You are not actually a single Enneagram type. You are all nine types to varying degrees. When someone is said to be a particular type, it means that is their primary or dominant type (often called their basic type or core type).
Other Enneagram influences on your personality besides your dominant type have to do with your wing types, gut type, heart type, head type, and instincts. Although it's often best to determine your dominant type before exploring these other influences, sometimes looking at these other influences can help you find your dominant type.
Let's explore how you can confirm type in relation to your dominant type and these other influences.
Your dominant or basic Enneagram type is indicated by one of nine numbers. It's what people refer to as your Enneagram type and is the type that you most relate to.
Often the reason people have difficulty with finding their basic type is that they see themselves in multiple types. If this is happening to you then what may help you find your type is to compare the types you're having difficulty with two at a time to see which type is more dominant. You can do this by comparing the two type descriptions or take a test that compares types.
The type comparison tests below let you compare any two types. The higher scoring type is the more dominant type.Enneagram User Guide - Type Comparison Tests
Your preferred wing is one of the two types next to your type as seen on the Enneagram symbol. Often, one wing will have more of an influence on you personality than the other.
If you're having trouble deciding on your basic type then you may find it easier to identify your type when you see it paired with your preferred wing for that type.
To determine preferred wing you can compare wing type descriptions or take the wing comparison tests below. The tests let you compare the two wing types of any type. The higher scoring type is the more dominant wing.Enneagram User Guide - Wing Comparison Tests
People sometimes are confused about which is their basic type and which is their preferred wing. This can happen when people identify strongly with two types next to each other on the Enneagram symbol.
If that happens then you need to determine which type is more dominant. You can use descriptions to do that or take a type comparison test. The test below compares any two types.Enneagram User Guide - Type Comparison Tests
Each type is in one of three centers of intelligence: the gut or body center (types 8, 9, and 1), the heart center (types 2, 3, and 4), and the head center (5, 6, and 7).
The tri-center approach identifies you as three types instead of just one, one type from each center.
The first step in determining your tri-center is to find your dominant type in each center: your gut type (8, 9, or 1), your heart type (2, 3, or 4), and your head type (5, 6, or 7). You can do this by comparing the descriptions of the three types in a center or taking a test that compares the three types for a given center.Enneagram User Guide - Center Type Comparison Tests
In addition to determining your gut, heart, and head types, you also need to determine your preferential order for those types (i.e., which is 1st, 2nd, and 3rd).
Your 1st type will be your basic type or what is generally called "your type." You then need to decide which of the two remaining types is more dominant.
You can do this by just comparing those two types using the two type descriptions or using a type comparison test.Enneagram User Guide - Type Comparison Tests
If you're not sure which of two types is your basic type and the two types are in different centers then you can just think of those two types as being the first two types in your tri-center while you try on both types to see which better fits for you.
There are three instincts associated with the Enneagram types: the self-preservation (sp) instinct, the sexual (sx) instinct, and the social (so) instinct.
The more traditional approach to using the instincts is to define three subtypes of a type. For example, if your basic type is type 1 then you're not simply a type 1 but more specifically an sp 1 or an sx 1 or an so 1.
If you're having difficulty determining your basic type, exploring the subtypes of a type can give a more nuanced look at a type.
To find your instinctual subtype you compare the three subtypes for your basic type. You can do this by comparing the subtype descriptions or take a test.Enneagram User Guide - Instinctual Subtype Comparison Test
A more recent approach to using the instincts is to look at them independent of type. So instead of being an sp 1 or sx 1 or so 1 you'd be sp-dominant or sx-dominant or so-dominant. This allows you to compare people's personality solely based on instinct.
For example, if one person is an sp 1 and another an sp 2 then they're just different types. On the other hand, if you look at them only in terms of instinct you'd be looking at how they're both sp-dom.
In addition to finding the dominant instinct, you could also find your preference for all three instincts (i.e., which is 1st, 2nd, and 3rd). This is often called your instinctual stacking.
While you could compare the three instinctual subtypes of your type to find your instinctual stacking, the subtype descriptions are specific to a particular type. A better way of finding stacking is to compare the instincts without reference to type. You could look at descriptions of the three instincts to do this or take a test that compares the three instincts.Enneagram User Guide - Instinctual Variant Stacking Test
Sometimes type descriptions are biased toward a particular instinct. Those descriptions can make it difficult to find your type if you have a different dominant instinct. By understanding your instinct you can hopefully see past that bias in the descriptions.