Monday, July 24, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living -- Day 24

A few years ago, I took a writing course to help me better understand my characters and their motivations. The class delved into a personality tool called Enneagrams. It consists of  9 basic archetypes, and each one has a designated number and a descriptive tag (it varies), along with behavioral traits. The Enneagram system has been dismissed as New Age hooey, but the FBI and CIA use it to create profiles. By the end of the class, I was able to deepen my fictional characters; but it also gave insight into myself and basic human nature.

So here we go--
The 9 Enneagram Types

1.     The Perfectionist (or The Reformer or Idealist)
2.     The Helper (Supporter)
3.     The Performer (The Achiever)
4.     The Romantic (The Individualist)
5.     The Observer (The Investigator or Thinker)
6.     The Skeptic   (The Loyalist or Questioner)
7.     The Adventurer (The Enthusiast)
8.     The Power Broker (The Challenger, Intimidator, or Leader)
9.     The Peacemaker (Mediator)

          Each type has weaknesses, strengths, motives, and psychological underpinnings. To complicate matters, all 9 “types” can have characteristics of other “types.” These are called “wings.”  For example, Number 1, "The Perfectionist," follows rules, but that doesn't mean he/she is a neat freak. He may have a Number 9 "wing," and many 9s are supremely messy. A Number 6, "The Skeptic," is a wary soul, reluctant to take risks; but if he/she has a Number 7 "wing," he/she may get a wild hair and go backpacking in Switzerland. I’m still figuring out the complexity of "wings," so I won’t include them. 

            Let’s take a closer look at each basic Enneagram type:

1.     The Perfectionist:  Number 1s possess high ethics. They are law-abiding and rule-following, a by-the-book personality. You’ll rarely see a Number 1 do a U-Turn or race through a yellow traffic light. 1s are the voice of reason when everyone else is freaking out.  They dot each “i” and cross every “t.” These hard working nitpickers will take pains to make sure a project is done correctly—a 1’s motto is: measure thrice and cut once. They also expect perfection from others. They can be highly critical of themselves, co-workers, friends, and family. 1s are never tardy, always balance their check books, and never, ever go over the speed limit. They tend to repress negative emotions. Their attraction to rules may stem from a childhood incident (Aunt Fanny ran a red light, spit on the traffic cop, and ended up in jail? And our Young Perfectionist witnessed the whole thing?) You'll get along with a 1 if you show respect for rules. Never make fun of him/her, and please don't be tardy. As for blogging, be respectful of rules at linky parties. If you agree to do something, keep your promise and meet your deadline. 1s make great lawyers, mathematicians, and computer programmers. Famous 1: Harry Truman.

2.     The Helper: Number 2s are warm and fuzzy, friendly and likable, Johnny-on-the-spot with a fresh-baked pie for your Sunday Supper. These nurturing types just want to make your life delicious and oh-so-easy. They are social butterflies; but even when a 2 is surrounded by people, she is secretly lonely. The voice inside her head says, "You suck." That's why Helpers are so damn helpful--they require constant validation. But they genuinely enjoy lending you a hand. They really do. They will bring you chicken noodle soup when you have a cold, drive you to the doctor, and weed your garden. You see, 2s have an uncanny knack for figuring out what a person wants (as opposed to what they need). As a result, 2s often befriend powerful people, feeding them literally and figuratively with goodies. It's practically a win/win situation for 2s. They get to "help" and give their ego a little boost. . . except for one little thing: they’ll go the extra mile for you, but in return, they expect praise and/or a payback. Quid pro quo is a 2's motto. Of course, she/he will never admit this. 2s hide their manipulative tendencies from everyone, including themselves.  Additionally, a 2's biggest fear is being ignored and under appreciated. For example, if your Aunt Betts is a Number 2, a Helper, you'll know what to do when she brings you her famous coconut layer cake: you'll be sure to thank her--effusively. To get along with a 2, understand that they just want you to like their cake, and to brag on that cake. Some 2s have hidden agendas, which are usually revealed in time. They are superb bakers, caterers, physicians, nurses, personal assistants, and philanthropists. Famous 2: the late Princess Diana.

