Type 2- The Helper
The Caring, Interpersonal Type:
Generous, Demonstrative, People-Pleasing, and Possessive
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.
“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's) maternal grandmother was an archetypal Two. During World War II, she was “Moms” to what seemed like half of Keesler 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)
Beatrice Chestnut from Beaticechestnut.com
Type Two is sometimes called Givers or Helpers, but an even better title is The Befriender, as Twos want to create rapport and connection with people. They usually give strategically in that they can be afraid to ask for what they need, so they give to others as a way of making themselves important and implicitly inviting others to meet their (unspoken) needs. They tend to be friendly, upbeat, and generous (to a fault). Their focus of attention is on other people, on important relationships, and what other people think and feel about them. They pay a lot of attention to whether or not others like them and they strive to be indispensable and approved of in the eyes of others. They are very empathic with others, but they can be out of touch with their own feelings and needs and overgive compulsively to others.
Basic Proposition: Love and survival depend on "giving to get".
Habitual Focus of Attention: Other people's needs
What "Givers" observe about themselves:
A preoccupation with the needs of others;
Pride in giving and helping;
Sometimes feel taken advantage of;
Have a hard time expressing their own needs;
Are manipulative; and
Alter their self-presentation to meet the needs of important others.
One of the best ways to see if a particular number on the Enneagram rings true for you, is to watch a panel of that number discuss their lives. Often books or teachings capture the concept, but panels bring it to life and can describe the subtleties like no one else can. If you think you might be a Type 2, see if you recognize yourself in this conversation: