Self-Development and Self-Knowledge
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The Enneagram can be extremely useful to everyone as a source of
self-knowledge because it acts as a kind of "mirror" to reveal
features of our personality that normally are invisible to us. Most of the
time, people function habitually, as if on "automatic pilot,"
according to the pattern of their basic personality type. Usually this
allows people to get along well enough in their lives, but when their normal
routines break down or the stresses of their lives increase too much, their
normal way of coping also tends to break down or become dysfunctional.
Seeing clearly what our habitual patterns are—seeing what we are doing and
why we are doing it, and at what cost to ourselves and others—holds the
key to our liberation. By knowing your type correctly, you are able to see
yourself—to "catch yourself in the act"—as you move throughout
the day. With this increased self-awareness, you are also able to avoid
reacting in negative and potentially dangerous ways.
Once real balance has been restored to the personality structure, the
Enneagram can help us to orient ourselves to the higher spiritual and
psychological qualities that each type has in abundance. Thus, at its
highest, the Enneagram invites us to look deeply into the mystery of our
true identity. It reveals that we are not our personality, but something
more—a spiritual being who has lost contact with his or her true nature.
Living out of this realization shifts completely how we see ourselves,
others, and the world, bringing liberation, freedom, and joy. (See pages
27-48 in The
Wisdom of the Enneagram or pages 11-17 of Understanding
the Enneagram (Revised Edition) for more about the psychological
and spiritual context of the Enneagram.)
The Direction of
The Direction of Stress
No matter which personality type you are, the types in both your
Direction of Integration and your Direction of Stress or Disintegration are
important influences. To obtain a complete picture of yourself (or of
someone else), you must take into consideration the basic type and wing as
well as the two types in the Directions of Integration and Disintegration.
The factors represented by those four types blend into your total
personality and provide the framework for understanding the influences
operating in you. For example, no one is simply a personality type Two. A
Two has either a One-wing or a Three-wing, and the Two's Direction of
Disintegration (Eight) and its Direction of Integration (Four) also play
important parts in his or her overall personality.
Ultimately, the goal is for each of us to "move around" the
Enneagram, integrating what each type symbolizes and acquiring the healthy
potentials of all the types. The ideal is to become a balanced, fully
functioning person who can draw on the power (or from the Latin,
"virtue") of each as needed. Each of the types of the Enneagram
symbolizes different important aspects of what we need to achieve this end.
The personality type we begin life with is therefore less important
ultimately than how well (or badly) we use our type as the beginning point
for our self-development and self-realization.