I’m not sure what it is. 

I’m not sure what causes us to put our own personal needs at the bottom of the pile. 

Perhaps it’s because many of us (often from a young age), are taught that looking after our own needs amounts to self-indulgence and selfishness, resulting in an air of (unwanted) self-importance. 

None of which – in my childhood home – were positive.

Helping others, donating time (or money) to those less fortunate was always seen as a good deed. My family fully supported outward care. Looking out for others and championing the underdog. 

And those things can be good. Can being the operative word.

But what about the inward care? Well, those were not really on the list of my priorities growing up. Or as an adult for that matter. 

It doesn’t help that I am prone to feelings of self-sacrifice wanting to do more for others than myself, often to my own detriment (although I would never admit it). 

It’s just that, sometimes, it all feels a little too much. You know what I mean? 

Constantly putting what you need at the bottom of your own to-do list. And this, in turn, can have a knock-on effect. A feeling of utter overwhelm. The feeling of not doing enough. The feeling of not being good enough. Suddenly imposter syndrome pops in for a visit and you find yourself rocking yourself back and forth in the corner of a dark room (you know, “self-soothing”?)

The problem is, the longer we let them take up space in our heads (and hearts), these feelings manifest and grow into more troublesome bed fellows. This undoubtedly will cause further issues, whether it is at home or (more often than not), at work. 

The result? Feeling outgunned and outmaneuvered. 

At least, that’s how I feel.

And you know the truth of the matter? I’m often amazed by how some people seem (on the face of it) to have all their s&%t together. And yet, here I sit (despite my best efforts) seemingly struggling (on the face of it anyway). 

These feelings of overwhelm tend to catch me by surprise and because I don’t see them coming, I panic.

The other day, whilst chatting to my friend Frieda Levycky of Braving Boundaries – an ICF-accredited coach specializing in Whole Person Coaching and Enneagram Coaching – about feeling overwhelmed and how I (on occasion) struggle, she suggested that we explore WHY this happens to me. 

So, we sought to address my nagging issues by exercising self-care. More specifically – looking at the Enneagram. 

What does self-care look like?

For some of us, practicing self-care comes down to regularly seeing a massage therapist to help get rid of the tight stress knots in our shoulders and neck. For others, it’s spending bucket loads of hard-earned cash on a fancy holiday for yourself and family.

Either way, you’ll (most likely), return home relaxed and rejuvenated. That is, until you get back into the swing of things. 

The familiar and seemingly ever-present feelings of overwhelm, not being good enough, not being worthy, being an imposter in your own life, come flooding back in. Once again taking up residence in your life like an unwanted tenant. 

Why? These expressions of “self-care” are transitory. They are not permanent and will not result in permanent positive change in your life. 

Change they say, “is as good as a holiday”. But in this case – the self-care case – change is what is needed. Lasting change

Change that comes with practical steps that can be implemented in your daily life to promote balance and wellness. 

Step in – The Enneagram. 

I must admit that I was skeptical at first (as I always am with personality type assessments) but with an invitation to “live life to the fullest” how could I possibly say no?

What is the Enneagram?

According to Braving Boundaries, the Enneagram is –

“At its most basic, the Enneagram is a personality assessment that has nine personality types. Each type—for example, Type 7 (or the Enthusiastic Visionary), or Type 1 (the Strict Perfectionist) or Type 5 (the Quiet Specialist)—has its own unique strengths and challenges, and each person within that type has their own blend of these group characteristics.

We all have a dominant personality type and exhibit the traits of this type along a continuum, either showing the healthier side of our personality, or spiralling down into the more unhealthy and reactive patterns of our natures.”

But the Enneagram is also far more than just a “personality assessment”. Sure, the Enneagram does identify an archetype (“a very typical example of a certain person or thing”) that resonates with your core motivations – making up a part of what makes you, you. 

And your core motivations will have an impact on your personality, how you think, how you feel and how you take action. 

But the Enneagram can also be used as a valuable guide towards self-discovery, self-development, relationship building, how you can resolve conflict according to your own personality type and how you can improve team dynamics – or simply how you can work better in a team.

The Enneagram doesn’t try to put you in a box. It’s not aimed at limiting you or treating you as a generic copy of someone else. It completely recognizes that each person is complex, unique, and distinct. It recognizes that you (inevitably) change over time. In Enneagram terminology, this means that while your Enneagram style remains constant throughout your life, the characteristics of your archetype style may either soften or become more pronounced as you grow and develop. 

Think of the Enneagram as a map, providing context and insight into –

  • Why you do the things that you do.
  • How you can improve on the things where you faulter. 
  • How you can embrace your most important (and valuable) qualities. 
By using the Enneagram as a map to better understand yourself, you become a more liberated, actualized and fully expressed version of yourself. You gain insight into your overall purpose and get closer to achieving your full potential.

Importantly, the Enneagram helps you to recognize and accept your own strengths and weaknesses. Which can be hard for some of us to do. 

As found on the Braving Boundaries website – 

“The power of the Enneagram lies in its subtle complexity, in its flexibility, and in its open-endedness, allowing it to take into account the myriad characteristics of human personality, how these traits blend in each person, and how they change depending on circumstances.

