People may feel a pressure to be nice, to give approval, with a subtext of “It’s not OK to say anything critical or disagreeable.” Or there is the pressure of some need or emotion that we can’t read. On the one hand, there is such great heart energy (thank you so much for this Twos, we need more of this in the world); on the other hand, when the response is lacking or not approving, Twos are not happy campers. And we get the message from their body language and tone!
Twos are the masters of feeling tones expressed through the voice, providing warmth and care, but also capable of evoking confusion or guilt. Sometimes I experience being drawn into close rapport only to be hit with something I was not expecting. Things get complicated quickly. A related issue is “projective identification,” which means taking what someone said and responding with one’s own emotions, while attributing these to the other person. Or amplifying something small far beyond what the other person feels. What’s going on here? Are those my feelings or yours?
Twos have so much empathy that other people’s moods, needs, or disapproval can go right into their bodies and take over their breathing and their internal state. They have lots (lots!) more mirror neurons than your average human being. Such a great resource, yet it puts Twos at risk for being “outside” their own bodies.
Twos who are on the path understand that it’s vitally important to come home to themselves. Staying away from people may be necessary at times, but it’s a temporary solution. The real challenge is to be in contact with the other person and yourself at the same time. So how to do this?
It’s easy to say, hard to do: you must practice sensing your body and take charge of your own inner experience. Notice when you have matched the other person’s state, let it go and breathe for yourself. You may also tend to collect energy and breath only into your upper body. So take deep breaths in the belly or use the counter anxiety technique (big inhale, stretch the diaphragm, and let out the exhale slowly through pursed lips). Pull your attention in and down, sense your feet on the floor. Ask yourself this: What is my true feeling versus what have I taken in from the other? You may find it helpful to visualize a boundary between you and the other person, such as a rose (or a green hedge). This doesn’t break the connection but the rose will absorb and slow down incoming energy.
Practice saying no, assert a need, or simply withdraw attention from the other. You may feel guilty, but you’ll get over it. Having limits and boundaries is important for you and also good for us (although we may complain in the short run). Graceful boundaries, rather than prideful (reactive) boundaries, come when you are securely grounded in your own body.
And because you are a feeling type, find ways to let your feelings out. Express thyself! Sing, dance, laugh, cry and yell. But self start; don’t wait until you are really upset with us or over the top exhausted.
The somatic pattern for Twos is enforced by the idealization and avoidance: “I have to be helpful while putting my own needs away.” But as you find your inner value and grounded presence, relationships will become more authentic. You will know you, and we will know you, in a deeper way.
Peter O’Hanrahan is an Enneagram teacher, body therapist, business consultant, and Senior Member of the Enneagram in Business Network (EIBN) who teaches internationally and also works closely with the Enneagram Worldwide and the Palmer/Daniels Enneagram Professional Training Program. You can visit his website at EnneagramWork.com | POhanrahan@aol.com