Confessions of a TWO: The Fortune Cookie

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I am the definition of a TWO. Always helping and taking on the responsibilities of others in my family so that they will love me. Of course, working through the Enneagram and self-discovery, I realize that this is not healthy behavior. So I am trying to slowly change all of that. Last night I ate Chinese takeout from a local restaurant for dinner with my family which includes my husband (an EIGHT), 20-year old son (still trying to type him but close to a NINE or TWO), my 15 and 17 year old daughters (both SEVENS) and my 11 year old daughter (a FOUR). At the end of dinner everyone opened their fortune cookies, read their fortunes, laughed, put the paper fortune on the plate and then walked away from the table. During this quarantine, I have been really trying to get them to wash all the dishes and clean the kitchen right after dinner and about half the nights this new chore is a success. However, last night I was just too tired to push them to do it and too tired to do the dishes myself. And I was enjoying the jigsaw puzzle with the kids, which quickly turned into hilarious Karaoke.

I should never be surprised when I walk downstairs in the morning to make my cup of coffee, that the kitchen remains a mess. No magical cleaning fairies came. I didn’t share my need that I would like it clean and my children are not TWOS in order to anticipate such a need. Usually this feeds into my bitterness that no one was helping me. However, since working through more self-discovery, I know that I did not share my need with the family, so they essentially are off the hook.

I emptied the dishwasher and began to wash the dried, crusty Chinese food off the plates. On several plates sat the paper fortune. Then I had this novel idea that the fortune cookie makers should have fortunes in some of the cookies that simply say “You should help your mom with the dishes” or something more clever. That will certainly prompt some helping out in the kitchen! Thankfully my next thought was ‘Wait a minute. That’s just manipulative,’ which TWOS resort to if no one picks up on their unspoken needs. Then speaking to myself aloud, I said “If I wanted the kitchen clean, I could have just said that I wanted the kitchen clean. I don’t need a fortune cookie to manipulate them and tell them that!”

What a beautiful moment of clarity! Giving myself permission to ask for what I need and letting go of the manipulation and bitterness if I chose not to ask! I have to say that after that 30-seconds of self-counseling, I finished the kitchen free of bitterness and with a smile on my face at my breakthrough!

As TWOS, we can all fall into a manipulation/bitterness cycle. The freedom of self-discovery is to not stay there. Acknowledge the pattern and move forward. My children and especially my husband know when I am manipulating before I even do and because they are the types that they are, resist it like I have leprosy. I think tonight at dinner I will apologize for manipulating whether consciously or unconsciously and vow to communicate my needs instead. Yes, I think that is exactly what I will do!

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Britt is a licensed Enneagram coach and is in the process of pursuing her Master’s degree in Counseling. Through the pain of self-discovery, she has found healing from the chains and shame that held her captive for decades!