Hello beautiful! Its been all fireworks, street festivals and marching bands over here this week as the Virgin Mary statue makes her nine day pilgrimage around Granada. (Catch a video of her processional and more current adventures by connecting with me over on Instagram and Facebook.) And I love it. I love the carnival atmosphere. I love the twinkle lights and the children, families, older people and lovers holding hands. Everyone strolling the cordoned off streets.

A few nights ago I laid outside on our giant inflatable lobster pool toy for a few minutes (what? I pulled it up out of the water and it was the most comfortable thing to rest on and look up at the night sky.)

As I looked at the moon and heard the fireworks and the hum of people laughing and talking and singing and horns blowing nearby as part of the Mary festivities I felt a sense of recognition. Whether it is the Virgin Mary or the moon or God or The Love/Universe or a good Rumi poem or friend – one of the things which brings us together is that we all need a place where we can lay down our longing:

Longing for beauty.

For community.

For our little lives to have meaning.

For connection.

For freedom from pain, physical and emotional.

For having enough.

For safety and physical needs met for us and for our beloveds.

Sometimes that neediness inside us can make us feel separate. But really we are never more fully connected in our humanity than in those places where we feel tight or lonesome. It is a universal experience and something which seems to bubble up this time time of year. December is a moody time: a time of waiting and turning inward (which can create tension with the popular pressures to “finishing the year strong” and “buy the perfect gift.”)

So we know that there are some common human inner experiences which define us. But there are also very significant ways in which we are different – one of the most important being our Enneagram type.

When I talk to my children about the Enneagram I say that there are nine different “flavors” of people. Like ice cream.
And all of them are beautiful and delicious. But they are distinct.

And the Enneagram is 100% your SUPER POWER when it comes to holiday gatherings of every sort. But it has to be held in a certain way. Otherwise you can hurt yourself and hurt others.
So read on for this weeks reflection or Strategy # Three to managing your growth (and family) through the holidays.



Sure you can be in relationship (and go to holiday family gatherings) without knowing your Enneagram personality type, but honestly I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to take off the heavy hands. This tool allows you to first identify your own filter and priorities in relationships and life and to appreciate that there are eight other ways to see it.

It is also the foundation and first step in my new book, The Flourish Formula. Here is a little taste:

“We are each born infused with our essential self. You can see this innate life force shine through when you hold a newborn or in tender interactions with people who are sick, dying or have a mental challenge that keeps them from hiding behind a socially constructed self. 

But most of us can’t bear to go through life that open and vulnerable because life can be rough. We get bumped and bruised and hurt, so we wrap ourselves in a package called personality. The problem is that we start to over-identify with the package. We come to think that we are the package and forget that there are more expansive versions of ourselves within — our deepest selves. From an Enneagram perspective, we call this our essence.

As children, with our nervous systems still developing, it truly does serve us to create a personality package. It would simply overload our circuits to remain completely open to life with all its intensity and rough edges. (Perhaps if we could learn to meditate at three or four we could swing it. My dream for the world!) Filtering through our Enneagram perspective is adaptive, especially at the beginning. You could imagine the Enneagram personality as a cast that aids us in healing a primary wound.

But at a certain point as adults, we have a choice. We are older, we have more wisdom and resources and fully-developed nervous systems. Now, it is not the wound that is affecting us, for the wound has long since healed. It is the cast, or the personality package, that limits our freedom of movement.

The Enneagram identifies nine personality types: three types lead with their heart, three types lead with their head and three types lead with their gut or body knowing. We all tend to lead with one of these centers of intelligence, make significant use of another and underutilize the third.
You all probably know and recognize certain people, friends or family members who might fall into these different categories: for example, the husband of your friend who is super analytical and seems to live in his head, or the aunt who is always helping and giving and loving even if you don’t need what she offers. Or that quick-to-anger colleague who has an uncanny gut instinct. You may even have a natural sense about where you land, given these three categories.”

Again for more on the Enneagram and my distilled step by step process for identifying your type – grab your copy of The Flourish Formula: An Overachiever’s Guide to Slowing Down & Accomplishing More.

For today I want to offer some guidance for how to use the Enneagram to preserve your own growth vis-a-vis holiday gatherings and stress.

Let’s start actually with how not to use it. Please don’t go in and start “typing” everyone in your family or circle of friends. This applies to other personality tools as well. Trust me – your mother or brother really doesn’t want you to tell them that they are a “pitta” ayurveda type or Six on the Enneagram or an ENTJ.

