Updated: Feb 27, 2021
One of the more fascinating patterns of human behavior is the phenomena known as defense mechanisms. I introduced defense mechanisms in the previous post.
By review, defense mechanisms are automatic, often unconscious, responses we employ to cope and protect ourselves from feelings of anxiety, threat and guilt. They serve the dual purpose of warding off unpleasant feelings as well as amplifying and idealizing good experiences.
Each Enneagram Type has its signature go-to defense mechanism that coincides with the personality structure it forms around its core needs, fears and motives. The manner in which each Type exercises its primary mechanism provides useful information to the other Types on the inner workings of the defense mechanism at play.
The primary defense mechanism for Enneagram Twos is Repression. Repression deals with unacceptable feelings by putting them out of one's awareness and converting them into feelings and actions that are more acceptable.
Enneagram Twos are driven by the need to belong and connect. They long to be accepted.
Twos also possess a keen emotional radar. They pick up on the feelings and needs of others. Not only do they detect others' emotions, Twos often absorb and take them on as their own.
Twos combine these factors to formulate their life strategy. "The ticket to forming the relationships I crave is by sensing the needs of others and moving to meet them. I will become all about others and their needs."
"Furthermore, no one likes negative people. If I want to belong, connect and to have people like me, I can't afford to come across as a downer, irritable or angry. I must stay positive and upbeat."
This is the set-up for the Twos' repression. When Twos come into contact with their own needs and negative feelings, their anxiety is activated.
"I'm not allowed to have my own needs. My job is to meet others' needs. If I let my negative feelings known, others might reject me. After all, who wants to hang around someone who is needy, hurting or angry?"
When their anxiety is triggered, Twos resort to repression. They deny their own neediness and instead focus on the needs of others. Twos push down uncomfortable feelings and stay cheerful and energetic. They strive to maintain the image of being helpful and indispensable, thus ensuring a sense of belonging and importance.
Twos aren't the only Types to use repression, of course. We all do it in some situations. But, Twos give us useful insight into how repression functions
as a defense mechanism.
How does repression operate in your life?