good time for that.
Elisabeth: Yes, it is. I have a list of how each type receives love the best. I'll just go through one through nine.
Elisabeth: Ones, they feel the best loved when you acknowledge the work they do to do things right and by respecting their roles. Ones really try to do things right. They have a really hard time when they do things wrong or get punished, because they have that inner critic that's already yelling at them from the inside. So by acknowledging that they were even trying to do the right thing, it can mean a lot to them. It can almost silence that inner critic that they're hearing.
Janny: Is there going to be that cross over with the five love languages? Because I'm hearing words of affirmation.
Elisabeth: Yeah, there is kind of. I hate to say that one Enneagram type can only have one love language, because I think they can have anything. There are ones that you're, oh, this looks a little obvious that it would probably be this type. Yes.
Elisabeth: This is kind of funny you just mentioned love language, because I always talk about with Twos, they don't usually have a love language. They want all five all the time. They love love. They want you to reciprocate their love and thank them for their generosity. That's how they feel. Really, you could get them a gift. You could mow the lawn for them. You could do anything, and they're going to be, "Oh, my gosh. You love me so much."
Elisabeth: Threes, they feel the most love when you acknowledge their productivity and give them lots of praise. Threes thrive on praise. My mom is a three. She, to this day, loves those little gold star foil stickers. They love to be affirmed in that way.
Janny: You're talking from the chore charts and stuff?
Elisabeth: Yeah. She would probably do a lot of things to get those stars. I don't even want to ask.
Elisabeth: Threes love praise. The more you can give them, the more you can see it on their face. They just start beaming. Fours, they feel best loved when you appreciate their depth and you point out their potential. Fours second guess themselves a lot. Also, they have a really hard time with small talk. When you are having a conversation with them and they're going deep or you're really appreciating that, appreciating their depth, and then pointing out in them the talents and the gifts you see in them ... A lot of times it's not as obvious to them as you might think.
Elisabeth: With fives, they feel best loved when you give them space and when you appreciate what they bring to the world. Fives, they do not function well when being smothered by affection or by a lot of one-on-one time. They like their own time. They like their own space. They do want to feel competent, and they want to feel very knowledgeable. So by acknowledging how knowledgeable they are, they feel really loved by that.
Elisabeth: Sixes, they feel most loved when you don't discount their anxieties and fears and when you remain someone who's worthy or their loyalty.
Elisabeth: Yeah, which is a packed answer. That's the way you can best love a six is by being reassuring and being someone who's more-
Janny: Meeting their expectations?
Elisabeth: Yeah. Obviously some sixes might have blown out of proportion expectations, especially if they're unhealthy. They are going to be really loyal to you. It's just with reciprocating that. I'm going to tell you the truth. I'm going to remain trustworthy. I'm going to do what I say I'm going to do. That speaks volumes to them.
Elisabeth: Sevens, they feel best loved when you appreciate their outgoing and adventurous nature and when you have fun with them. They want you to have fun with them and appreciate that they are fun, but also they want you to not use them as the fun person. It can be a lot of weight to be the person who's expected to lift up the room. Sometimes sevens can feel like they are used, to do that, to be the one who's never upset. Have fun with your seven, give them fun things to do, but also appreciate that they don't always have to be fun. Don't be taken off guard if they're having a bad day. Everyone can not be okay sometimes. You would love your seven well by giving them that space.
Janny: I can't not hear sevens and just not think about Bob Goff now, because knowing this, that he's a seven. We've been at several events with him. Have you ever seen Bob talk before?
Elisabeth: I have, yes.
Janny: He's very vibrant and funny and energetic. At one point my husband asked him, "Have you had coffee today?" He's, "Nope, I wake up like this." I'm, oh, my gosh. This is just you. You're on fire all the time. I do not want to see you on coffee. That's interesting that they don't want to be used as the fun one.
Elisabeth: They're more than willing to be the fun one most of the time, but, yeah, they can start to feel used sometimes if they don't feel loved outside of just being the one invited to have fun.
Janny: Bring the funny.
Elisabeth: Yeah, exactly. Eights best feel loved when you respect them by being straightforward with them and by giving them space when they ask. Out of any number, eights can handle the truth. Even if they don't agree with you, or if they're offended by what you're saying, they're still going to appreciate that you told them the truth.
Janny: I can second this.
Elisabeth: They really want that. They also mean what they say. If they say I need space, I need you to back away right now, I need this, it speaks love to them when you do what they say.
