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My box = Safe or stuck?

Updated: Mar 2, 2023

Many of you have had some exposure to the personality model of the Enneagram. As a Life Coach for over sixteen years, I have had training in and/or experience with several typographies- such as the Myers-Briggs, The Call, DISC, Strength-finders…all having their unique usefulness in helping a coaching client discover and embrace their wiring.

So, why invest in getting certified as an Enneagram Practitioner? In my experience with personality models, there is no other one that does a deep dive beneath behaviors, exploring the motivations that drive behaviors. So what? you may be asking.

Looking below the ‘what’ to uncover the ‘why’ opens up a new world of possibilities as it pertains to personal growth.

From a Christian perspective, I believe there can be no real change – aka transformation – without the work being grounded in and facilitated by God’s Spirit. To attempt change or growth outside of faith, is really just an application of willpower, which is limited both in longevity and depth.

I have personally found the Enneagram to be a powerful tool in God’s hand for His transformation process: becoming more like who He created me to be, which includes rightly reflecting the part of His character with which He embued me.

Think of the Enneagram's nine Types as nine different boxes or containers; one of which is constructed at a young age for each of us to occupy and get our needs met. (My box makes me feel safe.) Each Enneagram Type identifies a unique way of looking at ourselves, others, and the world around us. On the website of the Narrative Enneagram organization - they describe the Enneagram as,

A dynamic personality system that illuminates nine unique and distinct patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting. Our Type determines what we pay attention to and how we direct our energy.

Because our dominant Type is a filter through which we view everything, what comes with that are blind spots – perspectives, problem sources and solutions we cannot see. This singular view also causes us to project our perspective on others, meaning we view our way of looking at something as THE way/the best way to view it; therefore, any other perspective is just someone who needs to get to seeing it our way.

As Richard Rohr has so aptly articulated:

Most people don’t see things the way they ARE; they see things the way THEY are.

You can probably see how broadening our ability to see beyond our perspective, represented in our dominant Type, could have significant positive effects on relationships, right? Well, the work has to start with seeing ourselves as we really are, instead of as we believe ourselves to be and project to others. And that starts with establishing and growing our self-awareness.

As Sheryl Sandberg (former Facebook executive) said: We cannot change what we are not aware of.

Let me get personal…I am a Type Three, which is also called “The Performer/Achiever.” Threes are all about setting and achieving goals, being efficient and good optimizers. Also a part of our Type structure, we are prone to ‘morph’ into whatever shape is needed to gain the present audience’s approval, and even admiration. We believe the lie that to be loved we must perform, achieve, succeed.

So, what can happen when I am in a situation where goals aren’t the goal? Where optimizing isn’t the best goal?

Well, if I am operating out of my Type Three structure, sans awareness, I miss whatever opportunity was there to connect with what was most important – even overlooking how my own values may be at stake in the moment. (I'm stuck in - impeded by- my box, right?)

It wasn’t until I did quite a bit of exploring – and prayer – regarding identifying my false self from my true self (biblically-speaking, ‘old man versus new man’- Eph. 4:22-24), that I could start being consciously aware of when I was making a choice to stay limited to my Type’s perspective, instead of realizing there are many other ways of looking at something – none of them superior or inferior, but perhaps one of them the best, or better perspective for that particular situation.

I believe growth follows awareness surrendered. Only then am I positioned to see what He wants, then want what He wants.

I have dozens of stories I could share about how my awareness surrendered has produced fruit in my life and my ability to really see an ‘other,’ and love better. My Yes to the Enneagram training has been an invaluable element in this part of my journey. And as is always true, God’s timing in bringing it to me was perfect!

Discovering your Enneagram Type can be a starting point, or a step in the journey, of getting to know your true self from your false self; and from there, experiencing the freedom of seeing yourself and others through the true lens of our Creator God.

In future posts, I will share more about the Enneagram as a tool of transformation. If you have questions about it, please send them to me. If you would like a professional partner for exploring your Type, let me know. (I do Enneagram Typing Interviews over Zoom for helping others discover and embrace their wiring.)

Would you consider these questions?...

How did the container you created and occupied in your childhood help/serve you? How is it possibly impeding you in adulthood?
Which relationships in your life could be improved by gaining a greater awareness of how others experience you?

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Blessed to play a part ~


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