The Alchemy of the Enneagram in Transforming Addiction: The Journey for the Type Two

Type Two— The Intuitive Healer

“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” —BUDDHA

The Type Two, known as the nurturer, mentor, and intuitive healer, is endowed with a generous and loving heart, sensitive to the nuances of other people’s suffering, and naturally inclined to heal, help, or sometimes carry the sufferer until they can carry themselves. He is a loving, caring soul, a compassionate helper known for possessing and expressing unconditional love and kindness, for generously touching people with the sweetness of his heart. In addiction, however, he becomes certain he is not loved or valuable and becomes desperate to hold any connection with others regardless of the expense to himself. This pattern becomes the source of his relapse back to addiction.


When the Two is in addiction, his internal playing field becomes unbalanced. He is driven by the horror of feeling that he is rejected, unwanted, disposable to anyone he cares for, and likely to be abandoned at any moment for the slightest infraction.

The following is a brief overview of the Two’s internal playing field.

Deep wound/relapse pattern: The deep wound of the Two is the feeling of being unlovable, unworthy of love, unwanted, and not needed. He feels he must make himself indispensable to others or else they will abandon him.

Key commandment: The Two’s key commandment is to care for the needs of others to have a place in the world. He is only as valuable as the love he gives others. He must not need anything for himself.

Deep wish: The Two has a deep desire to love and be unconditionally loved, to be deeply connected with those whom he loves. He wants to truly help others in need, to be a force of love in their lives. How he sees himself: The Two sees himself as always loving, kind, considerate, generous, and without any negative motivations toward others.

At level 4 and below: When the Two becomes unhealthy, he falls prey to the emotional habit of pride, in which he attends to everyone else’s needs to the exclusion of his own. He perceives that he doesn’t have needs. His mental habit of ingratiation keeps him continually thinking about others, worrying about them, and thinking of ways to make himself indispensable to them. He prides himself on believing he knows what others need.

Inner critic: The Two’s inner critic tells him he is good only when he is connected to and considering others, when he is thinking and doing for others; otherwise, he is selfish. He cannot ask directly for what he needs.

At his best: When the Two is at his best he is generous and kind to others and himself. He doesn’t need to save people from their suffering and is aware that he can’t control, cure, or change another. He has good boundaries and loves with a clean heart, meaning no strings are attached. He loves abundantly and skillfully, knowing how to care for himself.


The healthy Type Two is a teacher and exemplar of loving-kindness, generosity, encouragement, and forgiveness. Open-hearted, he senses and feels the potential goodness and love in those he touches. He is passionate about connecting and being connected to people and is drawn to help them, to hear about them, to feel their hearts, to melt into the sweetness of others. And yet this is not a shallow, Hallmark-card loving-kindness. It’s not a sappy nothingness that touches only the surface. It is strong, potent, and penetrating, and will change others at depth. His loving gentleness will melt the hardened self-protective blockages in those he encounters; he will land like a nuclear explosion on their suppressed suffering and despair. True kindness penetrates. Tears will come. Suppressed rage and hurt will surface. Shame will arise from the bowels of his being. Love calls forth everything. Ultimately, connection with the healthy Two will give others what they have always wanted: a genuine connection with another human being and their own heart, a loving embrace for their suffering. This is the mission and the gift of the Two.

When the Two is healthy he knows the boundaries of his capacity to help, knows where empowering another and creating dependency in the other begins and ends. The Two understands when help is needed and when he must stand away. He is aware when he starts to do the work of another and knows that this alone can deter an individual from discovering his personal will to grow. He knows the sacred boundaries that he must hold if the other person is to survive, learn to endure painful changes, and do his work; that he cannot control another. And yet he transmits a power that touches the heart of the other with a simple message: You can do this. I will walk beside you on this journey. You can do this. If there is a flaw in the Two’s beautiful soul radiance, it is wanting to help too much, to reach beyond his capacity. He has difficulty resting in the reality that full-blown generosity can be delivered in the silence of his being, that an action is not always required. He transmits loving help through his presence.

