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I had the privilege of listening to my beautiful, wise and gentle friend Liz talk about the Enneagram this week.

The Enneagram, very briefly, is a personality profiling tool which helps us to understand ourselves and our ‘habitual behaviours’ in order to move towards a more whole and integrated self. Consequently it helps us to understand others too as we learn to recognise traits in those around us.

There are 9 different personality types which are independent of culture, gender or context and which we pretty much carry with us throughout life. Each profile, as with each person, carries a gift and each carries a wound – a ‘core fear’, a place from which we try to hide or escape.

Anyone interested in knowing themselves or others better would find this a helpful tool to engage with. You can find out more here: The Enneagram (I am a 7 by the way…)

But… this is what interested me most this week, the link between knowing ourselves and others and inviting compassion into our lives. We are repeatedly told to love one another, the good the bad and the ugly. Loving the good is great, loving the bad and the ugly, not so much. But this week as Liz talked with grace about each profile I found myself thinking about which of my friends and colleagues fitted into which category. We are all, as human beings, so different, so complex and the Enneagram reflects that, but at our core we all want the same thing – to fit in, to feel worthy, to feel secure, to feel loved. Much of our behaviour stems from one or more of these fears.

When I remember that a human being is born to love and be loved and fears having that be removed at some level, then I am better equipped to understand that person’s anxieties and idiosyncrasies. Being reminded that each person comes at life with a gift and a wound, makes it easier for us to engage with them with open and compassionate hearts. Once we can let go of the ego mind which separates us, we can embrace compassion and learn to accept people for exactly who they are and not who we wish them to be!

It was a valuable and liberating reminder!