Enneagram Type 6

Type 6 ~ The Loyal Skeptic

Basic Proposition

The original state of faith in self, others, and the universe goes into the background in a world that Type 6s perceive is threatening, hazardous, unpredictable and untrustworthy. Type 6 comes to believe that they can assure life and certainty through avoiding (the phobic stance) or facing danger (the counter-phobic stance) through vigilance, an active imagination, questioning, and either escaping or battling the perceived hazards. Concurrently, 6s rally fear, which may be hidden or unrecognized, but that shows up as doubt and questioning, a consistent concern with what might threaten  safety and security.Type 6’s attention naturally goes to what could go wrong, potential hazards, worst cases and how to deal with them. Projection glues the structure together by helping them attribute inner concerns and fears to others and external situations, in order to avoid or challenge. Their ultimate concern or fear is ending up helpless and defenseless or unable to rely on themselves to cope with life. As compensation, Type 6 sometimes control and dominate by testing and doubting others, blaming, challenging authority, going to negatives, magnifying situations, and being secretive.

Where Type 6’s Attention Goes

Type 6’s attention goes to avoiding danger. Because they feel an inner sense of threat and doubt, Type 6 scans their environment for potential dangers, focusing on any threat (even minor ones) and magnifying them out of proportion. Type 6’s heightened vigilance sometimes leads them to jump to conclusions, using their imagination to make implications and inferences about the dangers they feel. Because 6s doubt, they want to control that which is located both externally and internally, in the present and future. 

Type 6’s Stressors: What Makes Them Most Personally Reactive

Type 6’s fixation on threat and doubt results in numerous stressful preoccupations. To reduce fear, they attempt to either face or avoid all possible dangers. Loyalty is of the upmost importance to Type 6, and so they identify with underdogs who devote themselves to a cause. Type 6 distrusts authorities they cannot count on, and so they concern yourself with power and authority, attempting to prove themselves and influence others. Because Type 6 fears untrustworthiness and betrayal from others, they assure their goodwill through duty and warmth. Still, at times Type 6 projects its doubt and mistrust on to others. Though they may be angry, they try to avoid anger by not inflicting themselves onto others. Finally, Type 6 resents feeling cornered or pressured, and are sensitive to double messages. For Type 6, all of these actions stem from their endless attempt to make their existence certain and secure.

To self-develop, Type 6 should work to diminish these preoccupations, as such reactions block their ability to trust that love will endure and flourish, and ultimately, blocks their faith in yourself, others, and the universe.

Type 6’s Strengths and Weaknesses

Type 6’s Strengths

  • Being thoughtful
  • Warm
  • Protective
  • Devoted to others
  • Trusting as faith develops
  • Intuitive
  • Sensitive
  • Loyal
  • Fair
  • Witty and full of ideas

Type 6’s Weaknesses

Difficulties Produced for Self

  • Ambivalence over “everything,” leading to inaction, avoidance, procrastination, and incompletions 
  • Difficulties with authority, both in cases of obedience and rebellion (e.g., trouble with the law) 
  • Seeing fearful possibilities everywhere which displeasures life 
  • Magnifying external power, dangers, and harm in a hypervigilance which limits possibilities
  • Over-imagination, especially regarding anger and motives of others, leading to situations in which misreading and mistrusting occurs 
  • Seeing the hidden and ignoring the obvious
  • Creating opposition in order to take action 

Difficulties Produced for Others

  • Not knowing what Type 6 is truly experiencing because of their guardedness or chatter 
  • Experiencing frustration with a Type 6’s delays and procrastination
  • Feeling put-off by Type 6’s projections, doubting, and both implicit and explicit accusations which stem from paranoia and blame
  • Interpreting Type 6’s “securing the bunker” behavior as controlling and overprotective, rather than generous
  • Experiencing the trouble Type 6 causes for others

Personality Dynamics

When Type 6s suffer from personality biases, the resulting features are biased mental and emotional dynamics. Fortunately, if Type 6s work to diminish their personality biases, they are able to return to their Essential Qualities and, consequently, attain a higher mental and emotional capacity. 

Mental Center Dynamics: Cowardice and Faith

Mental Preoccupation (or Fixation): Cowardice

Essential Spiritual Quality (or Holy Idea): Faith

When a Type 6 has a biased mental dynamic, they experience a Mental Preoccupation (or Fixation) called Cowardice. In Cowardice, Type 6 sees dangers and threats everywhere, and either lacks or struggles to muster fortitude and bravery. Type 6 is occupied with vigilantly scanning, imagining, doubting, and projecting its environment and relationships. 

