Podcast – Episode 0267 – Using The Enneagram For Personal Growth (with Beatrice Chestnut)

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In this episode, Joel and Antonia talk with Dr. Beatrice Chestnut about how the Enneagram has helped her grow personally.

In this podcast you’ll find:

    • Beatrice Chestnut is an Enneagram expert
    • She has been on the podcast before
    • Subtypes give more nuance to the Enneagram
    • Beatrice has authored two books:
    • We are deeply interested in personal growth
    • Some people use the Enneagram model for description only but it is really built for help along the self development path
    • MBTI started out with a more corporate purpose but if you go back far enough to Jung there is some self development aspects.
    • Stories are a great way to illustrate how to use these models for personal growth
    • Beatrice is going to share her story of personal growth using the Enneagram model
    • Beatrice’s journey into personal growth began after she learned the Enneagram
    • It woke her up to who she was.
    • She didn’t understand who she was at the time
    • She learned from David Daniels, M.D.
    • Helen Palmers book on Enneagram
    • Beatrice is an Enneagram 2.
    • The info stopped her in her tracks and shined a light on the things about herself she didn’t understand
    • She was extremely dependent on other people’s approval as an enneagram 2.
    • Helen Palmer says 2s are manipulative
    • Manipulation = moving things around behind the scenes to get things to work out the way you want
    • We see manipulation as bad but in reality it is just one more strategy
    • Our ego is important to help us survive as children but it is limiting when we reach adulthood.
    • Beatrice has worked with the Enneagram for 29 years
    • She is less anxious than she used to be. More peaceful. Happier. 
    • The Enneagram is not a stand alone tool. It is a map that highlights your natural strengths and your blind spots.
    • We don’t know what we don’t know
    • Joel’s an Enneagram 6 in the fear triad
    • Initially things gets worse before they get better in personal growth
    • Talking about your anxiety and what makes you anxious makes you less anxious.
    • It helps us understand the sources of our anxiety and we build more compassion for ourselves
    • In search of the Miraculous 
    • Existential anxiety awakening to the void
    • 2s lack a sense of self
    • Their attention goes outside of themselves
    • When your attention is focused in one place there’s somewhere it is not focused
    • Beatrice had No idea what she needed or how she was feeling
    • She was a shape shifter and had no idea who she was.
    • Sense of self is the sum total of how we feel from moment to moment
    • She didn’t feel free. She had a thousand strings tied from her to everyone else
    • She couldn’t move because if she moved she might disturb someone else
    • She couldn’t feel secure or confident in herself.
    • She had a lot of friends with this strategy which created a feeling of well being
    • She found some deep sadness within her and when she got reactions from others she realized her happiness was for the benefit of others.
    • Her benefit to the strategy was to make other people like her but she didn’t see the cost
    • “What are you feeling right now?”
    • It helped Beatrice fill in her consciousness around her own feelings
    • These emotions can be scary when you’re first exploring them.
    • “People don’t like angry people so I just won’t be angry.”
    • Eliminate unpleasant emotions.
    • Seeker at heart
    • Self Preservation 2s unconsciously stay young as a way to elicit care from others
    • Beatrice became a therapist as a way to use the Enneagram in her career because she really loved the model
    • She didn’t learn about subtypes until she meet Claudio Naranjo who is one of the seminal authors in the Enneagram movement
    • Subtypes was a revolutionary leap forward for her in the Enneagram model.
    • After learning she was 2 she worked on being authentic and getting in touch with her emotions.
