What real self-awareness entails…

Photo by Andrew Nicholson

I’ve been on a personal development journey for many years, both as a learner and teacher, and both roles changed, unfolded and adapted as my awareness grew. At first, I mastered the tools to help me maintain a sense of inner happiness. Yet at the same time, I didn’t really know myself at a core level. I just knew I felt happy, but I didn’t understand what really drove me, or why I behaved the way I did when I faced certain situations. I didn’t really know why I found certain things easy, which others found difficult, and why I found certain things difficult which others found easy. I also didn’t really understand why certain things triggered upset or joy, when those same things didn’t have the same effect on others, and vice versa. I began to notice differences in what drives all of us. Why did I connect and feel comfortable with some people, whilst finding it difficult to feel any connection at all with others? I became a fascinated observer. What I did notice is that humanity as a whole seemed to be easily offended by, or judgmental towards, our fundamental differences in perception. In fact, they seemed to create most of life’s misunderstandings and resulting fears…

However, I felt happy, so did it really matter? Yes, massively. Because my positive outlook was just icing. It was actually preventing me from facing and dealing with my own shadow side and understanding myself at a much deeper level.

When Andy and I first got together, we both became vulnerable to new love and the potential pain that entrusting your heart with another can hold. The result with many in this situation is that our deepest core fears tend to rise to the surface. We began to notice just how different we were. What seemed important to one of us, wasn’t important to the other; what one focused on, was ignored by the other. This caused some challenges, because our default behaviours kept surfacing, as our different perceptions and drives attempted to protect themselves and be the right one. However we loved each other deeply and wanted to find a way to understand each other’s perception without taking our differences personally.

Enneagram New2On our journey together, we discovered the Enneagram. We attended workshops and did several online tests; free ones and ones we paid for. Each of the tests typed us differently. They all asked a set of questions, and then provided us with our resulting type or choice of probable types.  However, we could both relate to many of the types when it came to surface level behaviours, so there was no definitive clarity as to which one we actually were. Ultimately, it didn’t really tell us anything meaningful. In fact, it caused more confusion than anything.

What is generally taught about the Enneagram has become very sugar-coated, so that it will be socially acceptable in today’s society. This means that when we read about it or take the tests, we can show up as, and identify with, many different types. This actually dilutes and distorts what it can teach us, because the purpose of the Enneagram is to teach us about our ego. The immense learning it offers becomes diluted when most of the information is withheld so that it doesn’t offend the very thing it’s trying to bring into our awareness…

So when we discovered the real, down to roots, unsugar-coated Enneagram, we learned the truth at last, including all the distinctly negative traits of each of the 9 types. Nothing was held back. It blew my beliefs wide open, along with everything I thought I knew. For the very first time I was able to properly identify which type I am. The negative patterns which surface in me when I’m feeling low were suddenly out in the open and utterly unmistakable to me. I had never seen or understood them in this way before, never mind held my hands up to them. I felt stripped bare. No amount of positive icing was going to hide this away for me. For the first time my questions were answered – I understood why certain things meant more to me than others, why some things came naturally, and I also understood the deeply rooted drive beneath my own behaviour, triggers and responses. This helped me understand why my negative patterns showed up in the first place.  Self-forgiveness was almost instant. Mistyping myself was impossible, because the drives of the other 8 types simply weren’t me at all. They were fundamentally different – 9 completely distinctive ways of being and experiencing life, and we can only be one of them. Yet none of the online tests or the books we’d read had mentioned these deeper underlying traits, which is what had made it so difficult to be correctly typed or to understand the real meaning behind the Enneagram.

After immersing myself in its study for several years, and working with hundreds of clients at a deeply transparent level, more and more awareness came to me, until the true meaning of the 9 ego types became astoundingly clear.

Each of our journeys and all we have to learn in life, are fundamental to this awareness – our lessons are built into the very differences between us. Yet how can we learn those lessons, when most are blissfully unaware of this?

The self-awareness was breath-taking. This was an entirely different kind of awareness. From that point I was no longer running on subconscious automatic. The moment I caught myself playing one of my Enneatype patterns, I was able to recognise it, forgive it, stop it in its tracks, and consciously choose another response with full awareness. With practice, new responses became the norm, until my default patterns began to disappear. I was then able for the first time to apply my personal development journey to myself in a way that was right for me as an individual, rather than generically. Andy did the same, and the difference it made to us as individuals, to our relationship and to how we perceive life – there are no words which can aptly describe it.

Once I had recognised and awakened to my negative patterns, something astounding happened. I was able to clearly see and connect with my innate gift with complete and utter trust. Each of the 9 types has a natural ability – something that they seem able to achieve almost effortlessly, which opened my eyes to why comparing ourselves to someone else is such a futile task. Each of us are here to master different things and bring those gifts into the world, and to then share that knowledge with the other 8 types who do not find them quite as easy.

In an awakened society, could you imagine the sheer potential of this, if it were embraced from a place of awareness. No more ‘I’m right, you’re wrong!’ No more negatively comparing one’s self against another… instead, immense learning and growth.

