Enneagram TWO Detail

TWOs are givers, pleasers, helpers. The original state of freedom where needs are met is replaced by the belief that “you get what you give; so give to get.” Their core passion is pride; this might be hard to grasp at first: TWOs see themselves as being able to meet others’ needs, but have no needs of their own. This is their lie: they say they are attuned to others; and their welfare, and they develop a history of being indispensable. But all the while, their hidden agenda is to somehow get their own needs met. TWOs can truly give altruistically, but the key lies in discernment and discrimination: they need to answer this question truthfully: what is my agenda; often they don’t discover their hidden agenda until they don’t get what they expected. Sometimes the needs they see in others is a projection of their own needs. Their pride gives them the feeling of being important. Their mind is organized around pleasing others; another person’s life can be a replacement for their own life, as they live it vicariously. They lose themselves in others.

A changing point can occur if TWOs allow their repressed needs to surface; they find themselves when they are alone; they are often afraid of being nothing when they’re alone. TWOs need to trust that there is always something there: they need to answer the question “who am I when I am alone?” They need to admit needs, and this can be humiliating. It is difficult to discover that they are not indispensable; their greatest fear is this: if I can’t be giving, will I still be loved? Their task is discernment: how to give and how much to give.

The TWOs appear to be very caring people. As children, they knew that they were beloved of the universe. When they could not maintain this truth, they became needy of the love of others to “re-convince” themselves of the truth they already deeply know. “Others must and will love me!” they demand, instead of resting in the love that they already are.

TWOs need to be needed. “I will get you to need me. I will ingratiate myself to you by loving service so that you cannot live without me.” Perhaps the message they received as a child was “I am loved when I am tender, understanding, ready to be helpful, and defer my own needs.” But in this way, the child also felt powerful, while grown-ups looked weak and needy. This provided fertile soil for the sort of false pride that is the compulsion of TWOs. They secretly look down on those they “serve,” and they see themselves as wonderful because they can serve and love so well. This pride is very subtle.

TWOs repress consciousness of their own needs and pretend they don’t have any needs at all. “My only need is to meet your need.” But be forewarned: finally, one day they realize, “No one’s giving back to me!” Then they get into the blame game and can become downright cruel. It’s almost the flip side of what they want themselves to be. But it can also be the beginning of their conversion into who they really are.

If they allow grace, TWOs may cry for days as they realize their hidden self-interest—that all along they have been giving in order to get something back. Such humiliation leads to their emerging virtue, which is humility. I think we see it in Pope Francis.

A mature, healthy Enneagram TWO returns to being the genuinely loving and beloved person that they once knew themselves to be. They have found their identity as the Love they already are, and they are now able to love themselves and others with God’s love. They no longer need to be continually reinforced from the outside.

The stressed TWO moves toward the unhealthy EIGHT. In times of stress TWOs can be deadly adversaries: they know what you need and will hold out providing it for you. They become confrontational and combative. They want full credit for what they do, they brag about their accomplishments, and they boss others around. They will apply emotional blackmail and intimidation to force someone to love them. From being sacrificial lambs, they become dominating and assertive.

Healthy TWOs move toward healthy FOURS. Self-actualizing TWOS learn to accept the full range of their emotions, and they learn to love themselves unconditionally. They learn to channel their feelings into creative projects. In times of security, they will let sadness surface, and will meet their own needs; healthy TWOs will help themselves with same intensity they look after others.

If you feel this describes you fairly well, then click here to explore spiritual practices that might be best suited for your type. Otherwise, click here to return to the summary descriptors of the types.