If you’ve been on the fence about signing up for the Enneagram programs at Dominican Center Marywood at Aquinas College, either because the word Enneagram itself scares you a little or seems too woo woo, I hope this essay offers some clarity about the tools Ennegram offers each person in any stage of personal growth.
The wisdom of the Enneagram involves re-discovering your personality. Imagine the freedom of pushing away from some of the old narratives that have formed us from childhood on. Isn’t that a beautiful way to meet the new year?
The wisdom of the Enneagram involves discovering “truths” about your personality type. The Enneagram gives us tools to unbox ourselves from the character traits we too simply associate with our personality. This either/or thinking minimizes the incredible gifts of the heart, soul, and mind within each person.
In today’s rapid paced world, human nature tends to simplify everything. Our thought patterns seek quick order and clarity. By not slowing down, we tend to filter everything through our ego only.
Richard Rohr points out that the ego moves us to see the world through eyes of comparison, opposition, and differentiation. Rohr has extensively studied the “egoic operating system” and “dualistic thinking” as it relates to how we approach the world, religion, relationship: What’s in it for me? How will I look if I do this? What if I can’t do this or do it imperfectly or somebody else can do it better? What if what something I’ve done seems unforgiveable?
Rohr says: “The dualistic mind cannot process things like infinity, mystery, God, grace, suffering, death, or love. When it comes to unconditional love, the dualistic mind can’t even begin to understand it. … “[Dualistic thinking] uses descriptive words like good/evil, pretty/ugly, intelligent/stupid, not realizing there may be 55 or 155 degrees between the two ends of each spectrum. It works well for the sake of simplification and conversation, but not for the sake of truth or even honest experience.”
What intrigues me about the Ennegram is the wisdom it offers each person to discover your true personality type. The Enneagram gives us tools to unbox ourselves from the character traits we too simply associate with our personality. This either/or thinking minimizes the incredible gifts of the heart, soul, and mind within each person.
What to Expect?
According to Dr. Bishop: “The Enneagram helps us identify how we get stuck in the nine ways of the egoic operating system created in early childhood. More importantly, the Enneagram gives us a way out! Therefore, it’s helpful to note, this is not a system intent on labeling people and “putting them in a box.” If anything, the Enneagram helps us get out of the box called personality.”
Dr. Patrick Bishop opens up our Enneagram offerings on Thursday, January 12, 2023 with an introduction. Before the session, he will send you a link to a Type Indicator test that can help you determine your Enneagram type. This information is yours to keep and reference.
His direction includes this important message: “Determining your primary type is obviously essential and helpful, but it can be difficult and frustrating. My advice is: don’t rush the process. People mistype themselves all the time and it’s not helpful. It’s like using a map of Chicago for Grand Rapids; some of the road names and building names are the same, but it’s a completely different landscape. Besides, once you determine your type, it’s like winning the “booby-prize.” You’re happy, but it also reveals your shortcomings.”
That’s part of the beauty of exploring the Enneagram in community. Dominican spirituality encourages looking at the world with new eyes, hearing with new ears. It encourages offering grace to yourself and to those around you. It encourages community.
“In these programs at Dominican Center Marywood at Aquinas College, we encourage kindness and compassion. We also encourage laughter. Many of these patterns have been habituated and hidden over a lifetime in order to protect a tender, yet dominant self-image,” says Dr. Bishop. “Growth only happens outside the comfort zone, often combined with suffering, so bring a lot of self- compassion, kindness, and treat yourself as you would a good friend. So, surround yourself with new friends who just may grow to become good friends in the new year ahead.