Book Review: The Road Back to You
Occasionally I saw it on someone's profile: Enneagram number__. I knew the Enneagram had something to do with personalities but I knew basically nothing else about it. I enjoy following along with Velvet Ashes book club, and January's book was The Road Back to You by Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile—an introduction to the Ennegream. I started reading and was instantly hooked.
Why bother study personalities? Isn't it just a way to excuse how you are? One of the things I appreciated about this book that I've not always observed in other personality books was the focus on growing, becoming more healthy and socially aware, and reflecting more of the character of God.
The Enneagram is not new—it's been around for many years—but only recently has it regained popularity. It's made up of nine types. This overview of the types is a direct quote from the book.
Type 1: The Perfectionist. Ethical, dedicated and reliable, they are motivated by a desire to live the right way, improve the world, and avoid fault and blame.
Type 2: The Helper. Warm, caring and giving, they are motivated by a need to be loved and needed, and avoid acknowledging their own needs.
Type 3: The Performer. Success-oriented, image-conscious and wired for productivity, they are motivated by a need to be (or appear to be) successful and to avoid failure.
Type 4: The Romantic. Creative, sensitive and moody, they are motivated by a need to be understood, experience their over-sized feelings and avoid being ordinary.
Type 5: The Investigator. Analytical, detached and private, they are motivated by a need to gain knowledge, conserve energy, and avoid relying on others.
Type 6: The Loyalist. Committed, practical and witty, they are worst-case-scenario thinkers who are motivated by fear and a need for security.
Type 7: The Enthusiast. Fun, spontaneous and adventurous, they are motivated by a need to be happy, to plan stimulating experiences and to avoid pain.
Type 8: The Challenger: Commanding, intense and confrontational, they are motivated by a need to be strong and avoid feeling weak or vulnerable.
Type 9: The Peacemaker. Pleasant, laid back and accommodating, they are motivated by a need to keep the peace, merge with others and avoid conflict.
I wondered if I'd be able to recognize my type—or Davy's—as I was reading. The book starts with Type 8, and I had only to get to the next one, Type 9, and there was no question that Davy is a 9. It took me awhile longer to find mine, but we finally decided I'm a 7. Each personality type can have a wing, meaning it can have certain traits of a number next to it, so I think I'm a 7 with a wing of 8.
For each number, the book starts with a list of traits. Some of them sound so eerily like people I know, I had to wonder if the authors were sitting nearby observing my friends. For example, a few of those traits of type 7 are:
"1. I'm always the first person up for a last-minute adventure
2. I am an optimist to a fault.
3. I don't like making hard and fast commitments to things.
4. I suffer from FOMO--fear of missing out.
5. Anticipation is the best part of life.
6. People close to me say I can be argumentative and act superior.
7. Variety and spontaneity are the spice of life."
Each number also has a deadly sin, a particular weakness for that number. Type 7's deadly sin is gluttony—not necessarily in eating, but a "compulsive need to devour positive experiences, stimulating ideas and fine material things in order to fend off suffering, hurtful memories and a feeling of chronic deprivation."
Another section I found helpful was the Steps to Spiritual Transformation. This section takes each number's weaknesses and gives a plan for moving toward greater healthiness. A few of the 7's are:
"1. Practice restraint and moderation. Get off the treadmill that tells you more is always better.
2. Develop and practice the spiritual discipline of solitude on a regular basis.
3. Bring yourself back to the present moment whenever you begin fantasizing about the future or making too many plans for it."
There are many assessments online for figuring out which Enneagram number you are. When I was trying to figure out for sure which number I was, I did three of them and came up with numbers 3, 6, and 8. No wonder I was confused! Reading the book and finding yourself in the descriptions are the best ways to discover your number. However, if you want to try an assessment, Ian Cron has one on his web site.
Both Davy and I loved this book. Davy went through it with his students as well (minor editing needed when reading aloud), which was interesting to say the least. You can buy your own copy of this book here. We read this book on Scrib. If you want to try Scrib for free for two months, click here.