The Enneagram Type Six personality – the Security Seeker – finds the world hazardous and unpredictable and expends a good deal of energy building defenses. Some live into their fear of the unknown (“phobic”) by adopting conservative patterns of behavior to minimize exposure. Others deny their fear (“counter-phobic”) and respond aggressively to perceived threats (i.e., getting them before they get you). Still others are relationship builders who find safety in numbers. No matter what strategy they pursue, Sixes tend to be future-oriented – alert and watchful for what’s on the horizon.
Sixes seek guidance by carefully scrutinizing outside input. As part of this process, they ask themselves: To whom or what should I be loyal? They’d like a trustworthy authority, yet may harbor suspicion toward the ones they encounter in real life. When they find organizations, leaders, systems, and structures that align with their sensibilities, Sixes are committed and hardworking. However, when trust has been called into question, Sixes can and will rebel.
Given their penchant for analysis, Sixes can be counted on to research any matter thoroughly and provide a considered opinion on the opportunities, risks, and rewards. Their Achilles’ Heel is getting so caught up in analysis that they fail to arrive at a definite conclusion.
When subject to the influence of the neighboring Five, Sixes become Technical Experts who place their trust in systems with well-established rules. On the high side, they demonstrate a high degree of loyalty, commitment, and focused attention to their craft. On the low side, they can adopt reactionary, partisan stances, deeming those who adhere to different rules threats.
When subject to the influence of the neighboring Seven, Healthy Ones become Buddies. They’re loyal to a fault, good company, and always up for a good time. They want to be liked and hesitate to offer opinions lest they threaten established relationships. They consult their friends and colleagues before making important decisions and may procrastinate before taking decisive action.
Sixes are also influenced by their dominant instinct:
- Self-Preservation Sixes focus on relationships to feel safe and protected in the world. While they make friends slowly, they are warm, friendly, upbeat, and trustworthy when on solid ground. As colleagues, they are competent, reliable, and loyal. They have a tendency to sweat the small stuff and take their time when making decisions.
- One-to-One Sixes work on their physical strength, power, and/or attractiveness to feel safe. If counter-phobic, they mask their insecurities through aggression; if phobic, they’ll leverage flirtation, coquettishness, and seduction. They may defy authority and may seek to gain position by sabotaging others or undermining their reputations.
- Social Sixes focus on abstract reasoning or ideology as their trustworthy frame of reference. They like to be part of something that is greater than themselves and can feel anxiety in the face of disharmony within the collective.
Under stress, Sixes may adopt characteristics of an Unhealthy Three. Fear and anxiety drive them to work harder to avoid criticism/rejection or simply triumph over others. It also causes them to worry about their public image and push hard to be accepted. The latter can come off as forced friendliness and may be off-putting.
The antidote to stress lies in developing the capacity to see the world as fundamentally benevolent and supportive. From this vantage point, Sixes can relax into their daily routines and encounter new persons and experiences from a position of openness. They can also learn to trust their instincts rather than assume that everyone and everything may pose a threat. This trust gives them the freedom to live in the moment without undue concern for the future.
Sixes find strength in movement toward a Healthy Nine. This position allows them to feel grounded in the here and now rather than worried about the future. They’ll learn to feel secure in and of themselves without concern for validation by their colleagues and significant others. They’ll also feel inclusive and accepting of others, not threatened by them.
I have several good friends and colleagues who self-identify with Type Six. They have keen analytical minds that excel in planning and attend to all of the details that make a given venture successful. They’re superb at coming up with the “what ifs” that might thwart forward progress and stand at the ready as troubleshooters when things go awry. They’re dependable; they don’t drop the ball when asked to contribute. Above all, they are loyal and trusted companions.