This is a new series that we are starting each month where I will be joined by my sister Melinda, our resident Type Three, and we will answer your questions, catch up with each other, and make the Enneagram just a little more relatable! Let’s get started.
Welcome Melinda. I’m so glad to have you. I’m so excited for our conversation. Since this is our first EnneaQ episode, I thought it would be a good idea to let you introduce yourself a little bit, to let our listeners know who you are and what you’re about.
Well, first of all, thank you for having me. I’m super excited to be here. Yeah. So my name is Melinda. I am Kim’s younger sister, one of nine kids total in our family! Nine wonderful, beautiful, unique children in our family! And we love it.
So a little bit about me is that I have been married for nine and a half years to my best friend, and we have two cats and a dog. I love music and coffee, and in the last couple of years I have also started to enjoy reading again. I’m definitely a more introverted three, and I’m a three-wing-two with a very strong two wing.
You are also a part of the team here at Christian Enneagram Coaching, and you wear a lot of hats inside the team! A lot of what you do is make these podcast episodes look and sound amazing, project-manage whatever needs managing, and just do an awesome job. So for these episodes where we’re talking about the questions that people in the Christian Enneagram Coaching Community have, I hope to just have a conversation, like we’re having coffee and are answering these questions together!
What I want to do now is move into our first segment of these EnneaQ episodes, which is a brand new segment to the whole podcast I’m really excited about: “The Most EnneaMe Thing”.
The Most EnneaMe Thing
Sometimes it helps to laugh at ourselves a little bit–not others, but ourselves–and it can take some of the sting out of doing the Enneagram work that this podcast is here to help with. I’m hoping that this podcast helps make the Enneagram more relatable, and one of the ways we can make the Enneagram more relatable is to find the humor in it!
So Melinda, what is the most EnneaMe thing that’s happened to you recently?
If I’m being honest, it was probably coming up with an answer to this question! I wanted it to be funny so that my first “podcast debut” would be entertaining….but mine is kind of boring, so I’m just gonna throw that out there that I’m not happy with it, but I’m gonna let that go because that’s the unhealthy part of the three!
So, I rarely get a day where I’m doing absolutely nothing and don’t have anything on the calendar, so I scheduled a day to recoup and process some things that are going on in my personal life and just to rest. And then 11:00 AM rolled around and I already had a mental to-do list, and I was like, “I have to get all these things done. I have all these projects. What am I doing?” So I got up and I worked the rest of the day! So I had scheduled myself a rest day and I couldn’t even complete said rest day!
So, so that was my Most EnneaMe thing; what’s yours, Kim?
So as a type one, I tend to really want things to be exact when they feel important to me (some things don’t, and so I don’t care) but I am going to get a haircut tomorrow, and I have spent hours looking for the correct photo to bring, because I do not consider myself to be someone who knows a lot about hair or how to style it myself, or what to do. But I knew I wanted to do something brave, and to have this haircut lean into my “seven” and bring out a little bit of the fun that I want to have, but feel afraid to have as a one. So I spent hours compiling and finding the exact right reference photo to bring! And I know this future me is going to spend the first five minutes of my haircut saying, “I’m sorry that I’m giving you all of these details about how I need this to be.” But I also know I’m going to lean hard into my nine wing and my type one defense mechanism of being overly polite, and end up saying “I love it” on the backend; that hairstylist is not going to know anything about my opinion besides “it is perfect.”
So now we’re going to move into the questions that we received on Instagram, and so we got some really good ones here!
EnneaQ’s Question One: Can Our Enneagram Number Change?
The consensus is that our Enneagram number does not change, although we grow out of the compulsion of our Enneagram type’s tendencies. One of the goals of the Enneagram as a framework for growth is to recognize the ways that we are leaning way into the outside of the Enneagram circle, which is where our coping mechanisms kind of keep us stuck. The ways that we have grown up in a hard and difficult world have kept us in those ways of coping and the strategies that come from trying to find whatever will lessen pain and heighten joy and comfort, and that never changes; the motivations don’t change, but the Enneagram work that we can do, or the growth work that we can do even outside of the Enneagram, can help us realize that we don’t have to stay tied to those motivations or let them drive us and our decision-making.
So, our Enneagram number does not change, but we can grow out of the need to be this way or the inability to make a different choice. As we grow and we lessen our type’s motivations’ hold on us, we recognize that we are not chained to those behaviors anymore and we feel more free to make an intentional choice. This is actually one of my passions, is coupling Enneagram work with the growth that’s available to us in our faith, to free us from needing to show up in a certain way, just because we feel like we have no other choice.
It does helps us to remember, though, that if we let go of the reigns of intentionality, we could potentially slide back into some of these things. So growth kind of helps determine if our motivators are currently acting like a pushy pilot taking over, without us in the driver’s seat, or if they are more like a polite passenger that comes along with us; we recognize the things that those motivations bring into our life, but that they are not what is driving us and making us do things.
For me, when I first took the Enneagram test, my number came up as something completely different because I was basing the answers off of my behaviors instead of my motivators. So it wasn’t until I had a conversation with you, Kim, and we really dove in and looked at what was behind the decisions that I was making that we realized that I’m definitely a three.
EnneaQ’s Question Two: How is Your Sister Relationship Different Now Than When You Were Younger?
