The official blog of author Jean Marie Bauhaus

Tag: Enneagram

Why I No Longer Have Anything to Do With the Enneagram

The Enneagram — which is ostensibly a personality framework that categorizes humans into nine “types” — has been rising in popularity for a while now, especially in Christian circles, and it exploded in the last two or three years to the point that it’s everywhere now. If you haven’t at least heard of it (and I’m sorry to say that some of you reading this might have heard about it from me), then you’re probably leading an even more low-tech and secluded lifestyle than I am.

I first heard of it several years ago when a certain Christian writer I used to follow and her circle of online friends (the same circle of people, by the way, who led me to sign up to that Yoga with Adrienne challenge) began gushing over how great it is and how much it changed their lives and improved their relationships. I checked into it back then, mainly because I was a Myers-Briggs fan and have always been a sucker for a good personality test, and honestly, at the time I didn’t get it. The website I looked at struck me as incredibly new agey, and the types all seemed so vague that I could see myself in all of them. It really seemed odd to me that these Christian women were so in love with it and actively promoting it, but I shrugged it off and moved on.

But then 2018 happened, a year that started with the rug getting pulled out from under me in a big way. Certain events and revelations shook the foundations on which I’d built my life and my identity. I mean, I knew that ultimately my identity was found in Christ, but I guess that was still head-knowledge more than heart-knowledge. And in everything I researched and studied trying to understand my family, the more I realized I didn’t really even know myself.

In other words, I was vulnerable, and vulnerable people tend to be suggestible. And there’s also the thing — I’m sure there’s probably a word for it, but I can’t think of one — where repeated exposure to something wears down your resistance. The Enneagram explosion was beginning in a big way, and it seemed like everyone, everywhere, including people I respected and trusted, was talking about their type.

I was still skeptical about it, mainly because every time I’d looked into it I had such a hard time pinning down my own type. And then I read a book on personality tests by Anne Bogel, a.k.a The Modern Mrs. Darcy. I found I had a lot in common with her, and she turned out to have the same Myers-Briggs type as me. In the chapter on the Enneagram, she described her own tendencies and how they fit this certain type, and for the first time something clicked.

From there I immediately checked out The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, the book that undoubtedly served as the gateway to this thing for many unsuspecting Christians. It paints a much different picture of the Enneagram than that new-agey website that first introduced me to it. According to Cron and Stabile, the Enneagram was actually invented by the early Catholic church and used in training priests. There’s a whole thing about the types corresponding to the Seven Deadly Sins (plus two more that got added later), and it’s all about identifying your core sin and learning how to overcome it — in Enneagram parlance, progressing from unhealthy to healthy.

By the time I finished the book, I had unquestionably identified myself as a type Nine, and I felt like I understood myself in a way I never had before. So much about my behavior and tendencies made sense. What’s more, I’d also pegged my husband’s type and felt I understood him on a whole new level.

I’m not gonna lie. I got a lot of benefits from this new knowledge. I recognized that I still carried a lot of pent-up rage from my chaotic and dysfunctional childhood, and that I needed to find healthy ways to get that out of my system. I recognized my tendency to “merge” with others — to not always know where I end and they begin, which can make me easily influenced and can also make it hard to know what I actually think or want without getting away and spending time by myself to figure it out. I recognized that my tendency to go along to get along was often laziness, and sometimes passive-aggression, and that not speaking my mind or standing up for myself was only adding to my pent-up rage. I recognized my “core sin” of Sloth and how I’d sleep-walked through so much of my life, avoiding conflict like the plague and always taking the path of least resistance.

And that new level of self-awareness really did help me confront and grow out of these unhealthy tendencies.

I also felt like I understood my husband better, and as a result was able to love him better. That’s actually how this system gets sold in churches, as a tool to become more compassionate and to better understand and love your neighbor.

That all sounds wonderful, right? So then, what’s the problem?

