How The Enneagram Changed My Life. Twice

When I was 27 years old, I fell completely and utterly in love. I knew that I had found the love of my life. This one was forever, I really really really couldn't fuck it up. But there was quite a sizeable obstacle to seeing my way through to happy-ever-after.

My sweetheart was a complete mystery to me. 

I mean, yes, she was my best friend. Yes, we had tons in common. Yes, we could both happily spend the rest of our days playing goofy word games and reading and writing books. 

But in so many ways, she was wildly different to me. I was a deep and fragile creature who had learned that the only way out of the hell of my emotional weather was to process--talk--express, process--talk--express, until the emotional storm blew itself out. And my sweetheart was...not like that. Not a bit. In fact, she didn't believe in expressing her feelings by talking about them. She felt that they were better kept inside where they eventually sorted themselves out.

                                              Photo by Anne Milligan

                                              Photo by Anne Milligan

Sometimes I would try to fight with her about something really important, and ten seconds into it, she would walk out the room and quietly shut the door. Conversation closed. At times like that, I wondered if we were actually meant to be together. Maybe we were doomed because we were members of two different species.  

And then I read a book about the Enneagram. And the light came on. 

Yes, learning that I was a Four was illuminating. I got to see that there was a whole bunch of other people out there who were just as sensitive and introspective and obsessed with creative expression as I was. That was cool.

But the really really important thing I learned from that book was finding out that my sweetheart was a Nine. She wasn't a freak. There wasn't something terribly wrong with her. There was a name for what she was. And that name was Nine! What a relief! She was inherently built to be a Peacemaker. She was nothing like me! God, what had I been putting her through with all of my fighting and intensity!

Seeing my sweetheart as a perfect expression of what she was, and not a defective version of me, made everything better. Of course, it wasn't sunshine and roses right away. But I woke up and got realistic about who I was dealing with. My expectations got in line with reality. I stopped pressuring her to deliver the impossible.

And taking the pressure off gave her some breathing room too. She now had a peaceful space where she could come forward, instead of always backing up, bracing herself against my intensity. 

Letting her be herself got me exactly where I had been struggling to get all along. When I backed down and let go, I experienced the beautiful, loving contact I had been craving so badly.

Not such a shabby outcome from reading just one book about the Enneagram, eh? By the way, it's called The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Riso and Russ Hudson.

The Journey Home to Myself

The Enneagram changed my life deeply for the second time in the Spring of 2012. I was at a point where I was feeling a strange dissatisfaction with my life. Everything on the outside was fine and good. I had a great relationship, had just bought a beautiful house in a town I loved, I was living the creative life I always dreamed of, my health was fantastic.

And yet there was something deeply missing.

Guessing that this was some kind of Four problem, I brought myself to the Enneagram Institute to figure out what had gone wrong. But sitting in Part I of their teacher training, where they spent half a day talking about type Four, I saw that things hadn't gone wrong at all. They had gone exquisitely right. 

All of the work I had done on myself, all of the turning up I'd done in my relationship, all of the work on my health, all of the caring for my Fourness, the creativity and talking and processing, it had all brought me to a very interesting place.

A place where I was ready to make deeper contact with my True Self. 

Of course, I fought it at first. What was this? Some kind of spiritual thing? I was an atheist for Christ's sake. What was this mumbo-jumbo about my True Self? There was no True Self, there was just an ordinary self. Me, a regular person. I didn't want to have anything to do with this made-up sounding crap. I just wanted what was real. 

But it became clear that being real about my experience meant I was going to have to face the S word. I had gotten to a point where moving forward in my development looked like "a spiritual journey". I could resist because I didn't like the label, and stagnate for the rest of my life. Or I could dive in and trust my process to bring me where I needed to go.

Of course I dove in! 

And I'm so glad I did! My life has been transformed. I see myself in a whole new way. My Fourness isn't a challenge anymore, some kind of horrible condition that needs to be managed. Now I see Fourness as my particular path to the really good stuff. I am wildly creative, self-renewing, deep, beautiful, insightful because I am a Four. It is the gift I was born to offer the world.

And I can see so clearly now that everyone is on a similar path. We are all striving every day to express the highest aspects of our type. It's not out of reach, it really is there, if we just know how to look.

What I do

I teach people the Enneagram. Everything, from the basics of identifying your type, all the way through bringing Essence into your work and relationships. I tailor my teaching to suit your needs and where you are on your journey. You will probably get the most out of working with me if you are a creative person, and like to experiment and play with new ideas and how they can transform your life. 

 

"You are more than a teacher. Your understanding is so nuanced. You don't deal in stereotypes, 'Oh that person is just a Three.' You have deep empathy and look at a person from every angle without jumping to conclusions. Working with you has helped me have a lot of compassion for myself. To understand my patterns, communicate better, and have deeper relationships. It has helped me play to my strengths too, to make more constructive choices, and calm down and understand the deeper reason for my striving. I actually have all the things I'm looking for--I can relax and enjoy myself!"

--Kelly, a Seven

 

"Even though I didn't really know you when we first started working together, I immediately felt incredibly safe diving into this very personal material because you are so accessible, intuitive and wise.  You offered your own personal experience in ways that helped me feel less self-conscious about parts of myself that may feel challenging to look at.  I liked how this enabled me to relate to you and see you as just another person on the path instead of just the "expert."  You have a great sense of how to present the material and work with it, you're very charismatic and funny, which makes it so easy to stay engaged and take in all the depth of material there is to cover!  Even as you are accessible, you really are an expert in the Enneagram and I always learn so much about myself and other people. Since working with you, I feel an increased sense of kindness to myself, and an understanding of other people's motivations. With every conversation we have, I have at least one breakthrough or insight that I can take with me into my life in a real and practical way."

Jill, a Four