A Fascinating Overview of How the Enneagram Personality System Works

Seven years ago I began learning about the Enneagram Personality System. It has changed my life for the better. I am much more compassionate and forgiving of myself. I have a lot more patience and compassion to work with people who experience the world differently from me. I am a healthier and happier person. It has helped me so much I want to share it with others.

This is a story of how the Enneagram the Enneagram personality system works.

Ennea means nine, and gram means figure in Greek. So together it means a nine-pointed figure. What is its history?  Here is a short synopsis:


The symbol dates back about 2500 years. The actual date of its beginning or where exactly it started is unknown. It is a coming together of the wisdom of many different spiritual traditions. Much of it has come from Christianity, Buddhism, Islam (especially Sufis) and Judaism.

Much of this spiritual wisdom, was forgotten for hundreds of years. In 1875 Gurdjieff re-discovered the symbol in his search for the knowledge of the esoteric religions of the past. He formed a group called Seekers After Truth.  He and his friends traveled through Egypt, Afghanistan, Greece, Persia, and India.

Gurdjieff used the Enneagram as a tool to help his students to find their way in the world through dance and movement.

He explained that the Enneagram has three parts that represent the three central laws that describe divine law which governs all existence.

The circle represents unity, wholeness, and oneness and symbolizes that God is one (Hudson, 1999).

The next symbol is the triangle. In Christianity, this is referring to the Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit or in the Enneagram world, the Law of Three. This symbolism found in the Kabbalah, an esoteric teaching of Judaism. The ancient traditions do not see the world as a place of opposites but of non-duality. Hence the world is full of many hues of color rather than black and white (Hudson, 1999).

The third part is the hexad, referring to the Law of Seven. It demonstrates to us that nothing is static. Our world is continuously changing, recycling and evolving or de-evolving. The Periodic Table and the Western musical octave are all based on the Law of Seven (Hudson, 1999).

The modern Enneagram as we know it came to life in California in the 1970’s under Claudio Naranjo.  Naranjo and many others since him have woven psychology into the Enneagram to bring it into the modern age. He used panels of each type as one way to teach the Enneagram.

Today the Enneagram teaches that when you are born into the world, your ego chooses one of the nine fundamental ways to survive in the world. These represent the nine Enneagram types. This is how the Enneagram personality system works.

You could not have survived without the ego type your inner self chose. No one knows why we choose the type we do. It is probably a mixture of genetics mixed with early life experiences.

Our personality can begin to get in the way when we become adults if we do not become aware of the limitations of our nature.  When you are stuck in your personality, you are only using one-ninth of the tools given.

All the things you do without thinking are your personality speaking. When you begin to be aware of your limited pattern (type) talking, you then become open to responding in new and different ways.

I always say to my clients that when you can notice your personality acting out, you then have the option to respond in ways that are more appropriate for the situation in which you find yourself.

The Enneagram is like a map. It shows you when you are healthy, and not so healthy. It points you in the direction you need to go to get healthier. It warns you when you are getting stuck in old habits that no longer serve you.

When you look at most Enneagram images, you will see arrows pointing in the different directions of integration and stress (disintegration).


The Enneagram is never static. The health of your personality is never static. Each day you go up and down depending on how much stress you are experiencing.

There is movement on the Enneagram as you move to ether your integration point or your stress point.

The integration points you toward the functional aspects of another type when you are dealing with life well. When you are integrating, you are living beyond the trappings of your personality.

There is nothing wrong moving towards the stress type. The stress point is a safety valve. It prevents you from moving down to a lower level of health than you have ever been before.

Just to learn the types can be a fun thing to do. It can be a great party conversation. But it is only of use if you commit to learning through this tool through workshops, reading, reflection, counseling, and coaching.

The only person who can tell you who you are is yourself. For many people, it takes time to discern what type you are. It is easy to misidentify when you are not self-aware.

The Enneagram is no excuse to behave in a particular way. The gift of the Enneagram is that it points out to you the personality box in which you find yourself. A healthy person will develop strengths in all nine types. This is how the Enneagram personality system works.

Learning the Enneagram together with someone that knows you well such as your spouse can be a lot of fun. Your partner can help you to see who you are. When we are so close to ourselves, we can easily deceive ourselves into believing our desired image of our self when in reality people around us experience us differently.

The Enneagram teaching is an excellent tool for any group such as spouses, a whole family, congregation or business to learn how to get along better with each other. You begin to understand your differences because of how you see the world through your different lenses.

