Episode# 62: Enneagram 101 with Ryan O’Neal

Hi! If you’ve ever gotten stuck in an enneagram conversation where you felt like everyone was speaking a different language, then this episode is for you! We chat with Ryan O’Neal, aka Sleeping At Last, to break down each of the nine types, give tips for figuring out which type you identify as. We hope you enjoy it!!

You can stream the episode here on the blog or on iTunesSpotifyGoogle PlayTuneInPocket Casts, and Stitcher. You can find the podcast posts archive here.

Thanks so much to Grove Collaborative for sponsoring this week’s episode! Grove has partnered with interior designer Jeremiah Brent to bring you an exclusive collection of modern and sustainable home products to help you celebrate the comforts of home this holiday season, learn more at grove.co/abm.

Show notes:
-This week, we are joined by Ryan O’Neal, aka Sleeping At Last. Ryan is a songwriter who has created a series of songs based on each enneagram type. He also has his own podcast where he has explored the enneagram in depth. Ryan also has a beautiful Christmas record, although his entire library is perfection.

You can follow Ryan on IG here—@sleepingatlast

-We apologize that our mics are a bit echoey in this episode. We’ll try to improve on this for the future.

-Enneagram resources we mention: The Enneagram Institute (they have a test, be sure to read the descriptions of each one to narrow down which one you are).

-We chat through each of the nine enneagram types sharing the needs, and a little bit about each type.

-You can shop Ryan’s vinyl here including his beautiful Christmas record.

Miss an episode? Get caught up!

Episode 62 Transcript

Elsie: You’re listening to the A Beautiful Mess podcast, it’s no secret that we love the Enneagram, we’ve found it incredibly useful and helpful. This week we’re diving into Enneagram 101. So if you’ve never dabbled, this episode is perfect for you. It’s a starter pack. We’re joined this week by Ryan O’Neal, a.k.a. Sleeping at Last. Ryan’s one of my best friends, and he’s the person who got me into Enneagram in the first place. He’s kind of an expert, so we were excited to pick his brain. This week’s episode is sponsored by Grove Collaborative. We’ll chat more about them later in the episode. So, Ryan, a lot of people call Enneagram a cult, and I feel like that makes you our cult leader. How do you feel about this?

Ryan: Wow. That’s a first. I’ve never been called that. That’s amazing.

Emma: Let’s talk a little bit about why you got into Enneagram.

Ryan: Yeah.

Emma: Which may also feed into…I’d just love to talk a little bit about why some people don’t care or just have that annoying friend who talks about it too much or they see they’ve seen too many memes with the Enneagram, or they’ve had someone kind of use as an excuse to not grow or to not be helpful or to, you know, something like that.

Ryan: Yeah.

Emma: So, you know, why did you get into it and why would people generally want to care about Enneagram?

Ryan: Yeah. So I started hearing about it maybe, maybe about seven, eight years ago. And Kate, my wife, we had heard about it through a friend, Chris, and we were both I think Kate was already a little bit familiar with it, but I was really skeptical. I tend to not appreciate most personality systems. I feel like it’s a way for people to do what we always do, which is to simplify the very, you know, nuanced and complicated people that we are. And so I really didn’t like the idea of, you know, that there’s these kind of, at its purest form, there are these nine types. And so our friend kind of walked through this is, like I said, about seven, eight years ago, we walk through each of the types. And, you know, I kind of brushed it off. And then months later, there’s just a couple of things that stuck around in my head. And it just sort of like I noticed in pretty much every relationship, but especially with Kate and I, I just started to like it just provided like this shorthand like this language for us to kind of communicate on. And so I sort of recognized it as like this tool for communication is a way to understand, like, our intentions. And so that, I think that made me a lot less skeptical and a lot more appreciative of the tool that it could be. And I think when we touched on a little bit but one of my I think the thing that made it more credible to me than a lot of other personality oriented things was that it does start with your baggage. It’s not fun at all, actually. It’s really uncomfortable. But I found like through starting there, and of course, the goal with using the tool, the Enneagram is to to be able to better understand yourself and to better understand the people around you. It kind of breaks barriers when you first start talking about the Enneagram. Like there’s friends that I’ve had for twenty years. And just by me doing this project, these songs based on the Enneagram, all of a sudden they were, they felt like freed up to talk to me about things they never shared with me before. But just based on knowing that there are a type five or knowing that like just having that shorthand was a really, really beautiful thing. So that was kind of my entry into understanding the Enneagram. And then I started just reading a ton. And the idea for writing these songs based on it obviously pushed me further into just trying to understand the nuances of each type and kind of hopefully honor each one through the songs.