The healthy Two does not have to be the universal flow of love but a graceful thread of it. He knows that over-helping disempowers the other, weakens their resolve, and disconnects them from their real will and strength to grow and change.

Case Study: Thomas

Thomas, a beloved Two, came into addiction recovery twenty-four years ago, and it shows. Sitting at an AA meeting, his angular face and body embody stillness, grace, strength, and gentleness. The moment he speaks, a depth of compassion and kindness toward the men in the room struggling to be sober is apparent. He has been to the bottom, resurrected through insurmountable suffering and abuse, and has become a mountain of love. Behind him is a trail of desperate actions, attempts to find connection with others that would ease his hurting heart. He inadvertently rescued individuals who then drained him of every ounce of energy as he threw himself into them, whole hog. It is a situation akin to the dreaded relationships with vampires, who use their victims, drain them dry, and then leave them to die. Compelled by an inexplicable desire to connect with anyone, somehow, somewhere, Thomas couldn’t not do this.

His twenty-four years of sobriety mark a steady effort to heal this path, to become aware of his type patterns that made him blind to reality, blind to the unhealthy individual he was pursuing, and soul-blind to his deep needs. But recovering men and women have taught him, helped him, and showed him the way. Today his kind heart is magnetic and pulls men to him that otherwise would never approach him. Gnarled, toughened men sense him as a safe port. His demeanor is clear: it is safe to have a broken heart in his presence. You have nothing to hide. You will be held by love. There is room for you here, exactly as you are. He speaks simply and articulately, his wish being to encourage men with his faith, that if they work the steps of recovery, they will find their way. Moreover, when he has taken on another man to sponsor, he goes to any length to find out what will settle the man’s aching, confused heart.

His dedication to delivering kindness and caring knows no bounds, and his genius for finding the support a man needs is unbeatable. He feels the hearts of the men he works with, senses the little boy who has been abandoned, and is passionate about creating space for healing. Those he sponsors know this and feel this. Enveloped in Thomas’s kindness, compassion, and capacity to sense the sorrow of the wounded boy, the newly sober man feels the love of a good mother or nurturing father, perhaps for the first time. Being seen through Thomas’s compassionate eyes, where forgiveness is available, where gentleness touches the sponsee, where one’s deeper spirit is beheld, he reminds the sponsee on a visceral level that God, or the universe, or Thomas loves you and values you, that the sponsee is held by the gracious and powerful force of love. This is the holy healing power of the healthy Two.


When the Two becomes unhealthy, his addictions—alcohol, drugs, food, sugar, relationships, being overly nice, shopping, starving himself—are his supports. The addiction becomes his false heart and his false connection to himself. It fills the emptiness of his heart, the hole in the heart that so many in early recovery speak of. When he is at level 6 or 7, the addicted Two arrives with a heart that is filled with painful emptiness, which begs to be filled with something, something that will sooth him, or distract him, or at least in the moment, change the feeling of being unlovable into something else. If he cannot feel his innate sweetness, lovableness, and preciousness, then what he faces is the horror of a five-year-old who has lost his mother or father. Something must be stuffed into this hole to soften the blow and make his existence tolerable.

Case Study: William

William arrived at a rehab treatment center after serving another five-year stint in prison. He is a sweet and kind-hearted Two, yet prison has driven his heart deep into the recesses of his soul. Buried deeply alongside his heart is the horrible loss of his mother when he was five, the loss of his dad at six, and the trail of rejections by foster parents. He was a wandering gypsy with no place to land or to call home.

In the presence of his Type Eight counselor, Dominic, the fierce force of truth bore down on William, reaching through his protective all-is-well shield until he suddenly broke into sobs of pain over his life losses. Gasping for breath, tears streaming down his cheeks, the eyes of an innocent boy stared back at Dominic. His deep moment of truth could only be felt in small measure. It is going to take many descents into this pain-well to digest and heal his suffering. William did as many do in very early recovery. With an unhealed heart, he tried to find solace in the loving gaze of a woman.