I expect at some time in your life you assumed that everyone thought the same as you did—until you got a rude awakening.  We all have different ways of seeing and experiencing the world.

You will discover that most people don’t want to annoy you. They just see the world in different ways and have different priorities.

The nine Enneagram types divide into a triad of gut, heart, and head. These are our three energy centers. Your type suggests which one of these energy centers you either avoid or overuse. It just means this is where you are most comfortable but to be healthy, we need to keep all three of these wisdom centers open.

You can also use another triad of assertive, withdrawn and dutiful.

The assertive types of people move out into the world with force and conviction. They are a force to be taken seriously.

The withdrawn types when under stress like to withdraw into themselves to recharge. They are usually great observers of what is going on around them. They are easy to get along with.

The dutiful types when under stress feel responsible for taking care of everyone around them and making sure everyone stays safe. The dutiful types can often feel overly responsible.

The Enneagram is all about finding ways to live with as much presence as possible. Presence is the ability to stay open to the wisdom of your three energy centers: the gut, heart, and head.

The Enneagram is meant to help you move out of the fog of life. When you are stuck in your personality, it is easy to go to sleep to your true self. You live out your image of yourself without any self-awareness. Your life becomes more and more limited unless you find the courage to discover who you indeed are.

Using the Enneagram takes time and intentionality. It is a tool that will give you new things to learn each day no matter how old you are. It is no quick fix.

If someone claims you need fixing with the Enneagram, run away as quickly as you can. These teachers are dangerous!

I love the Enneagram! I hope it can help you as much as it has and continues to help me. I learned that being a type six explained why I had had lots of anxiety issues through my life. I have a lot more compassion for myself. I have learned how important meditation is for me to quiet my mind.

The Enneagram can change the world!

Learning that I am a type six has helped me to acknowledge my strengths such as my ability to look for problems before they become serious.

It has been a blessing in my relationship with my wife, Jen. She is a type five (the investigator). She thinks everything through before she says anything. She finds it difficult to express herself especially when she doesn’t feel that she has enough information.

I am the opposite. I think out loud. I learn through my conversations with others. We have had to learn much. I have learned to give Jen lots of time to think. She has learned that she needs to tell me what she is thinking, especially when it is a decision that affects both of us. We now laugh together instead of cursing each other.


I invite you to try out the Enneagram. It is a productive tool that reflects the complexity and holiness of each person.  It shows you where you are right now and where you need to go to get healthier.

This fantastic tool helps you to find your true self or God self. The Enneagram shows you a way to be aware of your sensations that are full of wisdom. The Enneagram shows you a way to remain open to your emotions through your heart. This is how the Enneagram personality works.

You learn that your feelings shine the light on how you are experiencing the world in each moment. Then your mind, when quiet, helps you to connect with your intuition.

Please join me on this journey to new life. May it be full of surprises, wonder, and hope.


Roland Legge offers coaching through REL Consultants for individuals, couples, families, and executives to help them to be the best they can be. For more information, please arrange for a free 30-minute discovery call by phoning Roland at 1 306 620-7478, or you can email Roland at rolandlegge@relconsultants.com


Originally published at http://www.relconsultants.com/blog

Author: Roland Legge



What It Means To Connect with God or Your Internal Source



Finding the Truth Within You 

Are you feeling alone in the world? When you are amid feelings of despair it can be hard to see your way out. The good news is that there is a way out of hopelessness. Often the answer is right within you.  I want to help you to discover the wisdom and strength that is within you. This is what it means to connect with God.

Reconnecting with Source

How many books have you read that promised you peace of mind and happiness and it didn’t help? The problem is that these self-help books are what someone else needs.  Not what you need. I invite you to check out that place within you, that knows you best.

As you connect with Spirit, the darkness will gradually begin to fade as you become open to the wisdom of your body, emotions, and mind. It takes time and practice to become present enough to stay aware of the wisdom that comes from your three body centers. But every time you become a little more present it makes a positive difference in your life.

Your body, heart, and mind have been trying to communicate with you since the day you were born. What have you learned from your gut, heart and quiet mind? You have probably had gut feelings leading you in a certain direction. You have most likely felt love. When have you experienced intuition?  If you have experienced any of these you are already connecting with spirit!

Listening to your internal source will shine the light on your life. The light will reveal what you need to hold on to and what needs to change.

Your process will be unique to you. Learning to love and honor yourself is a long-term process. The light within you will reveal sensitive places in your psyche that you have been repressed for years. It will be months and possibly years of healing to overcome the pain you experience. Yet, with practice, these parts of ourselves will become lighter and healthier.