For me, initially, the problem soon became that the Enneagram (and not the Bible) became the lens through which I viewed everything and everyone. Instead of simply seeing other people as fellow humans made in God’s image, I began trying to type everyone I knew. Every time my husband did something that irritated me, I’d shake my head quietly to myself and mutter, “[type] is gonna [type]” — effectively reducing him from a fearfully and wonderfully made man who was given to be my leader and protector to a number on a chart, and telling myself in the process that I was being more understanding and loving by doing so.

Worse, I became overly-focused on myself and my personal growth and development. I also became more confrontational, which sometimes was indeed healthier, but sometimes it was just giving free reign to my flesh under the guise of “personal growth.” On this supposed journey to being a healthier person, I spent more time reading about the Enneagram, scrolling Enneagram accounts on Instagram, listening to Enneagram podcasts, etc. than I spent reading my Bible. I evangelized about the Enneagram and its benefits more than I think I had ever actively evangelized about Jesus.

In short, it became itself an idol, as well as a pathway to making myself an idol.

I began to see this and feel convicted about it around the same time last year that God convicted me for my involvement in yoga. But it didn’t stop there. As I began to repent and step back and take a second look at the Enneagram and whether it truly belonged in my life as a Christian, God revealed some things to me about this supposed Christian personality framework. And once again, he used ex-New Age guru turned Christian Doreen Virtue to do so. Thanks to her, here’s what I learned:

  • That my original impressions about the Enneagram being New Age were correct. There’s nothing Christian or ancient about its origins. Everything in The Road Back to You about its Catholic background is false. The authors may or may not know this. I don’t believe they set out purposefully to deceive, but that they themselves are deceived.
  • G.I. Gurdjieff, a Greek-Armenian mystic and spiritual guru, first came up with the Enneagram diagram, the weird nine-poined star within a circle, in the late 1800s. He saw it as the eye through which all the secret laws of the universe could be seen. This was later expanded on by his students and disciples, although none of them came up with the nine types that characterize the modern Enneagram.
  • In the middle of the last century, these concepts surrounding this symbol were further developed and expanded by Oscar Ichazo, a Chilean shaman and occultist whose new additions to the Enneagram came through tripping out on psychedelic drugs and contacting a spirit identifying itself as Metatron.
  • It was one of his students, fellow occultist and psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo, who invented the nine types and popularized the Enneagram. Here is a video of him freely admitting that he fabricated the ancient origins of the Enneagram for marketing purposes, and also that he received the nine types through automatic writing (if you don’t know what that is, it’s where someone sits down with a pen and paper and then channels a demon to take over their body and write a message):
  • The Enneagram has been introduced into the Church by Richard Rohr. Richard Rohr is an excommunicated priest as well as a heretical false teacher who teaches, among other blatant heresies, universalism (i.e. that all roads lead to God and Heaven) and Christ consciousness (the teaching that Jesus was not God, but he was simply a man who had accessed this new age concept of “the mind of Christ” that is a universal force that we can all connect with if we become enlightened enough, and therefore we can all become Christ).
  • Both Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile are devotees and disciples of Richard Rohr (a long and growing list of prominent progressive and “exvangelical” church leaders that also includes people like Henri Nouwen, Dallas Willard, Jen Hatmaker, Sarah Bessey and, sadly and most recently, Kevin Max of DC Talk fame).

You can read more about the occult origins of the Enneagram here, as well as watch the full interview with Claudio Naranjo. And here is the Doreen Virtue video that got me to looking into this stuff in the first place.

Once I learned all of this, I repented for my involvement in the Enneagram and immediately ceased having anything to do with it. I quietly unsubbed from all Enneagram-related content and accounts. I shared the above video in my Instagram stories, but my following there is so small and the number of followers who actually look at my stories is a tiny, tiny subset, so that hardly counts as a public denunciation.

So I’m officially denouncing it here, and I am truly, deeply sorry to anyone who was led into this occult, New Age deception by my own enthusiasm about the Enneagram. I can only pray that God will forgive me for leading anyone astray, and I hope that you’ll turn back and forgive me, too.

