Living A Rich Life
Cultivating Kindness through the Enneagram

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Enneagram?
  The Enneagram is a tool for understanding yourself and other people better. (top)
Why the strange name?
  In part because the Enneagram (any-a-gram) symbol originated in pre-modern philosophy that used ancient Greek terms. Ennea = Nine, Gram = a drawing. Thus, the name means a drawing containing nine aspects. In our use of the Enneagram, it is a description of nine distinct personality types.(top)
Where does it come from?
  While the ancient origins of the Enneagram remain somewhat obscure, we know that this template, as a symbol, evolved at a time in our human history before psychology when philosophy, religion, ethics and science were seamlessly united. It has been adapted and augmented by contemporary psychologists in the past forty years. It is used in professional training, counseling, coaching, organizational development, team building, religious communities, and well as a guide for psychological and spiritual development. (top)
Why have I never heard of it?
  For most of the past fifty years, it as been taught mainly to mental health practioners, counselors, spiritual directors and individuals who were interested in self-discovery. (top)
Why would I want to learn about it?
  It will give you insight into where your strengths lie as well as unlocking the thinking patterns that may be holding you back in your life. Many people find that the greatest benefits of the Enneagram show up in their relationships with the special people in their life. They simply understand each other better and find it easier to communicate about the important things as well as everyday affairs. (top)
I have done things like this before. The Myers-Briggs, FIRO, and other things my company sent me to. How is this different?
  Many people have found the Enneagram to be more three-dimensional and more useful than other systems. The Myers-Briggs primarily describes how people think, feel and perceive. The Enneagram goes further to describe motivations, core assumptions and a spectrum of healthy and unhealthy behaviors related to each type. One of the reasons I prefer the Enneagram is because it takes into account that people’s behavior seems to change in different situations. It gives a deeper insight into our inconsistencies, i.e. humanness, and demonstrates that while we are different from others, there are even more ways we are alike. It also indicates that maybe we are more than our personalities alone. It is very hopeful. (top)
I don’t like being labeled or put in a box. I think we are all individuals and should be respected as such. Why get pigeon-holed?
  The Enneagram respects that we are all individuals. At the same time, it is true that we are creatures of habits and patterns, mostly unconscious. Ask anyone who knows you well. How we react emotionally, and how we respond to new situations, how we see the future and the past and how we make assumptions – these are all ways of followimg our own “rules of life” over and over again. In a sense, we are already in a prison. The Enneagram shows you what keeps you there and how to get out. (top)
How long does to take to learn?
  While anyone can read about the Enneagram’s nine personality types through an article, book or website in a few minutes, it takes a little longer to make sense of it and to learn to apply it. I have found that learning in a group setting with a qualified teacher is best. After a part-time study over a year or so, the wisdom of the system comes alive for most people. (top)
What is wrong with just reading about it?
  I have found several reasons it is best to learn through a teacher in a group setting. For one, most people mistype themselves or can’t see their type clearly. In my introductory class, I use multi-modal learning (a test, videos, music, meditations, sharing, slides and brief talks) to give you several means of discovery. Second, I think it is important to hear the types speak for themselves rather than hearing about them from a third party. It is like learning a language by conversing with native speakers rather than just listening to audio programs. You will learn experientially. Reading alone won’t give you an experience of the Enneagram in action. And third, since you are learning about other types of people (as well as learning about yourself), you need to be around other types of people. We all learn from one another. (top)
I hate group situations. They make me feel uncomfortable. I’m a very private person and I don’t want everyone knowing my business. Are the classes like group therapy where everyone is supposed to spill their guts?
  No, this is not group therapy and you don’t have to say a word. In the introductory class you can simply come and observe. In my years of teaching this way, about 10-15% of the people come and observe only. You won’t know until you get there. (top)
I know people who have studied the Enneagram and I hear them going around talking in numbers (“I’m a Two. What are you?”). That really bugs me. Will I become one of those?
  The Enneagram assigns a number to each of the nine types as a value-neutral way to describe each profile rather than using terms such as “The Go-getter,” or “The Skeptic.” Also, different teachers use different names so using numbers is more universal. About those people going around talking numbers, it is hard not to be curious once you discover your type. I have found that further study eliminates the use of the Enneagram as cocktail party conversation. It becomes more personal and more special than that. You will have “inside” information but it should not make you a member of some secret club with a special language that excludes others. (top)
I have done lots of therapy and spiritual work through the years. What would I get from this?
  People who have done therapy or spiritual growth work find the Enneagram to be a missing piece. There is a level of insight into yourself that would take years to acquire through therapy alone. It gives you tools to see your own unconscious patterns of thinking and behaving. Whatever your spiritual path or beliefs, the Enneagram helps develop the qualities of compassion, kindness and generosity towards others. (top)
This all sounds very interesting, but I don’t think I need something like this. I get along fine with people and I already know myself very well. But my wife could really use it. 
  Your wife is probably thinking you are the one who really needs to learn about the Enneagram, but that is another matter. Most people study it because they are curious. (top)