Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


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Exploring The Enneagram

IMG_8834Are you familiar with the Enneagram? I first heard about it a couple of years ago, but wasn’t given much of a compelling introduction, so I didn’t think much of it. But this year, I heard my friend Sarah’s podcast episode—and it changed everything. She interviewed the co-author of The Road Back to You, a popular book about the Enneagram, and after hearing that episode, I was hooked.

First of all, if you aren’t sure what the Enneagram is, it’s a personality typing system, but the difference between it and others like Myers-Briggs , Strengths Finder, or DISC is that it includes the spiritual component, which is really important to me. So, I was intrigued to hear how my specific personality related to aspects of my faith.

And if you didn’t know, I love personality tests! I’ve written about being an INFJ on this blog before, and have always found exploring my identity a fascinating pursuit. I now know that’s pretty common for my type as well.

The other thing I learned about about the Enneagram is that you shouldn’t take a test to determine your number type. As Suzanne Stabile describes in that podcast episode on Surviving Sarah, it’s an oral tradition. It’s a way of seeing the world. You are supposed to hear your type and recognize it. She also notes that the questions aren’t written correctly in most tests, so your results will likely come out skewed if you just try to Google a test. I found this to be the case for me. I took three tests, and only one came out with the number I’d already resonated with.

So, what’s my number?

I’m a 4. Specifically, I’m a 4 wing 3.

As with every personality type, there are pros and cons. But those who know the Enneagram well often have a slight look of sadness in their eyes when I tell them that I’m a 4. Why? It’s hard being a 4!

There are things that set it apart from everyone else, and Suzanne and some others like her believe there are also fewer 4s than any other number in the world, meaning less people can relate to you. I’ve definitely found this to be the case for me.

And did you know INFJ is the smallest percentage of the population as well? So, combine a 4 with an INFJ and…we’re a rarity. There aren’t many people who think like us and see the world the way we do. Because of that, I even put out a call on social media recently to try and find others. I wanted them (and myself) to know we aren’t alone!

I did manage to find a couple of them, and surprisingly, even found one in my social circle, which was fantastic. We had coffee the other day to discuss what it’s like being us because it ain’t easy. There aren’t many people who could survive a day in our head’s, ha!

So, what’s a 4, you ask?

It was hard to find a good, condensed breakdown of the types that I felt would immediately give you a clear picture, but TheWorldCounts.com talks about the 4 this way:

4’s are described as the Individualist or the Romantic

Dominant Traits:

  • Creative
  • Expressive
  • Sensitive
  • Emotional
  • Introspective
  • Artistic
  • Authentic

Focus of Attention: In Search of What is Missing… the Ideal… the Unattainable.

Basic Fear: To Have No Identity

Basic Desire: To Be Unique, Different

Strengths:

  • Expressive
  • Sensitive to Feelings
  • Self-Aware
  • Appreciative of Beauty
  • Empathetic
  • Compassionate

Challenges:

  • Moody
  • Temperamental
  • Prone to Melancholy
  • Self-Absorbed
  • Self-Indulgent
  • Intense
  • Unsatisfied with What Is

General Behavior of an Individualist

A Four believes that they are unique, and different from the norm. Their whole identity is attached to this belief. They perceive this difference as a gift, because Fours hate to think that they’re ordinary and common. But at the same time, their feelings of uniqueness is a curse which keeps them from enjoying the simpler things in life, the way other people do.

Fours tend to feel superior from everyone else, since they think they’re special. However, deep inside, they feel that something’s missing, and they fear that it might be caused by a flaw or defect in their own selves. Fours, as you can tell, are emotionally complex. A deep feeling of abandonment makes them feel that they will never be happy or fulfilled.

They long for deep connections in their relationships, to be understood and appreciated for who they truly are. For people to see and appreciate their uniqueness. It is easy for them to feel misjudged and misunderstood.

Fours are moody and temperamental. They are often wrapped in their thoughts, analyzing their feelings. They are very self-aware, and in tune with their emotions. This trait extends to others. Empathy and compassion are strengths of this personality type.

Ian Cron often says, “The 4’s don’t have emotions, they ARE their emotions!” And I’d have to agree. There’s a lot going on in here every minute of the day. 😉

You can read more about a 4 here, as well as a quick overview of the other types.

That’s just a little bit about me. Now, let’s talk about you.

Interested in learning more? I suggest starting with Sarah’s podcast episode because Suzanne breaks down the main points of all nine types. If that gets you more curious about the Enneagram, I definitely recommend reading The Road Back to You. It’s a really great book. Of course, I may be biased because the other author is a 4. 😉 But it’s actually a fun read. Not stuffy or super academic like you might expect a book on personalities to be.

From there, here are a few other resources:

  • Typeology Podcast from Ian Cron
  • The Road Back to You podcast
  • Your Enneagram Coach with Beth McCord
  • Attend one of Suzanne Stabile’s events
  • There are also a number of random Enneagram people I follow on Instagram.
  • You can Google and find many, many other resources, but these are the ones I’ve looked into myself.

So, do you know your type? List it in the comments. I’d love to hear!

 

Oh, and a quick warning, exploring the Enneagram is a bit like going to therapy. You can probably tell that from the quick intro the 4 that I listed above. It’s not all pretty! While most personality tests tend to focus on your strengths, the Enneagram focuses on your motivations.

