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E-SymSixlabeledThe Committed, Security-Oriented Type:
Engaging, Responsible, Anxious, and Suspicious

For more about the meaning of the arrows, see below.

Type Six in Brief

The committed, security-oriented type. Sixes are reliable, hard-working, responsible, and trustworthy. Excellent “troubleshooters” foresee problems and foster cooperation but can also become defensive, evasive, and anxious—running on stress while complaining about it. They can be cautious, indecisive reactive, defiant, and rebellious. They typically have problems with self-doubt and suspicion. At their Best: internally stable and self-reliant, courageously championing themselves and others.

  • Basic Fear: Of being without support and guidance
  • Basic Desire: To have security and support
  • Enneagram Six with a Five-Wing: “The Defender”
  • Enneagram Six with a Seven-Wing: “The Buddy”

Key Motivations: Want to have security, to feel supported by others, to have certainty and reassurance, to test the attitudes of others toward them, and to fight against anxiety and insecurity.

The Meaning of the Arrows (in brief)

When moving in their Direction of Disintegration (stress), dutiful Sixes suddenly become competitive and arrogant at Three. However, moving in their Direction of Integration (growth), fearful, pessimistic Sixes become more relaxed and optimistic, like healthy Nines.

Examples: Robert F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Princess Diana, George H. W. Bush, Tom Hanks, Bruce Springsteen, Candice Bergen, Gilda Radner, Meg Ryan, Helen Hunt, Mel Gibson, Patrick Swayze, Julia Roberts, Phil Donahue, Jay Leno, John Goodman, Diane Keaton, Woody Allen, David Letterman, Andy Rooney, Jessica Lange, Tom Clancy, J. Edgar Hoover, Richard Nixon, and “George Costanza” (Seinfeld).

Type Six Overview

We have named personality type Six The Loyalist because, of all the personality types; Sixes are the most loyal to their friends and their beliefs. They will ” go down with the ship” and hang on to relationships of all kinds far longer than most other types. Sixes are also loyal to ideas, systems, and beliefs—even believing all ideas or authorities should be questioned or defied. Indeed, not all Sixes follow the ” status quo”: their beliefs may be web thoughts and anti-authoritarian, even revolutionary. In any case, they will typically fight for their ideas more fiercely than they will fight for themselves, and they will defend their community or family more tenaciously than they will protect themselves.

Sixes are so loyal to others because they do not want to be abandoned and left without support—their Basic Fear. Thus, the central issue for type Six is a failure of self-confidence. Sixes believe they do not possess the internal resources to handle life’s challenges and vagaries alone. They increasingly rely on structures, allies, beliefs, and supports outside themselves for guidance to survive. If suitable facilities do not exist, they will help create and maintain them.

Sixes are the Thinking Center’s primary type, meaning they have the most trouble contacting their inner guidance. As a result,

they do not have confidence in their minds and judgments.

This does not mean that they do not think. On the contrary, they think—and worry—a lot! They also tend to fear making important decisions, but they resist having anyone else make decisions for them. They want to avoid being controlled but are also afraid of taking responsibility in a way that might put them ” in the line of fire.” (The old Japanese adage that says, “The blade of grass that grows too high gets chopped off” relates to this idea.)

Sixes are always aware of their anxieties and looking for ways to construct “social security” bulwarks against them. If Sixes feels they have sufficient backup, they can confidently move forward. But if that crumbles, they become anxious and self-doubting, reawakening their Basic Fear. (“I’m’ on my own! What am I going to do now?””) Therefore, a good question for Sixes might be: “”When will I know that I have enough security?”” Or, to get right to the heart of it, “”What is security?” Without Essntial inner guidance and the deep sense of support it brings, Sixes constantly struggles with firm ground.

Sixes attempt to build a trusted network over a background of instability and instability, often filled with nameless anxiety, and then tries to find or create reasons why. Wanting to feel that there is something solid and clear-cut in their lives, they can become attached to explanations or positions that seem to explain their situation. Because “belief” (trust, faith, convictions, works) is difficult for Sixes to achieve, and because it is so essential to their sense of stability, once they establish a trustworthy belief, they do not easily question it, nor do they want others to do so. The same is true for individuals in a Six’s life: once Sixes feel they can trust someone, they go to great lengths to maintain connections with the person who acts as a sounding board, a mentor, or a regulator for the Sixs’ emotional reactions and behavior. They, therefore, do everything in their power to keep their affiliations going. (“If I don’t trust myself, then I have to find something in this world I can count on.”)

Although intelligent and accomplished, Connie still has to wrestle with the self-doubt of her type:

“As my anxiety has come under control, so has my need to ‘check out’ everything with my friends. I used to have to get the nod of approval from several hundred (just joking!) ‘authorities.’ About nearly every decision would involve a council of my friends. I usually would do this one on one: ‘What do you think, Mary?’ ‘If I do this, then that might happen.’ Please make up my mind for me!’…Recently, I’ve narrowed my authorities to just one or two trusted friends, and on occasion, I’ve actually made up my own mind!“

Until they can get in touch with their inner guidance, Sixes are like a ping-pong ball constantly shuttling between whatever influence is hitting the hardest at any given moment. Because of this reactivity, no matter what we say about Sixes, the opposite is often as true. They are both strong and weak, fearful and courageous, trusting and distrusting, defenders and provokers, sweet and sour, aggressive and passive, bullies and weaklings, on the defensive and on the offensive, thinkers and doers, group people and soloists, believers and doubters, cooperative and obstructionistic, tender and mean, generous and petty—and on and on. The contradictory picture is the characteristic “fingerprint” of Sixes, the fact that they are a bundle of opposites.

The biggest problem for Sixes is that they try to build safety in the environment without resolving their emotional insecurities. When they learn to face their anxieties, however, Sixes understand that although the world is constantly changing and is, by nature uncertain, they can be serene and courageous in any circumstance. And they can attain the greatest gift of all, a sense of peace with themselves despite the uncertainties of life.

(from The Wisdom of the Enneagram, p. 235-236)

Next Actions

  • Do you love entertaining people in the comfort of your home?
  • Do you prefer to have a day full of activities and hate having free time as you are not sure how to spend it?
  • Do you find it challenging to make decisions, preferring others to do it for you?
  • Do you prefer an authoritarian boss who lays out stringent rules for you to follow rather than a more laid-back boss who likes delegating responsibility and decision-making to you?

If you fit into this personality type, try these tips:

  • Avoid procrastination by setting yourself deadlines for achievement of specific goals.
  • Don’t’ avoid a task just because the instructions are confusing – instead, ask for clarification.
  • Seek feedback from trusted friends and family to deal with confidence issues.

Having a solid conscience and being faithful to others is preferable to being helpless and unsure of yourself.