Dependent Stance: Twos

All great models of human persons agree that three basic intelligences give us modes of being in the world—thinking, feeling, and doing. All Enneagram types place thinking, feeling, and doing in one of the three categories—preferred[1], repressed, and supporting. The Enneagram’s Dependent Stance is organized around their shared repression of the thinking center.


Unfortunately, your preferred center recognizes only one third of the human experience, and disregards the other two thirds. As you wear your preferred “lenses,” you neglect, to your own detriment, to see and develop the other two centers. Developing your repressed center is some of the most important and difficult Enneagram work. Therefore, this series of posts will focus on how the Dependent Stance can nurture their center of thinking intelligence.


Dependent Stance numbers (One, Two and Six) are oriented to the actions of others.Twos, in particular, are attuned to the feelings of others, and doing supports feeling as Twos respond to feelings through serving and caring for those around them. Twos are relational and warm literally without thinking. This may sound noble, but this creates a habitual responder, rather than a whole person. It means Twos do not take the time to think productively about themselves. Productive thinking (the only true kind of thinking there is) moves from one ideological position to another. This mental activity is distinctive because it generates new insights and comes to new conclusions. This kind of thinking is a stark contrast from an internal racket fixated on the needs of others and how you might meet them. Twos must set time aside to be alone and take a break from internal racket and nurture productive thinking.


Two’s idealized self image is that they are loving and caring, but they develop this image to the point that they do not care for themselves. Twos try to elicit gratitude and appreciation because they want to be loved but they settle for appreciation. They must learn that feeling loved is an inside job between them and God. To discover this they must make time to be alone and go inside. This will involve a combination of journaling and contemplative prayer.


Failing to care for yourself, ultimately undermines the Twos ability to care for others. Left unchecked, their emotional and physical activity are compulsions, which derive out of feelings of inadequacy, and ultimately derive its core from a deep seeded, unspoken/unaware belief that they have no value unless they can serve, help or nurture.


This means that Twos must take time to be by themselves, but this is a difficult practice for twos, who struggle to know who they are or understand their value apart from relationships. However, this only makes time alone all the more important. Twos must take a break from all of the relational and emotional “noise” in their life so that they can listen to their own needs. Alone time means disconnecting from technology as well because reaching out to others electronically will be a strong temptation. Ideally, Twos should set aside time to be alone first thing in the morning whenever possible. Twos, be alone and journal before you talk to anyone or are stimulated by anything. Your goal is to get in touch with your own needs and feelings, which are most accessible to you before the noise of other people’s feelings crowds out the sound of your own. Think of feelings like sediment in a glass, when you first wake up in the morning your feelings from the previous day have settled at the bottom. If you can reflect quietly before the glass is stirred by the events and people of the day then your feelings will be more accessible since they have settled in the bottom of the glass. This is a hard practice given our technology. I have noticed that even I, even as a Five, check my phone first thing every morning. The subtext of this compulsion is, “who needs my expertise?” I can’t imagine how much more challenging this is for Twos, but consider what practical steps you might take to be alone and unstimulated first thing in the morning.


Twos do not do understand the need for personal boundaries, but they need them so they must construct them arbitrarily. Creating space for yourself might be especially difficult because you have probably trained others to need you and they may not appreciate your decision to make yourself a priority. This will take an extraordinary amount of resolve from a people-pleasing Two, but a true friend will understand your need for time alone. Most Twos are external processors, which means that journaling will be an essential key to your productive thinking during this time.


My Enneagram mentor, Suzanne Stabile, says that this is solitary work that cannot be done alone. Find a friend, who helps you think productively about yourself. The friend could be almost any number, but a Five might be especially helpful here. Meet with this friend regularly and state the purpose of the meeting explicitly—this time is about thinking productively about the Two’s life! This time is about the Two and meeting theirneeds and thinking productively about them.Twos are clever in their ability to turn the topic of any conversation away from themselves and towards others. Make this regular meeting with your friend an intentional time where your needs are the focus of the conversation and try to take this practice with you into other conversations. When others ask you how you are doing make it your practice to give them a substantive answer before you move onto other business.


The Twos aversion to talking about themselves is a symptom of their false humility. Twos have believed the lie that it is humble to forget their own needs and serve others, but Twos misread their ability to care for others and themselves. Because they can care for other people they think they are independent, but they fail to recognize that their giving is fueled by an unconscious need to be needed, which makes them, in fact, dependent on others.


True humility is anchored in a deep knowledge that we are all God’s beloved. If we will ever know that this is true for others, we must first hear the truth for ourselves. I’ll leave with this reminder penned by the best Two author I know—Henri Nouwen. He says, “From all eternity, long before you were born and became a part of history, you existed in God’s heart. Long before your parents admired you or your friends acknowledged your gifts or your teachers, colleagues, and employers encouraged you, you were already chosen.”



[1]Some enneagram teachers use the language of “dominant”