Enneagram Type 2 Helpers/Givers/Lovers are typically warm, concerned, nurturing and sensitive to the needs, preferences and desires of the people around them. They proactively look for ways to be helpful, useful and likable. This is a very “other” referencing person whose attention easily and naturally goes out to other people. Helper 2s often report having extreme sensitivity to the emotional state of the people around them, sometimes described as “an antenna I can’t turn off.” Helper 2s often report being helpful to others as the meaning of life and typically struggle with boundary issues. It can be very hard for them to say no to a request someone makes of them, even if they really don’t want to do it.
Enneagram Type 2 Gifts To the World:
Helper 2s can connect with others at a profoundly deep, heart-centered level. This type makes other people feel good, heard, understood, cared for, and through this connection, they can offer others deep healing. Gifted at reaching even the most emotionally distant, difficult people, Helper 2s can reconnect others to the world.
Enneagram Type 2s Typically Report:
1) Offering Help Automatically
Helper 2s often report that they offer help so automatically, they aren’t even aware they are doing it. Just having another person physically present in the room changes the dynamic for a Helper 2. Whenever someone else is present, their attention goes away from themselves and out to the others.
“Someone asked me once what I would do if I was in a room where no one needed anything. My mind almost can’t imagine that. Everyone needs something—maybe they just haven’t thought of it yet. So I would try to anticipate what people need…”
2) Having Emotional or Physical Breakdowns because of Overextending Their Help
Helper 2s often report having a complete physical or emotional breakdown at some point in their life as a result of helping others so much but not taking care of themselves. Helper 2s are often in supportive roles in their jobs, communities, families and intimate relationships. They offer help to many while downplaying their own physical and emotional needs. A physical or emotional breakdown can be a big wake up call for a Helper 2. While gifted at tuning into others, Helper 2s can be surprisingly disconnected from their own needs.
“My wake up call was when I had a complete physical breakdown from being so overextended in my activities. I was volunteering three nights a week, helping my friends on the weekends, maintaining a full-time job and trying to care for my own family. I knew I was tired, but it didn’t occur to me that this was too much until my body just gave out. One day, I couldn’t get out of bed I was so exhausted and that was pointing to a series of more serious health issues….”
3) Having Unexpected Outbursts of Anger
Helper 2s report having unexpected outbursts of anger. People of this type are usually very warm, caring and kind, but if they feel their efforts are not adequately recognized or appreciated they can become resentful and angry. If this resentment and anger persist in a repressed state, it can come out in unexpected explosions over seemingly small incidents. When the anger is unpackaged, it usually stems from a lack of appreciation for the Helper 2s efforts or from a lack of gratitude.
“It took me a long time to understand how my helpfulness was linked to a desire for appreciation. But a lot of times, I would do something helpful for someone and imagine–fantasize really–about this really wonderful outcome. And if I didn’t get that outcome, eventually I’d get angry.”
Tools for Compassion If You Have Enneagram Type 2s in Your Life:
1) Recognize that it is very hard for them to say no to requests
While most of the other types don’t suffer from personal boundary issues, Helper 2s do. This makes it very difficult for them to say no to a request for assistance, even if it is inconvenient, impractical or to their own detriment. Helper 2s often suffer from burnout trying to be helpful to everyone in their lives. Be mindful that if you ask a Helper 2 in your life to help you with something, it will be difficult for them to say no.
Hear it directly from Helper Type 2s (video clip from an online Enneagram training in the Narrative Tradition)
2) Tell the Helper 2s in your life how much you appreciate them
Appreciation is like oxygen to them. It is particularly powerful if you tell Helper 2s how much you appreciate them for them and not for their helpfulness. Helper 2s can sometimes relax their compulsion to help if they feel appreciated for being themselves.
3) Realize that personal relationships are typically the most important thing in the life of a Helper 2
Helper 2s often define themselves by the relationships in their lives. Taking a little extra care cultivating your relationship with the Helper 2s in your life can go a long way.
Enneagram Type 2 Levels of Awareness
Helper (2) When Self-Aware
Helper (2)s are humble, altruistic, direct, and pure. They share their gifts with the world and can offer unconditional love. These Helper (2)s are kind, compassionate, caring and interested, and concerned in the lives of others. They offer empathy, sincerity, generosity, and they strive to respond to others in a balanced way. They have a high capacity for forgiveness. They are supportive, encouraging, grateful, and giving. Helping others is a priority, but it is balanced with genuine self-care. They can see the spark of beauty and potential in each person.
Helper (2) With Tightening Defenses
Helper (2)s are warm, friendly, and emotionally demonstrative in a somewhat indiscriminate way. They become more people-pleasing and less authentic in their behavior, deviating from what they really think to be more likable. They have a give-and-take relationship with flattery, applause and approval. Self-containment can be difficult. Relationships with others are their top priority. They begin to become more intrusive, invasive and interfering with their behavior, confusing love with helping. Their self-sacrificing becomes imbalanced, and their self-care suffers. They have a complicated relationship with dependency and giving, subconsciously giving to get and creating dependencies to ensure a place in the receiver’s life. They may start to experience a reality distortion around their own sense of self-importance feeling they are indispensable to others and overestimating the positive impact of their efforts. When entranced, they may experience an almost obsessive drive to find needs to fill as a way of feeling useful and valued. They can become controlling and bossy with an attitude of superiority.
