Enneagram Type One Starter Guide

enneagram basics enneagram one podcast starter guide Apr 27, 2022
The Enneagram One Project

Enneagram Type One Starter Guide

 

Are you fairly new to the Enneagram?

 

Let’s go over the foundation of the Enneagram system using The Perfectionist as the example.

 

The enneagram is such an in-depth system because it’s not about what the world see you doing and not doing, it’s actually based on the motivation behind you doing the thing.

 

It correlates quite well with cognitive behavior theory that shows that situations or events happen, then your brain has a thought about it, this thought creates a feeling and that feeling drives your behavior. That’s every single time. 

 

This system then helps you to see what your pattern of thinking and feeling is. This is brilliant because most of us are very unaware of the drive behind what we do. We constantly blame the situation or event which leaves us disempowered.

 

Knowing your type helps you to see what that pattern is. It shows you what your survival mechanisms are. You then have the knowledge to catch yourself mid-pattern, calm your nervous system and then make a conscious decision, do I keep following this pattern or not.

 

Listen to the full episode HERE.

 

Resources:

 

Books mentioned:

 

The Road Back to You by Cron and Stabile 

The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Riso and Hudson

The Instinctual Drives and the Enneagram by John Luckovich

 

The Enneagram One Project past podcast episodes mentioned:

 

Ep 2 - Why Embodiment for Ones

Ep 4 - Enneagram Type Ones and Stress

Ep 6 - The Urge to Improve Is Real

 

Pick Your Perfect Project mini series: https://www.dominiquevandal.com/pick-your-perfect-project 

 


 

Transcript:

 

Welcome every One, you are listening to The Enneagram One Project Podcast, Ep 17 - Enneagram Type One Starter Guide

 

Today’s podcast is not about how to use the enneagram information but what the information means and the different layers you can dig through to better understand how your brain works so that you may decide what to do with that information. 

 

I obviously did not create the enneagram and so I will do my best to give credit as I go so that you can benefit from learning from those same sources and for transparency.

 

The enneagram system shows us where our attention goes out of habit, in other words, how our brain has programmed efficient thinking that keeps us alive. That does  not necessarily mean that this particular habit is always the best to utilize to get us closer to the life we want but it is what our brains are most used to and will do by default.

 

There are theories about the programming happening in early childhood, possibly due to trauma. I don’t claim to know exactly what the exact mechanism is myself but it makes sense to me that as a child, as we learn to navigate the world that the brain collects data and puts it together to create shortcuts in the brain function that is thoughts and patterns. It also makes sense to me that many of these programs came to be due to trauma because of there is some research that indicates that the heightened emotional response leaves a bigger impression in the brain.

 

The enneagram is such an in-depth system because it’s not about what the world see you doing and not doing, it’s actually based on the motivation behind you doing the thing. It correlates quite well with cognitive behavior theory that shows that situations or events happen, then your brain has a thought about it, this thought creates a feeling and that feeling drives your behavior. That’s every single time. This system then helps you to see what your pattern of thinking and feeling is. This is brilliant because most of us are very unaware of the drive behind what we do. We constantly blame the situation or event which leaves us disempowered. 

 

Knowing your type helps you to see what that pattern is. It shows you what your survival mechanisms are. You then have the knowledge to catch yourself mid-pattern, calm your nervous system and then make a conscious decision, do I keep following this pattern or not. There is no right or wrong, but you get to be in the driver’s seat instead of old programming running the show because you are so much more than the programming. (If you’re interested in knowing more about embodiment, I recommend Ep 2 - Why Embodiment for Ones and to be honest, I see the benefit for all types)

 

Now let’s look at the layers:

 

Layer One: Personality Type

 

First, most of what I discuss for this layer of the Enneagram is my interpretation of a combination of sources including: The Road Back to You by Cron and Stabile and The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Riso and Hudson. The very first layer of the enneagram system is your type and your type remains constant in your lifetime. Each type describes a different habit of attention. For us Ones, that’s the habit to improve. I go into this topic from the point of view of the enneagram, mindset and embodiment in Ep 6 - The Urge to Improve Is Real. The many words to describe us include reformer, perfectionist, idealist, improver, principled reformer, the list goes on. Just knowing your type and doing a quick internet search will give you all sorts of characteristic that are typical of your type. 

 

What do they say about ones? Ones have a very loud inner critic, high standards for themselves and others, afraid of making mistakes and have anger issues. Before you panic, think no way, that’s not me, that’s not fair. 

 

Let me describe these from my perspective as a One before I was introduced to coaching and embodiment. I’d have said I have a discerning inner critic that serves me as my moral compass, my standards are basic human decency and expectations, I like to make sure I do my best work because the recipient is deserving and I don’t have anger issues, nope, I am just well-mannered. If you’re a One then you know that this can be an asset and it can be a hindrance. 

 

Layer One: Personality Type - Basic Motivation

 

There’s more knowledge for you in your type, you can discern the basic motivation, usually referred to as basic fear/desire, for Ones, that would be the basic fear of being bad and basic desire to be good. That means that as a One, the motivation behind improving is to be good and not bad or be seen as good and not bad. What that is exactly will be different for every person even if you’re a One because what you think is “good” and what you think is “bad” is based on your lived experience and how you interpret it, some of it is socialization and conditioning, your parents said “good people do these things”, “bad people do these things”. Full consensus on what constitutes as good or bad action does not exist.

