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  • Writer's pictureVariant Magazine

What is an Enneagram And Why is it Important?

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

By Grace Dearing, Web Editor

We’ve all taken some sort of personality test before. Whether it was in high school while trying to find the right career path, or in college to learn how to become a better leader, we’ve all been exposed to at least one type of test before. Recently, a variety of Instagram artists have taken to their platforms to create art about the enneagram (pronounced en-ee-a-gram). So, what is the enneagram and why are so many people interested in learning theirs?

What it is

There are nine different enneagram types, and the enneagram can be used to help determine one’s basic personality, centers and wings. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll only be focusing on the enneagram as a way to understand basic personality types.

Photo from Google Images

About basic personality types

The Enneagram Institute defines basic personality types as an “inborn orientation [which] largely determines the ways in which we learn to adapt to our early childhood environment.” We are all born with one type which dominates the others and determines how we adapt to the world around us. For myself, as a type two, I am more inclined to adapt to my surroundings through empathy and am driven by a desire to feel loved and a fear of being unwanted. This typically means my approach to situations involves wanting to help others while ensuring that I don’t jeopardize my relationship with them. If you know me, you can attest that this is accurate.

Find your type here.

How to use it

It is important to keep in mind that an enneagram type is not the end-all, be-all of your personality. Instead, it can be a helpful tool to guide you through certain aspects of your personality that you may have never been able to quite fully understand. For example, type twos, also known as The Helper, are known as caring, demonstrative, generous, people-pleasing and possessive.

If you’re thinking “being people-pleasing and possessive isn’t something to be proud of,” then you’d be correct. The purpose of an enneagram is not only to show you the good traits you possess, but also the unhealthy ones. For me, this means that when I let my innate desire to feel accepted manifest in unhealthy ways, it often turns into excessive people-pleasing and possessiveness. Once aware of these traits, it can be easier to identify when you’re heading toward toxic or unhealthy behaviors.

Enneagrams for fun

As I mentioned before, many Instagram artists have created art series centered around the different enneagram types. While the enneagram is a helpful tool in determining your personality traits, it’s also a fun way for people to feel connected to certain aspects of pop culture! Here are a few of my favorite “Types as …” posts:

A post shared by Johanna (yo-hah-nah) (@chalkandleaves) on Jun 22, 2020 at 8:05am PDT

A post shared by Ashton Whitmoyer-Ober (@enneagramashton) on Jun 13, 2020 at 7:28pm PDT

A post shared by ashton | enneagrams + letters (@ashton.creates) on Jun 19, 2020 at 6:32pm PDT

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