What the heck is an Enneagram number? This simple beginners guide to the Enneagram of Personality will help you understand this personality typing system that assigns everyone into 9 types, or numbers. While that seem limiting there are actually infinite expressions of the 9 Enneagram numbers depending on your wing, levels of alignment, subtype, and tritype.
Everyone has an Enneagram-obsessed person in their life. That person who asks, “What’s your Enneagram number? Do you know your Enneagram wing? What do you mean you haven’t heard of the Enneagram??”
If someone has asked you a version of those questions before, you’re probably wondering… what the heck is an Enneagram number? I’m going to help you out and give you a simple beginner’s guide so that you can understand your Enneagram-obsessed friends, or you can become just as obsessed with the Enneagram as they are!
The Enneagram is an ancient personality categorizing system. It theorizes that there are nine different personality types in the world and each type sees the world in a different way. Additionally, each type has an underlying motivation that runs throughout their whole lives that influences how they behave and how they feel.
You may be thinking, “Hey! Isn’t it super limiting to say that there’s only nine different types of people in the world?” To that I say: NOPE! There are actually infinite expressions of the 9 Enneagram numbers depending on your wing, levels of alignment, subtype, and tritype. (Hang in there. It’s not as confusing as it sounds.)
I know that this probably looks like some pagan emblem or a mad mathematician's ramblings, but bear with me. Each number is connected to others by lines inside the circle. In fact, the Greek origins of the word Enneagram is Ennea (nine) and Grammos (something written or drawn). Keep reading and I will explain how the numbers interact with one another. But first, let's take a look at what those numbers (also called types) mean.
The basic desire of a Type One is to have integrity and to be good. They strive for perfection in all things according to their strict moral code. (Don’t you dare be late to a first date with an Enneagram One!) Enneagram Ones are ethical and responsible people who spend every day striving to improve themselves and the world around them. If this sounds like you and you want to dig a little deeper I made a video here that goes into greater depth. Below are some things that an Enneagram type 1 might say if you need a quick gut check.
Type Twos approach life with a core desire to be loved, wanted, and appreciated. They are thoughtful and generous people with an eerily accurate way of guessing what your needs might be. When they are feeling stressed, Type Twos can struggle with being overly people-pleasing, ignoring their own needs in exchange for others. This video goes into more detail or take a look at this graph to see if these ring true for you.
Type Threes are motivated by the desire to be admired and successful. Because of this, they value productivity and efficiency above all. A Type Three's core longing is the thing they have been striving to hear their entire life: they are loved, not for what they check off their To Do List, but just for being who they are. If this sounds like you check out this video I made about type 3s on my YouTube channel. P.S. I am an Enneagram type 3 ... let me know if you are too! Here's a funny look at some things a type 3 might say:
Type Fours approach life creatively, hoping to express themselves authentically and make an impact on the world. This is why their core fear- being insignificant and fundamentally flawed- is so scary for them. They don’t want to fade from the world having left no impact. Like the other types I made an in-depth video about the Enneagram type 4 which you can find here. For grins, though, there is this:
Type Fives desire to be knowledgeable and competent. They have an insatiable thirst for learning that stems from their core fear of being ignorant. That’s why they spend so much time and energy collecting knowledge and making sure they are self-sufficient! This ties back to their core fear which is being afraid that they will be thought incapable or ignorant. If you are a type 5 you will undoubtedly want to take a deep dive into your type and you can start with this playlist all about Enneagram Fives.
Type Sixes are responsible, methodical, and faithful people. They’re the ones still using Grandma’s old recipes because “it’s tradition!” Their core desire is to have security and guidance in their life. They fear that being without support or guidance will completely destroy their mental and physical wellbeing. Here is a video all about the Loyalist if you want more information about type 6.
Type Sevens desire to be fully satisfied and happy. In their pursuit of this, they jump from one fun experience to the next in the hopes that they will finally feel content. They tend to be joyful people with the ability to lift others up. The biggest fear of a Seven is being deprived and in pain so Sevens avoid boredom at all costs because it can cause them to look deeper into uncomfortable feelings that they don’t want to deal with. Sound like you? Double check here.
Type Eights desire to protect themselves and their loved ones. They may come off as a fierce warrior at first, but get to know them, and you’ll find that they have the biggest heart of anyone you’ll ever meet. The core fear of an Eight is to be weak, powerless, or manipulated. This means that, in relationships, they often cover up their weaknesses so nothing can be used against them. When a Type Eight is in peak form, however, they are decisive advocates for justice. Watch more about the Enneagram type 8 here on my YouTube channel.
Type Nines have the unique ability to bring people with different perspectives and bring together. At their core, they desire to have inner stability and peace of mind. Consequently, they try to avoid being in conflict and losing connection with others. A large majority of my followers are Enneagram type 9s and you can see some of the content about nines on my YouTube channel.
Within the Enneagram, there are organizational groupings called triads or stances. This helps organize the commonalities within Enneagram numbers like how they process feelings or how their childhood relationships impact their adult relationships. If you are confused about your main type, I recommend taking a look at the Centers of Intelligence Triad to help narrow down which numbers you might be. This is the most common triad, helping us understand our reactions to life.
They are driven by their gut instincts.
They are driven by feelings.
They are driven by mental analysis.
Each Enneagram number has two wings, the neighbor numbers by their side on the symbol. For instance, if I am an Enneagram Type 9, then I can either be a Nine with a wing Eight or a Nine with a wing One. This is typically written as “9w8” or “9w1”. Beth McCord of Your Enneagram Coach describes wings as your main type’s distinct flavoring, like salt and pepper! I have a blog post about wings that you might want to read later!
Some people lean more heavily on the characteristics of one wing than the other, while some people have balanced wings. Everyone uses their wings differently depending on their level of health and their circumstances. (To learn more and dive even deeper into your Enneagram wing, I’ve made a dedicated video for each type in this playlist)
One reason I love the Enneagram so much is that it helps me connect with people. It’s so fun to talk about the Enneagram with others and to talk about their core motivations.
Another reason I love the Enneagram is that it helps me to understand myself. Once I really dove into it and figured out my main type, a lot of things about me clicked into place and it has been helping me to navigate the world better.
Lastly, I really love that the Enneagram is a fluid personality typing system. People are really complicated. You can’t just throw a label on someone and call it a day. People change depending upon their circumstances, time, and stress levels so a typing system should reflect that. Your type is impacted by how you grow, who you're married to, who your friends are, etc. All of that impacts who you are, and the Enneagram is flexible with a lot of different variations depending on where you are in your life.
In my free Typing Guide, I show you a simple 5-Step Process to finding your Enneagram type, as well as the ins and outs of my favorite online Enneagram tests. Plus, you'll gain access to a weekly newsletter with all the Enneagram secrets and tools that will help you along your journey! Click here to grab your free copy!
Wow, you made it through to the end! Just in case you skimmed this blog post and prefer to learn by watching here is a Simple Beginner's Guide to the Enneagram in video form.
Happy discovering, friends!