You, Me, the Enneagram, and a Pandemic

Any other enneagram fans out there? Some people see it as silly. Some give it more power or value than they should. But the truth is I find it incredibly insightful. I’ve been an enneagram fan for a couple years (I’ve always loved personality tests). I didn’t really start doing a deep dive into all the ins and outs of the enneagram until about a year and a half ago.

What I love about the enneagram is it’s not just a personality test that locks us into a box. It’s multifaceted and has so many dimensions. It’s a tool, and as Christians, we know that the enneagram isn’t just a means to define ourselves and others, but a way to understand both motivations and fears as well as how to help ourselves (and others) work on being the healthiest version of the person God created us to be (that’s a mouthful). But what I really love is that there are no good or bad personality types (though they all have healthy and unhealthy tendencies). They are all created by God, necessary to our world, and should all be celebrated. God made you the way you are. He made me the way I am.

In case anyone cares . . . I’m a 1 wing 2 (“The advocate” is a great description of who I am). I have very strong traits of 3s, 5s, and 6s, but at the end of the day, at my core, I’m a 1.

From the Enneagram Institute (click on the link to read all about the 9 types)

1 – The Reformer

Type One in Brief

Ones are conscientious and ethical, with a strong sense of right and wrong. They are teachers, crusaders, and advocates for change: always striving to improve things, but afraid of making a mistake. Well-organized, orderly, and fastidious, they try to maintain high standards, but can slip into being critical and perfectionistic. They typically have problems with resentment and impatience. At their Best: wise, discerning, realistic, and noble. Can be morally heroic.

Basic Fear: Of being corrupt/evil, defective

Basic Desire: To be good, to have integrity, to be balanced

Enneagram One with a Nine-Wing: “The Idealist”

Enneagram One with a Two-Wing: “The Advocate”

Key Motivations: Want to be right, to strive higher and improve everything, to be consistent with their ideals, to justify themselves, to be beyond criticism so as not to be condemned by anyone. (https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/)

When I first discovered the enneagram and saw the word “perfectionist”, I went, “Nope . . . I’m trying to get over that tendency.” And I proceeded to read through numerous descriptions of every other type looking to see where I matched and identified. I took quizzes hoping to come up with a different number. I mean, mistyping oneself isn’t necessarily uncommon. While I knew that I definitely wasn’t the “fun loving” 7 that my husband is, I thought maybe I was that “high achieving” type 3 (I am a high achiever but I don’t do it for others) or the “investigative” type 5 (again I love a good investigation but my investigation goes back to the purpose of needing to be morally right) or even a “peace loving” type 9 (let’s just laugh a little at that . . . I don’t love confrontation but I’m certainly not going to ignore it if it’s necessary), but 1s often carry a negative connotation. At our worst we can be critical and harsh and judgmental and hugely perfectionistic. It comes from a place of wanting things to be right. We have a deep fear of being immoral, evil, or corrupt. But at our best we have a strong moral compass, integrity, and strive for excellence (over perfection). Aside from the fact that it’s pretty painfully obvious I’m a type 1, hearing about the inner critic clinched it for me. Type 1s are forever fighting that internal criticism and imagine my shock when I realized that not everyone fights that battle.

So enter the year 2020. All the crazy pandemic fun . . . the homeschooling . . . the choice about when and how to isolate . . . the criticisms of others regarding our decisions. Having to make the right decisions for ourselves and our kids. The two sides to everything. Striking the balance between keeping everyone physically healthy but also not harming the mental and emotional health of our kids (and ourselves) . . . While most people will say, “we can only do our best,” the stress of not only doing the right thing, but also dealing with so much wrong information being thrown around (I’m looking at you facebook) made me less than my best self more than a few times during all of this. There has definitely been a real fear of doing the wrong thing, both intentionally and unintentionally, that has crept in over the past few months.

It’s really hard to scroll past blatantly wrong info and not correct it.

What if I royally screw up my kids in the process of “homeschooling” them?

Am I being too permissive with screen time?

Am I being too strict with screen time?

Are my children’s days, their meals, their physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional needs all being balanced well enough? Are mine? Are my husbands?

It’s enough to drive a person crazy at times, and there were moments when I absolutely let all of it get to me. It most definitely showed . . . in my words, in my actions, in my responses, in my emotions . . . but here’s the thing I have had to realize and accept, I can strive to do everything with excellence but that does not mean that I will do everything perfectly. I do my best to do the right thing, but ultimately, at the end (and the beginning) of the day, I have to trust God to lead us and guide us down the right path. Because He’s the only one that is perfect. And this is where knowing who I am in Christ, how I was designed, and how I function has helped me so much. Rather than limiting me, it helps me to see when my responses are trending towards unhealthy and when I need to turn to God and say, “I’m not handling this well at all. Can You help me?” And He does. He always does.

It has also helped me better understand those around me and how they deal differently with the exact same situations. And ultimately, how sometimes there really is not definite right and wrong (I said “sometimes”) but many shades of gray.

Sidenote: If any enneagram expert happens to, by some off chance, read this, I apologize for any cringing you’ll likely do at my explanations. I’m just doing my best to describe my experiences in relation to current events, but I am definitely not an expert.

Copyright 2020, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved 

The writings and images contained within this site are the intellectual property of this writer unless otherwise noted, and may not be copied or used without express permission of the author.

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