 

Layer One: Personality Type - Streep/Growth Point

 

You can also discern your point of stress and your point of growth. That is to say, when you hold tension vs when you are in expansion. For us ones, that would be taking on more of the characteristics of the 4, the Individualist when stressed, that looks like wanting to improve and making it all about you such as victim mentality and that’s when we let out the bottled up frustrations ie: I’m the only one who cares about this being done right. When in growth, that would be taking on characteristics of the 7, the Enthusiast, that means we let go of that tight self-control and become more spontaneous ie: there’s a flight change and instead of needing to micro manage, you use the information and find a way to still enjoy yourself in the present even though the plans have changed.. I go into this topic from the point of view of the enneagram, mindset and embodiment in Ep 4 - Enneagram Type Ones and Stress.

 

Layer One: Personality Type - Level of Development

 

There’s one more aspect with knowing your type and that’s levels of development. Based on your behaviors you could be able to tell what level of healthy development you are at. I don’t use these myself because they seem to be based on self-assessment and humans can so easily convince themselves one way or the other. If you are seeking evidence to prove your point, you can usually find it. I can examine the exact same behavior and someone would say it was very wise which is considered the height of healthy development for a One AND someone can say the person was being hard on themselves, which is considered average development. I’d love to hear how you use these so that I might refine my own use of them. Any tool can be great so long as we use it for us, not against us. That I haven’t found a way to use this in a way that serves me does not mean you can’t.

 

Layer Two: Wing

 

The second layer of the Enneagram system is your wing. The wing type can vary and the degree of influence from the wing can also vary over time. As a One, there are only 2 options for your wing, you are either a wing 2 or a wing 9, you can’t be a wing 5. When you look at the diagram of the enneagram you’ll find your number is shouldered by two numbers, those are the only wing options for your type.

 

The wing type helps to explain variations in Ones because we are not all the same. Your core motivation remains that of your type, but each of us also has a little coloring from the wing. If you are a 1w2, you might consider yourself an “advocate”. Notice how that merges the 1, reformer with the 2, helper. A wing 2 is likely to be more extraverted, more likely to get into the trenches to improve and more outspoken about changes that are needed. If you are a 1w9, you might consider yourself an “idealist”. Notice how that merges the 1, reformer with the 2, peacemaker. A wing 9 tends to be more introverted, concerned with bigger picture improvements and enacts change using a softer approach. One is certainly not better than the other, they both have sets of advantages and disadvantages. To give but one example, if you believe affordable housing ought to be available to everyone, a 1w2 is more likely to volunteer for an organization that builds such housing whereas a 1w9 is more likely to advocate for and work towards reforms in the legal system to make this a reality. Both admirable ways to create the same change, just 2 approaches, both of which are needed. Of course, this is a simplification.

 

Layer Three: Instinctual Variant

 

The last layer I want to introduce to you and I really mean introduce because it becomes quite complex is that of instinctual variant. I absolutely love the work of John Luckovich for understanding this concept, you can find more in his book “The Instinctual Drives and the Enneagram. The theory states that we humans have needed to rely on different strategies to survive. Those are self-preservation, social and one-to-one (also known as sexual). So not only are we acting from our different core motivations as described in our type, and influenced by our wing, we are also being driven by the 3 basic instincts. It’s the primal need the habit of attention is trying to solve for. 

 

Let’s do an example for each instinctual variant.

 

You know your primary instinctual variant is self-preservation if you are hyper focused on improving your environment, wellbeing, health or finances, basically, all that relates to sustaining physical safety and comfort. That could look like improving your workout routine so that it is optimal, each time noticing how you could improve it and adjusting for that.

 

You know your primary instinctual variant is social if you are hyper focused on improving the group by calling out injustice and holding high standards and guarding your place within it, all that relates to guarding a place for self within the group. That could look like improving how credit is shared within the group.

 

You know your primary instinctual variant is one-to-one if you are hyper focused on improving yourself to be the perfect mate, or have high standards for your mate to be the perfect mate for you, all that relates to solidifying one-to-ton connection. That could look like improving your dating profile until it is optimal.

 

Notice how I keep saying primary instinctual variant? That’s because we are all concerned with all three however we each attribute a different level of importance to each. The first on the stack would be the one that’s so much a part of your personality that you might not even notice you’re preoccupied by it, it’s second nature almost, the second on the stack would be the instinct you consciously focus on most and the third would be your blind spot, the one that’s ignored even though we technically need all three to survive.

 

If you’re keeping tabs, you might notice that we end up not only with 9 enneagram types but really, 27 subtypes. I have found that as I learn more about each layer of the enneagram, I have a deeper awareness of the habits of my mind. My mind is one aspect of my being, it happens to be the where the mainframe is located so I like to know what’s going on in there. I use this knowledge not to change myself, that’s not the goal, I use it to be more of the watcher of my brain and to be more aware of my patterns. 

 

The Enneagram system has got to be my favorite tool to develop self-acceptance and grace. It can be incredibly complex and you really don’t need to know all of the ins and outs unless you want to geek out on it the way I like to. Can you see that your behaviors make sense based on your patterns of thinking? Are you becoming more aware of what’s happening by default in your brain? If yes, then you’re using the enneagram system for you and not against you and not to control others but get to know yourself more. The rest will fall into place.

 

How much fun is it that we can foster a better relationship with ourselves using the knowledge of the Enneagram as a compass of what to explore? If you are called to dive in further, it really is a project for the Soul.

 

Until next time, love to each and every One!

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you so much for listening to The Enneagram One Project podcast, your go-to podcast for all things One.

 

If you were inspired by today’s topic and would like to make a project or goal for yourself that revolves around it, I’d love to support you in my coaching program.

 

We’ll use this project to help you become fierce at making decisions you love. It’s a win-win; you’ll reach your goals with more efficiency and become super solid in how you make decisions resulting in a quieter inner critic and more self trust.

 

For more information, head over to my website dominiquevandal.com look at the top of the page for the work with me tab. Can’t wait to meet you!

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