What exactly is an Enneagram Type 2, and what's it like to be one? Therapist Amelia Peck has given us an inside look at what it means to be an Enneagram Type 2.
I first took the Enneagram Test a few years ago. I kept hearing people talk about it on podcasts and sharing their Enneagram number. If I listen to people I relate to on some level, or someone with career accomplishments that I aspire to, I often hear “I’m a nine,” or “I’m a three.”
I took the test assuming I would be aligning with these great voices I was listening to because surely I was worthy of the same success so this similarity was a given. However, I have always been disappointed in the results of other personality type assessments I’ve taken (which I now know is a very "type 2" thing to say).
Long before I was on the path to being a therapist, I actually took three different career aptitude tests that came up with the result “counselor” or “therapist.” Since that was so far from where I was at the time, I assumed these tests were ridiculous and vowed to avoid them. I felt it was unfair to box someone in if they don’t see themselves that way (again, a very ‘type 2’ thing to think).
One thing I appreciate about the Enneagram is the blending of the acceptance of how we are predisposed to certain traits and the awareness it provides with its levels as to when we are at our best, and when we are in unhealthy places in our motivations and perspectives.
A quick overview of the Enneagram Type 2. We are known as "The Helper". We're friendly, personable, compassionate, and nurturing. We are supportive and happy to help with quite a lot. We like harmony in our environment, and when it isn't there, we tend to suppress our own feelings and needs to ease conflict and make others happy.
For me, as a therapist, these traits and the drive to help others allows me to be present with others are they process life and their own conflict they are working out. And the trait of being a two and often suppressing my own needs probably helps as well since my job is to sit and show compassion and empathy for people who are not expected to show it in return, and from an ethical standpoint it isn’t appropriate. However, that means that I have to learn to advocate for myself when I do need something, which has often been an area of needed growth.
The first time I listened to another 2 being interviewed, I felt like this "type 2" was telling the world thoughts I didn’t want anyone to know I have. And, at the same time, feeling like she was telling me it was all right. As I continue to study the Enneagram, I realize that these are traits I have lived with, and even battled with, for as long as I can remember.
Pride is our main battle. I know that if I'm on an unhealthy level, I will be looking for recognition in the efforts I have made towards others and become resentful if that need isn't met. We can lose our boundaries and fall into the role of a mediator and then expect praise for it. Even on a healthy level, I can hear that voice creeping up, but I know it doesn't belong.
In relationships we often expect our partners to know what we need without us asking for it and it can trigger cycles of conflict. This one continues to blindside me, and it is probably because I keep so much in my head during the day which I'm working with people that I forget I haven't shared it out loud.
While I am a 2, I also really relate to Enneagram 6, the loyalist. Actually, when I took the test from the Enneagram Institute, my 2 and my 6 tied. However, upon further research, I am absolutely a two. I can tell when my 6 tendencies are coming out to play. The loyalty of the 6 complements the availability of the two because I am there for my people. I love to keep up with old friends and value their friendships.
However, when I feel slighted or betrayed, people can quickly feel emotionally unsafe to be with. I have several instances in my life where I feel someone has made fun of or minimized an important choice I've made. In those situations, I don't discard the relationship, but that person is no longer safe to share those details with. I don't feel the need to explain myself either. It is just a done deal and would take a lot of work for me to feel safe in that space again.
Two personality types stay in a healthier place when we have time or activities that allow them to focus on no one but ourselves for a period. Since we naturally plan the rest of the day around the needs of others, one of my best achievements of 2020 has been to have this carved out time. However, being a two this wasn’t easy.
Late fall 2019 I really wanted to get back into focusing on fitness and health. My youngest was just over one-year-old at this time and my two youngest are 15 months apart. In between this time, we had a major cross country move, job changes, and stress on stress added to an already existing problem I had of sustaining healthy habits (type 2 personalities tend to abuse food, so this cooperated with my less healthy two traits).
I had eyed my friends' posts about Peloton workouts for a few years and I would always think, if I had a bike, I think I could keep that up. I thought about asking my husband for a bike for months before I got the guts to finally do it. Because to me, asking for this time, while we have three young kids, felt really selfish.
Sure you may think, “it’s only 30 minutes.” But in my brain, I have to push through a lot of feelings of guilt asking for that 30 minutes. However, my husband, being the lovely type 9 that he is (the peacemaker) agreed to a 'hack bike' (aka a cheaper indoor bike that I use with the Peloton App). As an Enneagram type 2, I was so grateful for the support that came very naturally to my husband. For Enneagram twos, a little support and affirmation can go a really long way.
Since my husband is a type 9 and I am a type 2, we love to support each other. I think my tendencies as a two help some of his needs as a nine. However, our avoidant tendencies can get us in a rut of sitting on the couch in exhaustion after getting our three kids to bed. I appreciate the idealism and compassion he brings as a nine to our relationship. Twos also offer compassion, but it feels different from nines in a way that is hard for me to pin down.
Even though I know I can wear myself down before I remember to check in with myself, I genuinely always want to be there for the people I love. I like that my friends can know me as a steady friend to lean on. So while I never hear anyone wish they identified as a 2, I have definitely found its benefit in my life.