The Enneagram: A Journey into Self-Discovery
“If we can’t self-observe, we can’t self-correct.”
When is the last time you caught a child in the act of doing something they had just enough insight to know they probably shouldn’t have done? They quickly and instinctively hide the evidence as they adamantly denied any involvement. But being the astute adult you are, you notice that behind their back and within their little hands tells the truth! You just have to spin them around to see it.
Unfortunately, there are somethings we never outgrow. We are always trying to hide the unpleasantness of our own personalities to ourselves and others; and what happens as we grow older, we just end up learning more sophisticated ways of hiding what we don’t want to be exposed.
A blind spot is a place on the retina that is “insensitive to light”. Our eyes are not the only place these blind spots naturally exist. We all have them within our hearts as well—places within we’d rather not let light in. This is precisely why we don’t always see ourselves as clearly as we would like to believe we do. In order to see ourselves, we must get alone with our inner world and identify the thoughts that direct us, the feelings that consume our hearts, and the instincts that drive us. One of my favorite authors on contemplative practices, Ruth Haley Barton, said, “It takes a while to adjust to the truth one finally names in the wilderness.”
This is what the Enneagram bids us to do. It is the astute adult asking us to finally admit to ourselves maybe “the me” that is showing up isn’t “the me” I want to be. It asks us to hold out our hands and name the things we’ve been hiding behind our backs. Out of sight, out of mind, right? I sometimes wish it were that simple.
The Enneagram is a tool when used correctly that gives us permission to see what we have been holding onto that no longer serves us. It then convinces us it is necessary to look deeper with curiosity and gentleness so that we can finally take off our mask! With new eyes, we can answer the questions we’ve longed to know. Why do what I do? Where did this version of me begin and how can I transform to live the life I am destined to?
The realization of how little I really knew myself began for me when I first was introduced to the Enneagram. Here I was, a clinical counselor, helping others gain insight and I was blind to many of my own protective stances and ineffective patterns. I didn’t realize as a One, how much I believed I had to be perfect to be pleasing. I was also holding myself to an impossible obligation to always be the good person who never hurt anyone’s feelings. This caused me to blur boundaries and say yes when I wanted to say no. An even bigger ah-ha was when I realized I’d been covering up my anger for decades and letting it brew in me as seething resentment. Let me tell you, that wasn’t a pretty realization to sit with! I resented that life, me, and others were never as they SHOULD BE! But once I began to discover this, I was able to come to new conclusions and develop healthier ways of being that have led to experiencing a joy I had let go.
Oh, how I had missed my joy. I had become so inflexible, seeing the world through the lens of faults I needed to fix. It made me blind to the good in my life, myself and others. I was constantly striving to be better and improve the lives of those around me. It felt honorable at first, but all this did was lead me down a road to complete exhaustion. I couldn’t accept what was, instead it was my job to make it all better, and I lost my ability to have fun in the chaos of all that needed fixing.
The Enneagram has opened my eyes as it has so many. But as they say, “Be careful what you wish for”. You just might have to swallow your pride, face some not so pretty aspects about your personality and do the hard work of changing how things have always been. The simple truth is our strategies for gaining the love we desire and the safety we seek created in our early years, are vastly ineffective now that we are all grown up! We can’t keep hiding the cookie behind our backs and act like it doesn’t exist.
One of the current forerunners of teaching on the Enneagram, Ian Cron, says that the Enneagram is “an ancient personality typing system. It helps people understand who they are and what makes them tick.” Brother Dave, Ian’s mentor, explains that “It is full of wisdom for people who want to get out of their own way and become who they were created to be.” He goes on to warn those who dare seek what the Enneagram has to offer by saying, “No one should work with the Enneagram if what they seek is flattery. But no one should fail to do so if what they seek is deep knowing of self.” This is one of the main reasons that we at Shine Healing Ministries integrate the Enneagram into a retreat experience and our workshops! We know that once you embark on the Enneagram journey you will discover a treasure that will forever change how you see yourself and how you interact with the world.
The Enneagram is an influential tool that when used in conjunction with God’s Word, can pave the way to true spiritual growth and transformation. You will uncover aspects of your personality that may shock you, areas where you have been blinded to yourself, and the main motivations that drive you; but in the end, every area shed light on, can become an area of freedom for you. This is our intent for all those who attend our Purposeful Pause Retreat at Selah Ranch. We want you to experience insight that leads to lasting changes. Changes that create space for you to experience the freedom to become who you were fully designed to be. So, we invite you on a journey, the journey of self-discovery. Where the truest version of you is ready to emerge!
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Founder Shine Healing Ministries