Enneagram and Faith: Embracing the Flip Side

How do you want other people to describe you?

Most of us have several answers to that question. We hope to be loving or successful or funny or mysterious or exciting or mellow or any number of other characteristics. Whether they are attributes we already see in ourselves, or qualities we envy in others, they are traits we want to have. 

The enneagram helps us notice how what we would put on that list is part of what makes us unique. We are different people with distinct priorities about who we are and who we want to become.

The enneagram also helps us to see the shadow side of our list.

On the flip side of our attribute aspirations are our attribute aversions. If we want to be seen as loving, we don’t want to be seen as selfish. If we want to be seen as mellow, we don’t want to be seen as intense. If we want to be seen as successful, we don’t want to be seen as a failures. 

So, we develop defense mechanisms. Some of us deny those parts of ourselves; others of us project those traits on others. Some of us numb out so we don’t have to experience the feelings on the flip side; others of us over identify with the traits we want, as if the other side didn't even exist.

Too often, Christians encourage these defense mechanisms by laying all sorts of “shoulds” on ourselves and others- we should be generous, we should be kind, we should be peaceful, we should be faithful… And so we repress, deny, and project the flip side, all in the name of “spiritual growth.”

The truth is, we move towards health only when we embrace the whole of who we are. We don’t need to push away the flip side, we need to reframe it.

As an example, let me use myself. I am a type 2, which means my highest attribute aspirations are to be loving and helpful. Which means I don’t want to be seen as selfish or needy. But if I deny those parts of myself, I am likely to either burn-out or get filled with pride about how it’s everyone else that needs help, not me. 

Instead of pushing away the words selfish and needy, I need to reframe them into the concept of self-care. I need to know that I am a human being with limits. I need to ask for help sometimes. And I need to know that when I do, I am not loved or valued any less. The irony is, it is only when I do that reframing, it is only when I embrace my limits and messiness, that I can be the genuinely loving person I aspire to be. Until then, my efforts to help will be tainted by my aspirations to be seen as loving in order to feel my worth.

May you embrace the whole of who you are.jpg

In Life of the Beloved, the great Henri Nouwen says,

“I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity or power, but self-rejection… Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the “Beloved.” Being the Beloved expresses the core truth of our existence.”

May you find the courage today to reframe the flip side. May you embrace the whole of who you are, knowing you are loved as-is. No matter what.


It’s time to announce the winner of the giveaway! Last week, when I kicked off the enneagram and faith series, I announced a contest. Any who commented on the post, shared the post, or shared my coaching page, would be entered to win a free enneagram coaching session. Those who did all three were entered three times. I used Random Result to generate a winner.

And the winner is.... Beth Van Maanen. Congratulations! I'm looking forward to our coaching session. I'll email you to talk details.

Thank you to all who entered. As a consolation prize, I'd like to offer you a 40% discount on my coaching services. Check out my enneagram coaching page to learn more.


May You Find Freedom

may you find freedom

May you find freedom today.

May your arms open
To embrace who you are,
And release who others think you should be.

May your mind open
To forget the mistakes of the past
And dream about the possibilities of the future.

May your eyes open
To see beyond your blinders
Into a greater view of the world.

May your life open
To be with those who are different from you
And experience the world from their perspective.

May your heart open
To love without fear
In receiving or in giving.

May you find the freedom
Of the water:
Free to fill empty space
With life and goodness,
Free to make waves
When the wind blows,
Free to be still
When life calls for calm,
Free to create beauty
With the simple act of reflection.

May you find the freedom
Of shalom:
Wholeness and peace.
At one with Your Creator,
At one with the world,
At one with yourself.

"Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you." - Galatians 5:1 (The Message)


A Blessing for a New Day


Breathe deep the life of a new day.

As energy surges through all that has rested in the darkness,
May the light of morning awaken you to hope.

May grace find its way to your heart,
Releasing you to an expansive love,
Unprotected and free.

May love make its way to your brain,
Breaking open your thought loops of not-enough-ness,
With the deep knowledge of your cherishedness. 

May your cherishedness travel to your hands,
Allowing you to embrace others
In the same way you have been held.

May peace go to your gut,
Calming the churning insides of fear,
And creating space to feel the difficulties of life
Without letting their acids get the best of you.

May wonder grab hold of your ears,
Opening them to the delight of laughter
That is dancing its way around this world. 

May courage push through the tired muscles of your legs, all the way to your feet,
Giving you strength to turn from the regrets of yesterday
And walk expectantly towards new challenges,
Bringing all of yourself along for the ride.

May desire reach your eyes,
Giving you vision to see past the illusions of what you think you want,
To the inmost longings for that which really matters.

May beauty journey to your tongue, 
Giving you a taste of eternal contentedness
And a hunger to create more.

May the Spirit who hovered over the beginning of all things
Like a mama bird protecting her young,
Speak new life to your soul
And carry you into the future.


I have been reading the lovely book To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings by John O'Donohue. In it he says,
 "Despite all the darkness, human hope is based on the instinct that at the deepest level of reality, some intimate kindness holds sway. This is the heart of blessing."

It is a beautiful work that is inspiring me to speak words of blessing to those around me. Whatever your day holds, in some small way, I pray these words of mine remind you of the intimate kindness of the Divine.