Elsie: You wrote a beautiful song series and did a podcast episode for each number in the Enneagram. And there’s nine, by the way, if you’re new.

Ryan: Yes.

Elsie: So I was wondering if you could give us kind of a starter pack and we could kind of go through each of the nine numbers and just share like the basics, because, yeah, for me, when I learned my number, the test wasn’t as helpful. I think with a lot of people, they let get like a jumbled response where it’s like I could be any of these five…

Ryan: You could be any of these nine times. (laughs)

Emma: Yeah.

Elsie: But then when I heard the flaws especially and the strengths of my number, I knew it was the right one.

Ryan: Ok, interesting.

Emma: So I had someone tell me to think about what you were like as a child too, because I think as an adult we are, you know, or at least most of us I think are trying to grow and overcome those areas where we know we’re not great or we could improve. And so once I started thinking back to Emma as a child, then then it clicked for me because I had two numbers that the test kept giving me a three and a nine.

Ryan: Oh interesting!

Emma: And I was like, these are not the same…

Ryan: Yeah they’re very different.

Emma: Yes. So then when I thought of myself as a child, I was like, oh, I’m a nine because that was…yeah. So anyways…

Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. I do feel like that is like a it’s a huge, helpful way to understand, I feel like you’re your purest self as a child. So we start to pile on all this different baggage, and even though the Enneagram probably points more to that baggage than it does to…the goal of it is to bring you back to that original version of who you are and who you’re born to be. But I think it’s easier to recognize ourselves with understanding both like who you were and who you are now and maybe why you got there, you know, so that’s that’s really interesting. But yeah, like an overview. And I’m probably a little rusty on my Enneagram, but I felt like when I was learning about it, because there’s these there’s these names. And I think that the Enneagram Institute is kind of popular for having put some of these names. And the names are really helpful, too. But I like understanding each type through the name and then their need. So the type one is sometimes called the reformer or the perfectionist. And so the need of the type one is the need to be perfect, or to be good, or to be right. And I feel like that kind of frames a little bit of, you know, the heart of the type one, because I feel like if you hear just the perfectionist, you think of just a fussy person. But it’s so much more nuanced and beautiful than somebody that just cares about everything being neat and orderly. There are people that can literally lead and reform people. And I think understanding that need to to be good, to be correct or to be righteous is helpful for when I was wrapping my head around the type one. And grace, I feel like…

Elsie: Yes some of our best friends are ones.

Ryan: Oh are they?

Emma: I always, I like to work with ones because I like I want to, you know, really bring their best always. And I love that about them.

Ryan: Absolutely. Yeah.

Emma: But I’m sure it could be torture for them. (laughs)

Ryan: Yes, exactly. (laughs) It’s good for everyone else and probably really hard for them.

Elsie: Yeah.

Ryan: And I felt like when I was writing these songs, I sort of, there was like a word that stuck out to me and sort of the growth or the health of each type. And for the one I thought the word grace is the thing that they maybe most needed to hear, but also are probably the most pointed towards it, too, you know, so so that’s a type one. The reformer, the perfectionist. The type two is the helper. And the type two’s need is the need to be needed. And that’s a tricky one because they are these incredibly generous, kind, warm people. But they also fall into the you know, the the trap of kind of needing to fill that role rather than taking care of themselves. And so that was a huge…that was a tricky one to kind of untangle, because they really are like I think that they’re the reason, like type 2s are the reason that anybody is ever taken care of, you know what I mean? Like, I feel like they’re this really, really beautiful type. But that baggage is almost hard to recognize. I think it’s really difficult for them to even see it. The type three is the achiever is known as the achiever, and it’s the need to succeed. And that’s a tricky one too, my wife as you know, is a type three. And so it’s a, and you said Emma that you possibly identified as a three for a little while and then recognize that yourself as a nine?

Emma: Yeah, I got that on a lot of tests. And I think it’s…I think it has to do with how I try to deal with life, like I try to make list of things to do.

Ryan: Yeah.

Emma: And so I think that can come off very achiever.

Ryan: Oh yeah.

Emma: You are an achiever…

Elsie: Right, well, I mean, everyone is an achiever like, you know, do things with their life. But I think, you know, my motivations. I think once I figured that out, I was like, oh, my motivations are different from the type three. So yeah, but I do like them. I very much admire threes.

