Sixes (Enneagram of Personality)

Sixes (Enneagram of Personality)

This is an article describing personality type Six according to the Enneagram of Personality.

General characteristics

Sixes (sometimes called loyalists, heroes, troopers, skeptics, loyal skeptics, defenders or the devil's advocates) are people who desire security, of one form or another, in this world. They are typically not satisfied until they reach a level of security and reassurance that everything will turn out fine. It can, however, take a lot of reassurance before they can reach a point of greater contentment that everything truly is fine.

Sixes tend to exhibit fear and doubt towards their outer environment as well as towards themselves. Only when Sixes realize that their own security does not come from attachments to outside people, places and things but stems from inside themselves (where they are able to feel capable of feeling secure no matter what the circumstances may be) will they be able to feel more at ease in their daily lives.

Passion / Fixation: Fear / Doubt -- In this case fear is primarily mentally-based (based on a fight-or-flight reaction) where the individual has a certain fear of a future event (which may or may not happen in actuality) occurring. This is more about a given fear happening in the future than in a clear and present fear that is grounded in reality (such as a bear attacking your camping tent). As a result the mind is swirling for ways to resolve the future situation and to bring the individual to greater safety. As a result they may internally question and doubt whether they are truly safe. The nature of this doubt and mental questioning is the hallmark for this type.

Basic Fear: Of being without support and guidance. In other words, the one fear that drives the Six personality structure is a fear that they will not have any security remaining and will be completely unsupported to survive in this world. They can become petrified of not knowing what to do and how to adequately survive in the world.

Basic Desire: To have security and support. When fixated, all people regardless of their personality type, will try to avoid their basic fear and will do anything possible to perpetuate their basic desire. More than other personality types, Sixes will seek to increase their sense of security and make themselves feel more supported. In order to avoid the above feelings of being petrified, not knowing what to do and how to adequately survive, Sixes can fill their minds with strategies, concepts and ideologies to prevent the state of 'not-knowing' from occurring.

Levels of Development

Childhood issues

Sixes often feel some sort of uncertainty regarding their interactions with their parents. Often they may have received mixed signals from one or both parents, which may have provided a source of confusion regarding how to be secure in the world. As a result, they can take one of two approaches to manage themselves throughout life. They may try to bond or attach to someone older (or in authority) in order to feel safe. Alternatively, they can also try to survive by warily defending against any outside threats to their safety and security. Most Sixes use a combination of these two coping strategies, rather than simply relying on one or the other. However, individual Sixes may lean more towards one side or the other of this dichotomy. As a result of these two coping strategies, there are often Sixes who are more trusting of the outer world (but may be less trusting of themselves), while there can also be Sixes who are more mistrusting and skeptical of others (deciding to get their way through life on their own).


Sixes with a dominant Five wing

When healthier they tend to be very analytical and thorough in all their endeavors. They are very capable at foreseeing any potential problems and loopholes that may exist and are extremely skilled at detecting whether the intentions of others are genuine and sincere or may have ulterior motives. They can be extremely loyal and steadfast and will not hesitate to stand up and defend any causes or people they genuinely believe in, even if such a stance is relatively unpopular.

When in a more average psychological state they may begin to feel mistrustful and skeptical of those around them. They may question the motives of others (even when the intentions of another person might be benign). Typically their fear is applied more to the outer world and they may feel a larger need to be mistrustful of others while also believing that they will have to "gut out" their way through life alone (or perhaps with a few tight-knit relationships). They can be extremely independent and serious. If they need any reassurance it may typically come from more abstract systems and beliefs (e.g. humor, word play, personal philosophy). They can also be very secretive in order to not have anything exposed which may threaten them.

In more unhealthy psychological states they may start becoming incredibly paranoid about others being out to get them and that they are destined to be victimized by others. They may become even more mistrustful and it would not be surprising if the only person who they are able to trust is themself. They may be highly cynical toward everyone around them and to the world at large. They may often take on an ‘us against the world’ dynamic and tend to blame and scapegoat any threats to their security. They may begin isolating themselves, catastrophizing and preparing themselves for the inevitable doom that may await.

Sixes with a dominant Seven wing

When healthier they tend to be very warm, likeable, spontaneous and approachable people who are also able to bridge their need for security with an underlying desire to expand their horizons with enthusiasm and sheer curiosity. They are extremely approachable and sincere to others (in order to establish bonds of loyalty and friendship) while additionally welcoming new and intriguing opportunities for personal growth.

When they are more average they may be concerned that the bonds and commitments that were previously formed can be suddenly taken away from them. As a result they can be capable of clinging onto those sources of security in order to prevent losing them. They may exhibit very low self-trust and self-confidence and, concurrently, may look to other people, places and things for the kinds of ‘security’ they seem to lack in themselves. They often second-guess their own intuitions and trust others’ opinions, even if those opinions may be misguided. Additionally, they may feel that they are capable of becoming a loose cannon where, if they let out all of their impulsive energy, they may sabotage themselves and lose everything that supports them. In unhealthier states, however, they may be capable of providing the kinds of impulsive and reactive responses they inherently fear.

