Understanding My Two-ness
I’ve got something exciting to share.
(And no, I’m not getting married)
I’m talking about something BIG, sister-friend!
I’m talking about a huge shift in my thinking that’s already changing my life.
Because even though I’m a coach, I’m actually here to do my own deep personal work. And that often requires the help of someone who can hold a safe space for me while kindly poking my blind spots.
And guess who I turn to whenever I need a good poking . . .
Jaya recently introduced me to an ancient, 9-point personality system called the Enneagram (pronounced ANY-a-gram).
At the time, she had a strong suspicion that my dominant type might be a Two.
And Twos are known for being people pleasers.
This has been the story of my life.
I’ve had the please-disease for as long as I can remember. As an adult, I blamed my childhood religion, certain I had been brainwashed into being a weak, wishy-washy servant to the entire human race.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve always appreciated my empathetic nature. I just hated the suffering that came with it.
Because saying no was just so HARD.
I may have a black belt in boundaries now, but back in my twenties and early thirties?
I would make myself sick with guilt, wringing my hands for days at the thought of disappointing or upsetting anyone.
And I resented this pain, blaming everyone else for causing it.
I mean, I’m such a caring and thoughtful person! Why wouldn’t others go out of their way to reciprocate—giving me permission to do what was necessary for my own health and happiness?
I vacillated between loving others and being angry with them.
And this hurt.
My inability to express my own needs festered into one physical illness after another.
Because there’s nothing like suffering to get a girl’s attention.
I became driven to do my own inner work and spent the next 12 years on a path of self-discovery and healing that eventually led me to Jaya.
By the time we first spoke, I was already a practicing coach. I had not only learned about boundaries, I was teaching them to others.
And yet, I still hadn’t gotten to the root of my own people-pleasing ways.
Yes, my religious training had created very strong neural pathways of “you’ve gotta be nice”, but underneath all of that was a personality type that Jaya immediately recognized.
After our first session together, I took the Enneagram test and confirmed her hunch. I was a Two. A Helper.
A couple more sessions brought me face to face with the truth:
Deep down, I had a belief that “I’m ONLY okay if I’m in a loving relationship with others”.
Which really meant, I only felt worthy if people liked and approved of me.
Which REALLY meant, my happiness depended on pleasing others.
This explained why, after all my years of work, I still felt deeply wounded when people weren’t nice to me.
In my mind, they HAD to like me or I wasn’t okay.
I began to see how often I manipulated people (or situations) to force others to love me.
How I dishonoured myself by swallowing my true feelings in order to be liked.
How I created an identity helping and nurturing others without maintaining a commitment to my whole and healthy self.
Understanding my two-ness has meant observing my own behavior very closely, becoming aware of my motives.
Why am I complimenting this person?
Why am I apologizing?
Why am I giving a gift?
Why am I smiling?
If the answer is anything other than “for the pure joy of it”—I stop.
This has helped me reach a new level of freedom and authenticity than I haven’t been able to reach in the past.
And the best part?
I still get to be my amazing, loving, generous, self!
I get to bring beauty into people’s lives. I get to be an up-lifter, splashing lovely bits of sunshine all over the place.
I get to be lavish with love.
My two-ness isn’t a curse. I don’t have to be selfless, sacrificing my desires for the needs of others.
As long as I’m not contorting myself to get people to love me, being a Helper is a sweet-peach of a gift . . . not just to myself, but to my little piece of the world.
So if you suspect that you too, are a Two, then break out the bubbly! You’re a HELPER, honey! You’re an agent for GOOD. Don’t be mad at yourself for doing what you were brought here to do.
Just remember that healthy Twos set proper boundaries and are honest about their own needs. They take care of themselves first so they have something of value to give to those around them.
Helping others (if done in a clean mindful way) will energize you and give your life meaning and purpose.
Exhaustion or resentment or anger means you’re off-course.
And if that’s the case, well . . . maybe its time for some coaching.
Sending you so much love.