At Best: Sixes show Courage (openness) with respect to people, situations, and difficulties, embodying the Higher Quality of Holy Faith (existential trust despite inherent uncertainty). Sixes are highly intuitive to subtle forces, service-oriented, and often champion underdogs.
Habits: When driven by Anxiety (ongoing worry about security & physical or emotional safety), Sixes start Doubting everyone and everything, especially their own capacity to meet life. Focus of Attention: safety risks, what could go wrong, what's inconsistent or unusual.
Sixes Forget: Reality is itself an unbreakable bond. Sixes scan for consistency, certainty, and predictability & search for something dependable to lean on. Sixes thus ignore their own inner authority and wisdom. Sixes Believe: I must foresee and trouble-shoot all potential hazards to be safe; the unchanging can be found in that which naturally changes. Sixes' basic stance is “NO”: it is best to be skeptical until trust is proven in this dangerous world. Sixes first test & challenge, then commit excess loyalty (duty) to what is “reliable,” only to be let down. They can engage in push-pull with authority: either fearfully compliant -- group blending -- or brashly rushing into situations to prove strength. Sixes at times can be The (Too) Certain One—arguing endlessly for fundamentalism of whatever variety. Sixes Excel: at problem solving and tend to be dependable, intuitive, reflective, and thoughtful. Sixes are excellent community builders & loyal friends.
A consistent thinker is a thoughtless person, because he conforms to a pattern; he repeats phrases and thinks in a groove.
What is needed, rather than running away or controlling or suppressing or any other resistance, is understanding fear; that means, watch it, learn about it, come directly into contact with it. We are to learn about fear, not how to escape from it.
- J. Krishnamurti
Type Six Personality Reflections
The Type Six pattern is driven by fear, what in a more archaic form is referred to as “inconstancy.” While driven to find consistency (stability) in their world, Sixes ironically manifest as the most inconsistent of all the types. Sometimes Sixes say too little, other times say too much; they withdraw or explode; they supplicate or challenge; they run away from fear or they rush into it. And, yet, Sixes experience themselves (and hold a self-image of) being consistent and reliable. Indeed, they are loyal, dependable companions with people who have gained their trust.
Point Six in all of us represents relinquishment of the self – variously referred to as letting go, surrendering, opening to grace, realization of interconnectedness, etc. The Type Six, however, struggles with the energy of surrender, especially with respect to authorities. They surrender too much power to others, but then continue to question, challenge, doubt, backbite, and undermine.
Some Sixes weaken themselves in order to remain safe, as if to say, “I am not a threat to you.” By appearing warm, friendly, and self-deprecating, such Sixes disarm potential foes. “I’m so afraid of standing out too much,” one Six reported, “because others, even friends, will get jealous and harm me or tear me down. So I keep hedging my words with verbal ticks like ‘I don’t know’ and ‘I guess’ and ‘perhaps’ to the point of undermining myself.”
Other Sixes strengthen themselves in order to intimidate foes or beautify themselves in order to attract a protector. These Sixes often enact fear by rushing into daredevil situations to prove they are not afraid. “It was a long time before I saw that my risky behavior was actually me being scared sh*tless,” said one Six.
Still other Sixes find safety in numbers. They become guardians of their group to such an extent that they police insiders and outsiders with rigid fundamentalism and scapegoating. Often these Sixes present as reason-obsessed and reactive against the fundamentalism of others. One such Six reactively attacks any hint of religion with cold, cutting logic, never owning her own fundamentalist attachment to “science” and “reason.”
When Sixes transmute fear (inconstancy) into courage, they are genuinely reliable, rather than anxiously loyal or duty-bound. Their reliability is grounded in a trusting acceptance of others, which in turn invites others to open and share their depths. Sixes gift our collective consciousness with an awareness of our collectivity – we are all in this together – and the tools for working with and through fear into faithfulness.
Type Six Interview
This clip is from an interview with a representative Type Six. For the full set of interviews with all 9 types (about 20 minutes each), along with downloadable charts, check out this online course: Enneagram Interviews.