Type 2: The Giver/Helper

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E-SymTwolabeledThe Caring, Interpersonal Type:
Generous, Demonstrative, People-Pleasing, and Possessive

For more about the meaning of the arrows, see below.

Type Two in Brief

Twos are empathetic, sincere, and warm-hearted. They are friendly, generous, and self-sacrificing, but can also be sentimental, flattering, and people-pleasing. They are well-meaning and driven to be close to others, but can slip into doing things for others in order to be needed. They typically have problems with possessiveness and with acknowledging their own needs. At their Best: unselfish and altruistic, they have unconditional love for others.

  • Basic Fear: Of being unwanted, unworthy of being loved
  • Basic Desire: To feel loved
  • Enneagram Two with a One-Wing: “Servant”
  • Enneagram Two with a Three-Wing: “The Host/Hostess”

Key Motivations: Want to be loved, to express their feelings for others, to be needed and appreciated, to get others to respond to them, to vindicate their claims about themselves.

The Meaning of the Arrows (in brief)

When moving in their Direction of Disintegration (stress), needy Twos suddenly become aggressive and dominating at Eight. However, when moving in their Direction of Integration (growth), prideful, self-deceptive Twos become more self-nurturing and emotionally aware, like healthy Fours. For more information, click here.

Examples: Mother Teresa, Barbara Bush, Eleanor Roosevelt, Leo Buscaglia,Monica Lewinsky, Bill Cosby, Barry Manilow, Lionel Richie, Kenny G.,Luciano Pavarotti, Lillian Carter, Sammy Davis, Jr., Martin Sheen, Robert Fulghum, Alan Alda, Richard Thomas, Jack Paar, Sally Jessy Raphael, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Ann Landers, “Melanie Hamilton” (Gone With the Wind). and “Dr. McCoy” (Star Trek).

Type Two Overview

We have named personality type Two The Helper because people of this type are either the most genuinely helpful to other people or, when they are less healthy they are the most highly invested in seeing themselves as helpful. Being generous and going out of their way for others makes Twos feel that theirs is the richest, most meaningful way to live. The love and concern they feel—and the genuine good they do—warms their hearts and makes them feel worthwhile. Twos are most interested in what they feel to be the “really, really good” things in life—love, closeness, sharing, family, and friendship.

Louise is a minister who shares the joy she finds in being a Two.

“I cannot imagine being another type and I would not want to be another type. I like being involved in peoples’ lives. I like feeling compassionate, caring, nurturing. I like cooking and homemaking. I like having the confidence that anyone can tell me anything about themselves and I will be able to love them….I am really proud of myself and love myself for being able to be with people where they are. I really can, and do, love people, pets, and things. And I am a great cook!”

When Twos are healthy and in balance, they really are loving, helpful, generous, and considerate. People are drawn to them like bees to honey. Healthy Twos warm others in the glow of their hearts. They enliven others with their appreciation and attention, helping people to see positive qualities in themselves that they had not previously recognized. In short, healthy Twos are the embodiment of “the good parent” that everyone wishes they had: someone who sees them as they are, understands them with immense compassion, helps and encourages with infinite patience, and is always willing to lend a hand—while knowing precisely how and when to let go. Healthy Twos open our hearts because theirs are already so open and they show us the way to be more deeply and richly human.

Louise continues:

“All of my jobs revolved around helping people. I was a teacher who wanted to be sensitive to children and help them get off to a good start. I was a religious education director in a number of parishes. I thought that if people learned about the spiritual life, they’d be happier…The most important part of my life is my spiritual life. I was in a religious community for ten years. I married a former priest, and we both have our spirituality as the basis of our life together.”

However, Twos’ inner development may be limited by their “shadow side”—pride, self-deception, the tendency to become over-involved in the lives of others, and the tendency to manipulate others to get their own emotional needs met. Transformational work entails going into dark places in ourselves, and this very much goes against the grain of the Two’s personality structure, which prefers to see itself in only the most positive, glowing terms.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle facing Twos, Threes, and Fours in their inner work is having to face their underlying Center fear of worthlessness. Beneath the surface, all three types fear that they are without value in themselves, and so they must be or do something extraordinary in order to win love and acceptance from others. In the average to unhealthy Levels, Twos present a false image of being completely generous and unselfish and of not wanting any kind of pay-off for themselves, when in fact, they can have enormous expectations and unacknowledged emotional needs.

Average to unhealthy Twos seek validation of their worth by obeying their superego’s demands to sacrifice themselves for others. They believe they must always put others first and be loving and unselfish if they want to get love. The problem is that “putting others first” makes Twos secretly angry and resentful, feelings they work hard to repress or deny. Nevertheless, they eventually erupt in various ways, disrupting Twos’ relationships and revealing the inauthenticity of many of the average to unhealthy Two’s claims about themselves and the depth of their “love.”

But in the healthy range, the picture is completely different. My own (Don) maternal grandmother was an archetypal Two. During World War II, she was “Moms” to what seemed like half of Keisler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, feeding the boys, allowing her home to be used as a “home away from home,” giving advice and consolation to anyone lonely or fearful about going to war. Although she and her husband were not wealthy and had two teenage children of their own, she cooked extra meals for the servicemen, put them up at night, and saw to it that their uniforms had all of their buttons and were well pressed. She lived until her 80’s, remembering those years as the happiest and most fulfilling of her life—probably because her healthy Two capacities were so fully and richly engaged.

(from The Wisdom of the Enneagram, p. 127-128)

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Next Actions

  • Do you hate doing certain tasks you have to perform because you just don’t see the point in them?
  • Are you happiest when you are helping others achieve their goals or sort out their problems?
  • Do you often feel taken for granted as people that you have helped fail to thank you enough?
  • Do you find that you often start projects but fail to see them through as you are distracted by other people and their issues?

If you have identified yourself as a helper then try these simple tips to help restore the positive aspects of your personality type:

  • Identify your own needs and spend some time on meeting these needs. Make a diary note if necessary, perhaps telling yourself that you cannot help x, y or z until you have done at least one thing on your list to help yourself.
  • Start believing that you are not responsible for everyone else and you cannot fix all the problems.
  • Get better at identifying when people really need your help and when they are best left alone to sort themselves out.

You can turn your tendency to seek approval from others and your tendency to crave attention into the more positive attributes of compassion and focus on other human beings. This will help you to build long lasting friendships that help meet your underlying motivation to feel needed in a much more positive way.

There are a lot of things I could tell you about the enneagrams. If you want me to get into details about this personality type, if you want to find out what traits you should develop and what issues you should resolve, leave a comment bellow. If we get to 200 requests I'll write more about this personality type!

  • Paula

    Orice alt defect l-as fi negat,dar acesta e clar adevarat!L-am identificat demult!

  • annisia

    In copilarie ni se spunea de nenumarate ori “”nu e frumos sa nu ajuti daca poti, daca vrei ca tu sa fi ajutat la un moment dat.”” cred ca este vorba si despre cum am fost educati, transmiterea care ni se face este foarte importanta.

  • mirela

    ma bucur tare mult ca exista acest site. mi-a deschis ochii pentru multe lucruri…acum imi dau seama ce s-a intamplat de fapt…as dori si continuarea…multumim mult