Using Your Enneagram Number to Practice Solitude (plus a BONUS printable)

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The Enneagram

Have you heard of the Enneagram yet? It seems that everyone I know has heard about it, read about it or listened to a podcast about it. Maybe I’m late to the game, but I don’t care. I love it. I mean I reaallllly love the Enneagram. The Enneagram just makes sense to me.

The Enneagram (pronounced “any-a-gram”) is a centuries-old system for understanding personalities. Note, I didn’t say it “types” personalities. It helps us understand personalities, mainly our own. What drives us? Why do we keep doing that thing we don’t want to do? Why, when we are in HALT mode (hungry, angry, lonely, tired), do we always go into _________ (fill in the blank) mode to deal with it? The Enneagram helps us understand the why’s so that we can respond to our stressors in healthier ways.

I love the Enneagram because it explains what motivates me based on my greatest fear. With that knowledge, I can better understand what's driving my behavior and make adjustments based on that understanding. As a Christian, I can see how God meets me in my fears and fills my deepest need. This frees me to move deeper in faith, trusting God to refine my heart, shaping it to be more like Christ's. I want to hear him call me, "A woman after God's own heart." The Enneagram has become a tool in my spiritual formation belt to keep me on the path that leads to those affirming words.

It’s important to remember that the Enneagram is not scripture. It is a model, a system, and as such it is just a tool. Granted, it’s a really useful tool, but don’t give it more weight or significance than a tool should have. It is not breathed out by the lips of God. That said, as I have studied the Enneagram, ideas have surfaced in my mind of ways to apply it to the spiritual discipline of solitude. After so much of that, I simply wrote them down. Here, I have compiled tips for every Enneagram number in their personal practice of solitude. (I even turned them into a printable for you, cuz I like you!) Take these tips with a grain of salt. Remember, I am not an Enneagram Coach, nor am I an expert on this ancient personality system. Just a fellow pilgrim on the spiritual formation road.

Note: If you don’t know your Enneagram number, I highly recommend the book The Road Back to You to help you discover your number. There are tests to determine your number more quickly. I don’t think they are fool-proof (I speak from experience) but if you just can’t wait to read the book, I recommend the free quiz at Your Enneagram Coach.


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Eights - The Challenger

As an Eight, you prize truth, straightforwardness, and abundance. You long to hear that there are many trustworthy people in the world and that being vulnerable to connect with them is worth the risk.

Your struggle with solitude will be to not overdo it. It will be tempting to think that if 10 minutes of solitude is good, then 10 hours would be better. On the positive side, you will enjoy the simplicity of reflecting on God's truth and speaking straightforwardly with him. Solitude could be a place where you consistently connect with God and tap into that tender heart in your chest.

Try these things:

  • Set a timer and let yourself move on when it rings.

  • Read psalms about human weakness and God's strength. (Ps 18, 28, 68)

  • Speak vulnerably with God, allowing yourself to trust him a little more each day.

  • Remind yourself that you don't have to be in control. You can let God be the one in control. In solitude, let him direct your thoughts and heart. Keep a journal to note where he took you and go back to review it occasionally.

Nines - The Peacemaker

As a Nine, you can see all sides in a situation or conflict. You are a homebody who enjoys, even needs, some regular quiet time to be able to handle the many decisions that need to be made daily. You have a difficult time knowing what you want and expressing those wants to others. You find it overwhelming to create new systems but you can maintain those systems easily once they are in place.

Your struggle with solitude will be in creating the new habit of spending time in silence and stillness with God. But you are going to love the space and silence that comes with solitude.

Try these things:

  • Attach practicing solitude to a task you already do daily, like brushing your teeth. For example, you could put a soft chair in your bathroom and tack on 5 minutes to your teeth brushing, choosing to spend those 5 minutes in the chair being still.

  • Challenge yourself to acknowledge any new idea God gives you during your time in solitude. Write it down and choose to believe you could execute that new idea with God's help.

  • Use your time in solitude to honestly vent to God any anger you are feeling. He's the safest person and he's listening.

Ones - The Perfectionist

As a One, your inner critic is always reminding you of the one right way to live this life. This can be exhausting but also helpful.

Your challenge in solitude will be to not get distracted by that inner critic. There are many ways to practice solitude. Every day will be and feel different. Give yourself the grace to experience it differently and not wonder why it's different or how you could make it better.

Try these things:

  • Start by reminding yourself that your practice does not have to be perfect to be good.

  • Keep a journal of your time in solitude, noting what your inner critic is saying so return to it later. Then redirect your focus back on God.

  • Resist the urge to put solitude on a checklist. Instead, try to enjoy it as time with a friend, not a to-do item for the day.

Twos - The Helper

As a Two, you are everyone's best friend. You intuitively know exactly was your friends need and how you can meet that need. Trust me, we all love this about you! However, in order to help others, you struggle to honestly share your own needs with others. You might assume your friend should intuitively know what you need just as you know her need. When she doesn’t know, it could lead you to believe that you are needed but not loved.

In solitude, you might struggle to be honest with God about your needs. The good news is God does indeed already know what you need. Solitude will give you the safe space to practice verbalizing your needs directly.

Try these things:

  • Remind yourself that God loves you for who you are, not what you do. Repeat these words to yourself: I am His beloved.

  • Read the Mary and Martha story in Luke 10 and write down the lovely qualities in both women. Recognize which one you gravitate towards and choose to see beauty in the other.