Elsie: Yeah. We’ve learned that threes are like it’s really hard for them to be influencers or bloggers like some of like every time we meet a three who’s an influence or a blogger, we realized that like it’s…it will drive you mad. You know…

Emma: Well because so many people want to tear you, tear down your achievements, or belittle them, especially, I think women a lot. They feel like their achievements can be belittled. I’m sure men feel that, too. But it’s just, you know, a bit of a thing in our society. So I think that’s a difficult…because, you know, once you understand someone’s a three, I think you understand, like, you really should not be tearing down their achievements. This is how they’re trying to go through the world and like, you know, be their best selves.

Ryan: Absolutely. Yeah. No, that’s so true. And I feel like the word that kind of stuck in my head when I was writing the song was worthy because I feel like they’re constantly trying to find this this worth in the achievements that they’re doing. And but, yeah, like their their ability toward authenticity and through like I don’t know if I’m going to say this about literally every type, because truly the spectrum of, you know, the healthy and unhealthy versions of each type are really beautiful. And that’s kind of what I was thankful to experience through writing these songs, was understanding that baggage, but also being able to point to the really, really meaningful, beautiful parts of who each of these incredible, you know, nine different types of people are. The individualists is the type foUr. Type fours are super artistic, which is kind of the cliche of the type four and this is like the worst thing for a Type four to hear, but their need is the need to be unique.

Elsie: That makes sense. Are type fours one of the types that don’t like the Enneagram?

Ryan: Yeah.

Elsie: Because I feel like the people I know, they’re like not interested in that as much.

Ryan: I think so. I think that’s true. And I think that the reason is that like obviously being individual and being unique is their strength and is their gift. So if you’re like, that’s so great, you know, you’re actually a type four like immediately you’re like, let me show you this box that you can fit right into.

Elsie: Our mom is the type four she like will never follow a recipe the same like twice.

Ryan: I love that!

Elsie: Like she wants to try it differently each time. And she’s a painter now, which is perfect for her.

Emma: She is an artist. Also, she is a huge fan of your song series and your podcast. And she also said going back to how you got into it, she said it helped her understand herself and helped her understand our dad, her husband, a little bit more, who’s an eight. And she said she just listening to the songs she was like, oh, that’s my husband. And it kind of helped her to unpack some of those communication things you can have in relationships.

Ryan: That is so cool. That is so cool.

Elsie: That’s definitely like a big thing that it can help your marriage, just like understanding how your partner is so different from you.

Ryan: Oh, for sure. I mean, that’s that really I touched on a little bit earlier, but that was my main source of inspiration with like even thinking that the Enneagram could be a helpful tool was like the language that Kate and I shared after kind of digging in a little deeper into this, like I realized that, like me as a type nine and her as a type three, like some things that are like my constant need to kind of like, I don’t know, be…it’s not it’s not my need to, like, avoid things is actually not good for her at all. And like everybody, everybody in every relationship wants, you know, the other the other partner to be more like them, which we would never admit that. But that’s that’s really like the part like I’d really — you should do it my way because I’ve worked on this and it’s really great. And recognizing that, like for Kate, like avoiding anything like putting anything off is a really like when she starts doing that, it’s super unhealthy and it’s unhealthy for me to do that too. I should not let myself off the hook. But for for Kate to to be in that space, I’ve kind of just like, I don’t know, lethargy a little bit like I feel like recognizing that right away was really, really helpful and understanding, like when she’s like super motivated. That actually can be a really beautiful thing for me. That’s that’s like I, I integrate into more motivation and more like three-ish qualities when when I’m when I’m in a healthier space for a minute. I only dabble with health. (laughs) But but yeah. So it was like it was…it was this really really helpful form of communication for us and it still has been six, seven, eight years later. So. Yeah. OK, so the investigator that is the type five and the type five is the person that has this really, really rich inner world that maybe like the social aspects of the type five are not quite as prioritized as some of the other types. You know, that’s a generalization, but it kind of floats in that space. And the need for for the type five is the need to understand. So they are data and information junkies like they they want to know everything they possibly can about every topic. And that is a is a form of of of safety for them.

Elsie: And so my husband’s a five, so I’ll explain it in like a little story. So Jeremy got a monthly car wash subscription so that he can go to the car wash as much as he wants. And I swear to God it’s so he can listen to more podcasts.

Emma: Be alone and research.

Elsie: And just because, yeah, he loves a way to listen to more podcasts. And I think that that’s like a perfect picture of a five.

Ryan: He probably doesn’t care that much about the clean car. He just wants the quiet time.