Sadly, there are a lot of Christians out there who are so hooked on the Enneagram that despite being made aware of this information, they simply don’t care. I’ve heard and seen claims that God can redeem it for good, but that’s not how this works. God tells us to shun the occult and flee from evil. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that he’ll redeem it and use it to bless and minister to his people. Covering it in a Christian veneer is simply wrapping it in sheep’s clothing. It’s a trap. Ultimately it’s going to do far more harm than good.

But what about all the good, all the growth and healing and marital improvement that came from it?

For one thing, the good was far outweighed by the bad. If you read my yoga post, then you saw how much benefit I got out of doing yoga, right up until it opened a door for a poltergeist to invade my home and harass us. As a self-help tool, it can certainly help you identify areas you need to work on, but I promise you you’ll get far, far more inner healing and effective, lasting transformation from taking all that time you spend studying the Enneagram and instead spend it studying and meditating on God’s word.

Recently I saw someone refer to the Enneagram as “Horoscopes for Christians” and I think I agree with that assessment. I believe it’s a Trojan horse that’s getting Christians to focus on themselves and their relationships instead of on growing in sanctification and the knowledge of Jesus and his word. It’s also introducing a lot of vulnerable believers to the teachings of Richard Rohr and leading them down this whole road of “deconstructing” their faith and ultimately falling away from it.

The Enneagram is a trap. Please stay away from it.

Image by Personality Hacker on Flicker | CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Please understand me!

When I first started dipping my toes into the Enneagram, one of the first numbers I miss-typed myself as was a Four. Fours are famous for always feeling misunderstood, and I can identify so heavily with that feeling. As it turns out, I’m actually a Nine. What sealed the deal on my Nineness was recognizing the core fear of people becoming angry with me, and that if that happened they would reject me. And I’ve always felt like the reason people get mad at me, more often than not, is that they just don’t understand me and where I’m coming from. If only I could make them see, then everything would be okay and they would still love me.

Naturally, this fear led to a tendency to constantly feel the need to explain myself, and often to overexplain my thinking and motivations behind my choices and actions. And it’s not only that I hoped to avoid conflict by doing so, but that I sought validation and permission. I wanted others to give their blessing as confirmation that I was doing the right thing so I could go forward in confidence that the thing I wanted wouldn’t lead to conflict.

But the thing is, as I’ve started doing the work of healing from the childhood trauma and wounding that instilled these core fear and beliefs, and untangling myself and my identity from the expectations and labels placed on me by others, I realized how little I even understand myself. This is another thing about Nines – we tend to merge with the ideas, expectations and preferences of others in order to go along to get along and not make anyone angry, which can leave us very confused and uncertain about who we actually are and what we actually want for ourselves. We also tend to fall asleep to this confusion, becoming unaware of it, and also of the anger and resentment that inevitably accompanies such confusion and self-denial.

But I’ve come to realize that it’s not fair for me to expect understanding from others when I don’t even fully understand myself.

And as I’ve been doing this work of waking up to my true self, I’ve realized a few more things that I’d like to share, because these truths don’t just apply to me.

1. No one is obligated to understand me, let alone to approve of me or like me.

There’s a well-known motivational speaker whose Kool-Aid I sipped for a while before deciding her overall message is not for me, but one thing she says that has been helpful is that what other people think of you is none of your business. Pleasing others is not my job and it’s not why I was put on this planet, and if I keep trying to please everyone and make everyone like me, or go through life avoiding conflict at all costs, I won’t have much of a life.

2. My worth and value as a person does not come from other people’s validation or approval or love.

My worth and value come from God alone, whose word tells me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, created in His image, on purpose FOR a purpose, and that purpose does not include being universally liked our accepted. In fact, the very fact that I follow His Son means that many, if not most, will despise and reject me because of that simple fact. I can’t possibly fullfil my purpose and my calling and be a people pleaser at the same time.