    • After learning she was self-preservation 2, she discovered a basement in her self development territory she didn’t know existed.
    • She was repressing fear, mistrust, and ambivalence
    • She got defensive when she first learned about self preservation.
    • Self Preservations 2s are childlike
    • “When I stand next to you, I don’t think you’re going to protect me. I need to protect you.”
    • Beatrice: “There was an ocean of sadness at the core of my being.”
    • A lot of heart types feel anxious because of the depth of emotion lying underneath everything.
    • Anxiety = unknown territory that can destabilize your life and relationships
    • Always afraid someone was going to get mad at her.
    • Now she is very much in touch with her emotions and sees her connection to her heart as a strength.
    • Beatrice is an ENFP. Her path to growth is Introverted Feeling “Authenticity”
    • That is basically what she did in her path through the Enneagram and therapy.
    • One of the keys to using these models for growth is not allowing the initial ego response to avoid the truth.
    • Value the truth more than your ego’s need to protect itself against critical info.
    • “The truth shall set you free.”
    • Current growth project:
      • Owning her power and strength while also maintaining contact with humility.
    • Humility is the high side of Enneagram 2s.
    • It’s been a challenge for her to not make herself small and still feel grounded in the things she has to share.
    • Striking balance between knowing who she is and how she can help others without getting too unbalanced and fearful.
    • Keep an open mind as you learn new info with this model.
    • Defensiveness and ego can get in the way of learning who you are.
    • Be open to discomfort
    • Let in suffering.
    • Face your shadow.
    • Have a lot of compassion for yourself. Don’t get too critical of yourself.
    • If there is something you don’t like about what you are doing, there is a reason why.
    • Be willing to ask people for help.
    • Alone we can do nothing. We need to have friends on the growth path.
    • Take some of these principals and apply them in your own life.
    • Don’t let your ego get the better of you.
    • Don’t push away the things you don’t like.
    • “I’ll be critical of myself before anyone else can.”
    • Antonia had a story in her head that everything that failed in her life was related to her physical appearance.
    • Overly simplistic and shallow story.
    • The Complete Enneagram: 27 Paths to Greater Self-Knowledge
    • Sexual 3s can come across kind of shallow.
    • As long as you are attractive enough to attract a partner you are fine.
    • Antonia believed if she wasn’t attractive enough that meant death.
    • She knew the programming was bad but she didn’t have the ability to change the code.
    • Even if you’re not the most beautiful person on the planet, does this actually threaten your survival?
    • As an ENTP, Antonia has Extraverted Feeling as her tertiary.
    • She can absorb emotions but only among her intimates.
    • Anxiety is an unacceptable emotion to her and when Joel would go to anxiety she would flee.
    • That is part of his Enneagram journey. He needs something from her but her protectiveness keeps pushing him away.
    • Joel added anxiety to convince her of the importance of what he was trying to say, which only made things worse.
    • Enneagram is a great diagnostic tool and prescriptive.
    • If you have some persistent challenges and you can’t seem to beat them, use the Enneagram to help diagnose what your work is.
    • You need to want the truth more than you want the pain connected to the truth.
    • She doesn’t hazard guesses on people’s Enneagram type but she tries to hold her ideas loosely because it is way too easy to jump to the wrong conclusion about someone.
    • Everybody is the biggest expert on themselves.
    • There’s always overgeneralization on types.
    • Respect people’s boundaries.
    • beatricechestnut.com
    • Uranio Paes, MM

