What is your Behavioural Persona? The Enneagram System

 In Body Mind and Spirit, Transform your mind, Transformation

“By the age of 5 or 6 you have created a behavioural persona in order to be able to be safe in your world. But as your world changes isn’t it time to change your behavioural persona too?”

Image courtesy enneagram-europe.com

Behavioural personas - The Enneagram System

Are you born with your basic personality in place or do you develop a personality based upon the circumstances that you encounter during your early years?  In other words, do you learn to behave in a specific way so you can adequately thrive in the environment you are born into?

As a baby  you are born with a basic suite of behavioural programming – lets call it survival settings – you know you need to eat, to sleep, to drink, to breathe, to go to the loo, to be safe.  To thrive you need to be able to grow in the environment you grow up in. You behave in the way you need to  behave in order to fit in with your social group and be able to survive and thrive through your early years. How does this impact our ability to transform ourselves in the adult life though?

Are you a ‘people pleaser’?

I was struck recently by a comment, one of those throw away comments, that people make and yet you know as soon as you hear them you know that the comment is going to have huge and long lasting impact. The leader of our group was giving a slide presentation on the theme of the month and she mentioned, in passing, as a throw away line actually, that her life had changed for the better when she realised that a significant barrier to her being able to achieve true happiness in her life had been the role of ‘good girl’ that she had assumed from an early age and that she had now decided to let go of.

This need to be a good girl, a people pleaser, had become such an enduring behaviour throughout her life and, looking back, she said this need to please had ended up really affecting it. She said she thought it came from a self-esteem centre, a belief space she had learned early in life, that she in some way was not enough so she had learned to be of value to those around her through pleasing them.

She learned that she needed to be the ‘good girl’ to feel accepted, to feel wanted, to feel safe, to feel loved. How interesting, don’t you think?

Now, as soon as she had become aware of her ingrained need to please she decided to change things. She decided she would take a big step in her life and not play the role of people pleaser  unless it really made her happy to. Once she did this she discovered that she transformed a part of her life. A simple choice not to be driven by a need to please changed everything, out of autopilot pleasing and into a place of conscious choice making about how she showed up in every situation and how she gave of herself in order to please people instead. She no longer felt it was her role to make other people in her life happy first and foremost before herself and what she needed and wanted. What a difference this must have made.

Imagine how empowering this must have been for her…and I don’t doubt that this shift in her perspective must have caused a few raised eyebrows amongst her family and friend group when she chose not to be the people pleaser like before…they would have become accustomed to her being the first to volunteer, the first to put others first…and she’d kinda made the choice to not necessarily do that anymore – that would have had an impact I”m sure.

Your behavioural persona is established by age 5

By the age of 5 or 6, you have created a behavioural persona in order to be safe in your world, and then, by the age of 5 or 6, that behavioural persona has become so embedded into your developing identity that it becomes a template for how you see yourself fitting into the world that’s all around you. You still hold onto this persona even when it isn’t relevant to your needs anymore.  But don’t our needs change overtime? Isn’t transformation about allowing yourself to change your persona to suit your environment now?

There are  lots of different personality typing protocols out there, but the one I liked the most, the one that resonated on the subject of behavioural personas is a system perfectly aligned with the belief that every person is a blend of mind, and body and spirit and this system is mainly concerned with the mind, will and emotion that make up a person’s soul.  It’s got a strange name, it’s called the enneagram. It’s a blend of lots of ancient wisdom and has had a modern twist put on it in the last 50 years.

Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator

The enneagram is a nine type personality system that highlights your primary and then relative personality traits. There are 9 different classifications of personalities.  Basically we are predominantly one type with bits of some of the others too.

You can establish which of the nine personality traits you have by taking the enneagram quiz.  It’s not lightweight quiz at all, there are about 144 paired statements. It’s called the Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator. The test takes about 40 minutes to complete too.   To me, it’s worth the time and investment if it uncovers more clues to how I can stay true to myself and transform my life more easily.

The Enneagram system encompasses 9 different distinct personality types

The Enneagram system encompasses 9 different distinct personality types.  The types are pretty straightforward, the reformer, the helper, the achiever, the individualist, the investigator, the loyalist, the enthusiast, the challenger and the peacemaker.

I learned a huge amount about myself from reading through the different personality types and through also taking the enneagram quiz and reading the ample result report that was sent through for me to keep, including the additional recommendations that it contained too.

It would be interesting to find out which one relate to you, don’t you think? I wonder what impact it would have on your life. How it could help you to transform the areas of your life that need work, and help transform them more easily too.