The Enneagram is all about the WHY. It delves into our motivations and explains why we do the things we do. It offers profound insights into what makes us tick, such as the unconscious fears buried deep in our psyches that affect our everyday decisions.”

What was the Enneagram like for me? 

Going into the Enneagram as a skeptic was probably my saving grace. 

I know how odd that sounds, but I answered each question as openly and honestly (and as forthright) as I could, hoping I would catch the Enneagram out. 

To my utter astonishment, my report was extremely accurate. To the T in fact. Even when highlighting my weaknesses and the things that I can work on. The things that I knew deep down but found hard to admit. 

My faith was renewed!

Of course, not all assessments are created equal and there will be some that fall short of legitimacy. But the Integrative Enneagram Solutions Assessment isn’t one of them. 

In fact, I’ve read over my report numerous times. Making notes, taking in the insights set out in the report and have tried to implement the recommended exercises into my daily life. 

Of course, I don’t think I would’ve got to this place of absolute acceptance had I not had a feedback session with Frieda. 

Frieda listened to what I thought of the report and how it made me feel. We spoke through some of the issues highlighted and discussed straightforward ways to implement change.

It was invaluable. 

And let me tell you why….

You get to put the Enneagram Report into YOUR life context

Your report may contain some words which – traditionally – have a negative connotation. This will be the same for every archetype. There will just be some words that trigger you and in turn trigger your defence mechanisms. We all have a word that just rubs us up the wrong way e.g. impatient, manipulative, emotional, sensitive, self-absorbed, controlling, uncommitted, passive-aggressive. Words that we’ve been told are “negative” and certainly don’t like seeing in a report. And if you’re anything like me, I stressed about “my word”. I worried that I was that “word” in everything I did. It caused me immense anxiety. 

Simply because I read it in isolation, with all my preconceived ideas attached to it (which is a recipe for disaster).  

The truth is every archetype will have a trigger word. After all, we are only human. 

But the problem arises with how we interpret the words and the challenges those words highlight. 

How do we process them? 

Instead of running away from these “negative words” or hiding under the covers for fear that you may actually be that word, or perhaps ignoring them entirely, pretending you never read the report in the first place (sort of like an ostrich sticking its head in the sand – not a great look by the way) – a feedback session with an accredited Enneagram coach, allows you to gently explore the report. In its entirety. And most importantly, in context (less the preconceived ideas). 

In doing so, you begin to understand what everything actually means. Helping you to come to terms (and fully understand) your weaknesses or blind spots and how you can embrace your strengths and positive qualities. 

The Enneagram Feedback Session helps you to hold yourself accountable

The other valuable point of the feedback session is accountability. 

How many times have we, as professionals, taken a report from an assessment we did (often because we had to), had a quick read through it and then done absolutely zilch with the information? Because there’s no one holding you accountable. It’s just another piece of paper with your name on it, categorizing you into a specific box. 

Sure, you may laugh and agree that some of the points are “totally you”, but how does that add real value to your life? 

With the Enneagram, the feedback session is where you gain a real understanding of your archetype style. It’s how you get better acquainted with yourself. It’s how you implement the change suggested in the report. Truly investing in you. Because once you understand your core motivations, you can – in fact – become a more “liberated, actualized and fully expressed version of yourself”. You can gain insight into who you (really) are deep down, you can discover what your true purpose is and you can (as a result) reach your full potential.  Naturally, leading to living your life to the fullest. 

Following my feedback session with Frieda, I have gained a far better understanding of who I am, acknowledging my challenges and areas for growth and looking forward with hope (and excitement) because I have realized how much I have to give.

I simply cannot recommend the Enneagram Feedback Session enough. Self-care with long lasting results that you can take with you as you grow. That’s what I’m talking about!

You owe it to yourself to gain a better understanding of who you are – deep down – and perhaps even a better understanding of the team you work with. 

As Frieda sets out – 

“You can’t change who you are, but there are several benefits to having a deeper understanding of yourself:

  • You can make the most of your strengths and become aware of the things that challenge you.
  • You can face the hidden motivations and fears that rule your life and are holding you back in both your personal and professional life.
  • You can work more effectively in a team.
  • You can see what lies behind the decisions you make, why you see the world the way you do, where your blind spots and defence mechanisms are, what’s behind your anxieties, and what’s likely to trigger you.
  • You can live up to your true potential and identify where you can grow and develop.”

To find out more about the Enneagram Feedback Session, take a look at the Braving Boundaries website and get in touch with Frieda Levycky today. There are programmes for both individuals and teams.

This is valuable self-care. At its finest. 

All that there’s left to do is to truly invest in you.

About the writer, Alicia Koch, Founder of The Legal Belletrist.

Alicia, an admitted attorney with over 10 years PQE, and now a legal writer and researcher, has established The Legal Belletrist to assist companies (in different sectors) to write well-researched articles that speak to each company’s core business, enabling growth and commercialism.

Click here to visit The Legal Belletrist website.

Email: alicia@thebelletrist.com