It definitely talks about your strengths and weaknesses, but it’s also meant to help you grow spiritually and as a person, and that can sometimes stir a few things up. But I highly recommend this process! Just give the podcast a listen or read an overview to see what you think before making a decision.

 

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My Personality Profile: INFJ (“The Advocate”)

Photo credit: 16 Personalities

A few days ago I was watching an episode of “Quantico” and they were profiling people using their personality types. I LOVE personality tests! My friends and I used to take them all the time, and my favorite is Myers-Briggs.

It had been a while since I’d read through mine, and I have some big changes coming in my life, so I Googled it. Spot on, as always. But it was really encouraging to read it again.

Here’s a bit about me from one website:

INFJ, “The Advocate”

The INFJ personality type is very rare, making up less than one percent of the population, but they nonetheless leave their mark on the world. As Diplomats (NF), they have an inborn sense of idealism and morality, but what sets them apart is the accompanying Judging (J) trait – INFJs are not idle dreamers, but people capable of taking concrete steps to realize their goals and make a lasting positive impact.

INFJs tend to see helping others as their purpose in life, but while people with this personality type can be found engaging rescue efforts and doing charity work, their real passion is to get to the heart of the issue so that people need not be rescued at all.

INFJs indeed share a very unique combination of traits: though soft-spoken, they have very strong opinions and will fight tirelessly for an idea they believe in. They are decisive and strong-willed, but will rarely use that energy for personal gain – INFJs will act with creativity, imagination, conviction and sensitivity not to create advantage, but to create balance. Egalitarianism and karma are very attractive ideas to INFJs, and they tend to believe that nothing would help the world so much as using love and compassion to soften the hearts of tyrants.

INFJs find it easy to make connections with others, and have a talent for warm, sensitive language, speaking in human terms, rather than with pure logic and fact. It makes sense that their friends and colleagues will come to think of them as quiet Extroverted types, but they would all do well to remember that INFJs need time alone to decompress and recharge, and to not become too alarmed when they suddenly withdraw. INFJs take great care of other’s feelings, and they expect the favor to be returned – sometimes that means giving them the space they need for a few days.

Really though, it is most important for INFJs to remember to take care of themselves. The passion of their convictions is perfectly capable of carrying them past their breaking point and if their zeal gets out of hand, they can find themselves exhausted, unhealthy and stressed. This becomes especially apparent when INFJs find themselves up against conflict and criticism – their sensitivity forces them to do everything they can to evade these seemingly personal attacks, but when the circumstances are unavoidable, they can fight back in highly irrational, unhelpful ways.

To INFJs, the world is a place full of inequity – but it doesn’t have to be. No other personality type is better suited to create a movement to right a wrong, no matter how big or small. INFJs just need to remember that while they’re busy taking care of the world, they need to take care of themselves, too.

Additionally:

  • Strengths: Creative, insightful, inspiring and convicting, decisive, determined, altruistic and passionate.
  • Weaknesses: Sensitive, extremely private, perfectionist, always need a cause and can burn out easily.
  • INFJs are likely to find that most corporate career paths are not designed for them, but for those focused on status and material gain.
  • Many INFJs struggle to begin a career early on because they see ten wildly different paths forward, each with its own intrinsic rewards, alluring but also heartbreaking, because each means abandoning so much else.
  • INFJs are complex, deep and intensely private. Their life’s mission is to develop and guide others. Personal growth drives them and anything short of that pursuit is meaningless to them. They are passionate and devoted to the causes they believe in. INFJs live their life with a great sense of purpose.
  • INFJs direct their energy inward. They are energized by spending time alone and have a few close friends. They are independent and deliberate. INFJs are highly intuitive and are deep thinkers. Their thought process is complex and abstract. They are idealistic and future-focused.
  • INFJs are Feelers that make decisions with their heart.
  • INFJs love to learn. Their whole existence is wrapped around growth. They are on a constant quest to improve and untangle more questions. They are gifted at deciphering the connections and profound meaning of things. They are interested in theoretical and abstract concepts that can be applied to people and relationships.
  • Famous INFJs include: Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Jimmy Carter, Nicole Kidman, Thomas Jefferson, Oprah, Agatha Christie, Leo Tolstoy, Edward Norton, Cate Blanchett, Princess Diana and Benedict Cumberbatch.
  • Fictional INFJs include: Luke Skywalker, the Tinman, Kermit the Frog, Frodo Baggins, Martha Jones, Fox Mulder and Albus Dumbledore.

If you’d like to read the entire profile, you can do that here.

And if you’d like to take the test for free, you can also do that on this site, which I really liked. Here is another one that I pulled a few things from, but you can Google and find a bunch.

If you’ve never done this before, I highly encourage you to. It’s very illuminating! Learning these profiles and being able to identify them in others has helped me know how to interact with others better both personally and professionally, and also gain new understanding about myself. I’ve found them to be incredibly useful in a number of ways.

Give it a try! And when you know your letters, list them below along with one thing you love about your personality type.

 

August 2018 update:

I’ve also recently discovered the book, The INFJ Writer, by Lauren Sapala. Loved it, and highly recommend! It shed even more light from me on my personality type. It’s also a quick read, so dig in when you get the chance!