Where True Self Meets Personality


Cover of The Happy Introvert

I changed the name of my blog on WordPress from The Career Within You to Enneagram… Exploring Your True Self a few months ago. I wanted it to represent all of my work instead of one book since the initial year’s promotion of the career book had passed. (The Happy Introvert is my one non-Enneagram book, though includes the Enneagram.)

The reason Enneagram… Exploring Your True Self is an interesting, perhaps controversial blog title is that some Enneagram enthusiasts believe the nine Enneagram types do not represent our true self, but stand for ways we cover up our true self with dreaded personalities or false selves. Our task is to find our authentic self, so the theory goes. And do we ever find it? What is it and where? And what am I now? Am I worth nothing until I have become enlightened by shedding my personality? How am I to reconcile having so much improving to do in the age of NOW?

I used to be a member of The Conversation, a forum magazine editor Jack Labanauskas got together on The Enneagram Monthly. Theologists, professors, writers like me, and others participated and tried to hash out questions like this. We never got closer to resolving this problem than people ever seem to get with the question of free will.

When I wrote The Enneagram of Parenting, I realized we have inborn styles of behavior. We express our true selves in a certain style and we act out habits we use as defenses in the same style. The styles of behavior we’re born with are in our DNA so they are true and natural. A person who has been consistently happy or grouchy or neat or messy or introverted from day one didn’t get that way by training.

One reason I was attracted to calling this blog Enneagram… Exploring Your True Self is that it shares part of the title of my introvert book: The Happy Introvert, a Wild and Crazy Guide for Celebrating Your True Self.

Do you know what your self is? Do you know what your personality is? When I feel anxious, I know that I am the least mySelf. I will act too smiley, too pleased, or too much the way others want me to act out of fear. When I am the most secure, especially when I’m alone or with one or two others I trust, I am the most myself. My behavior and my inner thoughts and feelings all match. I most know who I am at those times. Normally, even if I feel anxious, I don’t put on a big act that I’m someone I’m not. I can’t be out of my quiet space for very long no matter what. Pretense doesn’t sit well with me. When I’m uncomfortable, I’m likely to just be quiet.

Let me know what you think of your self and your personality. Is your self on an authentic/phony continuum? Is there a self/personality continuum or are they the same thing riding along parallel? Are your defenses the real you? What and/or where is the authentic you?

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