Emma: The alone time and the research time. Yeah, yeah. I have a couple other than Jeremy, I have a couple other fights in my life. And one of my favorite things is they are the person who researches. So if I’m like, oh, I need to buy a new winter coat for this very cold climate I’m going to go to for a vacation or whatever.

Ryan: Yeah.

Emma: I asked the fives. Yes, they know the best stuff. And I realize like compared to them I always think like oh I can look up reviews. No, I don’t look up anything compared to…so if you have an Enneagram five in your life, ask them what they think you should buy because they know everything about…(laughs)

Ryan: They have done the research. That’s right.

Elsie: This is true.

Emma: Very useful. Useful source of information.

Ryan: Yeah. It really, I mean we have friends in all of the different types, but I particularly love fifes, obviously with loving Jeremy the way I do but…

Elsie: Yes, if you ever have a political question, you know, you just text ol’ Jeremy and he knows everything and they know what’s going on.

Emma: They know what’s going on, they know what to buy. Jeremy probably knows everything about gear, like, you know, just those areas where they research everything.

Ryan: Oh I’ve bothered him many, many times about different music gear and great resource, great resource. So the type six is the loyalist and their need is the need for security. The need to be safe. And I think that type sixes get the worst descriptions and the worst, like there’s the worst information about type six is out there. So when I was like researching because each song, as I wrote them, I before I wrote like a single word, I really deeply wanted to understand kind of the inner workings of each type. And so I read as much as I could. I had as many conversations with people that I know that identifies as each of the types as I was going. And the type sixes it’s just like it’s just kind of unfair. I feel like they’re the least fairly treated, even in the sense that, like, when you read about the Enneagram, you’ll hear a lot about…it splits into two groups for the type six. So unlike any other type, they are given this phobic or counterphobic type six. So if you learn about the type sixes, you’ll you’ll be like, well, there’s a counterphobic type six and there’s also…

Elsie: What does that mean?

Ryan: So it’s how they process fear because it is a very I don’t want to say a fear-based type, but it is somebody who is constantly aware of their surroundings and the possible risks and dangers of their situation. They’re also incredibly beautiful friends. And just like the loyalty that they are able to give to the people that they love is kind of unmatched. But they, I think it’s their reaction to fear. So like the phobic six would would kind of like, you know, the fight or flight kind of thing, they’d be the ones freezing or running away from it. And then the counter phobic would be the ones kind of running at the the the difficult fear or anxiety that they’re talking about. So it’s more of a different reaction. But in my research, I felt like the type six, I feel like that’s just a way to put more, I don’t know, more borders around a type that’s just it’s just really beautiful and diverse. You know, it’s a really interesting type. And I feel like the counter phobic and phobic are just all one part of the same thing. It didn’t feel necessary to me to have them split up into two different groups because it all felt like, you know, they’re reacting to something and like we all do. And I feel like that was that was the most fun to kind of break through because it was the type that I felt like I didn’t understand more so than any of the other types. And so writing that song took a really long time. And I feel like I earned a much deeper respect and admiration for the type sixes. But yeah…

Elsie: I understand them less too. I feel like very few people tell me they’re a six.

Ryan: Yeah. And there’s also like I think there’s a lot of misinformation about the six too, like there is somewhere it was written where I think it’s believed that like the majority of the population is type six, like there’s more type six, which I don’t think is true.

Emma: I read that.

Ryan: Yeah, I think that that’s actually, they’re…I mean…

Elsie: Yeah I heard that too. And that didn’t make sense. Yeah. Because I feel like the majority of the population is nines and twos.

Ryan: Yeah. I feel like I definitely know a lot more nines and twos. And who knows. And nobody, nobody’s doing any sort of census research on them yet. But, but I do feel like they are, they’re very rare in our world. And the few that I know, they’re really wonderful and I feel like they are in conversations with them. I think they also felt kind of that same feeling where it’s like, yeah, the Enneagram is hard to connect to because everything that’s written about my type doesn’t…it’s like it’s so scattered and it’s so, there’s so many, like, competing ideas with it. And so, yeah, I think they kind of get the I think that they get a little bit ripped off in the Enneagram. And so I think that they, they, they deserve more people writing about the beauty of the type six. So anyway, type seven, I don’t know if you’re familiar with that Elsie, but it is the need to avoid pain and it’s called the enthusiats sometimes, I think I might even be called the adventure…

Emma: I call them the fun ones.

Ryan: The fun ones!

Elsie: Woo!

Ryan: I’ve said this before, but I really I really do believe this is not just like a nice thing to say, but if I could choose to be any type, I’m a type nine, but if I could really choose, I would choose to be a seven.