Quieting Your Mind Down

Getting in touch with your inner self-sounds great but how do you do it?  A good place to start is to quiet the mind. Here is what you can do:

  • Practice some form of meditation gradually adding to the length of it as you gain confidence.
  • Sit and be quiet or go for a walk in a quiet place.
  • When a thought comes to your mind just acknowledge it and let it go.
  • Do something you love such as gardening that does not require a lot of thinking.
  • Often deep intentional breathing can help to settle your mind down.


Find a Practice to Help You to Go Deeper into Yourself

There is no one way to get in touch with your inner self. Each of the great religions has practices to help this to happen. If you are part of a church, synagogue, mosque or temple check to see what they can offer you.

If you are a Christian, you might like to check out Centering Prayer. It is a simple practice to get in touch with the Holy within ourselves through saying quietly to yourself a simple mantra to release your mind from being in the past or future. If you are interested, check out this website from Contemplative Outreach http://www.contemplativeoutreach.org).

Learning yoga is one way to get in touch with your inner spirit through breath and bodywork. This is has come out of some of the Eastern Spiritual movements but is not considered a religion. You will find yoga studios in most towns and cities.

Mindfulness and Meditation use breath work to connect with what is going on inside yourself. Using guided meditations can be helpful if you struggle with quieting your mind. There are some great apps available in the App Store and Google Play.  One I use is called “Insight Timer” and it available at both App stores.

Check out what is available in your own community. There are many groups to choose from whether you consider yourself religious, spiritual, or secular. You are more likely to make these changes in your life if you do it with others. When you do this in the community you have people to support you and hold you accountable.

Going on The Journey

Enjoy the journey as you learn for yourself what it means to connect with internal source. What it means to connect with God, Spirit or Oneness. Remember the answer is no further than yourself.

Life is full of challenges. You know how easy it is to get caught up in hopelessness and despair. But once you begin the journey to wholeness there is no turning back. While this journey is never easy, it is a journey worth taking.

You have all you need! Go forth and live it!

Roland Legge offers coaching through REL Consultants for individuals, couples, families, and executives to help them to be the best they can be. For more information, please arrange for a free 30-minute discovery call by phoning Roland at 1 (306) 620-7478 or you can email Roland at rolandlegge@relconsultants.com. 


This article was first published on REL Consultants  https://www.relconsultants.com




Healing to Wholeness


Reflection # 1 Acts 8:26-40


Jesus whole life was about bringing people to wholeness.  He wants each of us to be able to experience the joy and wonder of life.  Jesus wants each of us to know in the deepest part of ourselves that we are unconditionally loved by the Creator.  He wants to invite us to be spiritually open, enabling the Spirit to keep working through each of us.  The Holy Spirit will help us to name and experience the wonderful mixture of humanity and divinity in each of us.  When we do this the world feels and looks like a much brighter place.


In the book of Acts we hear the story of how the Holy Spirit was working through Philip. The Spirit was leading Philip to break down barriers.  Philip was led by the Spirit to share the Good News with an Ethiopian eunuch.  He is breaking the barrier that said Judaism was only for the Hebrews; even the Christian sect within Judaism.  He is breaking the barrier in hanging out with some one that was different from him, someone neither male nor female. 


Imagine what it would have been like to have been this Ethiopian eunuch.  I expect, while he had some respect because of being connected with those in power, many would have ignored this person or seen this eunuch as less than human.  I hunch, it must have felt good when Philip took some time with this person to help the eunuch make some sense of scripture this person was reading from Isaiah.  It is said that this eunuch went away rejoicing.  This person new now beyond doubt that he/she was worthy, loved, respected, a full human being and unconditionally loved by God.  This person had been helped by Philip to feel whole.  The eunuch was allowing the Holy Spirit to heal him/her from anything that was holding this eunuch back from fully living out its life.


Can you remember a time when you felt out of place?  Can you remember a time when you have felt not respected?  Can you remember a time when you felt so broken you didn’t know if you could find joy and hope again?  Most of us have experienced some of this in our lives.  I have had many people in my life help me to discover the wholeness and healing that God desires for me to feel and know.  I want to talk to you about a favorite teacher of mine, Mrs. Gardener.  She was all about helping me and any student she taught that we were worthy of her time and energy.  She made it very clear that she deeply cared about us.  She made sure we knew we were bright and intelligent.  I can remember her spending hours upon hours with me teaching the times tables that are still with me today.  I stayed in touch with her long after she finished teaching.  Mrs. Gardener helped me to feel whole.  Through the Spirit working through her I received much healing that helped me to keep growing physically, intellectually, spiritually and emotionally.