I really think that the biggest thing is empathy. Growing up as a type one, I felt that there is one right way to be, and Melinda didn’t fit that mold, and so she was wrong! And I was bringing that into conversations, discussions, differences of opinion…
So that was really one of the things that I lacked in our relationship, was empathy and understanding of where you were coming from and how we could show up differently, come from different places and both be the same amount of “right” as the other person and the same amount of “wrong”; just allowing nuance, allowing there to be difference without it needing to say anything about who we were to each other.
And so in adulthood, after understanding why I needed the world to be black and white and why the world was not going to be black and white, I have grown in empathy so that we can be radically different people and we can be unique and have differences of opinion and talk about them in ways that protect who we are to each other on both sides, and really speak from and cultivate empathy and understanding.
So that’s my answer. I don’t know what your answer is, Melinda, but I really do think empathy is the biggest difference in our relationship.
Yeah, I would agree. I think just from a practical standpoint that it is important to understand that every relationship, whether you’re related or not, has seasons. We went through some rough seasons; I think every sibling probably does, and, but I don’t think we’ve ever been closer than we are now!
When I was younger, coming from a three’s perspective, I wanted to be valued and seen, but that came off as just an annoying little sister, and I just want to be with you all the time! Once I grew out of that, and once we both grew up a little bit in maturity and also, just like you said, understanding where the other person was coming from, I think the last few years have definitely been the best part of our relationship for me.
EnneaQ’s Question Three: What is the Next Step in Enneagram Growth or Maintaining Being in a Healthy Space Once You Have Enneagram Basics Down?
I love this question! I know there are people who have put in a lot of work and have done a lot of introspection and reflection and tangible, practical work, and then come to this place where you’re like, “Is there more? Do I just move on? What does this look like?”
They may also feel like they no longer need to immerse themselves in Enneagram resources, but they don’t want to leave it behind! And so there’s this kind of push-pull, like, what is next? Is there anything next?
There are a few different tracks you could take, and it might depend on where you’re at:
- If you feel like a lot of your Enneagram work–the pausing to reflect and learning to be intentional so that motivators don’t become be your pilot– if it starts to feel more automatic, than as issues come up or stressful times flow in, you’ll start to notice how the reaction you’re about to have is connected to your Enneagram type’s tendencies and is connected to the motivators. You will start to notice how they’re connected to that main type’s motivations: the fears, the desires, and the ongoing struggle. You don’t necessarily need to put a lot of Enneagram language around that, because you will just notice it; somewhat like when you’re driving a car and you see an animal come out in front of the road. You swerve a little bit, but then you recover and just keep driving. You don’t have to think about it too much, and it’s going to be kind of like that. Instead of automatically falling into traps, you’re going to automatically start to avoid them! So you might start to notice that a little bit as you work those muscles, and you don’t necessarily need a lot of Enneagram language or referencing resources, because you’ve already done that work to gain that muscle memory, that “Enneagram muscle memory” if we can say that.
- If you do want to be more intentional with bringing the Enneagram into things, then as you are engaging with other resources– listening to sermons, reading other books that aren’t Enneagram-specific– you can actually turn it into a little mini study by asking questions like, “How could this apply to my type’s motivations?” or “What barrier might I try to automatically put up to protect myself from something in this resource that I know I should apply to life?” Each of our Enneagram types are really good at coming up with certain excuses for certain practices or applications. We all have these, but it can be helpful to think about non-Enneagram-specific resources through an Enneagram lens, and that can help you see how applying it can be really helpful for you and also how it might be a difficult road to walk as you apply it.
- Another thing that I thought could be really helpful is to journal a word picture or somehow process a word picture of what it looks like for you specifically to be in a healthy space based on your Enneagram type and what you know about yourself and your spiritual growth. How do you feel? What choices do you make? What kind of boundaries do you have when you are in a healthy space? How do you speak and connect and take care of yourself or interact with other people? What signs do you notice when your health is slipping? What does it look like when you’re healthy? And then what signs do you notice when that’s starting to slip, or things are getting less-than-healthy? Having a picture like this with words around it, whatever helps you notice, can help you be intentional to recognize when you might need some additional reflection; when you might need to change things in your life or in your inner world, or in your daily mental, emotional, or spiritual practices; and just help alert you the fact that something is going on and you might need to make a change.
I love the comment that you made about journaling and thinking about how you would picture yourself being in a healthy place. I know for me, journaling has always been a big part of my life, but one thing that had been lacking was journaling how I’m feeling and really taking time and taking stock of how I feel that day with a conversation or a conflict or just in general, being aware of what my feelings had been. So I love the journaling idea for sure.
I think it also helps keep us away from thinking that healthy for us has to look like healthy for somebody else. And it helps us draw up this picture of, What does God have for me? What are my unique gifts and strengths that I have when I’m healthy? And what are some of the ways that I might lean into something that looks good on the outside, but is not a healthy place to be on the inside that could keep me from healing because I look okay? And so it helps us really take stock of what’s going on on the inside, and when we really are being intentional: restful when we need to be, and thoughtful about how we show up and how we feel in the ways that we show up.
This is where we share something we are loving lately that we think you might love too.
Melinda: Gentle & Lowly
We would love to have you be a part of our next EnneaQ episode! Check on Instagram to submit your questions, Most EnneaMe thing, or Loving Lately.
If you want to find Melinda, you can find her on Instagram at @shelivesgracefully to hear all about her pets, her journey towards health, and the books she is reading!
We will see you next time!
Follow on Instagram || @christianenneagram.coach
Visit the Shop || Christian Enneagram Shop