Elsie: Ok, my friend just asked me. She was like, if I go to therapy, can I switch? From being a three to a seven, and I was like, I don’t think so…

Ryan: I think that breaks the rules. (laughs)

Emma: You can become a healthy three!

Elsie: Right…

Ryan: The type sevens are amazing. So like, as I was talking about, the needs of the type seven is the need to avoid pain, but the type nine is the need to avoid, like period. So, for me I feel like oh my gosh, like a type seven is like an upgraded better version of the type nine because they are just avoiding pain and they’re having like a really great time outside of that. Whereas like the nines are just like, whoa, I don’t really know about anything. I’m just going to take a nap. So I feel like it’s a more efficient way to be. So and also, I mean, I feel like they’re just…I think fun is such a…it doesn’t fully encapsulate. I feel like like we are a more vibrant community because type sevens exist. And that’s also true of the four. But I really do feel like the sevens are like, yeah, they’re this beautiful force of joy and goodness in the world. So huge fan.

Elsie: I felt like when I learned I was a seven, I didn’t feel as guilty for all my instincts about like starting like I start so many things and do it for like a couple days and then I like start something else. And it’s not that I like wanted to lose interest in it. It’s just that I got interested in something else.

Ryan: Yeah.

Elsie: And I think I feel less guilty about that now. I just understand that that’s like my nature. And if I want to finish something, I’m going to have to focus harder.

Ryan: Totally…

Elsie: Emma helps me with that though.

Ryan: Yeah, it’s you like prioritizing your passions. I think that’s super cool because like, you get excited about something and then you’re only going to give it the time that you want to give it, which is like, again, a way more efficient way of being, you know.

Emma: Yeah, I think getting excited about something is kind of the starting place.

Ryan: Yeah.

Emma: For a lot of things. And sometimes for me, I don’t get as excited as Elsie does about things. So I feel like my life is enriched by being so close with a seven because it makes me dream more.

Ryan: Yeah. That’s so beautiful!

Elsie: We’re hugging!

Ryan: Aw! Yeah. So I’m a huge fan of the enthusiast. Obviously, I should you know, the need to avoid pain is not fun, so I don’t want to go too deep into that baggage. But it is it’s also, you know, life is not super fun all the time and types sevens have a harder time, like staying in one place and being like really, really being there and being present. But we don’t even need to talk about it. Let’s just avoid that. (laughs)

Elsie: No that’s why I moved so much, probably moving way too much. That’s probably a part of it.

Emma: Yeah. You always switched schools when you were in high school.

Elsie: I switched high schools like four times and college like four times. And I didn’t even graduate college. I just like, switched switched switched, quit. OK, let’s take a quick, quick, quick break before we keep going.

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Elsie: Oh, OK. The eight. Oh my God. The eight.

Ryan: The eight. So the eight is sometimes known as the challenger and it’s the need to be against. So eights. I also feel like similar to sixes. I feel like the Enneagram is like the Enneagram community is not very nice and fair to eights.

Elsie: Yeah. It’s like a villain. A villainizing vibe.

Ryan: Yeah and I happen like I think I have the most of any type. I feel like I have the most eight friends, and I feel like they are, they’re just these super soft, sweet people that have learned to kind of wear a specific strength and that strength can, of course, be used in all sorts of, you know, difficult ways, but it can also be used in really, really meaningful and beautiful ways. So I feel like the eights have definitely gotten a bad rap. But I also feel like they are the protectors of the rest of us, too, you know. So like, you always want an eight in your corner.

Elsie: It’s true. Our dad is an eight and he is like, kind of like he could be a meany, but he can also be like the most tender person.

Emma: Yeah.

Elsie: So it’s both.

Emma: It’s a powerful ally or powerful enemy depending on each one.

Ryan: Exactly. Power is definitely a key word there. But I do feel like, yeah, this is something I was going to say earlier. But I’ve noticed the healthier you are as a person and whatever type you are, the less obvious your Enneagram number is. Do you know what I mean?

Elsie: Interesting.

Ryan: I feel like an eight is a perfect example. Like, oh, they need to be against like that’s somebody who’s just kind of like constantly frustrated or arguing. And no, it’s not. It’s like that’s a trait, that’s definitely a possibility that they might be an eight, but usually that’s the lower or like more difficult part of the type eight. But like, if you knew your dad, is that really, really soft, like sweet person you like your first glance wouldn’t be like, oh, he’s a type eight, you know what I mean? So I do feel like I feel like the less obvious your type, the probably a little bit more healthy you are when you can kind of blend the types.