Margarette was a tall, lovely Type One, and was swept up by William’s Type Two loving charisma at an AA meeting. Little did she know that she would be filling in for his heartbreaking loss of his mom when he was a little guy. This is the same loss and longing that had relentlessly driven his descent into addiction, into desperate acts of thievery to supply his habit, and long stays in federal prison. Nor was she aware that his intense, loving attention to her would quickly morph into an addiction to her, that if he could place himself in her pocket every day, he would. Margarette temporarily became his lifeline away from the unquenchable pain in his broken heart. Smitten with her, he was quickly deaf, dumb, and blind to the dynamics of his addiction and the primary importance of putting his recovery first, foremost, center stage. The saying Whatever you place in front of your recovery you will lose became a faraway echo. He’s heard it many times before.

Yes, he knew the steps of recovery, he knew what to do (or, at least, his thinking center was jam-packed with years of recovery knowledge), but his aching heart was suddenly brain dead. His infatuation, just like his drugs of choice, was thinking for him. His acquired recovery wisdom went on mute. In his buried current of sorrow for his mom was a survival instinct that screamed, without Mom’s love I can go no further; she is my oxygen. When Margarette temporarily became his oxygen, her kindness fogged his reason and effortlessly overruled any access to his earned wisdom. His acquired wisdom developed through years of attempts to gain and keep sobriety vanished.

In the first week of group at the treatment center, before he was full-blown lost in his new infatuation, he reached out to others as the old-timer who knew the ropes, and with precise accuracy could outline the path to sustained recovery. His empathy and kindness were contagious. His kind eyes and generosity of spirit were a salve to suffering men. He looked and sounded as if he’s finally in the game for real (his counselors pray), clearly embracing recovery first. But with lightning speed he found the love of his life—in fourteen short days. Margarette now occupied most of his attention. William went through the mechanics of recovery, continued to recite recovery principles, but all of it was a front for his absorption into his woman. He instantly forgot his emergency, forgot that if he relapsed, he would go back to prison for another two years. The intoxication of his new love erased worry, practical consideration, and even the horror he had experienced relapsing back to prison on numerous occasions.

This is what any good drug does; it wipes out the past, at least for the moment. As twelve-step folks put it, it’s the forgetter’s disease. Starstruck, he wandered, drunk on the elixir of love, and once again, he was repeating his past. He was soul-starved for attention and affirmation, willing to sacrifice everything for any crumbs of love or kindness. And why wouldn’t he? Wearing himself out in his efforts to please Margarette, his real needs (i.e., the inner work of recovery) erased from awareness, he was driven by possessiveness and the fear that at any moment he would be abandoned by her—the bane of the unhealthy Two. He saw her through the lens of idealized love as his savior and redeemer. He would hold on to her for dear life, this other drug of choice—infatuation addiction—intoxicating (until it’s not), numbing his sorrow and desperation. What sorrow? I’m happy now, finally.

As Margarette asked for more space, freedom from the clinging spiderweb of his neediness, his core fear of being abandoned was magnified. After a few fearful arguments regarding her needs, he relapsed. Several days later he found himself behind bars, a burglary charge trailing him like a hungry dog. As a Two, driven by the sharp knife of I’m not loved, William will continue to get entangled with the next hopeful lovemate until he develops the will, strength, and resolve to resist this pattern. He will need the help of others to do so because, like his alcoholism, this is a pattern he is powerless over. It has a life of its own within his psyche. Thus, he must treat it as a primary addiction. When he is at levels 6 and 7, his attempts to love and create loving relationships fail. As his sponsor has implored him, he must stay out of relationships for at least a year. He must face this Type Two addiction pattern: “I don’t have relationships, I have hostages, and when I let go of someone, I’ll always leave claw marks. I’ll do just about anything to not be abandoned.” His sponsor’s or therapist’s job is to help him see this pattern and point it out when he dissolves into it.


