Exploring the Enneagram – The Number Two.
Basic Fear: Of being unloved and unwanted for themselves alone.
Basic Desire: To feel loved.
Superego Message: You are good or okay if you are loved by others and are close to them.
The heart centre types (Two, Three and Four) all require the affirmation and acknowledgement of others for their wellbeing. For the Two this comes to them by meeting the needs of others. They have a strong desire to care for and help others. They love to connect in self-giving ways bringing great love and kindness to the world. Russ and Hidson say that at their best they are …
…the embodiment of the 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… they show us the way to be more deeply and richly human.
When they’re less healthy, Twos can be limited by pride, self-deception and the ability to become overly involved with the lives of others. They can also manipulate others in order to get their needs met. They can seek validation by sacrificing themselves for others and often have a core belief that they have to always put others first – even to their own detriment, if they are to get love. Unfortunately constantly putting others first can make Twos angry and resentful – feelings they work hard to deny or repress. When these feelings eventually surface they can be destructive and expose their inauthentic nature.
During childhood Twos often had a feeling of needing to support the emotional needs of other family members in order to be noticed and loved. There may have been a reversal of roles between care-giver and child but this giving of care, where adult became child and child adult provided fertile soil for pride to take root.
Twos will happily look after others even when not asked to do so but when the care they provide becomes a burden or confining, those they are offering it to distance themselves rather than returning the love in the way the Two hopes. This leads to the Two feeling betrayed and exploited. In the unhealthy Two the giving they offer appears unconditional but is actually their attempt to get love and validation.
Twos are not good at communicating their own needs and feel shame when they’re forced to face or acknowledge them. Healing comes as they experience God as love and that true, selfless love only comes by sharing God’s love. This opens the way to genuine humility and away from shame.
Their way home is to engage solitude which provides an invitation to connect with the pain in their hearts, of feeling isolated and uncared for in the ways they long to be. Once they become accustomed to solitude it becomes a great friend as it provides space in which they can hear the voice that has always been there, reminding them that they have all the love they need because they are a source of that love. In order to enter this place of solitude, Twos do need to consent to it – for them it’s not easy to say yes to themselves when they are so driven by the needs of others. They need to give themselves permission that it’s okay to be alone in an intentional choice to be present to their needs.
Riso and Hudson describe beautifully what it’s like for Twos to return to their Essence:
On a very deep level, Twos remember the Essential quality of unconditional love and the omnipresence of love. When they remember their Essential nature and the Divine state that it mirrors, healthy Twos are aware of the presence of love all around them, so there is quite literally nothing they need to get from anyone—and nothing they can give. . . This love is balanced, pure, and nourishing—it allows the soul to relax on a profound level.
Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations
Don Richard Risso and Russ Hudson, The Wisdom of the Enneagram
Christopher L Heurtz, The Sacred Enneagram