Blog Post Graphic--Episode 25, Overview of Type Sixes

Enneagram Basics – Type 6

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Welcome! I’m Kim, and I’m so glad that you’re here. This is the Type Six introduction post, and I’m really excited to talk all about Type 6 (or as much as I can fit in a “basics” post!)

If you want to know more about the terms that I’m using, their definitions and how I approach the Enneagram generally, then go back to find the Enneagram Basics Introduction post. It gives you a really good, brief overview of what the Enneagram is, so that can be a really good place to start.

If you find yourself confused about any of the words that I’m using and what they mean, a lot of this episode will be based on my book, “The Enneagram for Beginners” if you prefer to learn that way or want to dive a little bit deeper.

All right, let’s get into it!

A Type 6’s Focus

Type 6s tend to focus on things that feel responsible to them, things that might be problematic or that bring a feeling of security, or whatever they believe to be possible. They make decisions mainly through troubleshooting, problem solving, seeking outside opinions of people they trust, and running through “worst case scenarios.” 

Other traits of Type Sixes are:

  • Extremely loyal…until they are extremely not.
  • Very courageous.
  • Very committed to the things that are important to them
  • Appreciate clear guidelines and rules. (This does not mean that they follow them all the time, but they like knowing what they are.)
  • They have trouble trusting their gut and their decision-making ability
  • Can see both sides of any issue, which makes them uncertain in decisions sometimes

Response to Fear/Anxiety

Type Sixes often face a lot of anxiety, and usually respond to anxious situations or circumstances in one of two ways: resorting to people-pleasing and avoiding conflict, or being a rebel and aggressively going after whatever is making them fearful. This is why sometimes it can be difficult to tell if you are a six, because a lot of Enneagram teachers share about Sixes responding a certain sort of way to fear; I’m bringing this up so that you can listen really closely to the motivations, because that will help confirm if you are a Type Six or not.

Motivations

Our motivations really come from an underlying belief that we took on in order to help us feel okay, and move through life with the least amount of pain as possible, and the most amount of comfort or certainty as possible. The underlying belief that Type Six holds is some form of, “I’m only okay if I’ve covered all of my bases and have done what is expected of me.”

They believe that certainty, safety, and security through love or feelings of worth come from going through all of the possible scenarios, knowing the dangers, and being able to avoid them. This underlying belief that a Type Six holds creates this desire to be certain of what’s coming next. This can create some fear of anything that feels unknown, and that friction in the middle of those two things is what brings about the struggle that a Type Six holds of anxiety (which I’ll explain a little further in a second, cause it might not be what you think.)

So some other desires that a Type Six runs toward because of this Core Belief are:

  • Feeling safe
  • Having security
  • Having support (whatever that looks like for each individual Type Six)

While Sixes run towards these things, they run away from the equal opposite:

  • Being blamed
  • Being abandoned
  • Feeling anxious and not having support

Right in the middle, we often have this struggle between running towards our desire and running away from our fear, and that friction in the middle is what Enneagram teachers sometimes call the “passion” or the “sin.” I call it “The Struggle” because it’s just the hard place where we often find ourselves, and for Type Six, this struggle is anxiety, in the form of trying to predict and prevent negative outcomes, and a feeling of underlying apprehension and worry. “What could be coming at me? Am I paying close enough attention?” are things that often run through a Six’s mind.

Side note: Just because you struggle with anxiety doesn’t mean you are a Six; this a unique anxiety and worry that a Type Six might experience, even though anybody of any type can experience actual anxiety.

Wings

Wings are where each type might lean over and grab some traits or behaviors from the types that are adjacent to them if they feel that they need them, or if they feel they come naturally to them. The possible wings for a Type Six are Type Five (6w5) and Seven (6w7).

A Type Six who leans over towards the Five a little bit more and takes on some of the behaviors of a Type Five might be a little more organized; feel a little more self-controlled and outwardly calm; they are very serious about their beliefs; and may be a little more outspoken or intense in how they share what’s on their mind. On a bad day, when struggling, a 6w5 might come across as a little more suspicious; looking out for possible adversaries, and not just adverse circumstances; and become a little more likely to isolate themselves.

Type Six with a Seven wing tends to be more engaging and friendly; witty outwardly; looking for people to team up with for support ( as opposed to a 6w5 who might be looking for more knowledge and just a few close friends for support.) On the other hand, when they are struggling or having a bad day as a 6w7, they might procrastinate a little bit more; be a little more reactive when it comes to conflict; and can feel very anxious when under pressure to make a decision in the moment. 

Those are the possible wings. Again, it’s just a very brief overview. All we’ll have time for is very brief looks at all of these, so I encourage you to bring any questions that you have to me on Instagram where you can find me.

Levels of Health

Let’s take a look now at the levels of health. We can bounce around on these levels; none of them are set in stone. This is not linear progress, but knowing what they are can give us a look at where we’re at in the moment.

Healthy

For Type Six, when they are in a healthy place (very well-rested or confident), they are honest and very reliable; they are able to make confident decisions that are based around the good of everyone involved (including they themselves); and they enjoy collaborating with others and are warm and trusting with the people around them. This does not mean that they are no longer looking out for worst case scenarios or troubleshooting situations; these remain wonderful strengths for them! It means that they can choose if they are going to focus on those things or not. They don’t get rid of this trait; they just have the ability to intentionally choose and step out in whatever choice they make confidently.

