The best part of the story

Healing yourself, loving the world

When I first learned about the Enneagram, a model of personal and spiritual development, I learned it as this: We each have a core wound or dysfunction and as we try to fix this core problem, we inadvertently re-create the very thing we fear.

I found substantial relief in this model because it introduced to me a way to explain differences in how people operated and it explained the intense emotional pain I was carrying.  I experienced some profound and deep learnings as I worked with my type over the years.

However I began to find that there is something very unsatisfying as seeing types as “what’s wrong with you”.   For some/many, the Enneagram is seen as a diagnostic tool of dysfunction rather than a map to our unique gifts.  We stopped before we got to the best part of the story!

I see you

When I first started working with clients, I discovered that one of the energetic patterns of my work with others is that I see and value the innate wholeness of who they are.  No matter the current obstacles or the pain they’ve experienced in the past, I sense and feel their core energy as this brilliant diamond of pure essence and light.  The tools I have and the work we do together are just a way to help each other see that more fully. I didn’t enter my work with this orientation. It showed itself.  And yes, I have a hard time knowing this for and about myself.   But I slowly saw that my very inner enneagram-three question of self-value was, in fact, an opening to see the value of others. Not just an opening, but an innate orientation and capacity that I hold.  (Likewise in Human Design, you can see the same dynamic in my chart.)

We are not broken

So I started to contemplate and explore the idea of seeing each type as the gift that they bring to the world.  When I interact with others, I see how their enneatype is expressed in who they are and what they bring around them.  And what I noticed is that it’s very easy to do this, I feel better seeing how they express their ennea-gift, and it takes all the pressure off of us.  We don’t have to fix who we are.

We are not broken.  We bring value, we are valued, we love and are loved, we bring delight and delight, just by being ourselves.

So what if our enneatype is a description of the gift of who we are and what we bring to the world around us?  Rather than seeing folks as having these malformed world-views that they have to overcome, we can see the types as containing the very essence and gift that they bring to others and the world just by being themselves.  It’s a profound trusting that who we are is really okay.  So in my words (and some of them will miss the mark), starting with the ennea-3, what if:

  • The one who is searching to shine and be valued herself innately and naturally sees and amplifies the shine and value in others, just by being herself.
  • The one who is searching to be uniquely beautiful innately and naturally sees and creates beauty around her.
  • The one who is searching for understanding innately and naturally brings understanding to others.
  • The one who is searching for security and belonging in a sea of complexity innately and naturally creates belonging and security for others within complexity.
  • The one who is searching for joy brings joy to others by her very nature and being.
  • The one who is searching for freedom brings freedom to others, just by being herself.
  • The one who is searching for harmony brings peace to others, just by being herself.
  • The one who is searching for meaning and divine order brings a sense of divine perfection to others, just by being herself.
  • The one who is searching for love sees, brings, and unleashes an immense and deep love in others, just by being herself.

It’s like we radiate this signal that carries a frequency that others can pick up on.  But it’s not by doing or striving that we share this quality. We radiate this quality by sinking into who we are, trusting that what we care about matters, and relaxing into the knowing that who we are really is okay.

The question is not what’s wrong with you – it’s what’s right with you?

Hear more

I recorded a podcast called the Brilliance of Who You Are that is directly related to this blog post.  It’s episode # 17.


All ideas expressed here are uniquely my perspective based on interactions and experiences with many different people. In particular, this blog post was influenced by my work and experiences with:

  • Russ Hudson and Jessica Dibbs in their Accessing And Integrating Essence workshop and Essence Emerging ongoing group work.
  • Dear Frank Butterfield and conversations within the Communion of Light that radiate unconditional love and acceptance.
  • My very dear friend and colleague Rev. Sunday Cote and her deep understanding and interest in a wide variety of human potential subjects.

Photo by Renee Fisher

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Deborah Donndelinger

Deborah Donndelinger

I'm writing from Maryland, but my heart goes out all over the world. I'm cheering you on as you tackle the hard stuff, embrace the easy, and show up to help others.