Sixes are reliable, faithful and committed. They like to stick to relationships and ideas that make them feel safe against a potentially dangerous world. Sixes are kind and careful, amazing at preparing against potential problems. They are steady, methodical troubleshooters and devil’s advocates.
While Sixes are good at making projects practical and feasible, they tend to get stuck in catastrophizing-mode and worrying about the future.
Sixes are often called Loyalists. They get their name from the fact that they are the most reliable, faithful and, you guessed it, loyal of all types. They are dependable, steadfast, kind and graced with a witty sense of humor. Sixes are the guardian angels and careful sceptics of this world, always prepared and always thinking ahead. They care about the common good and often see what the rest of us are blind to.
Sixes are very capable and competent. They put a lot of work into honing their skills. They work hard and take their time doing things the right way. Despite their worries about potential disasters, they are actually very courageous and competent when in a crisis. On the flipside, Sixes initially find it hard to trust people and can’t get out of their head, thinking about what could go wrong at any second.
What Sixes are looking for most is security and consistency. The more guidance they get, the less they feel anxious about the world falling apart every step they take.
Sixes belong to the “head group“ of the Enneagram, as do types Five and Seven. These types share a special relation to their mind, and to feelings of fear and anxiety. Fives, for example, use their mind like a castle to withdraw into when they fear being overwhelmed by the world. Sevens use their mind to distract themselves from anything they fear could take away their happiness. Sixes, on the other hand, use their mind to constantly scan for danger and try to manage their anxieties this way.
Sixes pick up the message in their childhood that the world is dangerous and that they can’t trust their authority figures to create safety for them. So they become attuned to small cues for anything that might be threatening, and they protect themselves by trying to predict every threat and danger possible. Throughout their lives, they keep looking for authority figures who can provide them with the security they never felt growing up, while at the same time staying in an ambivalent relationship to that authority because of their abused trust.
Sixes (unconsciously) believe that the world is a dangerous place that can only be conquered by sticking to what’s safe. Therefore, there is no such thing as being too prepared. Sixes live in a world of imagined threats, and there are two ways to react to any threat: fight or flight. Sixes usually use a mixture of both, which can make them very devoted to authority figures, but also very rebellious when they feel their trust isn’t justified anymore.
It is no surprise that it makes sense for Sixes to worry a lot. Sixes are constantly struggling against the fear that the world will crumble around them if they aren’t prepared and sufficiently secure.
When Sixes are healthy, they have found their confidence in their own judgement and become exceedingly productive and optimistic, while still retaining their healthy sense of what’s realistically possible and what isn’t. Healthy Sixes are incredibly reliable and courageous people who bring people and groups together for concrete, practical causes.
The message Type Sixes are invited to reclaim is that whatever happens, they already have the resources to weather whatever life throws at them. This shows whenever there is an actual crisis – where Sixes are ready, competent and brave, not because they worried so much, but in spite of it.
Your personality isn’t a fixed thing. People grow. While we don’t change our basic personality, we all can become more mature and healthy inside our personality. But at times, we also revert to less healthy behavior. This looks different for every personality type. Let’s see how it unfolds for Sixes.
Average Sixes are on a constant quest to find security. While they frequently worry about potential catastrophes and seek security outside themselves – in marriage, their job, a belief system or a community –, they also know that the best way to achieve this is to be dependable and proactive. They find it easier to commit to what provides them with stability than to chase after their own goals and dreams. Average Sixes are fun to be around, employ an often slightly self-deprecating kind of humor and offer kindness and reliability to the people around them.
The fight-or-flight instinct of Sixes gets more extreme when they are unhealthy. These Sixes can become distrustful, paranoid and defensive, but also aggressive, provocative and bullish. Their fear of being left without support will make them do anything so people won’t leave them, but also lash out when they feel threatened. None of those strategies really work of course. The obsession with security of unhealthy Sixes makes them blind to the fact that the actual problem is not the danger of the world around them, but their own emotional insecurities.
When Sixes learn to face their anxieties and realize the world is not as dangerous as they thought, they become healthy – and that makes them serene and even courageous. These Sixes have developed the self-esteem to stand up for themselves and trust their own decisions and opinions. They no longer just submit to authority nor feel the need to rebel against it, but quietly and confidently contribute to their community. Healthy Sixes often become impressive pillars of trust and responsibility. They use their sharp and analytical minds to solve problems for a common cause, and in this way teach the rest of us about the joy of commitment and cooperation.
The rational and detached Type Five wing makes it easier for Sixes to spend time alone and to do things independently. They are often outstanding problem-solvers who care less about what other people think of them, while still feeling comfortable inside predictable and rule-based environments.
With a Type Seven wing, Sixes become more playful, relaxed and open to risk. They are more extroverted and often find it easier to connect with others. These Sixes take things more lightly and are more comfortable with the unexpected.
It’s not unusual that people are not sure which Enneagram personality type they really are. If that’s you, don’t worry, it’s totally normal. The Enneagram doesn’t just look at your behavior, but at the motivation behind your behavior. This means that some Types can look similar on the outside.
What happens most often for Type Sixes is that they get confused with Types Two and Nine. Sometimes, they also mistype themselves for Types Four and Eight.
Since every type has two wings, you might also be unsure whether Type Five or Type Seven, your wings, might actually be your main type.
You can learn how to safely tell Type Six apart from all the other Enneagram types here.
Finding out about your Enneagram type shouldn’t be the end of your journey of discovering your personality. The Enneagram is an amazing tool to help you on your journey to become more self-aware and self-accepting.
These five ideas are only a first step to get you started. Get your premium profile to find out much more about how you can use the Enneagram to become your healthiest self!
Meditation or similar spiritual practices are healthy for everyone. But Sixes benefit from it especially. Their minds never stop, with voices, opinions, doubts and worries filling it every second of every hour. The relief that comes from practicing stillness of mind can be one of the greatest pleasures for Sixes. Limiting your exposure to the negative cycle of daily news can be a first step.
Observe how often the worst-case-scenarios and future problems you imagine actually come to pass. Maybe keep a journal. It will help you focus on the present and the actions you can take now instead of worrying about things you can’t influence anyway.
Become aware of your go-to-behaviour to seek security outside yourself. Are you prone to follow blindly or to rebell reflexively? The truth is, you have more than enough to be your own guide. Authority isn’t bad, but it doesn’t need to replace or provoke your own opinion
True, with all the dishonesty, betrayal and self-seeking behaviour out there, it’s hard to separate those who really have your best interest in mind from those who only pretend to. But at the same time, trust is something that must be given before it can be earned. Sometimes the decision to trust someone is yours, not theirs. Most of all, decide to trust yourself. Keep a journal of the times your decisions had positive results as well as of the times people have proven to be reliable.
The next time you play devil’s advocate, also try to acknowledge and point out the positive dimensions of other’s ideas. What sounds like the voice of reason and necessary improvements can sound to others like never-ending criticism. You’re good at seeing potential problems. Now practice seeing the potential for the good in the world.