The most empowering question you can ask yourself – Who am I?

Photo by Andrew Nicholson

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could understand yourself in a brand new light?

By this I mean be able to understand the different triggers that cause you to respond to life in the way you do, to know and be able to recognise what takes your energy up, what takes you down, what motivates you, and to be able to instantly recognise when your ego is responding to life rather than the real you? And wouldn’t it be wonderful to really connect with your inherent talents and to not only believe you have those talents, but to truly, deeply know? You see, there’s a world of difference between believing something and actually knowing it. This brings true self-empowerment.

And wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to understand others, especially those closest to you, in the same light too?

Well… did you know that there are 9 different perceptions of life, 9 different drives and models of the world, and that each of us experiences life through one of them? Here are just some examples of how they all differ from one another:

  • Some are motivated towards the future, and others by moving away from the past.
  • Some tend to be more introverted, others more extroverted.
  • One will criticise openly because it feels dishonest not to, another will be exceptionally sweet even if they have to lie so as never to face rejection.
  • One will give and give until they are emotionally spent, another will take and take.
  • One tends to focus on all that is wrong, and another on all that could go wrong (may sound similar, but they are in fact very different perceptions which bring about very different patterns of behaviour.)
  • One tends to get on with everyone in order to succeed, another speaks their mind no matter the cost.
  • One is a master at seducing others emotionally, another intellectually.
  • One focuses on abundance, another on lack.
  • One focuses on their pain, another on enjoyment.
  • One has great vision and doesn’t like detail, another focuses on a smaller picture and thrives on detail.
  • Some are rebellious and don’t like to conform, whilst others thrive most when life has conformity.
  • Some are more emotional, whilst others are more thinking types.
  • Some focus on people, others focus on information and thrive on being alone.
  • Some open their hearts to others, whilst others give very little away emotionally.
  • Some focus inwards on their feelings, others avoid the inward view and focus outwards.

These are a brief snapshot of just some of the fundamental differences between the models of perception. Do you recognise anyone in there? And wouldn’t it be wonderful to discover who you truly are, what makes you tick, to be able to stop comparing yourself to others, to stop being offended by others, to stop worrying about what others think from a place of compassion… and instead harness your natural gifts?

The EnneagramThe thing is that each of the 9 perceptions, which are fully explained by the ‘Enneagram’, pictured here, are completely different to the next.  None are right and none are wrong – they simply are. They all have different triggers, responses, patterns of behaviour, preferences, likes, dislikes and most importantly, a different path for connecting to their full potential. With each ‘Enneatype’ comes a default set of negative and unresourceful behavioural patterns – the 9 ego types.

The great news is, within each Enneatype when harnessed in the most resourceful way, there lies the most incredible strengths which are usually in some way related to the individual’s purpose and dream for their ideal life, even though they’re unaware of it.

If you are suffering with or prone to stress, anxiety, boredom, a lack of purpose, feel like nobody understands you, you don’t fit in, find relationships difficult… then you are likely to be battling with your ego and other people’s egos too.

The most beautiful thing about it all is that we all need each other – no type is better than another. Between all 9 types there exists a beautiful harmony within humanity where all the bases are covered. Those who focus on the big picture can learn from those who focus on detail, those who feel less emotion can learn from those who feel more, and those who feel too much emotion can learn from those who focus on logic…  and vice versa. The list is endless and the comparisons above barely even touch the surface. If one Enneagram type were removed from humanity, I sincerely believe that the human race would become very unbalanced.

Here’s the thing… how often do we view people for who they are, understand their behaviour and where it’s coming from, and see our differences as something beautiful and an opportunity to double our own perspective? We don’t in general. As a human race, we’re all too keen to judge others without understanding, because we expect them to be more like us. Yet only around one in 9 will have a perspective somewhat similar to our own.

It is when we remain self-contained within our own ego type, never allowing others to get near, that we cease learning. These egoic defence mechanisms and coping strategies, learned from a very early age, serve to protect us when we are young, yet quickly also start to limit and imprison us.

We can choose to go on a most amazing journey… One where we learn so much about ourselves, where we learn to accept ourselves, ego and authentic potential alike, and to accept other perspectives, rather than close ourselves off.

