Enneagram Type Two Overview

Caring for others

What is an Enneagram Type Two like? What’s the difference between a Two wing One (2w1) and a Two wing Three (2w3)? What are Two relationships like? Read on to find out, along with an overview of what makes a Two tick.

The Riso & Hudson name for Type Two is The Helper. These roles are valued and lauded in our culture, and are particularly rewarded within Christianity, which can make growth and transformation for Twos particularly confusing and difficult.

The Two rests within the Heart Center (more on this below), which seems lovely and appropriate for givers – until we remember that the primary emotion of the Heart Center is shame. What is the Two ashamed of? At their core, Twos have believed the lie that they are not loved for themselves alone, and that perhaps there is no love in the world.

Think about a time when someone hurt you to the point that you felt unloved; that felt terrible! That is the unconscious feeling that Twos operate under, that they try desperately to make not true. Because the idea that you are not worthy of love is terrifying, and worse still the idea that the universe itself may be ultimately loveless.

Consequently, Twos determine to become the love in the universe that they fear does not exist, to prove that feeling wrong. Relationships are critical to Twos, and others appreciate Twos because they always have the right words, buy the perfect gift and can always be relied upon for help. If you have a Two friend, that is the person you call first when you need a shoulder to cry on or help in a crisis.

The Enneagram 2’s Motives

Average Twos unwittingly love and serve in order to make themselves indispensable to others. It does not come from a selfless place; they expect relational intimacy and gratitude in return. If you have ever neglected a Two relationship, you will hear about it – subtly at first, and more vocally if they get mad enough. “After all I’ve done for you!” is a stock phrase for angry Twos.

This is not mere pettiness. It truly does feel like a life-and-death matter if relationships are out of order according to the Two. If they feel a relationship is in jeopardy, they will crank up the “love” in an attempt to shore it up. The unconscious goal is to create dependency so that they will be the “special friend” that the other comes to for love.

However, if Twos are in at least a place of average emotional health, we don’t see the conditional nature of their love—and they don’t realize it, either. In the Church, always in need of helpers, Twos are held up as examples of God’s love. They get a lot of props for getting their own needs met because it looks like they are selflessly meeting others’ needs. There’s a brain tweak, right?

Unconditional love is really hard (impossible?) for all of us, as we have few models of it on the Earth. In other words, don’t judge the Twos. They are just trying to survive. In the process, they actually do manage to do good in the world, whatever their subconscious motives may be.

Neglect and Health

In all this striving to survive by loving, Twos typically neglect their own needs. That’s because they learned the unconscious message that it’s not okay to have your own needs; that would be a distraction from paying attention to others’ needs. As a result, Twos often have no way to vent their own feelings and frustrations. They tend to neglect their physical or emotional bodies and often suffer from over-eating as a way to self-comfort.

At their healthiest, though, Twos are models of what true, Godly love is like. The Apostle John is one such example. He even refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”! (Though that may be a way for the author to avoid referring to himself by name in the Gospel he wrote.) In fact, I have heard John referred to as “the love apostle.” There is an extra-Biblical story that John would travel to various churches and give a three-word sermon: “Love one another.” He would just repeat than phrase until people got it and began to actively love and serve each other right there in the gathering! And his treatise on love in the fourth chapter of his first letter is stunningly beautiful and powerful. I encourage you to read 1 John 4:7-21 again and experience it as a Two who understands real love.

The Building Blocks of Type Two

Let’s look at the various components that make up an Enneagram Type Two personality.

Center of Intelligence: Heart/Feeling (underlying emotion is shame)

Hornevian Group: Compliant (to the superego)

Harmonic Group: Positive Outlook

Object Relation Group: Rejection

As a Heart type, Twos process the world through their emotions. But in The Wisdom of the Enneagram, Riso & Hudson are quick to point out that Heart types rarely make contact with their true hearts and instead “substitute all kinds of reactions for the power of real feelings.” I’m thinking that, since their underlying emotion is shame, Twos subconsciously fear that if they contact their real hearts, they will be overwhelmed by feelings of worthlessness and therefore avoid it.

Instead, they focus on actions that will make them feel good about themselves, giving them value according to the dictates of their superego. Their superego message is, “You are good or okay if you are loved by others.” A Compliant type, they are very obedient to this message, which is particularly loud because the Compliant superego is fat! That is, it’s louder and more forceful than in the other Hornevian groups.

For the Two, validation comes from external sources. As part of the Positive Outlook group, Twos are certain that their actions can help improve the lives of those they love. They busy themselves serving and empathizing, making themselves indispensable to others. Riso & Hudson say that they are over-identified with the positive aspects of their identity. So, they focus on those, keep serving and empathizing, and the cycle goes on unabated.

But because they are part of the Rejection object relations group, they live in fear of being rejected and defend against it by making sure that they are valuable to others by serving them. That shame inside them has convinced them that they have no inherent value. It is a lovely thing in the abstract to serve others; it is a kind of curse when you are a Two, because it requires that you ignore your own needs.

Enneagram 2 in Stress

When things are not going as Type Twos would like them to, and their standard coping mechanisms of caring more and thinking positively aren’t working anymore, they can take on the lower traits of Type Eight. They can become quite blunt and forceful – no more waiting in the wings to be acknowledged. They may fly into a rage and may bring up all the things they’ve done for the other person, letting them know how unappreciated they feel.

On the flip side, when Twos are in a place that feels supportive and stable, they move toward Type Four’s higher qualities. They are able to express their own needs and contact their own hearts. They learn to accept all their feelings without being ashamed about them. They take all of the emotional sensitivity and care they have for others and apply it to themselves.

Enneagram Two Wings

Think about the Enneagram symbol and how the numbers are arranged on it. On either side of each Type, there is a number that can exert influence on that Type. For the Two, that’s Types One and Three. Here’s what that influence looks like:

Enneagram Type Two wing One (2w1): Riso & Hudson call this combination The Servant. These Twos feel responsible for others’ welfare and war against their own needs and feelings, which they regard as selfish. They may be extremely self-critical and ignore their health as they work in the background to serve other and thus feel significant.

Enneagram Type Two wing Three (2w3): Riso & Hudson call this combination The Host/Hostess. These Twos are more good-humored and friendly, less self-critical and more ambitious and task-oriented. They are more direct about what they want as they focus on the quality of their relationships; they can be high-handed and arrogant at times.

Enneagram 2: The Helper

Is there a Two in your life? If so, you are blessed with a constant friend. Rejoice in that. Or, have you discovered yourself in this post? Rejoice in the holy aspect of recognizing how important people are – but don’t forget to include yourself in that recognition. I am blessed to have several Twos in my life who are safe havens of love for me, and that’s a pretty great thing to have.

Helpers are a necessary part of society. Even if some Twos are asleep to their deeper motives, they do bless the world with their acts of attentive kindness. All of us have a bit of Two in us, so let’s consider how we can tap into the servant heart of this Type in our own lives.



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