Using Health & Stress Integration to Determine Your Enneagram Type
July 28, 2020
When the enneagram first appeared in my world, I wanted nothing to do with it. For starters, the people I knew who were studying it seemed to be consumed by it. Out of all the personality assessments I had ever taken, the enneagram needed a LOT of deep introspection from what I could tell. I like to move forward and don’t always want to sit in my past or analyze my feelings and motivation. I like quick facts, action, and efficiently moving on to the next thing. I eventually dove in to the enneagram head first and the rest is history.
There are nine Types on the enneagram chart. We have all nine traits in us, but typically lean more heavily toward a single Type. I struggled to narrow down my Type, vacillating between two numbers. Figuring out your Type on the enneagram is a more involved process than some personality assessments because the enneagram focuses on motivation and not behavior. Even as I reflected on my own motivations, it was a mental shift to NOT look at behavior as a determinant of my dominant Type.
One of the aspects I appreciate about the enneagram is that it reminds me that self-understanding is a process. When I got stuck on two Types (you’re dying to know, aren’t you?!), I committed to living in the tension of not having a single number that seemed to resonate as THE number I should identify with. Learning who I am points me to Jesus as a Christ follower, so wrestling with my identity was an exercise in listening to God and allowing Him to show me how I am wired in the deepest parts of my being.
The enneagram is one of many tools we can employ to help us understand how God made us and how He shows up in our lives. Because God is perfect, He encompasses all nine Types and each one of us is a reflection of some aspect of His character. This created an intimacy in my relationship with God and a reminder that as God’s creation we are all connected, yet unique.
Direction of Integration
Fluidity is an important part of the enneagram. On any given day, I might be a healthy or unhealthy version of myself. From year to year I hope I grow as a person, a wife, an employee, and am not the same as I was in the past. Using the enneagram as a tool has helped me understand the areas in which I need to grow as well as showing me where I have matured.
Because I was stuck in determining my enneagram Type, I had to go deeper and use other layers of the chart to figure out my motivations. Other factors can be used, but I want to highlight the Direction of Integration. There are two directions for integration: stress and health. You can see the pattern for each in the charts below.
(Images from https://www.enneagraminstitute.com)
I was torn between being a Type 1 or a Type 6. Let’s say I was contemplating being a Type 1. If I use the Direction of Integration to figure out if this was my dominant Type I would visualize myself in a state of stress or overwhelm and assess if I displayed unhealthy traits of a Type 4. On the other end of the spectrum I would think about the days and seasons when I have been in a good place and if I exhibited traits of a healthy Type 7.
Over and over I played this game with myself. On good days I would assess how my motivations aligned with my possible healthy integration numbers and on bad days I would assess the possible stress integration numbers.
If I were a Type 6, my stress integration would take me to a Type 3. You can read details on this in The Complete Enneagram. Although I wish stress drove me to overwork and unhealthy goals of achievement, I knew this wasn’t me. If I were a Type 1, my stress integration would take me to the unhealthy side of a Type 4. Ugh! That’s it. Not my favorite characteristics of myself, but so much truth!
This exercise is how I confirmed my Type.
Gauging Stress & Health
Now I’m able to use the integration numbers to increase awareness of my mental and emotional state. If you know me at all you know my emotions are not always easily accessible, so having a tool like this to equip me with data has been life-changing. I can identify patterns or thoughts much faster that could potentially lead to a bad attitude or negative relational impact and rein it in.
Being able to recognize what is going on inside me and what it means allows me to lean into God when I need Him to be the restorer of my soul. It is a reminder of my daily dependence on him to provide everything I need physically, mentally, and emotionally. He created me to be a dynamic human being and none of what I think or feel is bad. The fluidity of who I am and who he is allows me to experience more of God, understanding him in his whole being.
If you are still deciding what your dominant Type on the enneagram is, try this method. Look into the health and stress numbers and see what fits.
As you dive deeper into your enneagram journey, this is an exercise to learn more about how you may come across to other people and why you do what you do. Read about your health and stress numbers and see what you discover.
My favorite “enneagram Bible” is The Complete Enneagram. I don’t advise reading it cover to cover, but it’s an incredible reference tool to keep handy.
The Crazy of 2020
In a year like we’ve had, it’s even more important to allow the feelings to come, to embrace what each day has and to remember that God can handle ALL of who we are.
He knows what is going on in my head long before I can ever put it into words. And he is totally fine when we have a bad day, a bad week, or a bad year.
There is so much opportunity in these times. A chance to pour our hearts out to God. An opportunity to dig in to an aspect of mourning and searching for what he wants us to get from all of this.
We don’t like being uncomfortable. I don’t like being uncomfortable. But there is something beautiful in choosing uncomfortableness. It stirs me keep pushing until I find answers, until I experience breakthrough and reach the other side. I think we don’t like to let other people be uncomfortable, but maybe that’s our learning curve - to let each other be uncomfortable until we find what God wants us to hear/see/believe/understand.
Enneagram & Coffee