If we simply allow our ego to focus our attention on ‘you’re wrong’ and ‘I’m right’, we will remain isolated and disconnected from our authentic self and this huge learning opportunity.

It is said that opposites attract, yet when it happens and the two people involved don’t know how to overcome or understand their differences, then relationship difficulties can often occur. Andy and I experienced some challenges during the early stages of our relationship, and they were made up entirely of the differences in motivations and behaviours our two Enneatypes. It took an in-depth understanding of who we are as individuals, of who our partner is, and how to handle those differences as well as an understanding of what it takes to make a successful relationship work. Was it worth it? Oh yes, because when we understood all of this, our relationship transcended to a beautiful new level where we were able to bring out the very best in ourselves and each other with unconditional love and understanding. We wouldn’t swap a single day of our challenges, because we truly discovered who we are. We feel connected at a soul level, because over and above our surface behaviour, we understand the underlying motivations and reasons for everything. The things that used to frustrate us are now areas where we lift each other up instead… it is beyond liberating to be yourself completely in a relationship, and to be able to understand another, and be understood, at this level.

The one thing we know for sure is that you can’t change anyone. You can only either bring out the best or the worst behaviour of their ego type. And because as a human race we generally don’t understand those differences, we inevitably bring out the worst by criticising, being over emotional, nagging, judging, retreating or similar. It’s not the way forward though… there is something far, far simpler.

Here’s a typical example. One of the Enneatypes is a perfectionist. Along with this comes a clear definition of everything that they perceive as either right or wrong. If something is wrong, they will have no problem saying so because they’re driven by a desire to put it right. Others will often perceive this as criticism. This type typically experiences what can be an overwhelming number of ‘shoulds’ in their life and an imbalance when it comes to taking rest time. After all, if they ‘should’ be doing this or that, and more to the point, doing it perfectly, then how can they take time out to do nothing?

Now imagine firstly if you were motivated in a completely different way to them, which considering there are 8 other types is quite likely, and they kept telling you that you ‘should’ be doing this or that, and criticised you for not doing so. You could take this in one of several ways depending on your nature – you could rebel against it, or allow it to emotionally bring you down, or you could simply understand their underlying motivations and perception and why they communicate the way they do. If you criticise them as your response, or take offense, then they simply sink deeper into their negative behaviour and become even more critical and judgmental, not only to others but to themselves too. So the kindest thing to do is to gently lift them out of ‘shoulding’ all over themselves, and help them acknowledge when they have done something well. Also encourage more fun, humour and balance in their lives and help them understand how you need them to communicate with you in a slightly different way.

Loving them through their perception is the most powerful way to bring them into their positive space, which is to stop criticising and take action to make a real difference in the world by actually putting right what they see as wrong. It also helps them connect with their more emotional and fun side. This example is only the tip of the iceberg, but it makes so much sense, doesn’t it? It’s amazing the change we can bring about in others when we don’t take offence and understand their behaviour instead.

We’ve worked with so many couples, often on the verge of splitting up, where they’ve finally come to understand and manage their differences from a place of real understanding, and it’s made an incredible difference to how they’re able to relate to one another.

Now, I have to explain that when we teach our clients about their Enneagram type, we bring them face to face with every limiting and negative pattern that comes with their ego type. This is the most empowering exercise imaginable, even though initially it’s not pleasant, because without this, most people are blissfully unaware that they’re operating through these patterns.

It’s vitally important to understand that this is not about boxing you into any type. On the contrary, we’ve all boxed ourselves into some kind of behavioural patterns through our lives but are very unaware of it. It is only when we get to see the box around ourselves clearly for the first time that we have the power and insight to lift ourselves out of it. We follow this up with the path for authentic transformation which is right for you, because the one thing which is very evident to us is that there is no ‘one solution fits all’. Each Enneatype has different needs in order to break through their limitations, which will be fairly evident from the comparisons above.

We hope that you’ve enjoyed reading about the different Enneatypes. We know they were certainly life changing for us, not only in terms of our relationship with ourselves and each other, but in terms of stepping into our purpose and full potential too. We are extremely passionate about self-empowerment.

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