When the Two arrives in treatment at a residential facility, he is already feeling a huge disconnect from his life. His primary source of identity—those whom he loves—is gone. He will be caught in the machinery of his thinking mind, wondering about his loved ones, wondering if he could have changed the outcomes he now faces if only he had only done this or that. Heartbroken, he is only temporarily slowed down from his usual mental pacing and will soon be on the go to reconnect and communicate with his loved ones, whether they are with him or not. He thinks about them and thinks about them, and it is difficult to bring his attention into the room, to himself and what he feels and needs. As the Two attends AA meetings, he is often on the lookout for lost, wounded souls he can help and win over. Who can I save? As the Two attends AA meetings, he is often on the lookout for lost, wounded souls he can help and win over. Who can I save? If he can find someone to love back to life, he will feel better, he will have a purpose. He won’t have to sit in the suffering of disconnection from loved ones.

In recovery groups he will talk about his girlfriend or his wife, how he worries about her, what she struggles with, how he would like to help her. It will often appear as though he has come to treatment to help her and other loved ones instead of dealing with his addiction issues. His habitual focus will be outside himself. He is here to learn a fundamental lesson, which is alien territory for him: that he needs help, that he has an addiction. In the first days at the treatment center, he will be open to suggestions, but quick as a wink, as he feels better, his maneuvering mind will begin rescripting his priorities. Maybe his wife wasn’t serious about leaving him. If he can only get her back, things will be fine. Maybe he doesn’t really have an addiction problem. His only problem, he thinks, is that he drank too much because he was so upset with how badly things were going in his relationship. He doesn’t need addiction treatment. No, he just needs to get back home as fast as possible. He will be more careful with his drinking. It will take him time to realize that his zealous efforts to create love and connection with his wife and family actually push them away or strangle them with his expectations.


The Two unconsciously learned to protect himself from rejection by not letting anyone know what he needs, or by simply disconnecting from his needs. His history has taught him that if he doesn’t have needs, he can’t be rejected—simple. A war wages within him: he wants to be connected and close to those he loves, but he invariably makes it impossible for others to genuinely love him because he can’t reveal who he is, warts and all. He is terrified that his needs will deem him selfish in the eyes of his vicious inner critic. The rules are set: if he is to be loved, he must only have loving feelings toward others and only wish to do things for them. Ultimately, he protects himself by loving others, by putting his attention solely on their needs. How could they possibly reject him with the spotlight of his attention fully on them?

The Two has learned to reach in to help others before checking in with his own needs or giving himself permission to express and acknowledge all of his feelings. He has learned that this is selfish and makes him unlovable and worthy of being abandoned. The sponsor’s or therapist’s challenge is to help him notice when he has abandoned himself in the action of caring for another, or is avoiding his feelings of anger, sadness, and humiliation by reaching to support another. This is major recovery work for the Two at all stages of his sobriety. When I once asked a Two how he dealt with his needs and wants in early recovery, he replied, “What wants? What needs? I learned early that having wants meant I invited suffering and ridicule. So, that was the end of wants. I stopped wanting what I wanted. Who would want when it only brings suffering?”

That is the key question for the Two: who would want if it only brings suffering? Thus, the heart-desires of the Two become masked, leaving him with a fake happy heart. This becomes the entrenched habit that makes his soul a feeding ground for addiction. The Two faces questions such as, How do I get real? How do I begin to admit the human side of myself? How do I get honest with my anger? With my hurt? With my shame? How do I slow down enough to see, with compassion, that when I am suffering, I shift this hurt into helping others without being aware of whether my help is wanted? How do I see that this pattern sets me up for attracting emotional vampires who use my despair and good intentions to suck me dry? Why do I push away those healthy enough to be with me?


