True Freedom or Just an Illusion?

True Freedom or Just an Illusion?

As we celebrate July 4th, a symbol of our collective independence, it’s a great time to reflect on freedom as an ideal that we experience in highly personal ways. One framework to explore how we view freedom is the Enneagram, a tool for understanding human personality and behavior. By examining the nine Enneagram Types, we can gain deeper insights into the many ways people perceive and pursue freedom.

The word “Enneagram” comes from two Greek words: ennea, meaning “nine,” and gramma, meaning “something written” or “a drawing.” The term refers to a nine-pointed geometric figure, which represents the nine distinct personality Types in the Enneagram system. The Enneagram reveals how each Type is driven by specific needs and coping strategies that were formed in response to childhood experiences. These strategies, while initially helpful to navigating challenges early in life, often become habitual patterns that end up limiting our freedom.

The Role of the Ego

Each Enneagram Type is associated with core ego needs that shape how we see the world and these needs show up in our behavior and decisions. For example, a person might seek control to avoid feelings of imperfection and to uphold high standards (Type 1) or strive for success to avoid feeling unsuccessful or lacking in value (Type 3). The ego is the part of our psyche that shapes how we see ourselves. It creates an illusion of freedom by convincing us that the familiar strategies we’ve used throughout our lives will lead to fulfillment. In reality, this often traps us in a cycle of dependency on our habitual patterns, which hinders our ability to make different choices and find true freedom.

Habitual Patterns and Coping Strategies

Our Enneagram Type’s core motivations stem from intelligent coping strategies that we developed in childhood to navigate our environments. For example, a child who had an experience of feeling overwhelmed by unpredictability might exhibit characteristics of a Type 6, seeking security and support to feel safe. Similarly, a child who was required to take on adult responsibilities early in life might exhibit characteristics of a Type 8, seeking control and power to avoid feeling vulnerable. These strategies become habitual, driving us to repeat the same behaviors and thought patterns over and over. Despite our belief that we’re making choices freely, we’re often acting out of deeply ingrained habits.

True Freedom Beyond the Ego

True freedom requires awareness of these patterns and the courage to move beyond them. The Enneagram serves as a map for self-discovery, helping us to identify and understand our automatic reactions. By recognizing the limitations imposed by our ego and our habitual patterns, we can begin to choose more consciously. This might involve facing uncomfortable emotions, questioning long-held beliefs, and embracing new ways of being.

Independence Day celebrates the collective freedom of our nation, but it also invites us to reflect on our personal freedom. Are we truly free, or are we bound by the invisible chains of our ego-driven patterns? Each of us holds the key to our own freedom. Contact us at Tandem Partners if you’d like to learn more.