They really don’t.

This is a key concept in awareness work: The only person you can change is yourself.

So how can you use the Enneagram? First, use it to cultivate your compassion and curiosity. Just remembering that there are eight other ways to view the world (and eight other virtues) can help broaden your perspective. Then instead of focusing how other people’s personalities are affecting your holiday experience, consider how your perspective might be limiting your awareness of the situation and keeping you from the pleasure or positive experiences which could be available to you in it. Lastly offer yourself a serious dose of compassion and see if you can loosen up some of your tight places inside to simply be with what is happening in a new way.

This is not easy. But it can cause serious shifts in how you experience your own life and choices, especially at holiday or family gatherings or anywhere which feels “scripted.”

Also my second favorite way to use your Enneagram awareness is to TAKE REALLY GOOD CARE OF YOURSELF.

You know what you are hungry for.

If it is approval and love – how can you heap up a big plate of that for yourself before you head into the holiday gatherings? Could you engage in meditation, quiet time, a walk in nature?

If you know you tend to blow through a room with too much energy and that people are knocked over (unintentionally) by your big presence – how could you discharge some of that energy before you go with a brisk walk or swim or otherwise grounding and centering?

If you tend to swallow your own opinion could you practice naming and giving yourself what you truly desire even if it is before or after the group holiday events?

Things can be a bit wonky this time of year and morning routines can get swallowed by the extra stress of gifting and travel. This calls for what one of my coaching clients this week called “guerrilla self-care.” I love this! Yes! Sneak it in around the edges but do sneak it in.

Now over to you – how do you use The Enneagram as an ally during the holidays? What questions do you have about your type? I’d love to hear your feedback over on the blog.

Wishing you a holiday season full of all the good,


PS Would you like to gift a friend or family member a copy of The Flourish Formula? It is super easy! I have included instructions below. If you would like a gorgeous card to print out and tuck in a stocking or go with your gift, just send me a quick email to cp@courtneypinkerton.com with “Flourish GiftCard” in the subject line and we will email you one to print out.

How to Purchase a Kindle Book as a Gift

You can give Kindle books as a gift to anyone. (All you need is an email address, theirs or yours.)
You can send or receive Kindle books as gifts even if you do not own a Fire tablet or Kindle e-reader. Recipients can read a Kindle book gift on a supported Amazon device or Kindle reading app. Before you purchase a Kindle book as a gift, make sure that the recipient’s email address is valid.
Note: In order to gift a Kindle book title, you will need a valid 1-Click payment method for your account. You can set this up by going to Manage Your Content and Devices, selecting the Settings tab, and then clicking Edit Payment Method below Digital Payment Settings.
To purchase a Kindle book as a gift:
From the Kindle Store in your desktop browser, select the book you want to purchase as a gift: The Flourish Formula.
On the product detail page, click the Give as a Gift button.

Enter the personal email address of your gift recipient.

Tip: If you are unsure of the email address for your recipient or want it to be a surprise you can select Email the gift to me before placing your order.

This allows you to forward the gift email or print and personally deliver it to your recipient. The gift recipient can enter the Gift Claim Code from the email, after logging in to their Amazon account.

Enter a delivery date and an optional gift message.

Click Place your order to finish your gift purchase using your Amazon 1-Click payment method.

You can redeliver a Kindle book gift you’ve purchased by going to Your Digital Orders in Your Account. From the Order Summary page, click the Resend E-mail button.

“Dear Courtney,
Your book, The Flourish Formula, will be MY GIFT to myself, my mother and many close friends this Christmas season. Thank you for creating a “guide” for us to find balance in our lives and appreciation for the unique lives each of us leads. Wishing you and your family love and many blessings this holiday season. Congrats on the new book and website! Xoxo Catherine”

Join Catherine and Gift The Flourish Formula Here.



Courtney Pinkerton is a certified life coach and the author of the Amazon bestseller, The Flourish Formula: An Overachiever’s Guide to Slowing Down & Accomplishing More. Courtney is an inner life coach and a lover and a teacher of the Enneagram. She has helped hundreds of conscious women pursue their most salient goals and discover more pleasure in the everyday. She has dual master’s degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is a certified Wayfinder life coach and the creator of the flourish coaching method. After selling their house and all their belongings and spending a year adventuring in Nicaragua tutored by their neighbors in the art of slowing down and living more, Courtney and her husband and their three children now make their new home in a co-housing community in Asheville, North Carolina.






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