Diving deeper into the Enneagram with subtypes

By Liz Perez on 18th Sep 2019

A Nashville event will further explore the Enneagram, looking out how ‘subtypes’ can influence decision-making and patterns of thought. Here, Liz Perez, Enneagram Coach and Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, explains more…

If you live in Nashville, chances are that you have at least heard of the Enneagram. If you aren’t familiar, the Enneagram is a personality growth tool comprised of nine “types” that helps you understand your behavioral patterns and the motivations behind your decisions and interactions. I personally use the Enneagram with my clients in therapy and in my own everyday life. It has transformed my relationships with people and helped me see various perspectives from others’ viewpoints.

When people discover their Enneagram type they tend to quickly identify areas in their life that begin to “make sense” through the lens of the Enneagram. While there are nine basic types, there are actually 27 different “subtypes”—which explains why you and I can have the same Enneagram type but appear very different in our decision making and thought patterns.

There are three Enneagram subtypes, also known as “instincts” or “instinctual subtypes.”
As I mentioned, each Enneagram type can look different depending on how their dominant subtype guides their energy and passions.

The Narrative Enneagram does a great job of breaking down each subtype and defines them as such:
Self-Preservation: “Governs our needs for material supplies and security, including food, shelter, warmth and family relations”
Social: “Governs our needs for belonging and membership within the larger group and community”
One-to-One (or Sexual): “Governs our sexuality, intimate relationships and close friendships, and the vitality of the life force within our bodies”

Once you learn your Enneagram type, gaining a better understanding of your subtype and the subtypes of those close to you in life will allow for healthier relationships. Peter O’Hanrahan with The Narrative Enneagram says, “Without understanding and conscious communication, even small differences in subtype emphasis can erode a relationship over time.” Learning your subtype can come quickly or it can be a process that takes time—there is no right or wrong way to learn.

I recommend people learn about subtypes through The Narrative Enneagram (linked earlier in the article). Familiarize yourself with how the three subtypes show up in the type you most identify with. Remember, the more we grow in our understanding of our subtype and how it is the vehicle for our type, the more we can grow in awareness and flexibility as to how we respond instead of react.

If you don’t yet know your Enneagram type or are deciding between a few types, I invite you to attend an Enneagram Conference I will be leading on Saturday, Sept. 28 from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Thistle Farms. There will be panels of discussion for each type that will allow guests to better understand how each type thinks and hopefully, as a result, identify which type they resonate with the most. To purchase tickets to the Enneagram Conference, visit this link.

Additionally, I will be teaching an in-depth class on “Going Deeper in The Enneagram” to better understand subtypes and how they influence our types. This class will be held on Thursday, Oct. 24 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tickets for this class may be purchased at this link.

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