3. I don’t owe anyone an explanation.

Obviously there are exceptions to this rule, but generally speaking, I have no obligation to explain my life choices or my boundaries to anyone, least of all to the ones who abused me, went out of their way to make me feel less than, and made those boundaries necessary in the first place. Jesus said to let your yes be yes and your no be no. He didn’t say to wrap them in explanations or excuses to make them more palatable to those on the receiving end. Like Oprah – who I am NOT putting on the same plane as Jesus, just to be clear – said, No is a complete sentence.

4. Other people’s anger at or rejection of me often has nothing to do with me.

People often tend to project their own tendencies, beliefs and motivations onto others, whether consciously or unconsciously. And very often, other people’s reactions are filtered through their own core beliefs and childhood wounds and the warped perceptions resulting from both of those. The only thing you or I can do about that is to offer compassion and grace, but beyond that, to let it go and accept that we’re not everyone’s cup of tea.

5. Disagreement, conflict and even someone getting upset with me do not automatically equal rejection of me as a person or mean that the relationship will be damaged beyond repair. 

This is a hard one for us Nines to wrap or heads around, but I mean. My husband’s not going to leave me or decide I’m too difficult to be with if I want to eat at a different restaurant than he does. And any friend worth keeping isn’t going to dump me if I state my honest opinion about something – even politics – and it differs from theirs. People disagree all the time and even have fights and walk away still loving each other. No one who genuinely loves me is going to stop loving me over a disagreement. No one who genuinely loves YOU is going to stop loving you over a disagreement. And if that actually does happen? Refer to lesson number four.

These truths have not been easy to lay hold of, and I still struggle sometimes to do so. After all, a lifetime of conditioning and programming takes a long time to undo. But understanding them has brought me so much freedom and space to figure out who I really am and what kind of life I want for myself and my family, to discover my authentic self and the unique expression of Christ I was created to be in this world, and to live and speak and operate from that place of authenticity.

It’s still a work in progress, but each little step on the journey is a victory work celebrating. I hope you pause to celebrate each step on your own journey to wholeness. ❤️

Monday Update: On looking for an easier world, loving poetry, and a progress report

“…don’t waste time
looking for an easier world.”

~ Mary Oliver, Dogfish

In a poem that already spoke to me, to a lot of what I’ve been dealing with over the last couple of years, this line jumped out and hit me square between the eyes.

I’m so guilty of this, of constantly looking for an easier world, and easier life, and it really is such a waste of time, isn’t it? It’s a distraction that keeps me from just getting on with it and living my actual life.

I’m pretty sure this is a 9 thing (that’s my Enneagram number, for those not keeping track). After all, the sloth is our spirit animal, and our besetting deadly sin. We 9s just want to float through life without much challenge, and when we are challenged we get angry and resentful, except anger is too challenging, so we deny it and just get sleepy instead.

But I know the truth, that challenges are good for us, or at least for me. When I’m in a healthy place, the right kind and amount of challenge and hardship pushes me to get up and shake off my complacency and perform like a 3, and this is when I thrive.

But it’s so tempting, always, to embrace my inner sloth and go to sleep and numb myself with entertainment or distract myself with work, to seek out the path of least resistance, to not simply deny but resent the hard work that needs to be done to get where I want to be.

These Monday morning musings are brought to you by the numbers 9 and 3 and the Enneagram and my reignited love of poetry and not enough sleep over the last few nights.

I’ve always had an on-again, off-again love affair with poetry. I wrote a lot of it back in my twenties and early thirties. I even did the occasional live reading. Yes, I, who hates public speaking and am struggling to work up the nerve to start my own podcast because I feel so goshdern awkward, actually stood up in front of a coffee shop full of people on poetry night at Borders and read my poetry aloud. I can’t really believe it, either, but it happened, more than once. A long time ago.

Poetry kind of fell off my radar about a decade ago, when we got hit with a long string of hardships, the kind of challenges that don’t spur you on to greatness but that instead break you and force you to rebuild your whole identity and worldview. Fun times.

But lately I’ve been jonesing for poetry. I feel like my life is better with poetry in it, and it makes me feel a little more like my old self, back before the breakening, when I was full of daydreams and possibilities. I’ve been writing poetry again, too, but I have no plans to get up and read it, or share it anywhere. It’s something I’m doing just for me, and there’s healing in that.