Elisabeth: Nines, they best feel loved when you remember the little things that they like and when you make them feel valued. We were saying sometimes nines can forget what they like and can forget what they want and who they are, which feels really odd to a lot of other numbers. If you're shaking your head, you can't forget what you like, then you're probably not a nine. You can make them feel loved when you remember, just even remembering what kind of chocolate bar they like and bringing that to them on their birthday. That speaks value and worth and love to them.
Janny: Oh, good to know. I feel like you mentioned, maybe was it fours that tend to be more introverts?
Elisabeth: Fives are the quintessential introverts of the Enneagram. There's some controversy about this, but I really do believe any type can be either introverted or extroverted. Obviously, sevens are usually going to be extroverts. Fives are usually going to be introverts.
Janny: That makes sense.
Elisabeth: Yeah. A bunch of variations taken in account, you can be either or.
Janny: I'm just curious. When I read about something, like myself, I'm reading about the eights. I know that I'm an introvert. I just assume that everybody is the same kind of eight as I am. The same Myers-Briggs and introvert. I don't know. Is that a normal assumption to make, because there's so much that we have in common? The Myers-Briggs type that I have with eights, they mesh up pretty well. They're not exact, but there's a lot of the common themes about challenging and stuff like that.
Elisabeth: Yeah, especially if you relate to a lot of the descriptions and things that said about your type. It's going to be really surprising to you if you find someone who relates to your same type who seems really different than you. That can take people really off guard, because you would assume that, oh, this is the description. This is how they are. But there are a lot of variables, which you had mentioned wings at the beginnings. I can mention a little bit about what wings are, because that is a variable. A wing. If you are looking at the Enneagram, the circle, a wing is one of the numbers on either side of your number. For a nine, they could have either or a one wing or an eight wing. I've heard people explain it as your main personality is the steak on your plate, and your wings are the salt and the pepper. You can use a lot of salt. You can use a lot of pepper. You can use a little of both. You can use none at all. That's kind of how wings are. Usually you're going to use one dominantly.
Elisabeth: I'm a four. I have a pretty dominant five wing. That makes me a little bit more introverted. I dive into topics like crazy, like the Enneagram. My inner life, my motivations, my sin proclivities, my inner world, totally four to the T. But then my outward behaviors, pretty much everything that I behave and act and how I react to the world outside of just my inner world, looks like a five. I'm a four, wing five. Some people get confused with these and wonder how you find your wing. Really, if you read descriptions, they're going to be pretty obvious, usually if you have one wing or the other. With you saying that you're more introverts, you probably lean more eight, wing nine than eight, wing seven.
Janny: I went through the Enneagram inventory with the 20 questions of each. I scored 19 on eight. I went through and just scored myself on how many I felt were me. With the seven I scored seven. With the nine I scored four.
Janny: Yeah, I don't know. I feel like any time I've read about wings, I always feel like that's not me. I don't know. I'm an enigma.
Elisabeth: Yeah, well, you can be what we call the eight, wing eight.
Janny: Oh, there is an eight, wing eight?
Elisabeth: Well, not necessarily, but you can be someone who doesn't have a wing. It's rarer, but it does happen. Usually the people with two wings are older and have exercised both of their wings and got it to the point that they use both of them. Or people with seemingly no wing just are really, they found their personality to work for them really well...
Janny: I'm a grounded eight is what you're saying.
Janny: I can't fly.
Elisabeth: You're just very comfortable where you are.
Janny: Yeah, I guess I shouldn't be, though. I should learn to fly. Fly the nest or something. Can you change types? I know we were talking about children and being born with it, but is it something that can happen, or is it more rare for you to be a seven all the way through your 20s, and then you totally change types?
Elisabeth: It is the main belief between every Enneagram teacher I know that you cannot change your core number. Like I said, you can't go back to your childhood. There's things that happen that are called the childhood wound, which is something you either heard during childhood or you thought you were hearing, because that's just the lens you were looking through as that type. You can't go back to your childhood and re-get that wound or reenter into the world and have to use a personality to survive. You will be one main type, one core type your entire life, but things do fluctuate, like wings. There's some people that think you're in one wing half your life, and then you flip, which those things can really affect your behaviors. Or you can be a really unhealthy number in the beginning of your life, and then grow a lot. So it might look like your number is changing, but really you're the same number that can just look so different.
Janny: I could be a really unhealthy eight with a nine wing and then become a healthy eight with a more dominant seven wing and look like a different person?
Elisabeth: Oh, yes. Definitely.
Janny: That makes sense. Some of these questions were coming from my readers. They were curious. Are there types that are just in general harder to interact with? Or is it just healthiness of any type?
Elisabeth: Yeah, it's definitely the healthiness, because any healthy number is an absolute joy. Any healthy number is an absolute wonderful spouse, friend, person to be around. Healthy numbers are just great in general, but I have seen a chart somewhere. I don't know where it is now. That said each Enneagram type will have one other Enneagram type that is just a little harder for them to understand.
