During the last few months of lock-down/quarantine/(whatever you want to call it), I’ve done a lot of reading about the ENNEAGRAM. This isn’t necessarily a new obsession, I’ve been interested in it for the last few years. After working with my mom (who has done enneagram trainings for her job in pastoral care) to type myself as a 9 and reading Beatrice Chestnut’s book The Complete Enneagram, I’ve been consistently seeking out enneagram content.
But recently, I’ve really been exploring the idea of using the knowledge about myself that the enneagram offers to my advantage. Even though so much of the enneagram involves being faced with the aspects of yourself that aren’t so pretty (hi, I’m a 9…most commonly known for being lazy…yikes), it’s power comes from what you do with that information.
If you don’t know anything about the enneagram, there are a ton of great resources online to learn about the types and type yourself. I’d also recommend checking out Chestnut’s book (linked above) as well as The Honest Enneagram by Sarajane Case (who also has an instagram account and a podcast).
If you’re already up on this whole enneagram biz (and you love trolling IG for memes about your type LOL), I would totally encourage you to try taking it to the next level by identifying some of the downfalls inherent in your type and then adopting some positive life-practices to help you combat them. Doing so myself has been wildly helpful during an otherwise very stressful and scary time in the world.
To help get you started, I’ve identified some positive practices based on my readings about each type. I’m not saying these are the ones you should go with — they’re just ideas. They might not ring true for you and where you’re at or how you show up as an individual type. I just want to inspire you to find a few of your OWN practices based on your type!
Let’s start with TYPES ONE, TWO, & THREE —
Enneagram Type One:
Positive Practice #1 – Take time for yourself to relax without any responsibilities.
Think: a solo afternoon outing, a solo night in, or solo weekend getaway. Ones put a lot of pressure on themselves to make sure things go to plan. But it can be stressful to be around other folks who have differing opinions about the right and wrong ways to enjoy whatever adventure or vacation you’ve mapped out in your head. Things will go a lot more to plan if you’re the only one you’re planning for. Give yourself that space every once in a while to relax without feeling like the world depends on you.
Positive Practice #2 – Set reminders that allow you to be patient instead of continuously following up.
Ones have an incredibly strong sense of right and wrong and are extremely self-disciplined. Others might not respond or take action to your requests as quickly as you may like. Because the one is also a great educator, they can view reiterating themselves and trying new approaches as helpful — when in fact this may have the reverse effect and cause the other person to shut down completely. (Which will stress a one out even more!) Instead, channel your love of planning and map out your follow-ups in your calendar.
Positive Practice #3 – Join a group that lets you display and discuss your emotions without fear of judgment.
Think: book club, film club, or any group that allows you to have conversations about the realities of humanity. Because ones are often uneasy with emotions, it can be beneficial to discuss things like how a book or movie made you feel in a group of people who are doing the same. This can help you identify emotions and emotional impulses better in your own life and help you feel more at ease about the messy aspects of being human.
Enneagram Type Two:
Positive Practice #1 – Set up a practice of asking others what they need.
Twos are known as “The Helper” for a reason — you love to help and you’re largely very good at intuiting what people need. That doesn’t mean it is what they want. And if they don’t, that’s not a reflection of you OR a rejection of you. You can and should still lean in to this “helping hand” side of yourself though. When the urge arises, do your best to make this your first step — state your intentions, “I’d like to help,” and then ask, “what can I do?”
Positive Practice #2 – Start a journal to document the “gifts” you receive every day.
Think: Gratitude Journal. Twos tend to place value on how what they’re giving is perceived, instead of looking to what they are receiving. You might not even recognize something as a “gift” because it is not something you would give or you wouldn’t give it in the same way. The more you can start noticing all that you are receiving in your life (by jotting it down in your journal), the better you will become at recognizing all the love in your world.
Positive Practice #3 – Invest your time in a service opportunity that is just for you.
This is something that is just for you — not something you know will garner public recognition or a lot of “likes” on your social media feeds. Think about your own interests and how you can give back within those worlds. Maybe you enjoy being around kittens so you sign up to foster or volunteer at a local animal shelter. The more you find fulfillment in something BEYOND just a general sense of helping, the more likely a two will resist the urge to call attention to themselves and their good deeds.
Enneagram Type Three:
Positive Practice #1 – Make time for one-on-one interactions with your loved ones.
Threes need to feel truthfulness, loyalty, and cooperation in their relationships. However, they are also fantastic multi-taskers who are always GO GO GO. Because of this, you might turn to big group outings or group vacations with your friends and loved ones to knock out that quality time all in one go. Resist this urge. Instead, slow down and really connect with the folks you care about without a bunch of other people and distractions around.
Positive Practice #2 – Schedule breaks throughout your day.
You are susceptible to burn-out and exhaustion because of a singular focus on your goals. Threes are super ambitious and value self-development — great qualities! But they also need to take breaks if they want to reach their full potential. Make sure you’re setting aside time during your day to step away from work and your personal to-do list — try the pomodoro approach or just set a few alarms in your phone to signal when you’re going to take a ten minute breather.
Positive Practice #3 – Get involved with a group project that has nothing to do with career advancement.
Again, threes are highly skilled multi-taskers so they might sign up for their office’s kickball league and think, “Cool, this will help my likability standings at work PLUS knock out a workout and be my weekly socialization time,” only to find they’re miserable every Thursday during the matches because they actually HATE kickball (and their co-workers who joined the team). If you’re going to focus so much of your energy on career, you should look for some outlets that are outside of work (and build relationships with people who have nothing to do with your next promotion) where you can take a little pressure off of that side of yourself.
Ok, enneagram-obsessed loves! I hope this helps you use the information about your type to your advantage. It might take you a while to settle on the practices you want to adopt, and that’s ok! Once you do, I know they’re going to have a positive impact on your life! xoxo
Keep an eye out for follow-up posts with ideas for the rest of the types! Thanks for reading!!!