The Two’s core relapse pattern is in putting his attention on others to feel loved instead of turning inward to healing the source of his pattern, his rejection as a little one. This survival pattern, which truly allowed him to navigate difficult times, is instinctive and immediate, and will need the loving support and insights of others to begin to slow and ultimately derail the pattern. As is said in recovery, it will be four steps forward and three steps back. Real change is slow. Nothing happens quickly. Do not be discouraged.


The second a Two gets a whiff of a loved one in need, his body is out of the chair, in motion moving toward the loved one, before his brain and consciousness can catch up. But the brave Two is deeply committed to changes that will truly allow him to touch people at depth as he marches through this sacred doorway of his own self-care. He will face his hateful inner critic, who will rise up and shout, “Taking care of yourself hurts others. They need you, and yet you turn away and toward your selfish desires. Shame on you!” The Two has permission to say to his inner critic, “Buzz off. I’ve paid my dues. Have a nice day.”

The Two must surround himself with a few dear souls who hold his feet to the fire when he abandons himself, because he will. Skillfully, he will retrain his patterns because he has engaged in a new experiment, and he has the knowledge and courage to withstand the horror that his inner critic is willing to dump on him. Slowly, slowly, slowly he will disengage from this mechanism, his pet robot, as he continues his commitment to this powerful edge of growth. As he does so, the intensity of the guilt and shame generated from his inner critic will continue to quiet until one day, they are merely passing mosquitoes buzzing in his ear. He can do this because, at depth, his heart is heroic and strong. The Two must surround himself with a few dear souls who hold his feet to the fire when he abandons himself, because he will (until he doesn’t). He must find people who bring him back to listening to that precious heart of his.


As his therapist or sponsor helping the Two, you must be the eyes he needs to spot his patterns. He will need you to point out when he too frequently over-gives, such as when he brings gifts, cards, and little things that he learns others like. You must assure him that he won’t be abandoned. As his therapist or sponsor, you will need to help create boundaries for the Two, as he has none. When he attends AA meetings, he will notice the wounded soldiers. He will see the woman with three kids who lost her job, whose partner vanished into the wilderness of his own addiction, and he will feel her suffering. He can help her, he can ease her pain. Never mind that his own wife has left him, that he has not seen his kids in several years; here in front of him is an immediate need that he can respond to. How can he deny the palpable tugging at his heart to rescue her while totally forgetting his own needs? This is where you come in, delivering compassionate clarity.

You can say, “My friend, you must leave this situation alone. You must stick with your recovery and not confuse it with a relationship. And consider this: rescue missions backfire because people really don’t want to be rescued.” As his therapist or sponsor, you will need to create boundaries for the Two, as he has none. In therapy you will need to redirect his attention back to himself over and over again. The no-gifts (for the therapist) rule must be steadfastly held to. You must call out how he tries to get personal information from you to inform him how to give you the best gift. Expose his pattern gently but clearly. He compulsively wants to help whoever is in front of him, and he will listen to cues as to where they have been hurt or need attention.

The Two’s boundary must begin with the mandate of his having no intimate relationships in his first year of AA. (After reviewing my past, my sponsor smiled mischievously and said, “No relationships for you for at least fifteen years!”) Give him this clear instruction: if he feels the urge to help a damsel in distress, he must talk to you before he takes any action. Clearly and steadily mirror for him what you see. He will need to hear it more than once, so be patient but unrelenting. As he begins to see glimpses of his pride—I don’t need help, you do, or, I know exactly what she needs to be happy—while seeing himself as more loving than others, his superiority will turn to shame. With shock, he will see the times he has lied to look loving, or to please someone, or to keep someone close to him. Also painful to bear, he will see that he treats himself with disregard and hatred.

