However: it gets a bit more complex. The wing – another type – adds an important, sometimes contradictory, element to your personality.
The wing is one of the types that sit next to your core type, when you look at the enneagram diagram.
For example, if you’re a type 9, your wing will be a one or an eight, and to get the best understanding of your personality type, you’ll take into account both your core type and your wing type.
Some people will feel more influenced by their wing than others. When I take tests, I come out as a 5 with a 4 wing. It makes sense, I have the introverted, curious, analytical, and insightful aspects of a 5. Like a 4, I’m rather sensitive, I like feeling different though I can succumb to dark spells, being on the outside looking in; which can feel isolating.
There are a whole set of names for the more specific 18 types: that is, each of the 9 core types plus it’s wing.
There is some disagreement among the various traditions of the Enneagram about whether we have one or two wings. Technically, everyone has two wings—both of the types that sit adjacent to your core type are sitting somewhere in your personality since each person possesses the potentials of all nine types.
However, proponents of the two-wing theory believe that both wings operate equally in everyone’s personality. (For example, they believe that a Nine would have roughly equal amounts of his or her Eight and One wings.)
I’m more inclined to believe, like many others, that while the two-wing theory applies to some people, most of us have a dominant wing. I can’t see much evidence of the 6 in my personality, though the 6 is one of the most elusive types in seeing ourselves in it.
So yes – I’m with the people who believe that while the so-called second wing is in there to some degree, the dominant wing is way more important – and it shows. For example, Twos with Three-wings are noticeably different from Twos with One-wings in their personality.
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One more aspect of wings is worth mentioning. Many people in the latter half of their lives report the development of their so-called “second wing” especially if they’ve been pursuing psychological and/or spiritual work.
This is something that really appeals to me about the enneagram: my understanding is that the goal is to develop the positive aspects of each and every type: at it’s healthiest form.
I know we don’t want to be generic, grey blobs of personality, but it sure would be great to be able to use any of the types superpowers when the situation needs it.
And I believe the first step is understanding what each type is, what type you most identify with now, and what your dominant wing is.
According to Don Riso:
“it does not promise miracles. It is not possible to write a psychological “cookbook” for becoming a healthy, fulfilled individual. Becoming a whole human being is, by definition, a challenging process which goes on as long as we live.”
Next week we’ll be talking about the Levels of Development: what it looks like to be the unhealthy version of a type versus the healthy, self actualised version. Really helpful stuff coming up!