One of the questions I get most often about the Enneagram is, “How do I find my number?” More often than not, people have taken tests that have given them several options for what personality type they might align with the most closely, and it has caused more confusion than clarification. So, if this sounds like you, know you’re not alone.
Here’s my typical response:
- Remember that YOU are not a number. You are a complex, full, and unique person and so it will be hard to “fit” a category. An Enneagram number just shows you the personality type (made up of core fears, core desires, and core weaknesses), that matches the ways that you have learned to cope and survive in this world. Keep in mind that the Enneagram is about motivations and not behavior.
- Know that tests can be helpful, but are about 80% effective in finding your type. Why? Because answering “this or that” questions is often difficult (what if I’m both! what if I’m neither!), and your answers will most likely fluctuate based on what you’re experiencing in your life at that moment.
- Reading through each of the descriptions of the 9 types (such as here, at the Enneagram Institute website), is a great place to start. Keep a journal handy, and notice what comes up as you read each of the types. Which descriptions seem to hit a little too close to home? Again, keep in mind that the Enneagram is about your motivations and not your behavior.
- Be honest with yourself! It’s easy to review the descriptions in an aspirational way, trying to think of who you want to be or your best self. Try to answer based on the patterns you know are present in your life.
- Once you’ve read the descriptions, notice your patterns over the next few weeks. What ways do you typically react? Do you tend to react first by thinking, by feeling your emotions, or by reacting or having a physical response?
- Consider meeting one on one with an Enneagram coach (like me!) who can walk you through this process, provide more information on the Enneagram as a path for growth, and ask you questions to help you notice the ways that patterns may play out in your life that you may not see on your own.
- Realize that self-awareness is a journey, not just a destination. Following these steps alone will open your eyes to the ways your current patterns work (or don’t work) in your life.