  • As you spend time in solitude, when the needs of others enter your mind, ask God to prioritize them. Ask him, "Which of these is mine to do?" Challenge yourself to let go of any item God does not put on your list.

Threes - The Performer

As a Three, you can be the world's best overachiever. Likely, you are great, awesome even, at anything you put your mind to. You can work a room and impress every person you meet. You love competition. Winning is its own endorphin. And the world is your stage.

In solitude, it may be difficult for you to stop long enough to be silent and still to hear the voice of God. You may struggle with the value of this time spent with noone to notice you but God alone. On the other hand, once you learn to be still, it might be a refreshing change to just be. With God, you don't have to be anyone other than who he created you to be.

Try these things:

  • Find a place to practice solitude where you cannot be seen by others. This will give you more freedom to just be.

  • Resist the urge to multi-task during solitude.

  • Meditate on verses about God's steadfast love (Lam 3:22-23, Ps 25:10) or any verse that connects you to your feelings. Try to name your feelings during solitude. It'll be a fun challenge.

  • Find a mentor to keep you accountable in your practice of solitude.

Fours - The Romantic

As a Four, you are creative and unique. You value authenticity, individuality and your feelings. You can spend hours, days, months, reflecting on past feelings, trying to figure them out. You struggle with feeling like you are whole and that anyone could truly love you if they really knew you.

In solitude, you will likely enjoy doing something new with God each day. Your struggle will be to keep at it. You may love solitude one day and dread it another. It might be thrilling or it could be boring. Your feelings may take-over your time with God as you may struggle to let him take the burden of making sense of those super-sized feelings.

Try these things:

  • Remind yourself that nothing is missing in you. God created you exactly as you are and in his eyes, you are perfect. Beautiful. (Ps 139)

  • If feelings are getting in the way of your connection with God, repeat this to yourself: I am not my feelings.

  • To keep things interesting, vary the place and time you meet with God. Try using different tools to help you focus: psalms, poems, songs, art. Keep it fresh.

  • Persevere in your practice whether you feel like doing it or not.

Fives - The Investigator

As a Five, you like a good research project. You aren't comfortable not having answers so you will spend the time it takes, no matter how long, learning about whatever topic comes your way. You need time to process your thoughts and aren't comfortable having to answer unexpected questions. You worry that you don't have enough time, energy, whatever to meet the demands placed on you every day. Therefore, you like to keep things simple.

When it come to solitude, the concept of a contemplative life sounds fabulous to you. Time spent thinking on thoughts from above is not wasted time in your view. You may struggle with having the energy to set aside this time or to create this new habit of solitude. You may also struggle to be emotionally present in solitude when your mind would rather stay in the information collection zone.

Try these things:

  • Choose a time of day when your energy reserves are well stocked to practice solitude.

  • Resist the urge to read scripture academically. Perhaps choose a paraphrase translation Bible for your readings during solitude.

  • Read the psalms to connect with the emotions in God's word. Try to name your own feelings as you go.

  • Keep a journal of your feelings in solitude and go back to read them often.

  • Find a friend or mentor to share what you are leaning in solitude.

Sixes - The Loyalist

As a Six, you are the team member that sticks around forever. You don't leave no matter what bumps may come in your relationships or what your preferences may be. You worry a lot but that has advantages too as you will be the one most prepared when disaster strikes. You like accurate, predictable situations. And you get things done.

In solitude, you will struggle with letting go of your anxieties. Keeping focused on one thing alone, God's voice, will be a challenge. On the other hand, once you find your rhythm in solitude, you will find it easy to keep this practice going for life.

Try these things:

  • Start your time of solitude with a prayer to center your thoughts on God. This will be more effective than you can imagine.

  • When worries enter your time of solitude, acknowledge them. Write them down in a journal. Come back to these journal entries OFTEN to see if those disasters happened. If they don't, praise the Lord for his protection. If they do, notice how you handled them, because you will handle them. Then praise the Lord for enabling your ability to handle the situations.

  • Remember that you are safe in God's hands. Read scriptures about God's protection of his children. (Ps 27, 32, 61; John 10, 1 Tim 1:7)

  • Learn to distinguish between healthy legitimate fears that cause you to move towards and develop trust in God verses the Devil's fear lies that cause you to waste energy spinning inward, moving away from God.


Sevens - The Enthusiast

As a Seven, every day is an adventure. You love anticipating the next exciting thing, almost more than doing it. You are just plain ol’ good fun. You see the sunny side of things but can put blinders on to real pain and sadness. When pain or fears do creep in, they can disable you completely. Commitment can be a challenge because there will always come a day when the commitment will cause pain or at least become less fun.

In solitude, you may struggle to make yourself still and quiet if you cannot find the fun in it. Focusing on the story arch of God's love will make it easier.

Try these things:

  • Read scripture stories during your time of solitude. A paraphrase Bible or Chronological Bible may make this more fun and interesting.

  • Challenge yourself to persevere in the ordinariness of solitude.

  • Practice being honest about pain in your time with God. Trust that He will take care of you.

  • If your mind starts jumping around like a Mexican Jumping Bean, write down those runaway thoughts and promise yourself to come back to them when your time of solitude is finished.

More Tips

If you have other tips for practicing solitude, please leave a comment below. Be sure to include your Enneagram Number!


FREE PRINTABLE

To make it super easy for you, I put these tips into a fun printable that would make a good bookmark or reminder card. Put them in your Bible, tape them to the fridge or place anywhere else you like to post reminders. Click below for the download.