3.     The Performer: 3s thrive on applause. These high achievers are ambitious, hard working, and goal-oriented. They are driven to be the best at everything—career, hobbies, even making the perfect cup of coffee. Their motto is, Nobody Does it Better. Performers are talented, excelling in their chosen field, and their work brings immense enjoyment to the public. Supremely confident and highly competitive, they have achieved stardom because they possess a little something extra. Many are marketing geniuses who know how to establish a brand and rock it. And they get personal with the fandom. They'll shake hands, kiss babies, visit the children's ward, and tirelessly write autographs on napkins and bare skin. They are adept at crowd sourcing, using social media as a way to spread the word about their genius campaign or product: but they are rarely caught tooting their own horns. No, bragging is a major turn-off, so 3s let other people do it for them. Since they are up close and personal with fans, they develop a cult following--and within this following, they will privately develop a fan hierarchy, better known as "worker bees," who will go out into the world and pollinate the goodness of the Performer. You see, 3s are secretly afraid of failure; terrified of being a nobody or a has-been. So much effort is spent on creating and maintaining a celebrity status, the 3s are flat-out exhausted. They lack time and energy to develop close friendships. Not that it really matters: fangirls fill the void. Performers are comfortable with All Things Superficial, just a quick in-and-out on Facebook or Twitter, but they are brilliant at making the quickie seem like a longie. Every movement is aimed at garnering endless applause. 3s are horrified of losing ground, and they know it's possible. Plus, everyone's a critic. All the time. The higher you are on the flagpole, the harder the wind blows. To get along with a Performer, understand that they believe their own hype. You'll never get close, but you'll get close enough to enjoy their vibrant personalities. Because a 3 has personality plus. They're smart, witty, and affable. If you're wise, you won't ever point out their flaws. A Performer has a marshmallow for a heart. You'll need protection, too: don't let them use you. Performers are drawn to politics, corporate positions, TV journalism, reality shows, music, acting, film producing/directing, writing (3s hit the NYT list consistently; yet most authors aren't Performers. They're usually Romantics, Observers, and Peacemakers). 2s (Helpers) are drawn to 3s. Famous 3: Lyndon Baines Johnson.

4.     The Romantic: These moody, talented folks are into being real. Authenticity is as vital as air. 4s are the most genuine of the bunch, but they are also hypersensitive, self-referential, easily wounded, emotional, intuitive, profound, and gifted. Romantics often have beautiful homes, the kind that isn't pulled together by a furniture store decorator or ordered from a "Get This Look" catalog list. 4s have a knack for finding jewels in the rough. They instinctively understand the color wheel, and their color schemes aren't schemes: their spaces are put together from the heart. We're talking downright gorgeous. Romantics have amazing wardrobes, too. They love color, texture, and a touch of bling (if it's appropriate to the occasion). Manolo Blahnik heels, a thrift store boa, bangle bracelets, and a skirt of many colors. 4s will paint itty daisies on their fingernails. They may have a tiny-but-tasteful tattoo in a secret place. 4s are unique. Their big vice is envy--no small wonder their motto is, My Glass is Always Half Empty. A 4 has a deep-seated fear of not getting her fair share. But they also suffer from a fear of losing their uniqueness. To get along with a Romantic, point out her wonderful qualities when she's down. Admire a one-of-a-kind objet d' art. Don't go overboard on the kudos or she'll see right though you, because Romantics have a 6th sense. Finally, never take her moods personally. When she's "emo," it's her way of working through the junk of life. Romantics make good therapists, artists, writers, and yoga instructors. Famous 4: Michelangelo

5.     The Observer:  5s value their privacy. Their lives are circled by emotional fences to protect their vulnerable hearts. They are quiet, reclusive, and studious—and a little detached from society.  The outside world is just too bright and glittery, filled with unnecessary noise and meanness. These deeply sensitive folks are built for pondering. They inhale books. Gaining knowledge is a life-long quest. They like nothing better than to settle into a worn velvet armchair with a good book and a cat. Their motto is,  I Want to Be Alone. Observers are splendid problem solvers: no detail escapes their notice. They love to observe, but they will stand on the sidelines, prepared to run like hell if life gets too close. One-on-one, they are excellent conversationalists. Crowds give them hives. They hate center stage. And they hate show-offs. If you are rude or pretentious, 5s will avoid you. They adore other 5s and will fling open the gates for like-minded individuals. If you ever get close to a 5, you'll enjoy their keen wit, intelligence, and world view. To get along with an Observer, give them space. Be mindful of their boundaries.They fear losing their privacy more than they fear bees and rattlesnakes. 5s make excellent astronomers, anthropologists, historians, writers, bloggers, professors, physicists, scholars, and painters. Famous 5: W.B. Yeats.

