*Before you read any further, if you are not familiar with the Enneagram and would like to know what I am talking about, visit www.9types.com and you can click on a few quick links to help explain the general outline. You can also visit www.exploreyourtype.com and find out what type you are!
My first confession: I’m a fan of Tom Cruise films.
Top Gun is at the top of the list but I must say Cameron Crowe got me good in casting TC as Jerry Maguire. I know the title of this entry is the opposite of the actual line from Jerry Maguire but it so accurately sums up the inner working of an Enneagram type #2. This type loves to help, but it always comes at a price.
My second confession: I don’t always want to help.
I think I could finish first in the LA marathon after getting that truth off my chest. Enneagram type 2s are known as “The Helper.” These are the kinds of people that show up unannounced because you posted a slightly sad post on Facebook and they “just had to cheer you up.” These are also the type of people that will remind you of “that one time they ‘made your day’ by coming over to surprise you” even if the truth of the matter is you would have rather been left alone. This is the dark side of the two.
We need you to need us.
When I say I don’t like to help, I am not saying that to be cold. Rather I mean it is exhausting always “being on” feeling that everyone around you needs your help. I often feel that I have to always be aware of every person in the room and how they are feeling. When this feeling begins to take over, I forget to take care of myself. Even worse, if I am tired or have a need of my own I am ignoring, I begin taking notes on how much I am helping you or helping others and not helping myself.
The timer has started. The bomb is ticking.
Why can’t I just stop helping? Because I am compelled to help. Help can take on so many forms! I really never run out of ways I can “help” people. Even when I take a ride-share, I feel compelled to “help” the driver by participating in whatever kind of discussion they feel like having. Not the best idea when you live in a major metropolitan city. But this is another dark side to type #2, we try our best to be nice and go along with whatever you feel. If we can help you feel happy, all is right with a 2.
My third confession: I wish I didn’t always have to appear “nice”.
Enneagram author, Ian Morgan Cron, states that,
“For a 2, feeling out of gas is frightening because their self-worth relies on the continual supply of gratitude and appreciation they get from others for taking care of them. If they are spent, they (the 2) won’t be able to give, and then what use are they? When this happens it’s like watching a satellite burning on re-entry into the atmosphere.”
I’ve always felt that being “nice” meant that I was available when people needed me. I always felt that I was meant to be generous with my time and sacrifice myself for others. Part of this perspective came from my religious upbringing, some from my parents. But some also came from me. I learned at a young age that to be needed meant I was always going to have love. Love and help became the same thing. This led me to a pretty dark conclusion:
If people stop needing me, does this mean I will no longer experience love?
Of course, this is not true. But it took me quite a long time to realize that I will always experience love because God created me to be loved. He also created me to do good for others and as long as I do that, I will feel love. Helping others does not always have to be tied with loving them. If only I would have realized this earlier, life might have been less dramatic in my 20’s.
If you would like to know more about the Enneagram, I recommend the following resources:
- The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey back to Self-Discovery. Ian Morgan Cron and Susanne Stabile.
- The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective. Fr. Richard Rohr.
- The Complete Enneagram: 27 Paths to Greater Self-Knowledge. Beatrice Chestnut
You know your type, now what?