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Type Two: The Need to Be Needed

Enneagram Part Two: Heart Center

Type Two: The Need to Be Needed
Wednesday, March 4, 2020 

Holy Idea: Holy Will, Holy Freedom

Virtue: Humility

Passion: Pride [1]

The heart types—Two, Three, and Four—are “other-directed” people whose emotional well-being depends on how their environment reacts to them. The secret goal of their continuous activities is to be acknowledged and affirmed from the outside.

Twos employ their many gifts to meet the needs of others, caring for others’ health, nourishment, education, and welfare. They impart a measure of acceptance and appreciation that can help people believe in their own value. Twos can share generously and will even give their “last shirt” for others. They stand by friends and family when they have to endure suffering, pain, or conflict.

Some Twos recall that early on they had the feeling of having to support the emotional needs of other family members. They felt they had to make themselves useful in order to be noticed and loved.

There may have been a role reversal between parent(s) and child. The child had to “mother” the adults and deny some of their own legitimate needs. The child got the message: “I am loved when I am tender, understanding, ready to be helpful, and defer my own needs.” But in this way the child feels powerful, while grown-ups look weak and needy. This provides fertile soil for the sort of false pride that is the root sin of Twos. They secretly look down on those whom they “serve.”

Like all of us, Twos want to be liked, but they also have an exaggerated desire for external validation. Twos happily spoil and look after other people, even when unasked, but if their “care” becomes burdensome or confining and others distance themselves instead of returning this “love,” the Two feels betrayed and exploited.

The constant and great temptation of Twos is to help others, and in this way they evade themselves and their own needs. When immature Twos are hurt, they can suddenly stop being sweet and pliant and lash out. At such moments they are capable of doing frightful injury to the very person they supposedly love above all. This is the shadow side of the Two’s love that may not be recognized at first glance.

Twos are healed and redeemed the more they experience God as the Real Lover and realize that true, selfless love only comes by sharing in God’s love. This insight leads through a moment of deep shame to genuine humility.

Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson describe 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. [2]

References and definitions:
[1] Christopher L. Heuertz, The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth (Zondervan: 2017), 113. Chris defines these terms as follows (see pages 246-248):

Holy Ideas: The unique state of mental well-being, specific to each of the nine types, in which the mind is centered and connected with the True Self.

Virtues: Like the nine fruits of the Spirit [see Galatians 5:22-23] the Virtues are . . . gifts of a centered heart that is present, nonreactive, and at rest in the True Self.

Passions: The inverse of the Virtues are the Passions . . . [which] emerge as the heart indulges the Basic Fear that it will never return to its essence and therefore seeks out coping mechanisms that ultimately compound each type’s state of emotional imbalance.

Chris’ new podcast, Enneagram Mapmakers: Exploring the Interior Landscapes of the Ego (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2020), will begin March 24, 2020 on most podcast platforms!

[2] Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson, The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types (Bantam Books: 1999), 150.

Adapted from Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert, The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2001, 2013), 63-65, 67, 72.

Image credit: Study for the Visitation (detail), Jacopo Pontormo, circa 1528, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: What does the heart bring us if we actually do abide in the heart, if we just let ourselves be still, be here? We feel this exquisite sensitivity and delicacy. It’s like the Body establishes “I am. I am here. I exist.” It brings me to the sacred now moment. The Heart then tastes what’s actually here, with exquisite awareness. The Heart knows the taste, the fabric, the texture of this moment. —Russ Hudson

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