Awhile ago, I wrote a piece describing the Enneagram, an ancient tool used to gain self-awareness. Since then, its popularity has risen, and it’s become even more of an integral part of my own growth. Even though it should never be used as a scientific look at the complexities surrounding personality, it’s helped many people understand themselves and their motivations. The concept of self-care, a phenomenon that has gained traction over the past several years, encourages people to spend more time and energy taking care of their physical and emotional well-being. Changes to daily, routine necessities such as diet, sleep, and exercise encompass the physical aspect of self-care, and while setting boundaries and limiting emotionally-draining situations as much as possible is important, we often skip a vital aspect of health: self-growth. Becoming physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy involves a substantial amount of self-awareness. If being the best version of yourself is the goal and self-growth is a crucial step in that direction, the Enneagram is a perfect place to start on the journey.
At its very core, the Enneagram is made up of nine different personality types. Unlike many personality tests, the Enneagram doesn’t hesitate to describe the negative aspects of each type: I’ve heard (and can attest) that you can discover what type you are by reading the negative qualities of each type and paying attention to which one makes you cringe the most. As a unique means of gaining self-knowledge, the Enneagram provides levels of health for each number, ways to break out of cycles of negativity, and shows you what you’re inclined to look like during times of health or stress.
Perhaps as a response to burnout culture, self-care has recently become a priority in many peoples’ lives. Besides the usual aspects of self-care regarding maintaining a balanced diet and getting enough sleep, everyone has a different method they prefer: for some, it’s taking yoga classes, having coffee with a friend, or reading a few pages of a good book before bed. These are all great and necessary ways to care for yourself, but to neglect your emotional intelligence would be to miss a huge point of self-care.
From a leadership standpoint to a personal health and happiness standpoint, self-awareness is a critical part of a well-developed life. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses and paying attention to the parts of yourself that you know need to change plays a huge role in your personal emotional development and in your relationships with others.
The Enneagram certainly isn’t the only tool that promotes self-growth and emotional intelligence, and definitely won’t magically fix all problems, but it has the potential to transform the way you understand yourself. No matter what some might say, self-care and self-awareness aren’t excuses for endless self-absorption; in fact, they should be viewed as the opposite. Maintaining a habit of bettering yourself allows you the energy to focus on other things and other people.
By combining a self-care routine with a working knowledge of the Enneagram, we can be one step closer to becoming healthier, happier, and more self-aware.