Autopilot

As we move down the levels of health, we get into what we call the average or autopilot territory. This is when a Type Six tends to be more reacting to life, believing a little bit more of that underlying belief we talked about where they are only okay if they have all of their bases covered and have done what is required of them. Because they believe that more and are reacting and responding to life from that belief a little bit more, there could be some of these “autopilot” things that come out. These could be needing to take control of situations that they are involved in, because they feel like no one else is being as vigilant as they are; believing that they are alone in life and that their safety is totally up to them, so they scan for possible dangers, people, or situations that might harm them; or being caught in a cycle of questioning the loyalty of other people and trying to keep that harm from coming on them, which can put them in a vicious cycle of causing harm to the relationship by questioning an otherwise healthy relationship.

Unhealthy

Our final level of health is unhealthy, which is when a Type Six has fully taken on the underlying belief that they have to be certain in order to be okay. The problem here is that life is just not certain, so they are left chasing something and requiring something that they can’t bring about, no matter how hard they try. So at this unhealthy level, this is where we see a Type Six having hypervigilance and being incredibly suspicious of other people, especially people who have not had any objective evidence that they’re untrustworthy; feelings of cynicism; being overly fearful or overly angry that life is uncertain; and the cycles of anxiety going beyond just worry and troubleshooting, trying to avoid negative outcomes that we talked about, and going far beyond that.

I hope that these levels of health give you an idea of some things to look out for, as well as some ways that you might be pleasantly surprised that you are intentionally responding to life from this feeling of security, even though life is uncertain. 

Now we’re going to move on to our growth and stress points.

Growth/Stress Points

Again, you can go back to the Enneagram Basics Introduction post if you want to learn more about how I approach these, but we’ll be talking about growth and stress for Type Six. For each of the Enneagram types, you move to the types that you are connected to on the Enneagram; your motivations and your main type doesn’t change. We kind of pick behaviors or different coping mechanisms or reach out of our comfort zone a little bit as we need to, or as we feel like we’re able to. 

Growth behaviors for a Type Six looks like moving to Type Nine:

  • Starting to develop this inner sanctum of their own
  • Really trust themselves
  • In touch with their gut instinct and “hunches”
  • Able to slow down and relax in the moment
  • Very open and receptive to other people 
  • A feeling that their emotions are a little more peaceful and stable.

The stress line is where we go when we have tried some coping mechanisms from our main type’s “tool kits” and they aren’t working. We’re not feeling better; we’re under stress, and we need to try something else. 

So a Type Six moves to Type Three and takes some of their toolkit responses to try them out and see if they work:

  • Staying busy to avoid feeling their feelings
  • Worrying a little bit more about their self-image and how they are being perceived
  • Making choices that are more based on others’ perception than they usually would be
  • Trying to “shape-shift” to establish alliances and gain security of relationships and partnerships.

Moving on the lines can often feel very natural, but knowing what they are can help give us a glimpse into where we are at. They can show us how we are doing and help us recognize different behaviors as either stress or growth, and lead us to know more of what we may need in a given moment. 

Subtypes

The last thing that we will look at in this post is subtypes. Again, the Enneagram Basics post will give you an overview of how I approach these and what they actually are; I just want to focus in on Type Six’s specific subtypes in this post. 

Self-Preservation (SP)

SP Type Sixes are more likely to experience their fear through self-doubt and worry. They might be more outwardly warm with others, very friendly and incredibly trustworthy; this is just who they are, but when you look at it from a survival strategy standpoint, this is also allowing them to gain secure relationships that they will be able to count on.

Social (SO)

This subtype might come across as a little more legalistic and efficient in how they get things done, and possibly in what they believe to be true. They are a little bit more comforted by having rules to follow and knowing the “lane” they are expected to stay in, and this really allows them to deal with their fear in that way, or get rid of it entirely, by following the rules. This also helps them avoid blame. They are more likely to also see life in very “black and white” ways, and an ambiguity or nuance might be frustrating concepts at times. 

One-to-One/Sexual (SX)

A one-to-one Type Six, or sometimes called a Sexual Type Six, is a little more likely to deal with and move through their fear by pushing back at whatever is causing that fear, both physically and verbally. lThey are more reactive to fear instead of withdrawing from whatever is making them anxious or worried. They can come across as very brave and bold because of this, like moving into their fear is a very brave thing to do, but the flip side of that coin is that this subtype might also be tempted to use strength or even intimidation at times to feel safe and secure. This can come out against other people if they are not being intentional in how they use that braveness and boldness. 


Enjoy this post? Have a question? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below or over on Instagram where I hang out the most.
If you haven’t yet, grab a copy of The Enneagram for Beginner’s book (affiliate link, thank you for your support!) or you can shop through my favorite books and resources for using the Enneagram in the Amazon Storefront.
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Check out the other posts in this series:

Kim Eddy

Kim is an Enneagram Coach, author, and podcaster. She loves to hang out on Instagram @christianenneagram.coach, and helping people use the Enneagram in their day-to-day lives is one of her main passions.

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