After 25 years on the planet, I thought I knew myself pretty well. But when an invite to a “self-discovery retreat” landed in my inbox, I raised an eyebrow. “Tell me more,” I thought, mentally scratching my chin.
The no-tech-allowed retreat advertised three days of self-discovery workshops, each focused on a different psycho-spiritual personality test. And if the draw of “unveiling some of my life purpose” and learning “simple strategies for achieving success,” as the description promised, wasn’t enough to have me hastily RSVPing “YES!”, the retreat’s setting at The Assemblage‘s property two hours outside of New York City (aptly called “The Sanctuary“) sure did it. I’m not one to say no to dreamy log cabins, decked-out glamping tents, and yoga centers looking out into the gloriously lush landscape.
As I packed my bags, I couldn’t wait to find out whether I had been missing out on insight that could lead to more fulfilling relationships and reaching the next stage in my career.
Keep reading to see what I learned from each of the 3 personality tests.
Day 1: Numerology
The first day of the retreat was lead by Donnalynn Civello, an intuitive life coach, holistic nutritionist, and author of Life Lessons: Everything You Had Ever Wished You Had Learned in Kindergarten. Her expertise: numerology. She told us that numerology can help you understand why you’re in certain relationships or why things happened a certain way in your life. “It’s specifically used to determine the ‘life lessons’ of a soul,” she says. “This system describes your major ‘patterns’ in this life—they describe why things happen the way they do for you.”
To find out your numbers, a little math is involved. Basically, you write down the numbers or your birthday’s month, day, and year, adding up their different digits. So if your birthday is October 14, 1997, for example, you’d write down: 1+0+1+4+1+9+9+7=32. Three and two are your first two important numbers to remember. To find your third, you add those digits together. Which means, in this example, your numerology digits are 3, 2, 5.
Each number (1-9) comes with a list of corresponding qualities, just like your horoscope or Myers-Briggs type, as well as a scale. (So you can be “high” in one number, really resonating it, and “low” in another.) Civello encouraged us to look over our numbers and look for patterns.
And when I looked at my three numbers and the traits that corresponded with them, I did see patterns. With two of my numbers, the descriptions fit me to a T. With the third, I was on the low side of the scale, but I did see some parts of myself that I often choose to ignore. I’ve always considered myself a bohemian spirit, but one of the qualities on my third number was stability. When I really thought about it, I realized that I actually did value stability. It was a personality trait I didn’t really think about or value before, but now, I know it’s a part of me worth honoring.
Civello says that this kind of “Aha!” moment is exactly why numerology can be so powerful. “If a pattern is showing up again and again for you, it’s the universe’s way of giving you another opportunity to work through the same situation differently this time,” she says. “We’re so busy that we tend to go on autopilot and repeat the same situations over and over again, but expect a different result. That’s an indication that someone is sleepwalking their way through their lives.”
Day 2: Human design
Human design guide and leadership coach Erin Claire Jones led the second day of the retreat. If you’ve never heard of this woo-woo version of Myers-Briggs, it’s basically the science of discovering yourself. You learn your “type” by entering your birth date, time, and place into the free chart generator at My Body Graph. Depending on your results, you’ll be sorted into one of five groups: manifestor, manifesting generator, generator, projector, or reflector.
According to my results, I’m a manifesting generator. That means I like to get tasks done quickly, even skipping steps to get there. But a reflector is more careful. I’d love to know what my coworkers are; I think it would help us work better together because we’d learn why and how we think similarly and differently.
It helped me realize why I did act a certain way and gave me permission to do so.
“You can use human design in every decision you make: How you’re picking opportunities, choosing friends and romantic partners, pursuing purpose, and in your career,” Jones says. “It gives you a language and a framework to think about how you operate, and more importantly, how you can find your flow.”
Besides learning to be more empathetic to people who are different “types” than me, what I took away from the human design test was reassurance. It helped me realize why I did act a certain way and gave me permission to do so. There’s no “right” or “wrong” type, so while it felt good to recognize why I act the way I do, it also was helpful for me to acknowledge that not everyone thinks the way I think.
Day 3: Enneagram
The last day of the retreat was all about the enneagram. “The enneagram framework allows one to discover the ‘why’ behind [our behavior],” says Vrindavan Rao, who led the workshop with his Upbuild co-founder Rasanath Das. The enneagram diagram has nine different points, each one a different “type” that has its own corresponding positive and negative qualities. To figure out your type, you read the descriptions of each one and decide which resonates with you the most.
During the workshop, Rao and Das revealed what each type needs to let go of in order to thrive. Seeing my more negative traits laid out in black and white was definitely a rude awakening—but again, one that felt necessary for personal growth. Unlike the other two tests, this wasn’t just about acceptance; it was about being open to change. “When we understand our strengths and our shadows, we have the capacity to take responsibility for ourselves,” Rao says. “That is the greatest need in any relationship, personal or professional—the ability to take responsibility for your own ‘stuff.'”
This entire retreat taught me to be super aware of my decision, motivations, and how I present myself to the world. Sometimes we only see what we want to see—or we believe our way of being is best. But when you’re aware of your default mode and you learn to be aware of other people’s personality traits, it becomes easier to celebrate each other’s differences. And that’s worth opening your eyes to.
As told to Emily Laurence.
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