Who has broken through your barriers?  Who has helped you to see beyond all the “isms” to see divine-humanity in each person we meet?  Who has helped you to experience wholeness and healing?  Who are you inviting into wholeness and healing?


May the Creator bless all of us with the same wholeness that Jesus lived out.




Reflection #2:  Mark 5: 25-34


Here we have another story of a person finding wholeness and healing.  This is a story about a woman who broke a social taboo.  I quote now from Miriam Mary and Me by Lois Wilson:

Although the woman knew her flow of blood had stopped when she touched Jesus, the text says she still “trembled and feared” when Jesus asked “who touched me?” If the incident simply involved physical healing, the woman would not have responded with fear and trembling to Jesus inquiry.  But she had spoken a taboo.  She had been a social reject for 12 years.  Religious law declared any “touching,” of either the woman or anything associated with her, ritually unclean, that is, taboo (Leviticus 15:19-30).  She trembled because she had broken the law (Leviticus 12:2-7). She had sinned by appearing in a public space when she was ritually polluted.

Miriam Mary & Me Biblical Stories Retold for Children and Adults by Lois Miriam Wilson Northstone Publishing Kelowna B.C. page 247



Jesus showed us that wholeness comes when we fully recognize another human being.  We bring wholeness when we are able to look them right in the eye.  We bring wholeness when we reach out and touch another person.  We bring wholeness when we acknowledge their presence in a positive way.  In order to do this we need to continuing breaking through many taboos.


What are the taboos we need to overcome today?  There are many.  One is the tendency to see people with disabilities as not full human beings. In order to overcome our fear of being around people who don’t seem “normal” to us we need to try to get a sense of what it might be like to walk in their shoes.  This is a good tool to use to break through any taboos and stereotypes that too often get in the way of all people enjoying the blessing of healthy community.


I had inherited a lot of stereotypes about people with mental illness.  I somehow got the message that these were not normal people. I got the message you couldn’t trust them.  They were somehow not completely human.  This was all challenged in my last year of theology school when I learned a lot about schizophrenia.  This is just as common as autism!  I learnt the most about it when I was in a workshop where they tried to give us participants an idea what it is like to live with schizophrenia.  These new learning’s changed me forever.


After trying to listen to multiple voices all talking to me at once and often in very demeaning ways I soon realized why it is so hard for a person living with this terrible illness to function.  This new knowledge helped me to be more compassionate.  As I got to know people living with schizophrenia I realized that I had little to fear from them.  I realized they are just as much the children of God as any so called “able” person is. Also during this same time I was working in the inner cities of Toronto and Vancouver.  I discovered I could bring wholeness and healing to people with mental illness by taking time to get to know them and treating them with the dignity that all people should be given.  Yes, even people with mental illness can be on the road to wholeness.


Reflection # 3:  Luke 10:38-42


I love the story of Mary and Martha.  There are many ways to interpret the story.  But today I want to focus on how Jesus was able to recognize Mary’s need to be spiritually fed.  Mary’s need for healing and wholeness was more important at that time than Martha’s need to provide hospitality. 


We all need to take time to care for ourselves just as Mary was allowing herself to do with Jesus.  We all need time to care for our minds, our spirit, our intellect and our need to participate in meaningful service in our world.  But this is hard to do in a world that puts so much value on production, money and consumption.  I even find it hard to take twenty minutes to do Centering Prayer each day.  One would think it should not be hard. Why?  I know for me there is still a part of me that does not take seriously the wisdom that meditation and prayer are a good use of my time.  How easy or hard do you find it to care for yourself?


I hope that we will stay on the road to wholeness and healing through out our lives.  May the Spirit bless each of us through the words of this poem by Ann Weems called: Gift of God.  Hear it as though I am saying this right to you.

Gift of God


gift next to me and

                                      pass me Bread and Wine…


always there

                   with communion in your countenance

reaching ready

                                 aware accepting affirming


Gift of God


touch this lepered me

                                      to wholeness


Instrument of God


hear alleluias through obscenities

   see rainbows in the darkest storms

         unearth flowers in the snow


Gift of God

I thank God for you!

Reaching for Rainbows by Ann Weems The Westminster Press 1980 Philadelphia page 34