The Enneagram, although it has been around for several years, is a psychological personality theory that has recently become popular. Each personality type is given a number one through nine and every person is supposed to correspond to one of these numbers. The personality descriptions try to help people understand why they act the way they do. I am a Type 9 which is known as the Peacemaker. The Enneagram Institute describes Nines as "devoted to the quest for internal and external peace for themselves and others." Nines seek to live in peace at all times. They don't like for people to be mad at them, they avoid conflict at all costs, and they often procrastinate doing things to avoid the stress the task causes. However, despite these poor habits, they are very easy going, get along well with others, like to help others, and are accepting, trusting and stable. Here are five thoughts that run through my head to explain how Nines work.
1. "I understand that perspective but I also understand the other side as well"
Nines are good at seeing both sides of an argument. They are often called the Mediator of the Enneagram because they are good negotiators. They seek to keep and restore harmony in their lives and other's as well and often understand both sides of an argument. While I appreciate being able to understand both sides, sometimes this makes it hard for me to form my own opinions, and it is something that I have to work hard to fix.
2. "Do they really want me around or are they just being nice?"
This is something that I struggle with a lot. Every type has what psychologists call childhood trauma. Childhood trauma is not necessarily caused by how you were treated by your parents, though that is often how it is characterized. In fact, for me, my parents probably contributed to my problem the least. The trauma can be caused by family, friends, or other people in our lives. Nines were unnoticed as children and did not get the attention they needed. For me this manifests itself in not being heard or listened to. I am a very quiet person and do not talk a lot. I've often experienced situations where people do not listen to what I am trying to tell them. Growing up, I could tell when my family and friends were not listening to me or did not seem interested in what I had to say. I was also often interrupted or talked over. This caused me to struggle with thoughts of being unwanted, unimportant, or a bother to others. I often second guess whether or not people really want me around, even with my close friends.
3. "I need a nap"
Often when Nines experience high stress, they shut down and distract themselves in order to bring peace back into their lives, no matter how artificial it might be. Because of this, there is a stereotype that Nines take lots of naps, and I have been known to sleep in order to put off work I need to do. Even though Nines often try to avoid stress through procrastination, they can also deal with it in the other extreme. Sometimes they will become consumed with a task and only focus on it until it is done. I also often do this, and because I am a detailed oriented person, it can be doubly worse.
4. "I really wish I had not said yes to all these extra things"
Like a typical Nine, I like to help people, and I also do not like for people to be mad at me. As a result, I say yes most of the time to people when they ask for my help, and I often take on more than I can handle. This just feeds right back in to the whole problem with handling stress in a healthy manner.
5. "It's fine"
This phrase runs through my mind and comes out of my mouth a lot. In order to keep the peace, Nines tend to merge with other types. They start acting like the other Enneagram types, and this often leads to mistyping when people who are Nines try to figure out their number. Because they want to live peacefully with everyone, Nines often use phrases like "It's fine", "It doesn't matter", or "Whatever you want to do". We have preferences, but you may never know that because we do not want to argue. So, we try to let you do whatever you want to do. It is torture for me to have to make a decision for the group because I am afraid I will choose something that someone does not like. We may get mad internally because we will not speak up for ourselves, but we just tell ourselves that, "It's fine" and continue to act complacent.
If you would like to learn what Enneagram type you are, you can take a test here.