Enneagram Type 6 – Loyal Sceptic
Enneagram Sixes value security and belonging, as this style stems from the motivational need to be safe and prepared. As a result, loyalty and trust are important to Sixes, who strive to be responsible and prepared at all times. At their best, Sixes are courageous and connected to a sense of inner knowing, offering the gift of devotion and trust to themselves and the world around them. Less-healthy Sixes have a tendency to worry excessively, fear letting down their defences and may be experienced as anxious, suspicious or doubting.
“The world is a threatening and unsafe place. Be prepared. Be loyal. People can count on me.
Be careful who you trust. I must not be afraid, but I must not let my guard down.
I must protect myself, but I must be loyal
The gifts of the Enneagram Six include:
- Devotion: Sixes are committed to what they value, expressing duty and care in service of people, responsibilities and causes.
- Courage: Sixes often courageously take a stand on behalf of the greater good, despite concerns and risks.
- Preparedness: Being alert and risk-aware, Sixes pay attention to what is going on in their world and act to minimise risks and threats.
- Trustworthiness: Once Sixes make a decision or commitment, they stick to it. They also respect rules and authority, as long as they feel like they can trust the source or intention.
- Team-Oriented: Sixes enjoy the co-operation and collaboration of groups and thrive in a healthy team environment.
Typical Action Patterns
There are two ways in which the Enneagram 6 pattern manifests. If it manifests as the phobic pattern, the Six is likely to be very hesitant and cautious as they try to avoid anxious situations and guard against the risk of things going wrong. If it manifests as the counter-phobic pattern, the Six tries to work through anxiety by meeting fearful situations head-on. Most Sixes fall between these two extremes and will move between these tendencies depending on the circumstances and their life context. Most Sixes show some form of risk-taking behaviour as a way of proving to the world and to themselves that they are not afraid. These behaviours may vary from verbal acts of courage to extremely high risk activities. Sixes with a strong counter-phobic pattern are likely to display these activities more frequently than those who have a more phobic pattern. Sixes are known for their ability to work with consistency and with dedication over time. As they take responsibility very seriously, they tend to fully commit to the job or task at hand and demonstrate loyalty and courage.
Typical Thinking Patterns
In their desire to avoid problems, Sixes tend to apply themselves to potential risks and threats in a highly analytical way. This also makes them very attuned to their environment, scanning for possible problems and challenges. Sixes are able to solve and prevent problems, but may also be very sceptical of solutions that seem too easy or simple. This “yes, but” pattern can lead to frequently and overtly challenging both solutions and authority. Sixes are very aware of authority in their thinking. While they hope to have the support and protection of people in authority, they are also very wary of being let down, disappointed or betrayed by those very same people. The Six’s internal dialogue is likely to follow a process of asking lots of questions of themselves or consulting an ‘internal committee’. They ask questions not only about what is obvious and readily apparent, but also about what is unexpressed and hidden.
Typical Feeling Patterns
Sixes are very familiar with feelings of anxiety and tend to focus on worst-case scenarios in everyday life. These feelings could range from unease, concern and mild worry to panic, dread and terror. As an emotionally reactive style, Sixes have immediate and easy access to their feelings but will also replay concerns and anxieties over time. Even though they are pleased when things go well, Sixes tend not to dwell on positive emotions too much. Sixes tend to project their feelings onto others without necessarily testing them, as an unconscious behavioural pattern. In a bid to manage anxiety, the Six tends to project their own feelings, thoughts, hopes and fears onto others, thereby negating their impact on the Six. They often resist and challenge people because of their own doubts.
- Sixes constantly focus on the things that can go wrong, therefore, their tentative and cautious approach may seem to others like stubbornness, pessimism and negative behaviour.
- Sixes tend to worry a lot about what might happen and their ability to deal with it, which can lead to seeming insecure. Others may then doubt the ability of the Six to take care of things. This questioning of their ability is what the Six is trying to avoid, yet their cautious approach may create just that.
- Despite being very focused on loyalty and issues of trust, the Six is naturally inclined towards scepticism and wondering whether people can be trusted. This may impact negatively on their interactions and relationships. By focusing on trustworthiness so much, Sixes make it difficult for people to consistently trust them.
- Projection is a core issue for the Six. Projecting fears onto the people around them may be a way to avoid owning their own emotions, concerns and worries.