Elsie: Yeah. What are eights really good at specifically?

Ryan: They’re really good at leading but also protecting people like they’re like in like the, the nonprofit like organization world like they’re the people like literally making the world a better place. I think the type ones do that too because they’re they see a better way and want to and want to lean into that. But I think the eights are, they’re like doing the hard work that nobody else wants to do because they truly believe that protecting somebody you are a group of people…

Emma: Yeah an advocate.

Ryan: An advocate, yeah.

Elsie: You can get more done much faster when you’re not trying to do it perfectly.

Ryan: Exactly. That’s true. That’s totally true.

Emma: I think they sometimes can have a very clear sense of right and wrong in certain situations of who needs to be stood up for. And they will do it no matter the kind of cost to them or the cost to whatever, you know.

Ryan: Yeah. No that’s so true.

Emma: Because they just view that as this is what needs to be done. So I’m going to do it and it doesn’t matter to me if people disagree with me, you know. But they’re a challenger, so…

Ryan: Yeah. Oh absolutely. They’re unburdened by the stress of like being, you know, a problem for people, like…

Emma: Right.

Ryan: I’m like the exact opposite where like I am terrified that anything I’m doing is going to make someone else uncomfortable, which sometimes means I’m not very daring at anything, you know, I’m not really pushing the boundaries and I really admire that type eights are kind of unafraid in that way, but so. Yeah. So that’s the type eight. The type nine. The last type is the peacemaker. It’s known as the peacemaker. The it’s the need to avoid as I mentioned, I happen to be a type nine. And ironically, in writing all these songs, I started with the type one and kind of made my way all the way back to myself at the end of the project and realized that I was pretty much studying the entire Enneagram is like a typology of only eight types because I just completely ignored all of my own, my own stuff. And writing the nine song felt like this really weird, like I felt like I didn’t want to dishonor other folks that might identify as a type nine and kind of like cop-out and just write to write a song that didn’t really like hold the positives or negatives very honestly. So it forced me to like actually look through my baggage. And what’s funny and I don’t know if you guys have had this experience, but pretty much everybody I’ve talked to that has kind of done a little bit of research on the Enneagram recognizes like as soon as they find themselves, it’s really heartbreaking. It’s a really like kind of devastating thing. Nobody like nobody is like, yes, I’m a type whatever. Like, that’s just doesn’t happen. And if it is, it just means you’re being completely dishonest about, like, the really difficult baggage that you carry around. And so I felt like I never really had that. Like, when I would hear, I wouldn’t feel like being a type nine was like a compliment in any way. So I wasn’t excited to be a type nine. I just was very confident. Yeah, I’m a type nine and I get it. I don’t like conflict. I get it that I don’t. I avoid a lot of things I don’t want to deal with. And it felt like a little bit of shame. But I didn’t really feel, I didn’t have that moment of like, total heartbreak until writing the song and actually feeling like, oh, my gosh, like I’ve been kind of turned down or like the the vibrancy of who I was, especially as a kid. I know Emma mentioned that before, but like there is a point in my life where I feel like I really turned down like that volume knob. And I became less myself and more, I don’t know, separate from taking any risks is not the right word. But I just I would opt out relationally and emotionally in ways I was completely blind to until writing the song and actually like digging into what the type nine is. The problem with every Enneagram type is that these are just the ways that we’re trying to hide our baggage like these. These are like our coping mechanisms. And then the beauty of all of the anagram types is like it does eventually lead us to trying to let go of those different coping mechanisms and actually being who we are.

Elsie: Yeah.

Emma: So I, I loved the nine song. I cried when heard it the first time.

Ryan: Oh thank you!

Emma: Because I felt very seen. I also as a fellow nine, you could have just made it just a nap. Someone sleeping. I would have seen myself for that too. (laughs)

Ryan: I played around with the idea of just ignoring it, if the need is to avoid it, just like, well, there’s eight songs, that’s fine. (laughs)

Emma: Yeah. (laughs)

Ryan: Why do we need a nine one? (laughs) But thank you for saying that. That means a lot. That song. Yeah. I think that the writing these songs was I think it was the most meaningful project to me personally because I feel like the only way I felt like I was able to actually, you know, have the nerve of writing from someone else’s perspective that’s not my own was to see a little bit of myself in each type. And I feel like that that made me, I think, recognize the beauty of each of the type. And so I feel like I see every relationship and every friendship a little differently than I did before writing the song. So that’s really inspiring.

Emma: I think it’s definitely a tool for empathy.

Ryan: I think it is. I think you’re…

Emma: …and seeing others and, you know, understanding.

