Health Patterns of the Helpers

As an acupuncturist, I find myself working with quite a lot of lovely people, and truly some of the loveliest, dearest patients I have worked with are the Type Twos of the Enneagram: the Helpers. (The Enneagram is a personality-typing system that identifies 9 fundamental temperaments, which then morph and adapt over the course of a lifetime.) Type Twos are the Helpers, the Givers of the world. You know who I’m talking about: These are the people, who, if they learn of a friend getting surgery, will ask if they need a ride. If there has been a death in their community, they are sure to drop off a dinner. If you are going on vacation your Two friend will feed your cat. They care about their relationships very much and are dedicated to demonstrating it. Their ability to connect is their superpower. The thing is, we tend to judge everybody else by the things we ourselves do best. We set expectations of others based on what we view as the most important. So in the case of the Givers, they go around giving their love and assistance to all who need it (and, come on, we all do) and assume that that’s what everybody else is doing, too. Except that it isn’t. That is only one ninth of the general perspectives out there: other people care about other things, like making money or researching history or creating art or skydiving. And by having assumed that there would be care received in return for care given, Twos at some point in their lives suddenly realize that they have given away the farm, and they are totally exhausted, and there is not necessarily someone there to give care and anticipate their needs and offer support. They realize that while they were so busy taking care of others’ needs, they completely neglected their own, and in fact may not even really know what their own needs are. So by the time the Twos come to an acupuncturist, they’ve got a good case of arthritis going on and usually some degree of adrenal fatigue as well. Certainly a low-grade depression. From the perspective of Chinese medicine, all of these symptoms are connected to the energy of the Kidneys. Kidney energy is deep, primal energy. It controls our mental clarity, the strength of our bones, the luster of our hair, the zeal of our willpower, and the vitality of our reproductive health. When we really give of ourselves, we include the magic of our Kidney energy. And if that energy is only a one way ticket out, without rest and care and renewal coming back in, then we will begin to feel very burned out indeed. When Kidney energy becomes weak, our mind becomes foggier, our hair becomes more brittle, our menstrual cycles and erectile function are disturbed, fatigue sets in, and we start to have pain. Deep, aching, exhausting pain, often with a pinched nerve thrown in for good measure. Integrative acupuncture is really a perfect match for this kind of condition. We can include so many good things into one appointment you wouldn’t believe it. First, there is the intake. I like to take 15 to 20 minutes of the appointment talking with the patient about their health and what is going on in their lives. This part of the appointment is extremely important for the Givers. These are people who really don’t know how to articulate their needs, so being guided by someone who knows how to ask the right questions is really important. And also they receive the one-on-one attention and concern that they really need, and deserve. Next is some bodywork, called tui na. This is a medical massage where the acupoints are pressed and rubbed, which increases blood flow through the muscles and relaxes them, and activates healing energy. For acupuncture, points are selected that will strengthen and revitalize kidney energy and invigorate and center the mind. These points access deep energy, some of the first pathways to form in the womb, and you often enter a quiet, trancelike state. While you rest with the needles in, I administer moxibustion, an herbal heat therapy. The heat has a deep, penetrating quality that accelerates blood flow and healing. It is quite soothing, and is one of my most-requested services. And finally we talk about dietary and lifestyle changes, and I usually administer vitamins or an herbal formula to begin rebuilding the depleted energy. People recover astonishingly quickly with this regimen. It’s really amazing to watch someone come alive again before my very eyes. And often a life change happens quickly on the heels of recovery. I find that just a few discussions with the Helpers about this pattern causes them to really reevaluate how they are doing things. One type Two patient asked her adult son to finally move out, and another announced she is leaving her job where she is underpaid and unappreciated. This is what a holistic treatment is all about: not only does the patient leave feeling physically stronger and free of pain, but also revitalized and mentally clear. So what else can the Twos be doing at home to strengthen the Kidney energy? Dark blue, purple and black foods are especially good for the kidneys. Think berries and beans. Drinking water is important, to flush out the kidneys. Stretches that bend at the waist, stretching out the lower back are especially good as well. And finally, it would be time well-spent for our Givers of the world to begin working on identifying what their own needs really are, and get those added to the daily agenda. They generally will fall under the categories of Connection, Physical Well-Being, Honesty, Play, Peace, Autonomy, and Meaning. Try perusing this list of human fundamental needs. Interested in learning about your personality type? Click here to take the Free RHETI Sampler. Interested in learning more about acupuncture and Candice Thomas, L.Ac.? Click here.
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