Enneagram Type 2: The Helper
The Enneagram of Personality, or just the Enneagram, is a representation of personalities using a geometric figure, also called an enneagram (little e), to express nine interconnected personality types. While each type is unique it is related to other types through the circle connecting the type to each of it’s wings and the lines or arrows in the center connecting the type to the ones it imitates in times of stress or growth. The Enneagram is used in business management training to better understand interpersonal dynamics in the workplace.
Types Two, Three, and Four constitute the Heart Triad. This triad is primarily motivated by their feelings. Those in the Heart Triad are searching for a sense of personal identity. They are more image-conscious than the other triads. Within the triad, Twos outwardly express feelings and find their identity in others and the way others perceive them.
At their best Twos are deeply altruistic and humble. They have an unconditional love for others that is genuine and inspiring. They see helping others and being a part of their lives as a privilege. They are empathetic listeners who are able to get even the shyest of people to feel comfortable opening up to them.
At their worst Twos are insecure and resentful. They are able to rationalize resentful and manipulative behavior because they truly feel victimized and abused. Their self-deceptive nature leads them to see that themselves as self-sacrificing or helping when really they are manipulating in order to guilt others into giving them what they want.
This information is to help you understand yourself or those around you. Twos can be intense and a bit extra at times. When interacting with them understand that they do genuinely care about you and are trying to help. If they do get resentful or aggressive, be understanding with them as they will beat themselves up about it after they have calmed down or the stress has passed. If you are a Two or Helper, take a moment to think about your needs. You are aware that you have needs, but have pushed them back to focus on helping others. If your needs aren’t being met then you aren’t going to be able to help others as well as you could. It can be difficult to even admit that you need something. Find a trusted friend, you know you have plenty to choose from, and test out a simple need with them. Learn to say no or at least not say yes to everything.
Enneagram Type Two is “The Helper” or “The Giver”.
Twos are called the Helper because they are the most genuinely helpful of all the types. Even when they are not healthy they perceive themselves as helpful. A Two feels most complete when they are going out of their way to help others. Unfortunately for unhealthy Helpers this helpfulness comes with ulterior motives. They don’t even know they have these sorts of reciprocal expectations. When helping it is done out of true generosity, but when they do not receive help when they need it they feel resentment.
Twos see their own needs as something to avoid. They struggle to express their needs instead spending all their time focusing on the needs of others. Sometimes it seems they know what you need before you know it. Sadly they seem to think that expressing their needs will lead to heartbreak or humiliation. The Helper has an uncanny ability to sense or just know what others need. You don’t have to tell a Two what you require, they just know. They have problems, though, when they assume that everyone has this same ability. They are the best gift givers.
Twos love helping people, especially when they are down or need a friend. However, they are constantly afraid that once the person can manage for themselves they won’t need the Two anymore. It can be hard for a Two to accept that people don’t have to need them all the time in order for them to want the Two in their lives.
Twos can be overly sensitive wearing their hearts on their sleeves.
The Helper is the most engaging type of the Enneagram, they are extremely friendly and generous. Twos have a way of making anyone feel safe and comfortable around them. They feel genuine love and concern for everyone and have a way of showing that to others. If you look deep into it the Two can have a bit of sadness around them as they don’t see themselves as lovable. They learn early on that being helpful makes people like them so they adapt to be the most helpful.
As kids they tend to be very sociable and have many close friends, sometimes rotating between groups of friends. Because they are worried no one is going to want to be their friend they may give away toys or lunches to “buy” friendships. Twos feel emotions very deeply. They go beyond empathy in that they don’t just understand the emotions of others, they feel them themselves.
Through seeking validation from others Helpers give too much power to others. If not careful a Two can base their entire self-worth on the responses they receive to their self sacrificial nature. Words of appreciation are intoxicating for a Helper. They live for expressions of gratitude or acknowledgement of their hard work or sacrifice.
Desires and Fears
The basic desire for the Two is to be loved. They are motivated by a desire to be needed and appreciated as well as to express their feelings for others. They need others to validate their self worth the way they want to be perceived. Helpers are always looking for signs that they are appreciated or loved. They may know intellectually that a person loves them but they need to experience it and are always looking for it in everything they do.
The core of a Two’s fear is being unwanted or unworthy of being loved. They don’t see themselves as innately lovable so they fear others finding out that they aren’t worthy of their love. Helpers fear that others will not be there for them unless they maintain a loving exterior. Whether through charm, flattery, or straight up people pleasing, they can find themselves seducing or enticing others.
Examples (Healthy, Average, Unhealthy)
Healthy Twos have learned how to love themselves and define their own self-worth without outside validation. They are able to express their own needs without fear of losing the other person. They are aware that they exist outside of their relationships. Secure Helpers have appropriate boundaries with others and are able to know when it is appropriate to get involved in someones struggles and when to stay out of them. They are adaptable to changing circumstances and able to make others feel comfortable and secure.
An average Two is concerned that expressing their own needs or feelings will jeopardize any relationships or friendships they have. They are generous but expect something in return for their generosity, whether they know it or not. The mediocre Helper can lose themselves in their relationships. They have poor boundaries and tend to be attracted to powerful people who then give them definition.
