Get Real! An Enneagram Practice For Real Life

Get Real! An Enneagram Practice For Real Life
Words by Evan Barbee
Illustration by Chris Koelle
In a world that is long on entertainment and short on patience, if one were to google “Enneagram” (and I don’t recommend it), one would encounter no end of Ennea-themed memes, well-meaning advice-giving personal blogs, and adorable type-specific swag. Social media platforms have swelled with the recent appearance of Enneagram discussion groups, no friendlier than their politically-focused counterparts and swarming like angry bee hives with conflicting opinions and inflamed egos. No matter that the Enneagram is a tool for self-development, it matters not. Take any good work in the world and chop it off at the ground, disconnect it from the roots, displace and divide it, and you have a blunt object that poses a very real threat in well-intentioned but overly-confident hands. 

Skip the online assessments. The last thing you need is a label. What might help is a practice—something tangible, simple, and practical that you can fall back on when that other mom triggers the hell out of you at drop-off, when you are up for a promotion and tempted to self-sabotage again, or before you agree to go 11 rounds in the ring with your partner. What can you live into and rely on? What will help you remember what is too easy to forget in the moment?  

Here is the ancient and incredibly rich teaching tradition of the Enneagram de-mystified: get still, get quiet, and locate yourself in the moment. You want and need a shift in your life? The bad news and the very good news are one in the same: this is work you will do for yourself.

Type 1: The Perfectionist

Practice: Relax critical thinking. Welcome the messiness. Cultivate laughter.

Mantra: “I witness the value in everything.” 


Type 2: The Giver

Practice: Relax compulsive helping. Welcome sacred selfishness. Cultivate self-care.

Mantra: “I am a good steward of my own life.”


Type 3: The Performer

Practice: Relax the performance. Welcome the uncertainty. Cultivate the pause.

Mantra: “I will slow down and look inward first.”


Type 4: The Romantic

Practice: Relax wishful thinking. Welcome the moment. Cultivate gratitude.

Mantra: “I want what I have.”


Type 5: The Observer

Practice: Relax the scarcity mindset. Welcome others. Cultivate abundance.

Mantra: “I live in abundance.”


Type 6: The Loyalist

Practice: Relax the doubt. Welcome the unknown. Cultivate courageous commitment.

Mantra: “I walk in faith.”


Type 7: The Epicure

Practice: Relax the appetite for entertainment. Welcome boredom. Cultivate quality of attention.

Mantra: “I am dedicated to this moment.”


Type 8: The Protector

Practice: Relax forcefulness. Welcome the breath. Cultivate gentleness.

Mantra: “I arrive softly and wait.”


Type 9: The Mediator

Practice: Let go of comforting routines. Welcome the challenge. Cultivate action.

Mantra: “This moment is important for me.”