Janny: Oh, for each number.
Elisabeth: Yeah, for each number.
Janny: Type one, they might not get along with a certain one particular type.
Elisabeth: Yeah. Our motivations are so different and we act in such different ways that it's really hard for me to understand you. That is a player, but that differs type to type which one is going to be a little harder for you.
Janny: Do you find that you get along with a certain number more in your life?
Elisabeth: Hmm. Yeah, I would say that sixes and nines for me are pretty easy, because they're usually pretty laid back people. They tend to be good listener. As a four I really appreciate that. That being said, my husband is a one. We get along really well, which is funny because we are very different. I'm not sure if I would get along with other ones quite as well as I get along with him. I have told him a couple times that if we weren't in love, we might not be friends because I feel like it takes that love he has for me for him to be so patient with me. Sixes and nines are definitely pretty easy for me. I do feel like sometimes I have a hard time with eights and twos, either just feeling a little manipulated by unhealthy twos or feeling a little overshadowed by unhealthy eights. They tend to bring out the withdrawing in me. I feel, okay, I'm not valued here. I can't say anything. I'm just going to be really quiet.
Janny: Do you feel unvalued right now?
Elisabeth: No, I don't. You have been a very friendly eight to me, but thank you.
Janny: Well, it's funny you say eights and twos, because I have a lot of twos in my life. When I read through it, that was my lowest score. On my little chart, that's where I go in growth. The twos I have in my life I feel are very healthy. I'm always cautious of twos being taken advantage of. I never want to feel like I'm doing that, but I feel when I look at the relationships I have that are twos, they are some of my stronger relationships and the ones that I can truly count on and be honest with and not feel like I'm taking advantage of them. That's interesting, though, that twos and eights are not for you, but I'm over here. I'm an eight. I got a lot of twos on my team.
Elisabeth: Well, I need a plethora of eights and twos to come into my life so that I can no longer say that.
Janny: Well, I hope that happens. I think I just need to get a better understanding. Maybe I do have more people in my life that are all over the map. I just don't know it yet. I think I've just become more familiar with certain types. For some reason I get nines and twos mixed up all the time. I don't know if there's maybe that theme of being taken advantage of. Does nine have that?
Elisabeth: No, they get just a little bit more passive-aggressive.
Janny: They're passive, right.
Elisabeth: Whereas twos can be more manipulative when they're unhealthy. Those two things can feel similar coming at you, but they are a little different.
Janny: Gotcha. Where do you feel like your health is on your four?
Elisabeth: Ooh. I tend to think I'm probably the last peg on the healthy. There's nine levels of health if you look on the Enneagram Institute with the three at the lowest being unhealthy, the three in the middle being average, and then three at the top being healthy. I probably think I range about number three, and I can probably go down to four, too, depending on where my stress is at and where my time with God is. I tend to think I probably am a little bit more of a healthy four, at least that's what the people around me have told me. A lot of people would say that they would've never thought I was a four or struggle with the things internally that I do struggle with. That comes with being healthier is that you still hear the things inside of you, the lies, really loud, but you can dismiss them easier when you are healthy.
Janny: Are healthy, yeah.
Elisabeth: You're hearing the voice of Christ louder than the voice of those lies, so you can walk in that voice instead of the lies.
Janny: I recently saw somebody did on Instagram ... There's so many great Instagram accounts now that are taking each number and sharing something about them. They did it over Easter. They did the fruits of the spirit assigned to each number, which I thought was great. You guys have an Instagram account where you're posting the same things, right? You're choosing a theme about something, and you're making it applicable to each number. There'll be a slide for each number in that category of what you're talking about, right?
Janny: Can you give an example?
Elisabeth: Yeah. The way we've done our Instagram account is we've been doing different series. My heart is really to make the Enneagram really accessible to people, the novice that don't know much about it. The first series we did was just about these are what the nine types are. We have a description of each of the nine types. And then we did a series that we're, this is what wings are. We did a description of each of the types with their wing. We're, okay, well, here is what you look like when you're in stress or security. We did a series on that. Right now I'm working on a series about childhood wounds and about how you get your Enneagram type. Last month I did a series about the types in relationships and the types that work. All of those you could find on our feed. It's Enneagram.life is our handle. I love to do things like that and show people, okay, this is what the Enneagram is. This is where it's applicable. I find it really applicable in relationships, so that's why we did that one. Just helping people understand each of the types. That's how we've done Instagram.
