What Is the Enneagram? Interview with Type 6 Coach Kristin Messegee

A few weeks ago, I called my lawyer friend about a totally unrelated matter and she revealed that she’s a Type 6 on the Enneagram. How the conversation made that turn I do not recall. What I do recall, on the other hand, is exclaiming “I’m a 6 too!” I hadn’t thought too much about this until she told me that there’s a coach, Kristin Messegee, the subject of this interview, who works with Enneagram sixes.

I checked out some of Kristin’s content and a lot of rang true from my own experience. If you are a six, you may know that anxiety, overthinking, fear, and doubt are part of life. Since I had not covered personality types yet for the blog, I asked Kristin to do the following interview to share some information about the Enneagram. Keep reading to learn more.

What is the Enneagram?

The Enneagram is a system that projects onto a 9 sided figure. This system is used to help people on their life journey. It has value in relation to self as well as others. This system helps reveal personality traits that are separate from our core self; like a truth revealing mirror of who we are actually being in any given moment.

And why! Then the system is used as a map back to our core selves. We often move through life asleep, ending up feeling lost. The Enneagram can wake us up from our wandering sleep and then show us the way home. 

Why is it helpful for people to learn their type?

Learning type is useful because it orients to what our core wounding is and what our adaptive strategies look like in our lives today.  We developed these strategies to get through and cope with the realities of childhood. Well done adaptive strategies! We made it.

However, these same automatic patterns are often what end up being in the way of us having more of the life we want. Our relationships can be impacted, our sense of ourselves, our work. Our automatic patterns are playing some part in all the things we want to change.

We often end up trying to change things about ourselves through more “push” and “effort” and wonder why we can’t just do what we think we should do, so we can finally enjoy our lives already!  The Enneagram points us toward healing what was wounded rather than ending up on the never ending self improvement hamster wheel. 

Can someone be more than 1 type and what does that mean?

People can only be one of the core 9 types. Of course as humans, we hate that. It can feel boxy or limiting in the beginning. However, within each core type is a world of variability and nuance. The “core” type functions to reveal our deepest fears, the particular (and most fundamental) way we are disconnected from true self, spirit, God, the source beyond our own “efforting”.

From there, we all have ways we move around the enneagram figure itself to reveal more depth in what we experience in terms of inner life and outer behaviors. One example would be the wings. Each number touches a number on either side which has influence on what personality strategies we use to compensate for discomfort.

This is just one of how each of us uses different “types” in our whole make up. At the end of the day, of course, the idea is that we are not a “type” at all, but rather have predictable type patterns in the way of who we really are.

One interesting thing about the Enneagram is that the report shows how your “type” can manifest in positive and less wholesome ways. Can self-care strategies impact which of these ends of the spectrum show up? 

Yes! Absolutely. Learning to take care of ourselves increases our capacity to see ourselves in more true and honest ways. We could say that self-care increases our tolerance to clean the mirror and not totally freak out over what we see, namely, the less savory parts of ourselves.

I don’t see any Enneagram work actually being useful without self care strategies going along with it. Otherwise it can become just another list of “things that are wrong with me” and “tools to use against myself”.

Mindfulness training, self compassion work, body practices…any and all of the modalities help us slow down and be with exactly what is present. These practices help us to notice when we are “being our type” and insert a pause to make a choice instead of acting automatically.

What resources would you recommend to someone interested in learning more about the Enneagram, including their type?

The Enneagram Institute is a wealth of information for someone getting started. There are lots of free tests and resources online and it’s important that people only use those as a starting off point and places to get curious. They aren’t to be trusted as accurate for type, yet can be fun to jump off from.

If someone is new, I recommend reading the core fears, desires, general description of each type and feeling what comes up. When we get close to ourselves, usually there is bit of a sting or internal cringe, even a hint of embarrassment like someone knows your insides more than you might like! When that comes up, it’s a good sign to keep exploring.

Kristin Messegee is a Life Coach for Enneagram Sixes. As a six herself, equipped with years of training and coaching experience, she knows the blessings of burdens of the six brain, and helps guide sixes back to their lost connection to their inner authority. She brings a trauma informed, unshaming approach to all of her work. You can find Kristin on Instagram @kristinmessegeecoaching or Facebook inside the group Life Coaching For Enneagram Six or visit her website at https://www.kristinmessegee.com/

Want to learn more about mindfulness and compassion? Check out my new book, How to Be a Badass Lawyer, for a simple guide to creating a meditation practice of your own in 30 days. And to share mindfulness with your little one, check out my new children’s book, Mommy Needs a Minute.

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