Helper (2) When Fixated
This Helper (2) may be subconsciously manipulative using guilt and blame to get attention. Their behavior can turn sharp and aggressive, reminding others they are “owed” for all the things the Helper (2) has done. They may have a reality distortion around how contentious their behavior is and may subconsciously start to undermine those they meant to help. They may seek outside outlets (food, medication, shopping and so forth) to fill unmet emotional needs. They may demonstrate a gross lack of respect for the personal boundaries of others. Behavior at this level is highly manipulative. Helper (2)s don’t recognize their manipulative and controlling behavior. Bitter resentments, anger and rage come to the surface. Health problems, including depression, may develop as a result of a low self- esteem and emotional imbalance.
Subtypes For Enneagram Type 2s
“Privilege” Self-Preservation Subtype:
There is an inherent cuteness and charm to the self-preservation Helper (2). To the outside world, this is a person with a somewhat childlike appearance. They can be less trusting and more reserved than the other two subtypes, adopting a sometimes helpless, me- first attitude. Internally, this person feels anxious about self-reliance and gravitates to situations where others will take care of them. Their need for love is quite naked. They have the title “Privilege” because this type can be self-indulgent and hedonistic with an underlying unconscious belief that others must care for them. They may enjoy parties, shopping, drinking and socializing as a subconscious distraction from a deeper connection to themselves.
In relationships, they often fall into a childlike role with a more “adult” partner taking care of their needs. This is the Helper (2) who expresses a drive to be likable over a drive to be helpful and may adopt a strategy of being helpless to gain love and attention. This Helper (2) is less “other” referencing and may want to be the center of attention. In the self-preservation Helper (2), humor, playfulness, irresponsibility, charm and self-importance are in the foreground. When fixated or less self-aware, the thought of taking charge of themselves fills them with anxiety.
On the positive side, this is a youthful, charming, sweet person who is positive and playful, often uplifting the mood of others.
On the less positive side, this is someone who can be very reluctant to take control of their own lives and act independently. They are the most guarded and fearful of the Helper (2)s.
“Ambition” Social Subtype:
The social Helper (2) expresses a drive to be helpful and useful in groups, companies and social settings. This is a person who is keenly aware of power and influence and naturally aligns with situations where they are influencing powerful people. To the outside world, this Helper (2) can look like a leader and someone who is comfortable in the limelight. This is a more adult, “Power” Helper (2). Internally, this type is (either subconsciously or consciously) supporting others from a desire to gain loyalty and reciprocity. They have the title “Ambition” because this type is highly driven towards success and competence.
The social Helper (2) tends towards workaholism. Work is a large focus in their lives, and they typically have a highly positive sense of their career and their goals. This Helper (2) can be powerful, influential, protective of others and oriented to the big picture. Vulnerable emotions like shame, fear, jealousy and envy are hard for them to recognize and process. They can become emotionally confused, thinking they are displaying vulnerability when they aren’t and denying shame when they are in fact feeling it. They tend to overcommit and then get stressed out.
On the positive side, this is a highly effective, accomplished person. They often rise to positions of leadership and are well-connected in their chosen field or social sphere.
On the less positive side, this is someone who can misunderstand their own emotions and motivations. They can be calculated in their relationships without consciously realizing it.
“Aggressive/Seductive” Intimate Subtype:
The intimate Helper (2) expresses a drive to be helpful, likable and desirable to particular individuals. This is a person who is more driven to direct seduction and as such cultivates an attractive appearance. They can have an almost irresistible quality. To the outside world, this person is like the classic “femme fatale” (or homme fatale). Internally, this person feels they are seeking love, and that search justifies all behavior. They tend to put a lot of energy and focus on relationships and can have a hard time letting go if the relationship doesn’t work out. They have the title “Aggressive/Seductive” because they actively pursue seduction of intimate partners or potential partners. This is the almost too adult Helper (2).
In a relationship, this may be someone who wants their partner to give them everything and wants to be everything to their partner. They subconsciously solve their issue of denying their own needs by having a strong bond with somebody who will give them anything they want. They have a need to be desired that fuels the need to be seductive.
On the positive side, this is a passionate and seductive Helper (2) who puts a great deal of energy into making relationships happen. They can be very flexible, generous and attentive to their partner.
On the less positive side, being alone can be hard for this Helper (2), and they have a deep need to be desired. They can lose themselves in their drive for attention.
For more information on Enneagram Type 2 subtypes, I recommend Beatrice Chestnut’s book “The Complete Enneagram.”
Enneagram Compatibility: Type 2s in Relationships
Learn more about Helper 2s in relationships in “The Nine Keys: A Guide Book To Unlock Your Relationships Using Kundalini Yoga and the Enneagram.”
Tools to Relax the Habit of Attention for Enneagram Type 2s
This page is excerpted from Headstart from Happiness and The Nine Keys by Lynn Roulo.