Ryan: It is. And like any tool, it can be totally misused. And also, like is a really… It’s not the whole thing, but it’s a really helpful way of deeply caring about the people that you love and especially yourself, you know, to be able to, like, love yourself in a healthy way. That’s what I feel like is the gift of the Enneagram. Not that you can’t find that in all sorts of other ideas about personality or theories on who we are as people. But I just have found it to be a really, really beautiful tool. And like you said, it is a tool for empathy.

Elsie: For our listeners who haven’t been able to figure out which number they are. What do you recommend? Like what are the steps to figure that out?

Ryan: Yeah, so my buddy Chris, who introduced me and my wife to the Enneagram long ago, he said that the tests are helpful in kind of narrowing down, as we talked about earlier, but they are really not helpful because if you if it says, like your top result is a type one and you’re not, that’s a really…talk about using the tool wrong. Like if you’re doing a ton of, like, inner work thinking you’re a type one, but you’re actually a type eight, like it’s going to serve nobody in any way, shape or form. So he sort of recommends, which I have found to be true, that if you take any sort of test that you can find, it’ll help narrow, narrow down to like the top three of the types that you might identify as. And if you go to I think the Enneagram Institute has a website, they have some really beautiful kind of short descriptions of each type. But then they also have some expanded on versions of each type as well. And those are really helpful to read. So if you read like the top the top results for you and just kind of seek those out, that’s really helpful because I feel like you might experience some of that heartbreak when you initially recognize yourself, which is, again, this is not fun to go do. You’re like, oh, what a fun thing to do on a, you know, Wednesday afternoon to go find my baggage and read about it. But I do feel like when you can kind of feel your heart crack open a little bit, when you’re when you’re close to finding your type, because it’s not….

Emma: I’m sure a lot of us have felt this year, or most years but this year especially,I think your baggage will find you so, you might as well go ahead and confront it. (laughs)

Ryan: Yeah, that’s a good way to say it. (laughs)

Emma: Do it on your own timeline. It’s gonna to catch you.

Ryan: Yeah. Like your baggage will find you either way. May as well beat it to the punch.

Elsie: I felt like it was empowering just to figure out like why I’m like this.

Ryan: Oh yeah, absolutely. Because I gave like a very like the most rudimentary descriptions of each of those types. So I apologize. I hopefully I haven’t done more harm.

Elsie: No I think it was super helpful.

Ryan: Yeah. I don’t know. Thank you. But I do feel like when you start reading like several books, I would recommend The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Riso and Russ Hudson is like the kind of the…it’s the most like it’s the most detailed and comprehensive understanding of the Enneagram it was hugely helpful for me and kind of wrapping my head around each of the types. But that’s a huge place to kind of understand your motivations and your childhood wounds. And you’re like how you’re when you’re at your best. Like there’s these things called integrations where you basically take on some of the traits. And if you see the very scary looking Enneagram symbol, which looks very satanic, (laughs) which I think is like exclusively the reason that anybody would ever talk about it as being a cult is that very scary symbol. But it actually is this really beautiful, like you can kind of trace there’s all sorts of understanding about the integration patterns, but there’s also wings and there’s layers to this. So the understanding the nine types is is a really, really great starting point. But it really is about, like you said, Elsie, where it’s like finding the reasons why you do the things that you do and then also finding compassion as you understand the reasons that other people do the things that they do. It’s just a better way of thinking about relationships and yourself.

Elsie: Yeah. I’ll never try to take away my husband’s car wash subscription now. Because I know better!

Ryan: That’s kind of like that’s like a very, like, selfless version of being a five, you know, because like he’s like rather than being like, OK, guys, I am out of here for two hours. I don’t want to be around anybody. He’s saying, like, I’m going to do this productive thing. I’m going to get the car washed and it’ll also help me, which I can then, you know, be more present with you guys. Like, that’s awesome it’s a super healthy way to be.

Elsie: Thank you so much for joining us. We’re going to link to your podcast, your beautiful Enneagram songs and your beautiful Christmas record. Where else can people follow you?

Ryan: Thank you very much. It’s just Sleeping at Last on all of the social places, you know, Twitter, Instagram, all that stuff. And yeah, sleepingatlast.com Is where I have a website. I don’t know, do people go to websites anymore?

Elsie: To buy that vinyl! To buy that colorful…

Emma: We’re bloggers so I hope so.

Ryan: I feel like a blog is like a website is a different, like a website I still have like it feels like, it’s like what is it not Firefox um, Geocities. (laughs)

Emma: A Zanga.

