I’m not a great fan of typing services. Offering to work with a client, following up conclusions, looking at deeper personality structures and exploring together, yes, sure. That is working from “you” into “type” — not the other way around. On way, you get to know both yourself and the model better. And if you don’t probe deeply enough into the model to actually find your type, having someone put a label on you won’t be that helpful.
My typing story — a quick three-parter
My type — after some initial confusion, more down to not having really understood the model or the deeper structures of the types — was quite easily diagnosed. My inner work journey, having puttered along nicely but somewhat superficially for a few years, got more serious once I was diagnosed with MS three weeks before my thirtieth birthday. As a consequence of the journey that started, or more correctly, levelled up, with that diagnosis, I stumbled across the Enneagram.
Pt 1: The Danish guru
In my exploration of various forms of experiential inner work, I went on a growth retreat with a Danish psychoanalyst-turned-spiritual-guru that harboured the interesting, if misguided, idea that everyone with MS was an Enneagram Nine. This meant that my first introduction to the Enneagram was heavily slanted: You have this condition, ergo, you are a Nine.
As the Swedish name for the Nine in that particular retreat was trots — which can be translated into stubbornness, defiance and/or spite — I had no initial objection. After all, I could find plenty of defiance in me, as well as (obviously) anger. And from my own perspective, sure, I often held the anger back. So I returned from that course with a vague interest for this personality system and with a poorly investigated assumption that my personality was type Nine. (This is an example of how we can read words in type descriptions to mean very different things, and we can go very wrong unless we zoom out and take in the bigger picture.)
Pt 2: Separating “me” from from family patterns
Some time later, me and my husband Per started reading Enneagram books out loud to one another, discussing as we went along. Per is a One, and we both recognised a lot in the One description (in my case, from being raised in a heavily Oneish household). But after talking about it for a bit, I realised that even though we had the same ideas and preferences about many things, we a) had them for different reasons and b) reacted quite differently when things didn’t go our way, or even in our ways of accomplishing what we wanted. When we got to the type Eight descriptions, my husband said didn’t that sound more like me, and that was when I started looking at type Eight.
At first, I thought the descriptions of the Eight were exaggerated. Surely, I wasn’t that aggressive, that challenging? I felt I didn’t quite qualify to be an Eight. I was bullied in school as a child, and I did not think I matched the typical descriptions of “big” and strong and bold. Soon, though, I came to see that this was all a matter of comparison, and that my dominant Enneagram type was, in fact, type Eight (and moreover, one with a Seven wing — by then, it was quite obvious my default MO was not withdrawing).
Pt 3: Weeding out behaviour likenesses
Also, looking closer at all the types, none of the others ever really resonated all the way. I could see bits of the Three. My mind resonated with Seven. One, as I mentioned above, sort of ran in my blood — but it was in the form of my personal internalisation of, and reaction to, One perspectives. I could see some Five, in how I sorted stuff mentally and was drawn to patterns. And my tendency to banter and lock horns with people — often leaders — sometimes made me wonder if I was actually a closet Six (only to have my husband laugh quite hard in response). The Six was the only one to ever inspire any closer look, but I soon realised that my Six aspects are a select few (such as questioning things that I don’t get, or don’t feel hold water, or “bumping up against people” to see what bounces back), don’t go across the board and are not fulled by Six motivations. Also, in groups of either type, it was quite clear that I belonged with the Eights. So, after some initial confusion, there was really no contest.
“Resonating all the way” vs recognising every detailed description
So, why am I telling you all this? Well, a big reason is that thing about it resonating all the way. And it’s all the way vertically, not horizontally. It’s not about identifying with everything that’s written about a type. I sure don’t recognise everything that’s written about Eights. Even in Wisdom of the Enneagram, which I consider a gold mine of Enneagram information and understanding, there are lots in the description that doesn’t particularly feel like me. Except it all does, put together. This is where my pet topic, “Zooming out (and getting it)”, fits in 😉
So we need to see the forest, not stare at individual trees. We need the get the overall perspective, and most specifically the typical misunderstandings and blinders, of each type. We need to weed out “how this can then look and feel” from what makes it look and feel this way. And that’s a tall order.
In my experience, this understanding can’t be rushed. It’s not that it will necessarily take up a lot of time; although some bits probably take longer than others to land for us. But it will be a process of organic ripening, and although we can so our best to “water” and tend to our Enneagram insights so they can thrive, we cannot dictate how and in what order the real, integrated knowledge will land. We can only welcome it ❤️😊