Five Ways to Wreck the Enneagram for Someone

wrecking ball

Hooray – the Enneagram is gaining widespread acceptance! I’ve been waiting for this moment for about a decade, and others have waited longer. However, just as a vaccine has just enough of the illness in it to maybe make you sick, knowing a little bit about the Enneagram can be an unpleasant or even detrimental experience to those you “share” your knowledge with.

And so, here are some of those unpleasant possibilities that I hope you’ll avoid.

  1. Tell them their type.

Some types look like other types. You can’t always discern inner motivations by looking at the outside behaviors. For instance, Sevens and Threes are always on the move, but for totally different reasons. Also, some people are living at their stress point, which is not their true type.

Also, it’s not your job to type people. First, you could be wrong and set the person on a false journey fraught with confusion. Second, telling someone their type robs them of the journey of self-discovery that’s a necessary part of spiritual growth. Just don’t do it.

  1. Tell them it’s satanic.

If you’ve just gotten a tiny bit of info about the Enneagram—a glimpse of the “occult-looking” symbol or a read through an uninformed person’s blog—it’s easy to go off the deep end and decide it’s evil, leading God’s faithful astray.

In our information-overloaded culture, we’ve gotten used to reading (skimming) a headline and making a snap decision. That’s almost never a good way to do life. And it’s certainly never advisable to form strong opinions based on scant data and then vehemently propound it as fact.

In short, the Enneagram is not satanic. Nor is it Christian, Buddhist or any other religion. It’s just true. I’ve watched this behavior model bear itself out for more than a decade, with zero exceptions. This is how human souls work. You can use it as a tool for spiritual growth, or to create stronger work teams or make your marriage stronger. Or you can choose to not use it at all. Just know that it’s not evil.

  1. Use it to type-shame.

If I recall correctly, Cron & Stabile call this “number-thumping.” You figure out your spouse’s or other loved one’s personality number and then weaponize that knowledge. As in: “You’re being such a Six right now!” or “Well, if you only were a Heart type, you would understand me better.”

Guess what? Both of those statements are surely true, AND they are completely unhelpful. (I say this from experience.) No one can be other than who they are at a given moment. No one chose their personality type or their Center of Intelligence. Beating them over the head with your “life-changing” knowledge will send them fleeing from the Enneagram – and possibly, you. Don’t do this to the ones you love or to the Enneagram; they don’t deserve that.

  1. Drone on about it as the answer to everything.

I’ve done this one, too. Yes, the Enneagram is amazingly insightful and helpful, but it is not the ONLY thing on Earth that can help people grow in awareness and emotional/spiritual maturity. If you talk like it is, your listeners may fear that you’re in a cult and secretly arrange an intervention. Or just arrange to not talk to you anymore.

A much more useful persuasion tactic is to apply the Enneagram to your daily life and let those around you see how it makes you more grounded and compassionate.

  1. Use it as an excuse for your bad behavior.

This is the new version of “That’s just how I am.” Well, if you understand the Enneagram, you understand how wrong that statement is. This is a tool for transformation, not justification. Your Enneagram type is not who you are; it’s actually who you aren’t. It represents where you got stuck along the continuum of human experience, preventing you from living out a fuller range of life.

So, while it is true that your type governs your behavior, it’s also true that once you wake up to its schemes, you can begin to choose something else instead of those default actions. In short, don’t settle for stuckness. Don’t take on your number as your new identity and park there. The goal of the Enneagram is to liberate your soul from its broken parts so you can know your true self, know your purpose and then live it out so God gets a huge chunk of glory from your life.

Have you ever fallen into any of these? Do you have other examples of mis-applying the Enneagram? Please share so we can all learn (and maybe laugh) together.

And if you’d like to supercharge your spiritual journey, get my digital course, Know Yourself to Know God.

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