 As his self-awareness grows, his ability to see more clearly the mechanism that takes his attention will sharpen. As if peeling an onion, he will notice that he continually monitors the responses of others to see if he is passed the test of being loved and wanted, or if he is being rejected. His ongoing work in recovery will be to grasp that he is constantly on trial in the eyes of his inner critic. The first glimpse of it will lay him low with shame, but with continued efforts to see his Type Two defense patterns without judging himself for it, he will begin to dismantle the marching orders that have been driving him. Once the Two has begun recovery from his addiction, encourage him to hightail it to Al-Anon. If he is to stay sober, he must learn to identify his needs and become able to put them first and foremost. Healthy selfishness is high on his recovery agenda, as is learning what healthy nurturing of others looks like.


It will be incumbent upon you to provide supportive, helpful guidance to the Two as he navigates his way to health. Share the following suggestions, perhaps just one a week so as not to overwhelm him.

Begin to listen to your heart. The Type Two develops a pride in not needing love. Having shut off and numbed himself from the love he hungers for, he begins to pride himself on not needing anything. His job in recovery is to reverse this habit and start listening to his needs and wants with the same intensity and compassion that he attunes to the hearts of others.

Try these suggestions to help him begin to listen to his heart:

• Explain that as he practices self-observing with compassion, this lightning-quick pattern of impulsively helping others will become more evident and occasionally will move in slow motion. Then a choice will appear, a gap in the hardware programming of his personality. In that moment of heart-sensitivity he might recognize that he does want something. It could be affection or acknowledgment. He may feel a passion to express his creativity. It will arrive in almost invisible form, but as he attends to these heart impressions, their strength and importance will appear.

• Let him know that slow, steady work begins by just noticing how he felt a need or desire for something, and it vanished so quickly that he hardly caught a glimpse. Without judging himself, encourage him to make a list at the end of the day of these moments. His first job is to merely observe these impressions, nothing more to be done. In time, the desire for real action will arise.

 Begin to notice that resentment and anger are signs you’re giving too much of yourself.

The Two has thoughts of forcefully collecting the debt others owe him if they don’t notice how much he contributes to them. This “you owe me” resentment builds up, leaving him stuck in the trap of resentful giving unless he communicates openly about it.

Try these suggestions to help him notice his resentment and anger and to recognize his needs that lie beneath:

• Help him to learn to listen to his resentment. Help him hear what it sounds like in his mind-stream. Ask him, What are your resentment thoughts? When do they commonly arise? Have him make a list of these thoughts and what the underlying desire is that lies beneath them.

• Explain that this resentment is a sign that he wants something that’s important to him, and that he has acquired a survival habit of being so indirect about his needs that no one takes him seriously.

• Remind him that healthy anger arises when he needs to defend himself from being used or disregarded. Trust it. He must learn to ask, to speak up, instead of succumbing to the idea that others haven’t properly mind-read his needs. Ask him, When did you notice your anger today?

Notice how you indirectly ask for what you want by hinting at it.

In order to get what he wants, the Two uses strategies, such as volunteering to give his partner a massage or hugging his partner, when he actually wants a massage or a hug for himself. He reasons, If I give her what I want (a hug, a massage, a card, a gift), she will surely begin to intuit that I want the same treatment. (This thought process was explained by a panel of Twos who said, “We can see what you need. Why the heck can’t you see what we need?”)

Try these suggestions to help him begin to see his pattern of hinting at what he wants or wishes others would intuit:

• Explain to the Two that sensing the needs of others is one of his super powers but that he must learn to be direct about his needs in communicating with others. Hinting doesn’t work and leads directly to the feeling of being rejected, along with resentment toward the loved one. • When you spot him engaging in this behavior, point out in the moment how he has just made an indirect request via his generous actions. This is tricky because he will feel terrible humiliation when an unconscious pattern is pointed out. Remind him that everyone has unconscious patterns, that it goes with the territory of being human. Have him practice phrases such as I would really appreciate a hug/your help/a compliment/ acknowledgment of how my help has helped you.

• You will need to point out this pattern to him many times because the pattern is deeply tied to his survival as a little guy when he was trying his best to avoid rejection.

Learn to endure the guilt you feel when you ask for what you want.