What I’m Working On

Deliverance edits are continuing apace, albeit more slowly than I’d like. With several days of rain in the forecast, we spent most of last week busting our butts to rake and burn as much of the remaining leaves as possible. We’re on a break from yard work thanks to the rain finally arriving this weekend, but when it passes there’ll be more leaves to deal with, because they truly are never ending, and we’re quickly running out of time to get them out of the way before mowing season starts.

At any rate, this weekend I also started the second novella in my upcoming Mae Bishop series, because I felt inspired, despite already having a backlog of stories that need editing. I’m trying to write at least 1,000 words a day on that before switching to editing my novel. At this rate, I’m piling up finished first drafts a lot faster than I can edit them. I might have to stop writing for a while and just focus on getting all of these manuscripts edited and ready to publish, but I want to get at least two more Mae Bishop novellas done as quickly as I can, and also the third and final book of Trilogy of the Damned. I might also need to switch up my methods and stop fast-drafting and start editing as I go.

This would be a lot easier if I could just write full time. As if I’m not the billionth writer to say that.

Newsy Bits & Sharing

If you’re the sort of person who actually leaves book reviews, I’ve got free digital ARCs of both Dominion of the Damned and Women’s Work up for grabs at Booksprout. There are a limited number of copies available of each, so be sure to grab yours quickly if you want one.

And please remember, a book review can be as simple as “I enjoyed this book” or “I didn’t enjoy this book.” Nobody’s asking you to write a book report.

Over on my writing and publishing blog, I shared four ways to hone your story instincts and become a better storyteller.

If you’re a chronic illness sufferer, you might want to check out this blog post series from Kristine Kathryn Rusch about writing with chronic illness. Even if you’re not a writer, I think it has broader applicability for how to manage your life and work around your illness. Here’s part one, part two and part three.

This thirsty squirrel might be the most precious thing you see today.

And now I must get back to work, but I’ll leave you with a photo of my dog Pete sharing my blanket cocoon (which, in my completely unbiased opinion, might give thirsty squirrel a run for his money).

Writing and Self-Awareness and General Adulting FTW

This picture has nothing to do with anything. I just want to show you my dog.

Last week was not a good week, y’all. Terrible weather, terribly unhealthy food choices and not nearly enough sleep all conspired together to leave me trapped in a morass of brain fog and lethargy. No writing got done, but I did manage to cobble together a potential cover for my Dominion sequel, so it wasn’t a complete loss. And the week before that I finished the first novella in my new supernatural horror series, so I didn’t feel too terrible about taking a writing break.

I mostly spent my time and what little brain power I could muster doing a deep-dive into the Enneagram, which was incredibly insightful. If you’ve never heard of the Enneagram and have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s a personality framework that delves way deeper into your psyche than Myers-Briggs. Where MBTI focuses on how we take in and process information, the Enneagram gets down to the nitty-gritty of the core beliefs, fears and desires that drive our behavior. It’s a great tool for both increasing self-awareness and gaining a better understanding of the people we love, and I’m kind of obsessed with it right now.

If you’d like to check it out, it’s not as simple as taking an online quiz to find out your type. It takes a bit of reading. The Road Back to You is a great primer (and its available to read for free on Hoopla)–it’s faith-based, but full of great info. If you’re averse to reading about it but are still curious, prefer a more secular angle and are also NOT averse to foul-mouthed hostesses dropping F-bombs, I recommend the podcast Enneagram for Idiots. If you like the faith angle and don’t so much like the cussing, then the Typology podcast might be worth your while.

After a weekend of rest, sunshine, yard work and a couple of Benadryl-enhanced nights of sleep, I’m feeling back to normal this week, and managed to get a couple of pages of another WIP written this morning. This week is going to be mostly full of more yard work and fun grown-up chores like doing our taxes and insurance paperwork, but I’m determined to write at least a page or two on that WIP each day. And I’m also getting very close to finally being able to make an announcement about Dominion. So stay tuned!

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