Want to Learn More From Beatrice? Check out:

Enneagram Roadmap


In this episode, Joel and Antonia talk with Dr. Beatrice Chestnut about how the Enneagram has helped her grow personally. #enneagram


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Showing 12 comments
  • Claire

    Avid fan of your podcast here! I was wondering why you haven’t posted podcasts for the past 2 weeks. I’m almost dependent on the during my Monday morning commutes 🙂

    • Dimitrisa

      With ya. I’m going through withdrawal syndrome here.

  • Amanda

    Loved the podcast! I am an INFJ and related so enormously to Beatrice’s description of how she functions as a self preservation 2. I nodded my head and even teared up throughout. I will need to do some more research about this and take the test, but I know last time I took it I was a 2, I just didn’t know about the subtypes. It really adds richness to my self-understanding and I want to learn more about it can be a template for growth. Thanks Antonia and Joel for bringing her on the show.

  • Danielle

    I find the connection between childhood and enneagram to be fascinating. I personally extend the influence past parents and place it more on authority figures in general. This helps me process my own nature as a 6 with the idea that 6s grew up under authority that was not properly managed. I wouldn’t say my parents were the individuals who mismanaged the authority though.

    I definitely get my self-preservation tendencies from both of my parents though. To the best of my understanding, my parents are both sp 3s. They both have been hugely influential figures in my life.

    For me, the mismanagement of authority came from the world around me in its entirety. Part of the gift and curse I found of possessing strong Ne at a young age was that I was extremely receptive of problems— at least at my age.

    I have a very vivid memory of being in the second grade. As a child, I attended vision therapy in the morning since my hand-eye coordination and depth perception were abysmal (well, those are still my weaknesses). So, I would arrive at school a little later than the other kids. The second grade classrooms were relatively distant from the other classrooms. So I would get there sometimes and I would find a classmate of mine just sitting outside of the classroom crying. He had recently had his tonsils removed and was still in a lot of pain. So, as kids often do, he cried as a way to cope with the pain.

    I would try to get into the classroom then to sit down and point out, “Hey, he’s really crying out there, maybe send him to the nurse’s?” But the door was locked. From what I could tell, the teacher thought an appropriate response to a crying second grader was just to lock him out of the room.

    And I remember sitting there absolutely frustrated because I was now going to miss schoolwork and I also had a headache from the noise. But behind those reasons, I was also frustrated because I couldn’t deal with the situation. As smart as I was at the age of 7 or 8, I had no way of knowing how to deal with the situation. To me, authority figures (this teacher in particular) had failed to live up to what they were supposed to do. I certainly couldn’t have articulated this at the time, but I knew what I was seeing was wrong.

    Of course, it is a good thing that most teachers don’t exercise authority in this way. This particular teacher (and some others I had in my elementary and middle school education) were just really bad at it.

    A lot of these events compounded in my head from a very young age. I eventually developed enough maturity to discern where I thought that individuals misused their pose and why it was harmful.

    One thing I was resistant to in descriptions of 6 at first was the idea that 6s hold on to structures of authority and follow them to gain a sense of security. And I think my observations and experiences as a child caused me to have a bit of a different approach. Like one would expect a 6 to, I value loyalty to people and causes. I’ve read that self-preservation 6s seek safety in building alliances—which fits me to a T. Still, I find that I still don’t resonate with the idea of latching on to some sort of system because I inherently mistrust authority.

    This leads me to think that maybe my mistrust and skepticism of authority is in a way the ideology I gravitate towards for security. Because if I can keep my distance and not embed too much of myself into something, then I have more power to shield myself from the actions of other people who may have bad intent or are just really incompetent.

    I tend to be a very cooperative person. I will generally work with and get along well with everyone at the basic level. But I have the sense that I won’t follow anyone or anything to the point where I will metaphorically throw myself and/or others off a cliff. If I see this happening, I will quickly withdrawal myself. I tend to really dislike when people seem to blindly follow authority because I see it as inherently dangerous. My own strategy of getting away probably doesn’t help anyone but myself in the long run, but it’s such an instinct for me.

    I have seen this trend in patterns with my own life too. I have more or less rejected the political ideology the community surrounding me growing up ascribed to. I noticed trends within it that just screamed danger to myself and to others as well. In the last few years, these started increasing and increasing until I just gave up on the whole concept because, at some point, something is going to give and there are likely going to be seriously negative consequences for people because of who they have listened to and how they have reacted.

    Albeit, I see similar problems in the other major ideology where I’m from. But I was never connected with it anyway. So, I haven’t had such an alarming number of red flags.

    Though, 6 type descriptive are usually not catered towards ENFP 6s. So, I wonder how much the disconnect just has to do with that. Most 6s I’ve encountered seem to be SJs. Not that SJs are blind followers of authority though either (some are I’m sure). But I feel my type being an ENFP gives me increased incentive to want to break through things like traditional authority structures.

    I also was slightly resistant to the idea of being sp for a little bit because I saw it as maybe being selfish in a sense. I wouldn’t call myself a selfish person. But I do have qualities of striving for personal safety and security and proritizing this. In a way, that is selfish. But we all have some self-interest in us somewhere. Wanting to protect yourself isn’t a bad type of selfishness necessarily.