Janny: I think I just like to encourage people that are really into the Enneagram to maybe poll people in your life and ask them if they already know what their numbers are. At least, this is what would be helpful for me, because I like to see people to use it that they're not just looking at themselves. I'm not just going to be so eight obsessed, but I want to truly learn all the other types. Also, if you know your number, I would want to write it down. It helps me, at least visually, to go, oh, these are the names of the ones in my life. When I read your slides, I can visualize that person with that information.
Elisabeth: Yes, even hearing how they're best loved and that type of stuff.
Janny: Yeah, because you can learn all day, at least I can, how ones and twos and all of them are loved, but if I don't know who that applies to, I don't know how to translate that into action, an actionable item. I think because the Enneagram has become so popular through social media that a lot of people know their numbers now or are at least curious about it. Maybe they just found out their number and you're able to love them and they didn't even know that's how they needed to be loved. Anyway, I just wanted to encourage people to use it as a tool for yourself but also for others and for your marriage. Hopefully, I need to get this time with my husband, too, because I'm over here, okay, well, you didn't help me at all. I got five. I got to merge five types together here. This is actually really helpful, because I don't know that I'd really looked at how they best receive love. Just hearing those, I think I can type my husband from there. That was helpful.
Janny: I just wanted to tell people how to find you. You mentioned your Instagram page. It's Enneagram.life. If you don't know how to spell Enneagram, it's E-N-N-E-A-G-R-A-M. If you're listening to this podcast, you'd be able to just look down and see it. Also, include links in the podcast episode to your Instagram. Within your Instagram profile, you have a link that goes to your website that you can sign up for a newsletter subscription. I know that when you sign up, you get an email with a bunch of things. I don't want to mess it up.
Elisabeth: Yeah, when you subscribe to get our emails, you will get a welcome email that has our typing guide that we go through three different stages of how to type yourself without a test and with a test. We give some links. And then you get a free, printable bookmark that has all nine types on it and is really helpful if you're reading an Enneagram book just to refer to. We also give you links to our Spotify playlist, which are my favorite thing ever that we made nine different playlists, ones for each of the nine types. They are just really cool and really fun to listen to.
Janny: Oh, awesome. I haven't explored those yet, but I did listen to, I know, the Sleeping At Last songs. Is that what they're called? Atlas. Where they did the songs. Funny enough, I was watching Grey's Anatomy. I don't know. I was cleaning at the time. I heard the Sleeping At Last eight song come on. It had to do with laying your armor, your shield down, which you were referring to earlier. Anyway, yeah, I'll include all of that information so people can find you. You're also coaching now. Why would somebody want a coach?
Elisabeth: Oh, yes. I just started coaching this last month, and oh, my gosh, it's been such a joy. I've loved it so much. The reasons why someone would want a coach or hire me is because you're having a hard time finding your type. If you're stuck in between two numbers, I can really delve deep with you. I can ask you questions. You can ask me questions of where you're confused. I do hour sessions. Usually by the end of the hour you usually have some sort of footing. Okay, I think I'm this type. I don't know what wing I am, but I'm going to keep thinking about it. Or you have two types that I give you some homework to work on. That's one of the reasons.
Elisabeth: It also might be that you know your type, but you don't know how to go from there. How do I make this practical? How do I grow as this type? What do the arrows mean? What do the wings mean? I've done a coaching session like that with someone. Oh, my gosh. We both cried. It was so amazing just to tell them, okay, this is what the gospel is and this is how God wants to grow you. To tell them that in their own language of how they hear love. Oh, it was so beautiful.
Janny: That's awesome.
Elisabeth: Yeah. I also do couples coaching, whether it is with both of you guys, or if it's just you wanting to understand your spouse's type. I also have done a lot of research on that, so I can help with that. Those are just a couple of the reasons why I found it really helpful. I have some reviews about my coaching on our Instagram highlights if you want to look at those. You can sign up for coaching, look at my availability. That's all on my website.
Janny: Awesome. Well, I hope that was helpful for everybody. I had a little bit of knowledge about the Enneagram. I felt like I learned something just talking to you this past hour. I think I've broke through some hurdles here. That was really helpful.
Elisabeth: Oh, awesome.
Janny: Do you and your husband both run the Instagram account? Is it primarily you?
Elisabeth: It is primarily me. My husband has a day job, so his availability to do stuff is only so limited. He edits all my writing. He does a lot of the graphics and takes all the pictures. He is very hand in hand with me, but I'm the one that responds to all the DMs.
Janny: It's definitely a team effort. Awesome. Okay, great. Well, thanks for coming on and sharing all of this wonderful information. I'd love to hear everybody's type. Let me know what you are. All right, Elisabeth, thanks so much for everything again.
Elisabeth: Oh, thank you, too.