Guilt is the signal the Two’s inner critic sends when he takes care of himself or says no to others when he needs space or time. The inner critic, committed to holding him in the role of the helpaholic, tells him he is bad or selfish when he cares for himself, which means that at any moment he could be banished forever into the loveless back alleys of his soul.

Try these suggestions to help him endure the feeling of guilt when it arises:

• Explain that he must learn to bear the guilt, and that in time, the guilt will quiet.

• Remind him that when he advocates for himself, he will be flooded with the tar-like substance of guilt. He will feel awful at first, and the guilt will feel like an indisputable fact.

• Teach him that learning to sense his body on a regular basis will build in an internal observation tower in which he can begin to experience his guilt more quickly and more objectively.

• Explain to him that when he is engulfed in guilt, reaching to a good friend for support can be very useful. He doesn’t have to endure this alone. Remind him he is worthy of receiving help.

Become aware of your pride.

Thich Nhat Hahn, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, said “Pride is the unwillingness to admit our own need and suffering.” The Two often cannot sense his own need and suffering, and believes that he doesn’t have emotional pain that needs attention. If he brings attention to his needs, he will feel the horrid guilt of selfishness, and if he speaks of his suffering, he fears no one will notice, and he will be deeply wounded by rejection, the very thing he is wired to avoid. It is much easier to play it safe by reaching out to help another.

Try these suggestions to help him become aware of his pride:

• Instruct him on how his pride can show up. This can be very difficult because the Two experiences humiliation when he realizes that his motives aren’t always pure.

• Give him this challenge to help him recognize his pride: “For one week when you have the inner experience that you know what someone else needs or what would be good for them, resist the urge to step in or take action. Just notice the pattern and how you are unconsciously wired to step in as the one who knows the needs of others.”

• Suggest to him that he avoid making unsolicited recommendations. Rather, encourage that he become aware of a sneaky ego pattern of knowing what is good for others, which, in the long run, pushes people away whom he wishes to be close to. Suggest that he ask first whether someone wants his help before offering it.

Learn to identify your habit of mind of ingratiation.

When the Two is stressed out and feels vulnerable to loss of love, his tendency is to go into people-pleaser mode by, for example, complimenting others as a means of creating a connection, or showering them with praise, gifts, or affirmation to keep a loving connection intact. He affirms what is good about others instead of addressing his own vulnerable feelings.

Try these suggestions to help him identify and change the habit of ingratiating himself to others:

• Instruct him that under stress or caught in his fear that he is unwanted, he is likely to over-compliment others or unwittingly magnify their successes, which has the side effect of making them feel weird because of the exaggerated positivism.

• Remind him that this is different from his intuitive capacity to actually see and name what is good and wonderful in people. The overdoing of compliments makes folks feel that there’s something behind the compliments, something hidden, an ulterior motive, and that he is not sincere. Although this is not the intention, it sets him up for others mistrusting him or even mocking what appears to be his naivete.

• Let him know that you will compassionately point out this pattern when you witness it. If you can, give him living examples of clean complimenting and over-the[1]top ingratiating complimenting. Examples will help him.


Share this message with the Two in recovery: Try for one week to develop your sense of humor. Each time someone asks for help, respond with, “I’ll get back to you.” Do not offer help. Ask yourself what it is you need. If someone asks for help, just for one week reply, “Sorry, I’m fasting from helping people, as I’ve gained pounds of over-helping on my soul, and it’s slowing down my real ability to love. I promise to get back to you, but I can’t help today.”

Remember this: you will never lose the love of helping others, and your time spent on yourself will actually deepen your ability to give quality attention to others. As my sponsor said, “You must become an expert on putting yourself first in the realm of your recovery. Get the help you need. This effort alone with magnify your capacity to assist others.”

The good news is that all of this is learnable. It may feel at times like you are rolling a heavy stone up a mountainside, but be assured that all of your efforts to become more conscious and free of your patterns will bring positive results. No effort is wasted.

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