The Enneagram is a tool that has helped me more than any other. It recognizes and numbers 9 (“ennea” = “nine”) different personality types and offers a path to understanding, to acceptance, and to transformation.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Enneagram, I do not recommend that you take an online test to determine your number. Many numbers have similar behavior, but the motivation behind the number is what matters, and online tests can’t always measure motivations. I recommend you read The Road Back To You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile. Or take a class or workshop. (Or talk with me.)
The Enneagram has given me a framework and structure from which I can observe myself non-judgmentally, notice my behavior, and choose how to respond. It has allowed me to accept that the best part of me is also the worst part of me, which has freed me to embrace and love that “best part” while also recognizing the times it can turn into the “worst part”. It has been the most helpful tool for me to understand myself and others.
Just the awareness that not everyone is motivated by the same things I am has helped me so much in relationships with my family and loved ones, my parishioners, my colleagues. Turns out not everyone loves conflict the way I do (I know, right? Who doesn’t love a good confrontation! Apparently, most people.) Turns out that when my husband unloads and reloads the dishwasher, he’s not doing it to anger me, but because there is a more perfect way of doing it than I know of. Turns out that when someone is in my office, sharing all of their feelings with me about something, that feelings might just be their primary language, even if they haven’t always been mine.
Because of the Enneagram, I know have awareness and appreciation of other people’s gifts in new ways.
Which leads me to the purpose of this post. My enneagram teacher, Suzanne Stabile, has a new book out. TODAY. If you have a working knowledge of the Enneagram and are interested in how the Enneagram can deepen your relationships and your understanding, her book The Path Between Us:An Enneagram Journey to Healthy Relationships is for you.
I’ve just read the book and I can think of myriad people for whom it would be helpful.
The book begins with a brief explanation of each of the numbers and how the system of the Enneagram works. If it’s been a while since you’ve learned the Enneagram, this chapter is an excellent primer to refresh your memory.
Each number gets its own chapter, beginning with illustrations of an interaction between people, which is an effective way to reveal how our motives are so different.
As I read the chapter about my number, I was grateful for the non-judgmental description of who I am. And I briefly considered making a million copies of that chapter and then just handing it out to people when I meet them for the first time. (Copyright rules and all that, I know). Being able to point people to this book, so they can succinctly read about what motivates me, and how I navigate the world is such a huge gift.
Turns out this book isn’t just about me. ahem. She wrote chapters about the other numbers too, and as I read them, I gained insights on how people navigate the world differently than I do. Each chapter has a sidebar with illustrations of how that number interacts with each of the other numbers. They also have a section for you to get to know your own self better and one for people who love you to get to know your number better.
Suzanne Stabile is an Enneagram Master who has been learning and teaching the Enneagram for over 25 years. The wisdom she throws down in this book is accessible, practical, and brilliant. She teaches with stories, humor, and kindness.
The wisdom of the Enneagram is accessible to anyone. To be transformed by it, however, requires attention, work, awareness. The Path Between Us is an excellent addition for people wanting to understand themselves and others better. I will be recommending it to couples in pre-marital counseling, (and post-marital counseling, for that matter). Friends, family, strangers–you should all be expecting me to invite you to read this book.
There is also an available study guide for the book, which would make it an easy adult education class offering at a church, other religious community, or community center.
Read this book. Richard Rohr agrees with me:
“Few people can teach you the Enneagram with the genuine insight, humor, and potential for real growth and change better than Suzanne Stabile! Savor every page. You, your friends and family, and the universe will all benefit.”
— RICHARD ROHR
Suzanne teaches there are two things we have in common. One, we all want to belong. Two, we all want our lives to have meaning. Since there are 9 ways of experiencing the world, a resource like The Path Between Us helps us bridge the differences that can get in the way of meaning and belonging. The Enneagram doesn’t call us to erase the things that make us different. It allows us to accept the differences in others and allows us to not feel a need to apologize for the ways we are different from others.
In a world where differences between us are used to divide and instill fear, we need ever more ways to come together, to celebrate what makes us different, and to welcome the diversity inherent in our lives and relationships. The Path Between Us is a bridge builder and a conversation starter. It’s a resource for our time. I’m so grateful she wrote this book.
I received an advance copy of this book from Intervarsity Press. They did not tell me what to say about the book, and I am grateful for the chance to read it ahead of publication so that I could share my thoughts with you here.
If you live in or near Boise, are involved in ministry, and want the opportunity to study with Suzanne live and in person, she’s coming to Boise this summer. Here’s a link to register for that conference.