Today I want to talk about a big ol' buzzword going around. No, not "spark joy." I'm talking enneagram. The new-but-actually-super-old personality test that is shaking everybody to the core. Know why? Because it's freakishly accurate!!!
The back story // Allow me to journey back with you a bit. Ever since Christmas I've been in a really introspective state of mind. I'm full-fledged wintering, you guys. I'm feeling the need for change and trying to figure how and what that looks like. So I'm doing some soul-searching and found I was grappling with this really uncomfortable aspect of my personality I can't quite square myself with.
The need for validation. For reassurance. For explicit approval.
I don't know why I need those things, I just do. And I can't stand it. So then I found myself spilling the tea to my hair stylist about all this (as one does) and she asked me if I'd taken the enneagram test. Turns out, I had! My results were inconclusive, though, so I walked away learning nothing. She convinced me to take another simpler test (you can take it HERE) and then...whoa Becky. My results came in and they were scarily spot on.
My Enneagram Type // According to the test, I'm a Type 2, also known as The Helper or The Giver. Essentially, a 2 both gains and loses energy from being so sensitive to other people and their needs. My life coach has actually brought that up before, that these core aspects of my personality bring both strengths and weakness like a two-sided coin. So as I dive more into my enneagram results, I see the dualistic nature of these parts of my personality. Kinda like pros and cons for lack of a better term.
I want to show you what I mean by dualistic, how one aspect of my personality manifests in different ways. One way feels like a power strength, and the other feels less good, like something that needs to be constantly worked on. You'll see...
Type 2 Characteristics
These are some of the broad-stroke characteristics of a Type 2. I used a number of sources to try and really understand them. Included are the Type 2 results page from my test, the Enneagram Institute's resource page, as well as Sarajane Case's Brave Radio podcast episode on Type 2s.
Two's have a highly-tuned internal antenna that picks up on energies and "vibes."
Pros: Using our vibe-o-meter, we can read a room pretty quickly. We can respond to an individual or collective mood and use our "helper/giver" skills to positively improve or reinforce it. We're considered caring, good-humored, and sensitive. Other people feel heard, understood, and in some cases provided for.
Cons: That same antenna can act as a magnet for negative energy that we can internalize in our attempt to "fix" a situation or problem. As we try to understand someone's stance or experience, we absorb their feelings and energy into ourselves. Our problem-seeking-and-solving analytical minds go into hyperdrive and anxiety can spike.
Two's are incredibly aware of current and future need, primarily others' needs.
Pros: Anticipating need makes Two's great at planning, entertaining, and relationships. We can visualize a hypothetical situation in the future and figure out how to address it proactively. From planning a birthday or dinner party to sending care packages, Two's understand who needs what when. These needs can be anything from emotional support to material gratification.
Cons: In our constant effort to help and give, Twos's can take on too way much at one time. We overextended ourselves trying to be all things to everybody. Two's genuinely want to help but the flip side is they want to be recognized for it. If we aren't our self-esteem can become damaged. Two's are so good at reassuring others that we feel despair and worthlessness if we're not similarly reassured ourselves. As parents we constantly doubt whether or not we're "enough" for our children.
The consummate helper/giver, Two's tend to prioritize others over themselves.
Pros: Seeing need and emotional vulnerability, a Two will step in to help without question. They're nurturing, loyal, caring, and accepting of someone for who they are. Two's feel happy making others happy. They value family, friendships, love, and connection above all else.
Cons: Two's giving nature can be depleting. Their tendency to put others' needs before their own can lead to burnout and low self-esteem if they're not recognized and reassured. Two's tend to be conflict averse to a fault, internalizing their frustrations until they boil over. We also take criticism very hard as we're constantly trying to please others. If someone turns down our help in any of its forms we feel rejected and low.
Pursuer of Perfection
Trying to make everyone happy and "heard" all the time can result in a futile pursuit of perfection.
Pros: Two's hold themselves to a high standard of bringing joy to others. They want to make everyone happy and contribute meaningfully to their inner circles and community.
Cons: The desire to please others mutates into an impossible drive to be all things to all people. Aiming for perfection can inhibit or paralyze (so-to-speak) Two's from taking action at all. We worry that whatever "it" is isn't good enough.
Where are my fellow two's? Does any of this sound freakishly familiar??
Understanding my enneagram type has brought some modicum of comfort to me. I better understand my need for validation or why I have such a hard time saying 'no' to the people I love. I see where my strengths and weaknesses come from, and how they can serve me or hinder me in various walks of life.
For instance, my ability to connect emotionally with others makes me a good mom and also a good wardrobe stylist! I can "feel" what others are experiencing and can respond appropriately. On the flip side, I easily doubt and question myself and wonder if the support I'm giving is enough. Sometimes I get so worried about it that I wonder if I'm a "fraud" so to speak. Like, am I really good at this or just fooling myself?
Sometimes proximity plays a big part in the pros and cons of my Two-ness. For example, I'm very good in the moment and tending to the needs of who is and what's going on right now in front of me. I pour everything I have into it. But as they say, what's out of sight is out of mind and can become neglected. That can mean house chores or phone calls or long-distance friendships. I feel terrible guilt over not doing better. But how do I better when I'm trying to do my best and it's not enough?? (There's that word again.) Relieving this tension is really uncomfortable and finding a balance is hard and stresses me out.
My Type 2 tendencies give me social anxiety, too. I can be with friends, having a great time, and then once we go our separate ways I constantly agonize over whether or not I was "too much." If I should've said something differently or not at all. Grade A worrier over here.
However. This journey is teaching me not just what it means to be a Two, but also what functioning healthily as a Two looks like, such as:
*Learning it's okay to take care of myself first. By doing so, I'll be a better version of myself to give to others.
*That getting explicit validation from others is "nice but not necessary." I should never enter into any relationship or interaction with a specific codependence in mind. Doing for others brings joy in and of itself and any further reassurance is nice but not necessary.
*Accepting that others express appreciation in ways other than my own.
*My self-esteem is not dependent upon the approval of others. This one is tricky for me. Really tricky. As a person, a wife, a friend, a blogger! In all the ways. But this enneagram education is teaching me how to slowly-but-surely realize this important life lesson in a healthy way.
So tell me! Are you on the enneagram train? Do you know your type and does it describe you to a T? This is all so fascinating!
Thank you so much for stopping by The Tony Townie today! Your support and social shares are very appreciated!