When a Type 6 restores their mental dynamic, they experience an Essential Spiritual Quality (or Holy Idea) called Faith. In Faith, Type 6 accepts things as they are and without doubt, realizing that nothing can destroy essence, even death.

Emotional Center Dynamics: Fear and Courage

Emotional Reactivity (or Passion): Fear

Higher Emotional Capacity (or Virtue): Courage

When Type 6 has a biased emotional dynamic, they experience an Emotional Reactivity (or Passion) called Fear. In Fear, Type 6 expends energy to become alert, apprehensive, mistrusting, wary, and tense. Depending on whether the 6is phobic or counter-phobic in nature, they will be fearful or challenging, respectively, in a decision to “flight or fight.”  

When a Type 6 restores its emotional dynamic, they experience a Higher Emotional Capacity (or Virtue) called Courage. In Courage, Type 6 knows and meets real danger with a firmness of purpose and resolve, allowing the body to move appropriately to preserve its life and essential state. 

Instinctual Center & Subtypes

When any of the Enneagram types suffer from biased passion and emotional reactivity, they can either contain or compensate for the associated preoccupations through their subtypes. 

Self Preservation (Self-Survival): Warmth | Affection

Type 6s with a self-preservation subtype cope with emotional bias by disarming others with pleasing, kindness, and deferral. In obtaining their affection and good will, they assure their own safety, Neutralizes the fear.

Sexual (Pair Bonding Survival): Strength | Beauty

Type 6s with a sexual subtype cope with emotional bias by reassuring themselves with their ability to affect others. By using their strength, beauty, or attractiveness, they are able to gain power, influence, and control others. The counter-phobic Type 6 in particular uses sexual bonding to reassure themself. Negates fear. 

Social (Group Survival): Duty

Type 6s with a social subtype cope with emotional bias by disarming others through the mutual obligation to keep and enforce rules and code. Through loyalty and joint sacrifice, they believe that the group will assure their safety. Dilutes the fear.

As the Enneagram types are quite dynamic and intercorrelated, Type 6 is influenced by:

Left Wing Type 5: The Observer

Right Wing Type 7: The Epicure

Security Point Type 9: The Mediator

Stress Point Type 3: The Achiever

Self-Development Strategies: Attaining Higher Personality Qualities and Reuniting with Essence  

The Central Theme for Type 6’s Healing and Development

For no other type is the path for healing and development more obvious and straightforward than it is for Type 6. As the child who experienced the world as unpredictably hazardous and naturally fell into fear, doubt, and questioning, Type 6s need to regain faith and trust in themselves, in others, and in the world. Faith can be a big stretch for 6s, since faith is not based on proof and occurs before proof. This means staying in situations that require courage and willingly going into them. It means noticing and resisting the impulse to either move away from fear (the phobic’s habit) or challenge fear (the counter-phobic’s habit). Either way, the path of development goes right through fear and doubt. Sixes need to realize that they already are super-copers; hence they don’t have to keep proving themselves.

How You Can Self-Develop and Fulfill Your Relationships

  • Reclaim your faith in yourself, others, and the universe
  • Be aware of magnification, and work at distinguishing true impressions from projections
  • Relinquish the quest for certainty and control as a substitute for faith
  • Welcome fear and move ahead
  • Balance the negative spin you tend to put on situations with positives
  • Become your own authority and watch for cues of giving your power to others
  • In meditation, noticing how “dangers” and “threats” come up, as well as doubts, bodily fears, and paranoid thinking to explain your own internal fears
  • Developing a body practice (e.g. regular exercise)
  • Making a declaration of faith and acting as a faithful person would act
  • Doing the equal time exercise regarding trust, pleasure, etc.
  • Self-questioning whether an idea or fear is an intuition or a projection
  • Accepting ambivalence and choosing a side to act from
  • Utilizing fear as a starting point to gradually dispel fear by allowing the fear (for the counter-phobic questioning appropriateness of action – is there anything to prove?)
  • Noticing power given away and becoming one’s own authority
  • Noticing and savoring past and current successes and accomplishments
  • Checking out fears and concerns with others.

How You Can Help a Type 6 Self-Develop and Fulfill Their Relationships

  • Encourage your Loyal Skeptics to notice positives, develop trust in others and the future appreciate their own strengths, and take positive action
  • Provide them with positive alternative meanings
  • Be consistent and trustworthy
  • Disclose your own personal feelings and thoughts


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