The gift that comes with my Enneatype is emotional intelligence. This comes at the expense of other things, as with all types. No one has everything. My drive is relationships, with the emphasis for me personally on intimate relationships. Knowing and understanding this allowed me to embrace not only my relationship, but also my life purpose – to teach others about their relationship with themselves, with their partner, and with the rest of humanity. My subconscious blocks were cleared, along with any self-doubt. This is the gift my Enneatype allows me to share with the world. So, I connected fully with my potential, surrendering to it from a place of complete trust and knowing.

To give you a brief comparison, another of the types is driven by success. They will be quite different to me. For them, success can often be achieved effortlessly, as opposed to me having that same skill in relationships.  They will have the natural flair to get on with others, the gift of negotiating when it comes to making sales, and a competitive edge which brings them out on top… so their innate gift, when merged with self belief, becomes their gift to the world. To teach others about success in business or competition. We will have a different set of default behavioural patterns to achieve and protect that drive, and a very different way of being. Neither is wrong or right, they simply are. Part of our journey into awakening is to be able to understand these ways of being, and to embrace the learning contained within.

It’s quite simple – our way is simply not the only way, no matter how much we think it is.

When Andy and I learned all of this about ourselves, it was like we met properly for the first time, except this time with complete transparency. Why we had faced our challenges suddenly became crystal clear. For the first time I actually understood his way of being, and he mine, and we realised that our differences weren’t about the other at all. In fact, very suddenly it felt rather ridiculous to take offense at the other’s way of perceiving life. Yet until then, we had, because without this insight, we simply didn’t have the understanding we needed to overcome it. We could have continued to apply positive thinking strategies, but instead of bringing out the best in ourselves and one another, we would have been in protection mode, applying principles to make ourselves feel better instead of allowing ourselves to flourish fully.

This was without doubt the greatest turnaround we had ever experienced.

Andy’s Enneatype is different to both those mentioned above. His and my default behavioural patterns had been exactly the challenges we had encountered in our relationship. In fact, so default are these patterns, that you could take any two Enneatypes who are the same as he and I, and they are likely to experience practically the same challenges. Even though we had both undergone years of personal development, when it came to looking deeply within, our drive and survival triggers came to the fore. They really weren’t going to disappear until we could see them, understand them, embrace them and overcome them… and learn how to bring out the best in ourselves and one another for the personalities we actually are, rather than trying to change ourselves or one another.

Same two people, completely different relationship. It’s as simple as this – the lower an individual’s emotional energy, the further into their negative default patterns they go. The higher their energy, the more in their gift they begin to operate and live. Most people are somewhere in the middle, occasionally fluctuating up and down, and so their behaviour and self-doubt shifts like the tide. In this place it can be difficult to embrace one’s fullest potential. With this knowledge, embracing your potential with complete self belief that you have the innate skills to do so, becomes a no-brainer.

Understanding this is understanding humanity. I find it difficult to become annoyed with, or judge, others now. When I can see another’s drive, I am able to empathise with their model of the world, and it makes for a place of profound understanding and insight towards others. It also creates a profound sense of inner peace, when there is no longer any desire to be offended by others’ differences in perception. After years of intensive study, working with hundreds of clients at the core of their ego type, and digesting so much of what we learned about the 9 types along the way, we gained an indepth understanding of the immense differences, challenges, fears and motivations that drive each of them. To judge another human being for their behaviour leaves me in no doubt that it is coming from my own ego, and is little to do with them.

Most people are trying to feel positive by no longer doing negative things. With this insight it lifts you into a new paradigm, making a loving, forgiving attitude to life second nature.

I mentioned earlier that every online test we completed typed us both incorrectly. In fact the type I actually am was consistently my lowest or second lowest score. As a result, Andy and I have developed our own Enneagram test which asks more powerful unsugar-coated questions, and we are achieving a 95% + success rate in correct typing. We are also writing a book on our discoveries.

The real Enneagram is about facing the deepest shadow side of your ego and it’s unlikely to be comfortable to begin with. However, what you can achieve from that place is phenomenal. It’s not about boxing you into a type. On the contrary it’s about allowing you to see the box you’ve unwittingly placed yourself in so that you can step out of it. Remember that you won’t only get to see your shadow side, you will also connect with your gift, and you’ll see how and why both sets of behaviours are a direct result of your motivating drive.

From awareness comes choice… and the potential to master yourself, harness your natural talents and preferences, and align these to a powerful and meaningful purpose and direction.

The one thing we know for sure is that each of the 9 Enneatypes have a very different path for transformation; no two types require the same solution to step out of the box and into their talent and strength. One type focuses on false abundance, one on false lack, another on potential problems, another on existing problems. This in itself will demonstrate just how different the journeys for transformation need to be. As a result, we have created 9 completely different coaching programmes to accommodate the individual needs for transformation of each of the Enneatypes.

The eyes through which you perceive humanity can be gifted with new insight, one which provides a deeper understanding, and through this, loving responses. Mankind as we know it wouldn’t work if everyone was like you, or if just one of the types no longer existed. Understanding this in itself raises consciousness, both yours and those around you.

Andy and I share everything we’ve learned on our journey together in all that we teach: Our Breakthrough Experiences with individuals or couples, and our distance courses, again for individuals and couples, which can be taken from anywhere in the world. All the information can be accessed on the main menu above.