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How our pain can be a good sign of our growth

There is one truth that many people fail to share about personal growth: that it often gets worse before it gets better. What do we mean by that? You've likely explored various healing methods by now, given the abundance of available information. You may also have noticed that many self-development teachers often emphasize only the positive aspects we'll experience if we follow certain practices that promise change. It's understandable why some choose to focus solely on the positive side; it's tempting for all of us to only see the beautiful and desirable aspects of who we can become. It provides motivation and extra energy to invest, especially when the promised outcomes seem so great. It's a crucial step to move us out of our comfort zone, especially when that comfort zone relates to the suffering we have become accustomed to. However, once we move to the next step—the actual work or practice—we may feel that someone deceived us, as we start to experience many unpleasant experiences that are necessary to reach our promised destination.


Working with the Enneagram, we delve into deep-seated patterns ingrained within us. As we commit to our growth path, we become increasingly aware of some of our destructive behaviors. The more we work on ourselves, the more we see aspects of ourselves in a light we never considered before. It's true that the more we identify with our Enneagram type and its associated patterns, the more we tend to view ourselves in a positive light or as a right way to live. We commend ourselves for our approved actions, viewing them positively because we believe they can fulfill our desires. However, as we start questioning our personality type and seeing our qualities from different perspectives, we realize the broader spectrum of our actions and their impact on our surroundings. Same actions, different awareness; this newfound awareness often brings more pain, as we see how limited our expressions are and how often we act contrary to our true desires. As we embark on the path of personal growth, we begin to question our behavior and to seek alternative choices, which inevitably bring some experience of pain along with them. Each time we muster the courage to act differently—to express our true feelings or opinions—we experience pain, whether physical, mental, or emotional, as we dismantle our ego's resistance. The more authentic we become in the moment, the more pain we endure—an unavoidable part of personal growth. Viewing this pain as negative and avoidable only perpetuates the cycle, keeping us stuck where we are.

Let’s look at nine different journeys:

When type one individuals embark on their personal growth, they experience themselves becoming more irrational and moody.

When type two individuals embark on their personal growth journey, they discover that what they like doing actually involves being with others less than they are used to, honouring a newly arising feeling of wanting to be by themselves and more often saying “no” to the invitations they receive.

When type three individuals explore their personal growth, they become more emotionally aware, which may seem less productive than before, and they may also notice aspects of themselves from a negative perspective.

When type four individuals embark on their personal growth they feel like they become more “cold” and emotionless while simultaneously becoming more productive. They also experience more preferences that might go against the common dynamic of their existing relationship.

When type five embark on their personal growth they become more sensitive and emotionally touched by situations and their experiences with people become less controllable than they once were.

When type six embark on their personal growth they become more aware of their preferences and stronger in the way they see what is right for them.

When type seven embark on their personal growth they become more aware of the large variety of actions they take and begin to question whether any of them even have the meaning or value that they first anticipated they would.

When type eight individuals delve into personal growth, they discover new sensitivity and vulnerability arising that interferes with their understanding of “personal strength”.

When type nine individuals embark on personal growth they start to notice themselves impulsively expressing different views than those held by the people in their surroundings. Also becoming more separated from those in their surrounding with the immergence of a stronger sense of  “I”.  

After reading all nine different ways of experiencing growth it is evident from the outside that they are healthy new ways of seeing the world that arise for each of the types individually, but we also witness how it creates so much pain as it goes against the practiced understanding and coping strategy that was used thus far and has been familiar. In addition, not knowing where the new path will take us, it can bring a lot of anxiety as it can seem to be going in the opposite direction of healing.


Pain is temporary; it signifies letting go of the old—old outcomes, old self-perceptions—ushering in a transformative state where we feel closer to our true selves than ever before. We may recognize some past behaviors as destructive, but now, we're grateful for having gone through it all. It's a moment for celebration, for realizing that life is ever-evolving, moving in cycles, with each lesson leading to the next explorations and new ways knowing ourselves. Understanding this cycle allows us to accept, be brave, and celebrate our journey that can be seen as heroes. It's crucial to surround ourselves with supportive groups, relationships, and professional guidance to navigate the challenges with compassion and love.


The beautiful aspect of this journey of personal growth is that, eventually, we do reach all of the positive aspects of growth that we were originally promised. No one truly knows what shape it will take, instead it becomes an authentically unique experience for each person individually. However, we can come to one common definition, that by traversing this path, we do become a more connected, stronger, and integrated version of ourselves.


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We are all on this beautiful journey of self-discovery, together.


If you need support, please contact our Enneagram coach, Viltare.



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