Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across the most incredible tool for self-awareness and discovering our true potential in Brene Brown’s recent podcast. Brene’s dynamic interview with Chris Heuertz opened my mind to the encompassing transformational value of the Enneagram. His tender and compassionate way of describing what each of the 9 type’s biggest struggles are just tugged at my heartstrings.
The Enneagram is one of the most powerful and insightful tools for understanding ourselves and others. At its core, the Enneagram helps us to see ourselves at a deeper, more objective level and can be of invaluable assistance on our path to self-knowledge. —– The Enneagram Institute (www.enneagraminstitute.com)
I had once taken the Enneagram test online and was familiar with the attributes of my Type. At that time, I viewed it mostly as an affirmation of my personality much like a Zodiac sign or Myers-Briggs assessment.
What I did not know however was that basic summary only scratched the surface of what I could learn from the Enneagram.
As Chris Heuretz points out, most of us look at our Enneagram Type and happily confirm those attributes we view as positive and sideline those traits that make us uncomfortable. As a result, we end up fragmented by trying to hide or protect our vulnerabilities. Brene Brown has been teaching us for years , it is those very vulnerabilities that hold the key to our richest treasures — love, creativity, connection.
With his latest book, The Enneagram of Belonging, Chris skillfully guides us through the process of personal discovery to bravely face those traits we hide or protect. He gracefully coaches us to embrace our full human self with compassion and self-acceptance. You may ask why this is so important. Chris says “the truth is the way we treat ourselves is the way we also treat others.”
Chris believes that the way we make the world a better place is to start with ourselves and then let it flow out to our relationships, our communities and the world. As Maya Angelou taught “when we know better, we do better.”
Chris Heuretz is a longtime Enneagram teacher in addition to being the author of The Sacred Enneagram and The Enneagram of Belonging. His website offers blog posts, podcasts and other resources to broaden our knowledge. (http://www.chrisheuretz.com) I listened to a podcast he did with his friend and author, Beatrice Chestnut. Immediately captivated by her personal and professional experiences with the Enneagram, I just had to read her book too.
Beatrice Chestnut’s book, The Complete Enneagram is a compelling instructional book that was hard to put down. I quickly realized how her dynamic handbook would have expedited my own discovery process a few years ago. I had taken a more circuitous way to unearth my patterned roadblocks through mindfulness, meditation and lots of self exploration. As Beatrice writes about the Enneagram — “it’s like having your own personal owner’s manual.”
I began to view the Enneagram as a treasure map with a personalized Key for each Type that pinpoints the coping strategies and learned behavioral patterns we commonly use. It also provides the trail back to the origin of those patterns. We move through decades of our life leaning heavily on those familiar patterns, but unconsciously aware that they are making our lives more complex. The hidden treasure lies in growing into the most healthy potential of our Type once we understand what has been holding us back and learning to live more consciously.
As I began to absorb and process all that I was learning about myself, I could readily look back at various times in my life where my conditioned patterns showed up and see very clearly how they played out. Instead of chastising myself, I was now able to own it and even laugh about it in some cases. Perhaps the most impactful transformation for me was gaining insight about early life experiences that conditioned me to repress my feelings, to rush in as a soothing helper and avoid conflict at all costs. This knowledge is a powerful catalyst for conscious living today.
As Chris talked about all of the 9 types in the Enneagram with Brene Brown, my heart really opened up to what each and every one of us deals with through our own personalities, the life experiences that shape us and the way that we navigate our lives. Once we understand what our own Type wrestles with, our compassion for all the other Types just naturally seems to expand. Another bonus is when we learn to stop getting caught in a reactive response pattern and lean in more to another — to proactively listen and to be fully present. Both Chris and Beatrice provide many reminders that this work is on-going and part of the continual growth process. We get chances to practice every day if we are just paying attention.
Growth spurts can happen at any stage of life. It’s fun and rewarding to notice the positive changes in yourself and how it supports those around you. Mindfulness, mediation and contemplative practice enhance all that we learn about ourselves and others through the Enneagram. The changes we hope to facilitate for the greater good of all start with us.
Chris’s work has change how I understand myself and the people around me. It has brought me closer to myself and my true essence. I’m grateful for Chris’s willingness to clear a path and walk alongside us in love and compassion.” — Brene Brown