6.     The Skeptic: Their motto is, Truth Junkie. 6s are a little contradictory. They’re wary, yet reckless. Rebellious one minute and sheep-like the next. One thing is certain: 6s are supreme worry-warts. Their imaginations are so intense, they envision every possible outcome—they can see, smell, taste, hear, and touch the future. If they’ve planned a picnic, they imagine hot, buttery sunlight, then the sun turns into a boiling vat of oil. They can just feel the sting of ant bites; they smell ozone and know that rain is on the way--damn, where is the umbrella? Or maybe she should call the whole thing off (even though the picnic is a whole month away). Skeptics require security in all things. Her world is surrounded by orange "danger" cones. She reads Consumer Reports before buying a toaster, and even then, she'll dig up more information. 6s doubt everything and everyone. (Yet she'll buy an espresso machine on a whim. You see, 6s know they are too cautious, and they will overcompensate by being reckless.) When it comes to friendships, 6s need proof that you are loyal and won’t knife them in the back. If you do, that's it, a 6 will never trust you again. It's just how they are: naturally distrustful. Probably because they never mastered the childhood milestone of trust vs. mistrust. But they also possess a keen understanding of human nature. Unfortunately, this knowledge only makes them more wary. Of all the Enneagrams, they may be the quirkiest in the bunch. Visually driven, detail oriented, and creative, 6s make great detectives. To get along with a Skeptic, point out holes in her "logic." Help her feel safe. Never lie to her. And never betray her. If she gives you her heart, she can't take it back. But she may take herself away from your cheating ass. Famous 6: Kim Basinger.

7.     The Adventurer: Charming and eternally young, 7s crave stimulation. Their motto is, A rolling stone gathers no moss--or baggage. They are world travelers of the first order.  They climb mountains, sky-dive, and SCUBA dive in shark-infested oceans. 7s are divinely interesting, mainly because they have an insatiable curiosity about people, places, and things. 7s have a talent for enjoying life--no wasted moments and no regrets. These people are high-octane. They're always on the hunt for the next adventure. New skills are acquired quickly, but 7s only learn enough to get by. They are far too busy. You won't find them sitting at home, binge-watching Penny Dreadful on Netflix. Sitting still is abhorrent. They are happiest when they hike to a volcano and stand on the edge of an abyss--just don't ask them to look into their inner abyss. They don't like to linger on past events, especially unpleasant ones; the present is a time-waster, something to endure until the party begins. These impatient souls require constant movement. Like a great white shark (a lovable one), they must keep moving. To get along with an Adventurer, just enjoy them. Ask their advice before you take a trip. Don't forget--they have a marvelous sense of humor: they tell the best travel stories over drinks. They make excellent tour guides, archaeologists, and anthropologists. Famous 7: Sara Ferguson.

8. The Power Broker: Power-hungry and prideful, 8s will do anything to achieve their goals. They think of themselves as team players, and they are (a little), but mainly, they are focused on numero uno. 8s want to be seen as moral and honest, but they are ruled by situational ethics. They're always looking for an angle. If an opportunity appears, they will race after it, throwing co-workers (or a best friend) under the bus, and they won't lose a wink of sleep. Hey, the early bird gets the best worm, right? Nevermind if the bird acted unethically. 8s can be assertive, aggressive, domineering, driven, and overbearing. They must be in control, yet they are uncontrollable. Give them an inch at work, and they'll take over. You can count on an 8 to have his/her finger in every pie. They would be insufferable if they didn't possess tons of charisma. Their motto is, Larger than Life. Some 8s are psychopaths. Others are garden variety narcissists. Still others long for fame and fortune. Of all the Enneagrams, 8s are the most ambitious; they are also the most difficult. They are so driven by goals, they disregard boundaries. They can be blunt (hey, you asked for the truth--you DO look fat in that dress, your new sofa looks like a coffin, and your kid is a spoiled brat). 8s know how to fix your problems and always offer unsolicited advice. But it's for your own damn good. A no-nonsense attitude always prevails: 8s won't put up with your bullshit. They are powerhouses, organizing events that include other powerhouses (but they secretly expect to benefit the most). They can be generous and will fight for an underling, just as long as the underling isn't a threat. They can see straight to the core of a problem, and they don't mind rolling up their sleeves and working hard to find a solution. At heart, they are super vulnerable, but they would be shocked, even hurt, if you pointed this out. To get along with a Power Broker, stand your ground. If you show them a boundary and they ignore it, put the boundary in writing. At work, give them a job description and have them sign it. Evolved, highly functioning 8s are reliable, innovative, courageous, and efficient. You can delegate a job to an 8, and he/she will make certain that it is completed properly and on deadline. Much can be learned from "healthy" 8s. These go-getters become world leaders, politicians, and CEOs. Famous 8: Napoleon