If they become even unhealthier their feelings of intense inferiority and lacking of self-worth may be significantly increased. At the same time their impulsive reactivity tends to come to the forefront and they may become highly unstable and unpredictable. At at one moment they may beg and plead for another’s forgiveness. At another moment they may become frantically worried about any impending abandonment. Finally, at yet another moment, they may throw a temper tantrum out of frustration so that, no matter what they do to salvage everything, they appear to be sabotaging themselves at every step. Their explosive unpredictability, stemming from their depressive feelings of low self-confidence, can be a hallmark of this psychologically unhealthy state.

Instinctual subtypes


By definition, Sixes whose dominant instinct is self preservation will tend to apply the passion and fixation of fear and doubt towards the self-preservational arena. As a result, there is a great degree of anxiety regarding areas that pertain the most to their daily survival and sustenance. Self-preservation Sixes tend to be very responsible, serious, and conservative (risk-wise) regarding these matters, since they want to assure that their safety and security (which stems the most from their self-preservation needs) are intact. Additionally, self-preservation Sixes are extremely grounded, and that groundedness is the hallmark of this particular variant of Enneatype Six. They tend to want to have control over their resources and other areas pertaining to their preservation, and can become irritable and worrisome if they feel that these resources are being misused by others, or if they are in the wrong hands. They can start getting nervous and panicky if their jobs/monetary situations/housing situations/etc... are not on completely solid ground. Additionally, they may take a longer time to initiate new partnerships/relationships with, since they feel that these bonds need to be earned over time. However, if bonds are formed, self-preservation 6s tend to be extremely loyal to others in order to sustain such bonds. Additionally, self-preservation Sixes can be extremely family oriented where the sustained safety and security of family can be essential (they can be extremely loyal keepers of family secrets, etc...). They can also potentially stay in punishing situations far longer than they should (bad jobs, bad marriages, etc...).


By definition, Sixes whose dominant instinct is social will tend to apply the passion and fixation of fear and doubt towards the social arena. These are the 6s that care extremely much about being liked, included, and accepted. They tend to be very warm, cooperative and friendly in order to stay well liked and appreciated. They also are very devoted team players and partners. They really do not want to let others down in any way, since they feel that this can serve as a first step towards being excluded or rejected in the future. They also can be great supporters, defenders, and advocates for others if the need arises to do so. They may care heavily about causes and for defending the honor of the people/groups who are important in their lives. However, at other times where decisions need to be made (whether crucial or trivial), they can waver back and forth, putting others into great consideration in their decision making process, and attempting to make sure that they are not doing anything which is not approved by others. They really care about making parents, spouses, bosses, coworkers, friends, and family happy with them, and they may go to the ultimate lengths of sacrifice in order to demonstrate that level of commitment (even if they have to question thousands of their own decisions in the process). Often, a side effect of this is that they can easily be bossed around and bullied by others and can possibly underappreciated and undervalued by others. Additionally, they can often be afraid of the consequences of communicating assertively to others. When fixated, they may consult a wide range of people to confide their concerns to, but they do this in the hopes that it will bring greater clarity to their own decision making process. Another aspect is that when heavily fixated, Social 6s can become quite antisocial and skeptical of society's rules and norms for one reason or another. Their mistrust of people can greatly increase in this particular state.


By definition, Sixes whose dominant instinct is Sexual will tend to apply the passion and fixation of fear and doubt towards the sexual arena. They are extremely passionate and can be extremely intense and focused towards the object of their desire/interest. They are by far the feistiest of the Sixes. This can at times lead to testing people and additionally to counterphobic behavior. This can lead to a heavy mistrust of people (and perhaps, especially of love interests). They want to mask the look of an idealized version of their gender in order to keep the partnership with a mate secured and in order to eliminate any possibility of betrayal. Sexual 6s intensity typically is quite sharp and focused in general. It would not be surprising to see them displaying an external sign or symbol which exhibits their strength and/or beauty very clearly (tattoos, jewelry, clothing, etc.). They are extremely watchful of being betrayed and if there is any sign that this might happen, they may very well display a “Don’t mess with me” face. They can also use strength (usually masculine more often than not) and/or beauty (usually, more feminine more often than not) in order to remain very appealing to the partner. Despite these outward signs, Sexual 6s often feel extremely vulnerable and weak inside. However, as stated above, most Sexual 6s are able to mask that vulnerability with a sharp feistiness. At times when they feel the most desperate, they can also brood deeply about their love interests. In this state, they can be ‘darkly’ obsessed with their own vulnerability as well, despite the outer façade of toughness or sexuality that they bring to their encounters. These are by far the most emotionally reactive 6s, especially when their deep and hidden vulnerabilities are exposed to the outside world.


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