Type Two: The Giver

If you are a Two, you’re a helpful, caring, relationship-oriented personality with a strong belief that love and survival depend on giving to get connection and approval from people and groups who matter to you.

You habitually focus your attention on others’ needs and seeing what is possible in them and flattering them with your positive attention and words. It’s a feeling that “If I take care of you, you will love and appreciate me.” You usually don’t realize when you are caught in this habitual loop or that you are repressing and squishing down your own needs. It is usually out of your awareness.

The driving energy is “pride” which is an expansive feeling that feels almost like a balloon where you are filled up by giving to another.

You have a strong feeling that you know what others need better than they do themselves. One of your challenges in relationship is placing disproportionate amount of attention on others to the point where it can become intrusive on the receiving end. It ultimately hurts you as you become overly dependent on approval from significant others and it’s painful when the balloon deflates and you feel unappreciated and unseen.

Working on yourself doesn’t mean you will no longer be a caring or giving person. The focus of the work is on learning your own needs and ultimately, giving in its proper, balanced proportion.

Each type has its own idealization, avoidance and defense mechanism which holds the idealization “in place”. For the Two,

For Type 2:

Idealized self-image: “I am helpful”.

Avoidance: Your own needs

Defense mechanism: Repression: repression acts to keep your needs out of conscious awareness. Discussing your needs brings up anxiety because it signals a possible loss of connection. When you first learn the extent to which you have been repressing your needs, you may naturally feel sad or surprised.

Your incredible ability to tap into others’ needs allows you to leave the present moment. When you slow down and spend time with yourself, your needs and vulnerability begins to surface. This is progress even though it may feel uncomfortable at first and you will notice an inner, critical voice that tries to guilt you. This is not the voice of the authentic self. With time and practice, this habit loosens and you experience authentic humility which means you can admit you have needs and you can fully receive and give in its proper proportion.

Relating to the Giver:

  • Expect bigger emotions. Rising anger and tears are signs of unmet needs. Twos may not know what they want, but get upset if they don’t get it. In this pattern, hidden needs are expressed as emotional upsetment and excessive anxiety that ultimately expresses itself in the body via illness, eating issues and various addictions.
  • Twos are attracted to relationships with obstacles. A barrier covers the confusion that surrounds actual intimacy with someone who can see them fully separate from what they give.
  • Recognize their belief that love is contingent on meeting your needs.
  • You may be in a relationship with a Two where you don’t experience their over-giving and generosity. This can mean a couple of things: you have upset them in some way and they are withholding from you (usually through silence). Or, it can mean you are not on their “needs screen.’ Your needs are out of their awareness as their attention is focused on the peoples’ needs who matter to them and who they see as someone with unmet needs. Sometimes your independence and seeming lack of needs doesn’t energize the Two as they are identified with being a Giver.
  • You may notice short bursts of surface feeling.  Laughter, hyperactivity and flirtation may cover insecurity about needs or uncomfortable repressed feelings.
  • Set clear boundaries with the Two in your life. If they are over-giving, firmly and gently assure them you know what you need and can give it to yourself. This can break the trance of over-giving. You also model grounded self-care.
  • Expect Givers to get irritable or sad when their real real needs begin to surface. This is not a bad thing. Pause. Something important is revealing itself. Don’t take it personally.
  • Be mindful of being seduced by the Two’s giving or of being “guilted” and “blamed” for being selfish. Express appreciation for who they are and not what they give. Assure them gently you can care for your own needs. It’s important to stay connected to them and remind them to spend time alone and connect to themselves.
  • Learn to recognize the patterns of type, accept them with compassion and support them in when they intentionally choose to relax. This can help them return to the present moment where life can be experienced more fully.

type 2 receiveThe practices for growth for the Two:

Practice one of these at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed. Be extremely kind and gentle with yourself. 

  • Pay attention to personal needs and wants. Start small. When guilt arises, simply recognize it is a habitual thought that doesn’t serve you or others.
  • Care for your body and the spirit that lives within it: you are an integral part of every relationship. Your exhaustion, burnout, sickness and anxiety serves no one, particularly yourself. When you first go inside, you may be confused about who is really in there. This is very normal and will change with time and practice.
  • Pay attention to the ways your search for appreciation and being needed ultimately is a double bind and contributes to your greatest avoidance: feeling unworthy.
  • Reflect on the ways avoiding your own needs causes problems in personal and professional relationships. Now reflect on a time when you took good care of yourself and consider the positive impact on you.
  • Be mindful and choose relationships where your authentic self is appreciated and celebrated.
  • Learn to pay attention to your own needs by asking yourself throughout the day, what do I need?
  • Make the distinction between entitlement which is another form of pride (“I deserve for all I’ve done for others”) and authentic, gentle self-care and self-appreciation (“I am doing this for me as there is someone deep inside me who matters.”)
  • Nurture a separate self by practicing spending time alone without being on the phone or computer. Exercise, meditation, music, yoga, art can all be ways of being with yourself.
  • Develop independence and autonomy.
  • Leslie’s meditations for Twos

Feeling grateful for something helps keep your focus and energy on it. This is helpful when working with the Enneagram because gratitude automatically shifts focus away from the needs of others which habitually grab your attention to perhaps more productive or nourishing things.

Intentionally cultivating a gratitude practice is an excellent way to broaden your focus of attention.

piglet gratitudeIf you are a Two, the first thing you can do is spend some time alone in gratitude for those in your life who support you and appreciate you separate from your giving. Really breathe this in and smile in gratitude that you cared enough about yourself to cultivate this kind of relationship.

Then, spend time feeling grateful for your breath and the precious time you take alone to recharge your batteries. 

Sources: Helen Palmer; Type Two panelists; Renee Rosario, The Bergam Learning Community, Enneagram Studies in the Narrative Tradition

Enneagram Shorts Type 2: Just for 2s

If you are an Enneagram 2, Pausing before jumping into doing for another can be a challenge when the person who matters to you is in the room. This video offers some tips of things you can do as you work with your type.


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