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Does Your Enneagram Type Matter When Recovering from Trauma?

enneagram trauma recovery

When it comes to healing from trauma, many of us are quick to turn to personality tests like the Enneagram, Myers-Briggs, or StrengthsFinder for insights into our own psyche. These tools can undoubtedly be valuable for personal growth and development. However, the question that often goes overlooked is whether your Enneagram type truly matters when you are on the journey of trauma recovery. The answer, as it turns out, is a bit nuanced. It depends on where you are in your trauma recovery and how you understand the relationship between your Enneagram type and trauma responses.

The Complex Interplay of Trauma and Enneagram Types

While understanding your Enneagram type can provide valuable insights into your usual behavior patterns, it's essential to recognize that trauma affects everyone, regardless of their Enneagram type. Trauma responses are not rooted in Enneagram-type responses; rather, they are deeply embedded in your body's physical and biological reactions to perceived threats and the instinctual need to survive.

Consider a scenario where you're crossing the street, and you suddenly realize that a car isn't slowing down but speeding up. In such a situation, your body goes into overdrive, releasing adrenaline, increasing your heart rate, and activating the fight, flight, or freeze response. These automatic physical responses are orchestrated by your brain, solely focused on saving your life. Importantly, you may not consciously recall these reactions afterward, highlighting that trauma responses are primarily physical, not psychological.

Understanding Trauma

Before diving deeper into the interplay between trauma and Enneagram types, let's first clarify what trauma is. Trauma occurs when your body reacts to something deeply distressing or threatening in a way that overwhelms your nervous system. Trauma can stem from a wide range of experiences, including physical or emotional abuse, natural disasters, or severe accidents. While the outward manifestations of trauma vary from person to person, the common thread is that traumatic experiences initially impact our bodies.

When a traumatic event occurs, it shatters our sense of safety, prompting our body to mobilize for protection. The body retains the memory of the traumatic experience, storing it within both the physical and neurological aspects of our being. Think of it like the smell of fresh crayons triggering childhood memories – trauma memories are stored similarly, as a protective mechanism. If you remember where the threat lurked, you can avoid it in the future, much like avoiding a particular part of the jungle where a tiger resides.

The Impact of Enneagram Types on Trauma Responses

Now, let's address the role of your Enneagram type in your response to trauma. While your Enneagram type may influence the nuances of your trauma response, it is essential to remember that your body plays the primary role in shaping your reaction to trauma. Until you've fully healed from a traumatic experience, your body will continue to drive your behavior. Even after recovery, your body may remain vigilant, responding to perceived threats as a precautionary measure.

Trauma awareness addresses the fundamental needs of all Enneagram types – safety, certainty, and security. However, it's crucial to recognize that trauma takes precedence over your Enneagram type. Even if you identify as an Enneagram 8, known for their confrontational nature, when faced with trauma, your typical 8-ness may temporarily dissipate. You might find yourself freezing up instead. In these situations, your Enneagram type becomes secondary to your body's survival instincts. Your body doesn't care about your Enneagram type; it's focused on ensuring your physical safety.

Action Steps

Reflect on moments in your own life when you didn't respond in alignment with your Enneagram type. These instances may have felt more than just "stressful"; they could have been moments of trauma where your life felt endangered. Trauma has a way of overpowering our typical behavioral patterns, reminding us that we are fundamentally biological beings with deeply ingrained survival mechanisms.

The more we understand the interplay between trauma and recovery, the better equipped we are to support not only ourselves but also our clients, friends, and family members on their journey to healing. In the next part of this series, we will delve deeper into how your Enneagram type might affect your flavor of trauma response. Stay tuned to your inbox for more insights on this fascinating topic.

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