Moving Beyond Your Number--Enneagram Two

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Before we discuss the patterned, predictable, and habitual behaviors of the Two, I would like to provide some context on this series. I adapted this content from the teaching of Suzanne Stabile. If you have ever heard her teach, you know her challenging teaching flows brilliantly from her loving personality. Her oral medium and narrative style soften the force of her tough content. Unfortunately, my written, concise format does not achieve the same honorable end. While I do not mean to be needlessly harsh, I mean to share meaningful content that will spur spiritual growth. I hope these words achieve this end.

I say all that because you might find these descriptions harsh. Please remember they describe your actions, not your identity. This series of posts might make you feel some guilt, and I think it is acceptable because guilt is feeling bad about what we do. That is appropriate sometimes. However, the description below is not a description of who you ultimately are. Shame is feeling bad about who you are, and it is unhelpful for spiritual growth. Shame contradicts the true self because it denies the core truth of your existence: You are God’s beloved child. Shame is counter-productive because we respond to this denigrated sense of self by bolstering our ego through the compulsions of the false self. In short, please don’t let this post shame you. God loves you so much. You are his heart running around in the world.

With that said, let’s talk about the Two. First, Twos do not recognize their own neediness. They are better than anyone at intuiting the needs of others, but out of touch with their own needs. We all take our way of being in the world and project it onto others. For Twos, this means they think others can and should intuit their needs in the same way they intuit other’s needs. However, when others fail to meet a Twos needs or do not return their affection, they can become angry and accusatory. Their angry reaction can be disproportionate to the events of their lives. This means they are afraid of being unwanted.

Twos might be reluctant to explore hidden motives for giving. This perpetuates their compulsive, unhealthy giving. Twos can easily rationalize their bad behavior because giving appears noble. Unfortunately, when Twos rename their unhealthy giving, they reinforce their sense of pride, their core passion, and rob themselves of growth.

Twos do not have good boundaries, and thus exhaust themselves and become angry and resentful as I described above. Before you give, ask yourself, “Is this mine to do?” You must stop compulsively meeting other people’s needs. Until you do, you won’t learn other people love you for who you are, not for what you give.

You can take practical steps to move beyond your Two compulsions. First, try to recognize your neediness and address it in healthy ways. Try to state a need to yourself or a close friend every day. This can take a long time because stating your needs is hard for Twos. When you finally share your need with a friend, it might come out harsh because you aren’t practiced at it. Second, be honest with yourself and forgive yourself for being manipulative. Spiritual writer and Enneagram Two, Henri Nouwen, can help you do so. Read his works. His whole life was about trying to forgive himself and own his identity as God’s beloved. Third, write this on a card and place it where you will see it regularly: “Your needs are as important as anyone else’s.” Finally, try to meet your needs from the inside out, not the outside in. Spending time alone is the best way to do this.

You can’t meet anyone’s needs until you have met your own.