Unhealthy Twos have such a strong desire to be loved that they become codependent accepting any type of appreciation or neediness in the place to true companionship. At their worst the Helper is needy and manipulative. They see themselves as a martyr, not giving freely but investing in others to be collected later.
Pride is the Deadly Sin of the Helper.
While it appears counterintuitive for pride to be the deadly sin of the most selfless, giving type, the Two sees other people as more needy than them and pride themselves on their ability to help. Helpers see themselves and indispensable, they need to be needed. This can lead to them seeing themselves as better than others because they are the ones always giving.
Twos have trouble doing any sort of transformational work that involves addressing or accepting their darker aspects. They prefer to see themselves only in the most positive light. Overindulgence is a risk for the Two. They may binge on food, especially carbs and sugar, to eat away their love-starved loneliness. In extreme cases they may be bulimic to meet an “ideal” perception of what others want or suffer hypochondria looking for sympathy.
Wings and Things (Arrows)
Twos with a One Wing (2w1) are known as “The Servant”.
One being the perfectionist, the Servant is highly worried about doing things the right way. They are more critical of themselves and prone to guilt. Servants want to be viewed as responsible and dependable. They can be more controlling in relationships. The 2w1 are more aware of their own needs than other Twos, but have trouble expressing them to others. They have better boundaries but are less trusting and expect more in return for their help when unhealthy.
Twos with a Three Wing (2w3) are “The Host/Hostess”.
More concerned about relationships and connections, the Host(ess) tends to be extroverted and even seductive at times. When healthy with a good self-image, a Host(ess) can shape-shift, like the Three, to become whatever is needed to accomplish what they are doing. They are able to take on or emphasize the traits that are needed in any circumstance. The 2w3 is also more competitive, ambitious, and image-conscious than other Twos. They enjoy healthy, fun competition and will work to make it fair while still playing to win. For the Host(ess) being seen as successful is almost as good as being viewed as generous or loving.
The Direction of Integration or Growth for Twos points to Four.
When moving from unhealthy self-deception toward healthy self-worth, Twos take on the positive aspects of the Four or Individualist. They become more self-nurturing and emotionally aware. Twos moving toward the Four arrow find that they are comfortable not pretending to love everyone. This allows them to grow in their relationships. Healthy Helpers invest in themselves by being creative. They use their creativity to focus inward and find joy in themselves and what they are doing. They can feel good about themselves unrelated to helping anyone else.
The Direction of Disintegration or Stress for Twos points to Eight.
Under stress Twos take on the unhealthy aspects of the Eight or Challenger. They become demanding and aggressive. The Helper when unhealthy and stressed will start to blame others for their own feelings and the things that make them unhappy. The dominating and controlling nature may be direct or more passive-aggressive or manipulative. They can become very aggressive or even vengeful about what they perceive as wrongs against them.
Interacting With Others
Interactions with Twos
When interacting with a two, or if you are one, understand that they are motivated by feelings. Telling them they did a good job will inspire them to work harder, but be careful with your criticisms. When healthy a Two will enjoy interacting with others and take compliments as motivation and criticism as areas where they can help themselves. Unhealthy twos can become jealous and not see their own faults. If you point them out they will either shut down or blow up. Twos interacting with other Twos can be extremely productive or extremely disruptive.
Working with Twos
In the workplace, Twos fit the number associated with them. They prefer to be second in command. Avoiding direct managerial duties they prefer to be the “power behind the throne.” Helpers have strong interpersonal skills, being very intuitive they are able to build community in the workplace. They will be the ones organizing the after work happy hour or birthday lunches. They are also able to quickly discover what customers want and make the company look good. As leaders they are able to recruit the right people for the job. Using praise and words of affirmation to motivate the team they are able to get more accomplished than expected. When leading a Two, simple affirmation or encouragement goes a long way to getting them motivated. Be sparing with criticism because it will crush them and drive them away.
Friendships with Twos
Helpers build close long lasting friendships with lots of people. They never meet a stranger and often have deep conversations about life with people the first time they meet. Twos consider almost everyone they’ve met to be their friend and can remember the most obscure details about people they barely even know.
Twos struggle with the fact that not everyone is as intuitive as they are. They aren’t able to ask for help when they need it, but sometimes expect others to just know that they are in need. If not careful a Two can start to resent their friends because they don’t “just know” to call them or invite them to things. At some point, usually mid life, Twos will hit a wall where they realize they can’t keep over-giving. During this time they need friends more than ever to help them realize they aren’t defined by others and to develop their individuality.
Relationships with Twos
To a Two relationships mean everything. They are the most interpersonal of all the types on the Enneagram. It is important for them to express love and know they are loved. Because they not only know but feel the emotions of others it is very easy for them to lose themselves in relationships or even intense situations. The Helper will identify themselves through the lense of the relationship. When healthy a Two in a relationship is independent and able to predict and meet the needs of their partner, however when unhealthy they can become clingy and codependent on the relationship to feel any sense of value.
Tricks of the Trade
Try to remember that other people are not you. Most of them aren’t anything like you. We don’t all have the same emotional characteristics.