This is the video clip of Type 9 from understandingpersonality.com, the last one in the series. Viewing this from my perspective as an 8, I was keenly aware of being impatient at how slowly the keywords appear in the beginning and how many times the people being interviewed pause.
“Oh, get on with it,” my inner voice nearly shouted. Then I stopped and took a deep breath.
While 8s visibly expend their energy, 9s expend their energy internally. If you didn’t know that, you might wonder why they are the ones who are so tired. But I get that being a 9 can be exhausting. And I thought this was the most profound statement:
There’s a moment where you stop adapting.
You can almost feel this woman letting go. Ahhhh.
Here’s the video clip on Type 8 from understandingpersonality.com. After watching this a couple of times, I still had trouble relating to several of these people and their descriptions of their personal experiences. I thought that might be because I have such a strong 7 wing. But I’ve watched 8s on other videos with whom I’ve identified quite closely. Then I noticed that someone else commented that he or she thought only one of the people in this video is actually an 8. I don’t know whether that person was another 8.
I call a spade a spade, and I use it.
Ha! That was my favorite comment. It made me laugh out loud. But what I related to most were the two comments about dealing with “fools.” My partner used to threaten to get me a T-shirt (one in a series) that said “Does Not Suffer Fools Gladly.”
Here’s the video from understandingpersonality.com on Type 7. 7s are pretty insistent about what’s important to them–they are, after all, one of the aggressive types.
Often, as they themselves say, 7s “bring the sunshine in.” So we like to be around them.
I must have light, and I must have laughter, I must have humor, I must have friends, and I must have people. I’m drawn to groups having fun. I need to have that. And I must have that because it’s as vital as water. The major part of my life is probably fun.
This video clip on Type 6 from understandingpersonality.com suggests that life, for 6s, is akin to being trapped in an endless Halloween scene–or a scary fairy tale with no happy ending in sight.
It’s hard to feel safe when the witches and goblins are always after you. The deer-in-the-headlights expression on this 6‘s face below says it all.
The comments definitely have a theme. Here are three statements from three different participants:
…a constant checking for what’s going on
…you’re always watching your back
…it’s all about staying safe
Maybe 6s should come equipped with eyes in the backs of their heads.
I have enjoyed learning about and working with the Enneagram for the past couple of decades because it explains—amazingly accurately—so much about how we humans actually function. I’ve gotten to know myself much better as a result and have learned to curb some tendencies and to live with some shortcomings. Best of all, I’ve learned to laugh at myself, at least a little. I’ve also gotten to know others on a deeper level as a result of using the Enneagram.
But sometimes I think we ask too much—or expect too much—of the Enneagram. As comprehensive a tool as it is, the Enneagram can’t and doesn’t explain everything there is to know about us. It is not the personality equivalent of a Theory of Everything.
One aspect of the Enneagram that has become increasingly popular over the past 10 years is identifying the so-called Instinctual Variants, and more recently Instinctual Variant Stacking. The concept seems to have originated with Oscar Ichazo, but it has been considerably expanded and given greater significance than it once had. The purpose of the Instinctual Variants, and the stacking thereof, appears to be to try to explain the differences within types. (This is what I’ve read, not just my interpretation.)
Well, of course there are differences within types. And there are all kinds of things that could explain them, most of which have nothing at all to do with the Enneagram. More than 10 years ago, my partner in crime Elizabeth Libbey and I devoted a great deal of time and effort reviewing a large portion of Enneagram literature and looking at how the Enneagram maps onto or corresponds with other psychological, sociological, and neurological research. We found a solid basis for the Stances (Aggressive, Compliant, and Withdrawing), but nothing comparable in regard to the Instinctual Variants. In fact, I came across research results that flatly contradict that what the Enneagram community considers “Instincts” have anything whatsoever to do with actual biological instincts. That’s why I don’t write about that particular topic here.
Trying to fit all the disjointed, fractured, and misshapen pieces of us inside the Enneagram doesn’t seem realistic or useful to me. And I wonder if that isn’t what turns some people off about personality typing systems. I think that who we are is much more complex and mysterious—and ultimately unknowable. I also think that’s a good thing!
Here’s the clip on Type 5 from understandingpersonality.com. I think it’s fascinating that two of the people interviewed referred to having a “black hole” inside. The waiter I tentatively identified as a 5 last fall also made a reference to black holes.
There’s this black hole inside, and if you know enough you’re safe.
Could this be coincidental or might it be a commonality among 5s?
Sometimes people resist learning about the Enneagram (or MBTI) because they don’t like the idea of categorizing people—and they themselves are especially reluctant to be categorized.
But it turns out that our brains categorize things and people all the time at the unconscious level. And this can be very useful.
In Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior, Leonard Mlodinow says that categorization is one of the most important mental acts we perform.
One of the principal ways we categorize is by maximizing the importance of certain differences…while minimizing the relevance of others. If we conclude that a certain set of objects belongs to one group and a second set of objects to another, we may then perceive those within the same group as more similar than they really are—and those in different groups as less similar than they really are. Merely placing objects in groups can affect our judgment of those objects.
Substitute “persons” for “objects” and you can see how categorization can lead to problems.
Our brains categorize other people whether we’re aware of it or not. And how our brains categorize them determines how we react to them and often how we treat them. But since this categorization is unconscious, we aren’t aware of it.
I remember that when I moved to New Mexico from California, I soon made the acquaintance of several other 8s. Immediately, I felt comfortable with all of them as a result of our similarities. Although we all have significant differences, those differences did not seem as important as our similarities so I downplayed them.
Categorizing people by Enneagram type is usually a conscious and deliberate process. But the traits and characteristics we associate with different types—and our attitudes toward them—may not be entirely conscious. Those unconscious attitudes may lead to negative stereotyping we aren’t even aware of.
So we don’t really have a choice when it comes to our brains’ categorizing habit and we aren’t privy to that information. But we can pay attention to the way we use the Enneagram to categorize people. We can notice when we perceive all 2s or all 9s as being alike. We can remember that although all 2s and all 9s have a lot in common with each other, each 2 and each 9 is different from the others. And even though we may not be 2s or 9s, we still have things in common with them. They are not as different from us as our categorization might imply.