  • Alex

    Wow, thanks for doing this episode! I hadn’t seen any enneagram resources that explained its pupose well (hadn’t looked very hard either). But after I read Antonia’s article about it on PH and looked into Beatrice’s resources more, I’m fascinated. I think it will be useful for me as a deeper look into my blind spots and weaknesses– like understanding WHY Fe is such a 3-year old, and WHY an introverted dominant-tertiary loop is a place of safety. I see the two models playing very well together.

    I was reading the description of type 5, and was a little put off by the idea of 5s having been neglected. I couldn’t think of any obvious sources of neglect, so I wasn’t sure how accurate that was to me. And then I remembered, like last week or something, how insistent I was that I didn’t know what to put for a ‘fun fact’ about myself on this promotional social media thing because “why would anyone care about this unless it’s related to my project content?” I say this all the time about social media and even about real-life people who are just beyond the close-friends circle- why would anyone care about what’s going on in my life? Like, holy crap, that’s such a statement of “I’ve gotten feedback that no one cares about me so I’m just not going to give it.” I still have no idea where that really comes from, but i’m excited to keep looking into the enneagram.

    • Alex

      Oh, to clarify I’m an INTP and a 5– don’t know yet which wing, or subtype, but no doubt i’m a 5.

  • Linda

    I have been trying to figure myself out since my mid-40s, which is over 20 years ago when I first learned about the MBTI. It’s never too late. We each have to find our teachers. I just started Merja’s course on Inner Parenting, and am using the Enneagram book, Deep Living, by Roxanne Howe-Murphy, as a companion.

    Joel and Antonia, you are real rock stars in how you present the MB. It is only through listening to your podcasts that I found the understanding and resonance that I have been seeking all these years. Thank you. And I appreciate how you partner and collaborate with people like Bea and Merja.

    • Linda

      Sorry, I meant to include this in my initial comment above. I’m an INFP and an Enneagram 4 w/5 wing. Probably self preservation.

  • Judy

    Very helpful podcast! I’d love another one with Beatrice that goes deeper into the nature of the subtype categories themselves. How did these subtype categories develop? What’s the history of their place within the Enneagram model? Why these three approaches rather than others?

    I am a certified Myers Briggs practitioner and find it important to emphasize to clients that the MBTI questionnaire is an assessment tool, not a test (it doesn’t quantitatively measure you against anyone else). The same is true for the Enneagram. These various “tests” help guide you to some possibilities, but both the MBTI and the Enneagram require you to do a lot of reflecting and exploration of your own behavior patterns before settling on a result. It’s not easy! That said, I found Beatrice’s book on the Enneagram and subtypes to be the absolute best resource for helping me comfortably own my type. I recommend it to people all the time.

    Finally, I’m curious to hear what you two and Beatrice would say about the way in which operating out of your inferior function while under stress (your 3-year-old is driving the car), also known as “being in the grip,” correlates (or not) to your Enneagram type when under stress.

  • Wisam

    Thank you for the podcast. Please, could you recommend a good website for the enneagram test that is accurate?
    I took a test on a few websites and I get variation in my results. My tritype is supposedly 125 but then another test says I am a 9.
    Thank you!

  • Amanda Tietjen

    Hello, I just started listening to your podcast and really love it. I am working on my masters in marriage and family therapy and am an INFJ-T. Could you tell me more about what makes the INFJ-T unusual and how I can use this insight to help others? I really appreciate being able to listen to conversations that I can relate to and will keep listening for great insight from your podcast. Also I really loved hearing Dr. Chestnut talk about her experience and how she has used her personality type to help her in her own practice. It really helped to inspire me.
    Thank you,
    Amanda Tietjen

  • Patti

    Fantastic Podcast! I took 3 pages of notes. I am a Three and just recently uncovered that I relate most to being a self- preservation 3. MIND BLOWING work. I fit a lot of the typical 3 profile but I don’t see myself as “success” oriented or the upfront person (even though I have and can be) I recently realized I have a fixation with money and wealth (or the lack of) and I didn’t think that was inline with the 3 description until I looked into the self preservation side. I love the enneagram and am considering coaching others as I continue to grow.

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