9. The Peacemaker: These easy-going souls hate conflict. Their motto is, Can't We All Get Along? 9s are the best listeners. They "get" you. They can put themselves into your situation and feel the pain, joy, and everything else. Despite these gifts, they are so quiet, they are easily overlooked by the pack. But you'll never find a truer friend. Well, she has been known to tell little white lies. It's just too painful for her to say anything that could create trouble. She will never tell you to leave your rat bastard boyfriend. Nor will she say, "Yeah, you look fat as a hog in that dress." No, she'll never hurt your feelings; she'll say you look beautiful. 9s have been called ostriches, burying their heads in the ground. They hate the limelight, and they find it abhorrent to toot their own horn. They are so laid-back, they can be lazy. Many 9s are hopeless procrastinators. While a 9 loves to create a cozy, comfy nest, they can be messy... they can even be prone to hoarding. Somewhere along the way, 9s learned to avoid strife; adult 9s will insulate themselves from any type of fracas. To get along with a Peacemaker, don't put them in the hot seat--don't pressure them. This gentle soul may have spiders crawling up the walls in her house, but please don't judge her. She isn't judging you. Peacemakers tend to work at home, becoming musicians, bloggers, artists, and writers.  Famous 9: Julia Child.

It' goes without saying that I've presented a tiny bit of each archetype. Each type has healthy characteristics and vices, but not every type will demonstrate all of these qualities. And there are more variations. For example, a psychologically healthy "8" is vastly different from an unhealthy "8."
Also, Enneagrams are simply a tool, not a die-hard, set-in-concrete personality test. If you are a writer, these archetypes can help you build believable characters, giving them clear, understandable motivations. But Enneagrams are only a jumping-off point--it's up to the writer to make their characters unique, not stereotypes. Too, Enneagrams aren't the only tool in a writer's box. There are countless methods to "grow" characters from the ground up.

It also goes without saying that you may not fit into a type. Enneagrams aren't for everyone. Plus, my descriptions were created from my own interpretation of the archetypes.

So, if you have an Enneagram type, would you like to share it? 
Me, I'm a 6--The Skeptic/Worry Wart (and most of my fictional heroines are 6s), but I have a strong 5 wing. Or maybe I'm a 5 with a 6 wing. A dab of 9, for sure!

For more information, Google ENNEAGRAMS. You'll find plenty of free info, including free tests to determine your number.

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living A 31-Day Challenge


  1. Oh my....I find that I'm a 9, with wings of 1, 2, and lots of 5, Michael Lee, and know that I'm definitely not some of the others. I do see one of my family members (in law) in the other Enneagrams....I guess #8 comes into my mind!! This was very interesting to read and ponder.

  2. Oh Giiiiiiiirrrrrl!!!! I've taken so many Enneagram classes and workshops!! I get a leeetle TOO into it at times. When my friends and I get together, we immediately say Oh, she's a 2 obviously!!! Or look at that 9 and they don't even know it!!! funny! Um.....not ashamed of it, I'm an 8. But the good kind, I hope!!!!
    You and I woould have so much fun together talking about it!!!
    Cannot wait to binge read your series of posts...been crazy around here with no "me time" to read. Maybe today!!!

  3. My mother says the same thing about a "2" she knows. I need to tell that story--it's a hoot! (And involves a pie.)

  4. I am a total 5--oh my I have never thought of putting it all into words but that's me!! I have a few touches of other numbers but the 5 drives them out.

  5. Without question I am definitely a 5 though I don't mind crowds in the least, but admit I am selective when it comes to them ... ☺. (FTR, I am also an INTJ Personality as well.)
    Totally enjoying your Beginner's Guide To Joyful Living. -Brenda-

    1. The older I get, the more I become a 5. It's so nice to see you, Brenda.

  6. What fun it was to take the personality test. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Very interesting! I am definitely a 4 with 5 tendencies...Lots to take it here, I will be keeping this to read again, great way to understand people...

  8. Not sure where I fall here. I see snippets of myself in 1, 2, 4. and 9. I see a lot of my husband in 5. This is all interesting. I need to study and give this more thought.

  9. 4,5,6....but mostly 6. I don't trust one damn person completely, not even myself lol ;)