The Enneagram Personality Test Simplified

Sat Mar 11 2023

Unlike other personality tests, the Enneagram gets at your core motivations and fears.

A individual’s thinking, feeling, and behavior patterns can be synthesized, forming an archetype or a “type.” There are several steps to determining your type but the first step is to understand what personality is.

Personality Demystified

There are many definitions of personality.

But personality is just an attempt to define the dimensions by which people are similar and different. For example, the Meyers-Briggs personality test (MBTI) separates people by:

  • introverts and extroverts
  • intuitive or sensing
  • thinking and feeling
  • judging and perceiving

The Enneagram categorizes individuals based on their core emotions, which are developed in response to childhood wounds. These wounds lead to the development of coping mechanisms and a heightened sensitivity to the negative emotions experienced during the formative event. As a result, each Enneagram type is characterized by a specific set of emotional patterns and reactions that stem from their unique childhood experiences.

Something happened in your past that still affects you, and you are compensating for it somehow. It could be many things:

  • Your parent did or didn’t do something
  • A specific incident happened
  • Your environment was skewed in a certain way
  • A sibling or friend treated you a certain way
  • You were constantly told a specific message

There is a great article here that explains and gives excellent examples of the Enneagram’s childhood wounds.

You do not have to specifically identify your childhood wound to find your type. Still, whatever your childhood was, it caused you to be sensitive to a specific emotion. Identifying that core emotion that affects you is the first step.

Emotions Tangent

Identifying what core emotion affects you the most may seem overwhelming, but it might take more work than you think. Click here if you would like to do a quick experiment with regards to emotions; otherwise, keep reading to help determine your type.

Identifying your dominant core emotion

The three core emotions in the Enneagram are anger, fear, and shame, which we will explain later. We all feel these emotions occasionally and do what we can to deal with them. But ask yourself which of these emotions comes up for you the most in daily life? You either

  • Feel that emotion and use it to motivate you
  • Feel that emotion and actively push it away
  • Feel that emotion constantly in the back of your head

Another way to get at that emotion would be to ask which emotion you have the most accessible access to. Or if someone else was feeling anger, fear, or shame, which emotion would be easiest for you to empathize with? You might find it easier to empathize with someone feeling anger over someone feeling shame or fear or vice versa. Once you have identified that emotion, you are ready for the next part.

Emotions and Centers of Intelligence explained

In the Enneagram, these core emotions relate to centers of Intelligence. Put another way, as you feel one of these emotions, you learn to cope by developing a specific intelligence. The core emotions map to the centers of Intelligence like this:

  • Fear –> Head/ Intellectual Intelligence
  • Shame –> Heart/ Emotional Intelligence
  • Anger –> Body/ Instinctual Intelligence

If you think about it, fear is born out of possible situations that might go wrong. When you are feeling fear, you are stuck in your head. You feel insecure because you need to know a little more so you don’t fear and feel secure. So, over time, you develop sound reasoning and logical thinking abilities. It becomes easy for you to logically think through complex situations.

If you are feeling shame, you can feel other people judging you. When you feel shame, you feel all the negative emotions wrapped up in someone not liking you. You feel insecure because you need to be seen in a positive light again so you don’t feel shame but good about yourself. Overtime your emotional Intelligence develops, and you can sense how people feel based on how you would feel in the same situation. It becomes easy for you to connect with others emotionally.

If you are feeling anger, you instinctively feel something is not correct. Before you can emotionally or logically determine something is incorrect, you instinctually think about it and feel angry. You feel insecure because something needs to be done so you don’t feel angry, but if you follow your instincts and lash out, your situation worsens. Over time, you learn to surround yourself with people and set up your environment where you can be comfortable and at peace, free from anger.

Discovering the archetypes behind the core emotions

Once you have identified the emotion you interact with the most, the next part is to deduce which type you are. Each core emotion forms a triad where it has 3 types under it. Or said another way, each core emotion has 3 archetypes wherein there are different ways to cope with that emotion.

For now, read the types and determine which, if any, you identify with. More to come!

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