What is your Number?
Self-awareness is the key to change.
This important principle has truly changed my life. You see, you cannot really change until you become self-aware.
- Are you aware of your struggles and why you are the way you are?
- Are you aware of your personality and what makes you tick?
- Are you aware of your childhood triggers and how your past interferes with your present?
How you see the world will be filtered through your answers to these important questions.
There are many ways to learn more about yourself, your personality, and your triggers but today, I want to share with you about the Enneagram. I was introduced to it a little over a year ago and I find it fascinating. For those that have not heard of it, “the Enneagram is a nine-pointed geometric figure that illustrates nine different but interconnected personality types.” There are many Enneagram books out there, but a friend recommended this book and I truly loved it. I especially enjoyed the way the authors shared about the 9 personality types or numbers. There are lots of real life examples and honestly, I laughed out loud many times as I could relate to my personality number.
But what I loved most about learning about the Enneagram is that it helped me become more self-aware. Listen to this quote: “Working with the Enneagram helps people develop the kind of self-knowledge they need to understand who they are and why they see and relate to the world the way they do. When that happens, you can start to get out of your own way and become more of the person God created you to be.” I don’t know about you but I want to become more of the person God created me to be.
When you look at the Enneagram, you see that each number has 4 other numbers that it connects with. You have two numbers on each side of you which are your wing numbers. You tend to lean toward one of them and have some of their characteristics. You also have numbers with arrows either pointing away from you (stress number) or pointing toward you (security number). The authors say, “Spiritually speaking, it’s a real advantage to know what happens to your type and the number it naturally goes to in stress. It’s equally valuable to learn the positive qualities of the number you instinctively move toward in security as well.” More Self- Awareness- I love it!
There is a chapter for each Personality number and at the beginning of each chapter is 20 statements: What it’s like to be a ____. (1-9) This really helped me to look at all 9 personality numbers quickly to see which one did I most identify with. I recommend going through those lists and seeing which statements are similar to you. For me, I put arrows next to the statements that were a match. I noticed right away that there were two numbers that I seem to connect with. So, I decided to read each of those chapters first. Reading the book out of order was hard for me so I did go back and read all of the other personality types after. Personally, I found it was helpful to read the chapters that described me first. So, after you find the chapters with statements that you connect with, I recommend reading those chapters in detail so you can see which number is your primary number and which one is your wing.
So what is your number? I am a 1 with a 2 wing. So what does that mean? Well, Type One on the Enneagram are the perfectionists. We struggle with making mistakes and are very critical with others and ourselves. When things don’t go as planned, we can become angry. Anger is a huge struggle for us. On a more positive note, we are very dependable and hard working; if we say, we are going to do something, we will. However, we can be easily frustrated when others don’t do their part and we can become controlling. We truly want life to be perfect so we have very high expectations of others and ourselves. Honestly, I think we are hardest on ourselves; we have a very critical internal voice. We love routines and details but struggle with change.
One of the funny parts in the book on Ones says, “If you suspect someone’s a One, but you’re not sure, watch how they react when they open a dishwasher someone else has loaded. If they cluck their tongue and start reloading it while muttering something like, ‘Good night, why can’t people do this correctly’, then there’s a better than fifty-fifty change they’re a One.” I honestly laughed out loud at this part of the book because I could so relate. I know- we, Ones, have control issues.
One of favorite parts of each chapter is when they describe a healthy version of your number, an average version and an unhealthy version of your number. I realize for most of my life, I lived as an unhealthy one. I was always trying to control things, people, and myself. I hate to admit but I want to be fully honest with you, anger has been a huge struggle for me. Unmet expectations and wanting perfection left me angry with many of my loved ones. As I have grown and become self aware, I realize now that anger is a secondary emotion and usually hurt is the underlying emotion. Now, I identify the hurt and try to not jump to anger but for some many years, I struggled with this.
Not even aware that I was an unhealthy one, I criticized and was hard on those I loved. Internally, I was hardest on myself. The inner critic of a one is relentless and I was always replaying in my head, I should have done this or I wish I had done this…. We never let ourselves off the hook. Because of this, Ones struggle with accepting criticism from others. As an unhealthy one, we can struggle with comparing and judging too. For many years, I lived as an unhealthy One and was completely unaware of my struggles. Honestly, it was not until the Summer of 2011 and 2012, that things started to change for me. During those summers, two books changed my life and started me on my path of self-awareness. Like I said before, self-awareness is the key to change.
Listen to what the authors say: “The Enneagram offers great insight into how our personality types engage in relationship with partners or friends and what we most need and fear from those interactions. All of us bring some amount of brokenness to our connections with others, but you should understand that every single number on the Enneagram is capable of healthy and life-giving relationships. Every number has its healthy and unhealthy ranges of behaviors. With greater self awareness, you can help ensure that your typical behaviors land more on the healthy side and don’t sabotage your interactions with people you love the most.”
So let’s look at the healthy side of a one. The author says, “Healthy Ones are committed to a life of service and integrity. They are balanced and responsible and able to forgive themselves and others for being imperfect. They are principled but patient with the processes that slowly but surely make the world a better place.” Offering grace to others and ourselves is a huge growth step for Ones. It has taken me many years to begin to learn this and I am still a work in progress. I love the end of each chapter because the author gives ten steps called Ten Paths to Transformation for (your specific number). These are super helpful and practical.
You see, you don’t have to let the unhealthy version of you define you. Like the authors said above, “every number has it healthy and unhealthy ranges of behavior.” My prayer for you and me is that we continue to become more and more self-aware so we can grow into the healthiest version of ourselves.
Real change takes time so give yourself lots of grace as you learn about yourself, your struggles, your childhood triggers, and your personality. There are many ways to grow and learn and the Enneagram is just one example of how to better understand yourself. Personally, I found it was a fascinating tool on my road to self-awareness. I hope it helps you too! I will be praying for God to open your eyes and help you see what is your number.
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