Ryan: I’ve got my, my MySpace page up and running and if anybody wants to visit. (laughs) I love you guys.

Elsie: Aw love you. Thank you so much, Ryan!

Emma: Thank you!

Ryan: Thank you for letting me talk seriously. It was so fun.

Elsie: Thank you so much for listening. We’d love to hear your thoughts on Enneagram in this week’s show Notes at abeautifulmess.com/podcast. We also have transcripts available now for all of the episodes in our archive, in the show notes. Thank you so much for sharing our podcast. It really means a lot to us. Be sure to send this episode to anyone you know, who’s a little bit even a tiny, tiny bit interested in the Enneagram.

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  • Hi y’all,
    I just want you to know that I just discovered you and your wonderful podcast about a month ago and I started from Episode 1. I love the fun banter that you have as sisters (I have 4 sisters) and every time I tune in, I’m smiling. By the way, I tune in while I’m out on my daily walk. Here is what is most interesting to me: I am listening to this a year into the pandemic, but since I just started your podcast from the very beginning, I’m listening to your hopes and dreams and suggestions for future travels, possible projects, and house hunting…..knowing that YOU all did not know at the time:
    Change. (Darn, this pandemic!)
    I’m only on episode 47, but I’ll catch up with you soon enough. Thanks for making my daily walk so much more enjoyable.
    Grateful for you two….. 🙂

    • Wow- thank you so much for listening from the beginning!!! We’re honored! Augh!

  • Please, can you put a name of your favorite book about Enneagrams here? I just made a test and it seems like I am 9 or 6. While listening your podcast, I already thought I could be 6. And I think many people in my country manager of origin, Finland, sound like number 6. 😀 In fact while doing the test there were questions like “do you feel different from other people?” and it was difficult to respond because in my home country I don’t, but where I live (and have lived for 10 years) I do! Interesting episode that made me curious! And I was thinking about ordering a book for myself as a Christmas present. 🙂

  • Emma!!! When you said think about yourself as a child to help you know what your type is — that made everything fall into place for me! I thought I was a 3 but I am definitely an 8.

  • I definitely wish there was more information on sixes! It’s so hard to find stuff. Sad that the whole time to talk about sixes was spent saying that they aren’t talked about enough and I still don’t know much because they still weren’t actually explained at all 🙁

  • I like what Ryan said about the Enneagram giving helpful language. I’ve found that to be true as well.

    I’m a 6 and I agree that they are the least understood, and definitely NOT the most common. Most of the memes or descriptions you see floating around the internet are oversimplified caricatures of a scared, anxious person checking for fire escapes. I think it is true that 6s are constantly scanning their environments for ‘danger’, but not necessarily for germs or something you’d need a first aid kit for lol. 6s don’t trust easily, and we get anxious when we don’t feel that people or situations are reliable. Therefore, we strive to make our world more trustworthy, secure, and even predictable. We like to know where we stand with people so that we don’t have to wonder about it and we like to use proven methods. It’s true that 6s are very diverse, because different people react to feeling unsafe in different ways. While sixes can be skeptical and slow to trust, we are often responsible, reliable, loyal, and thorough. And when feeling safe/not stressed, we become playful and relaxed. That’s my view anyway. 🙂

  • I loved this episode! I figured out my enneagram type (I’m a five) after I started listening to your podcast. I was curious after you included your types in your introduction episode. I felt so relieved once I read about my type. I’ve always spent a lot of time in my head and have to work really hard to let other people into that. Reading about my type made me feel like I wasn’t broken for not being able to be open with as freely and easily as other people. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Wow. I wanted to find out my enneagram for years and never really got to it. Now that I listen to this episode I realize why. Clearly I am a nine! Haha! I will find out more now, but I just wanted to stop here and write a comment (something I NEVER do, now I understand why, again!!) to thank you for this episode. It was lovely!

  • People actually do study personality types and traits…if you’re interested in it at all, I highly recommend listening to this episode of the Ologies podcast: https://www.alieward.com/ologies/personalitypsychology

  • Thank you so much for doing this podcast. I hadn’t thought about my type for a while and after listening to your podcast I went to check out Ryan’s Podcast. I’m halfway through the episode now for my type (7) and it’s so beautiful and heartfelt, I’ve been sat working at my laptop with tears streaming at feeling so heartbreakingly seen. I can’t wait to listen to the rest of his podcasts. Thank you for introducing me to this insightful and sincere person xx

  • Such a beautiful episode! Thank you so much for helping me get more knowledge on the Enneagram❤

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