Enneagram Type 6: The Loyalist
The Enneagram of Personality, or just the Enneagram, is a representation of personalities using a geometric figure, also called an enneagram (little e), to express nine interconnected personality types. While each type is unique it is related to other types through the circle connecting the type to each of it’s wings and the lines or arrows in the center connecting the type to the ones it imitates in times of stress or growth. The Enneagram is used in business management training to better understand interpersonal dynamics in the workplace.
Types Five, Six, and Seven constitute the Head triad. This triad is primarily motivated by their thoughts. Those in the head triad tend to filter life through an intellectual lens. Because of that, they tend to be motivated by a need for security and tend to feel stressed or anxious when that need is not met. They are often accused of overthinking things or living in their heads. Of the three, Sixes have the most difficulty believing and trusting in themselves. They lack confidence in their own judgement and fear making important decision on their own.
At their best, Sixes have learned to trust their own judgement. They are able to organize their thoughts and take action, becoming logical, productive leaders. They are excellent judges of character, able to form lasting relationships with others.
At their worst, Sixes live in fear that everyone is “out to get them.” Because they feel persecuted they tend to irrationally fly off the handle putting others on the defensive. They feel inferior and tend to cling to authority figures.
In a world focused on propagating fear, the Six is the biggest consumer. Fear and anxiety are natural defense mechanisms our bodies use to help us know there is danger or to be prepared for danger. The problem comes for the Six when these mechanisms overwhelm them and they let their fear drive their lives. When self-doubt sets in, the Loyalist turns to their beliefs, ideals, or an authority figure to protect them from what they fear. For Sixes it is very important to recognize when you are internalizing fear and messages of impending danger. Those who are around Sixes, friends, family, or coworkers, can help them by not feeding into their anxieties and instead offering reassurances that even if the worst case happens you will be there for them to help them through it.
The Enneagram Type 6 is “The Loyalist”.
Sixes are called the Loyalist, because they are the most loyal not only to the people in their lives but also to their beliefs. They cannot stand vagueness or inconsistency, instead the Loyalist needs to know where a person stands. Though beliefs and ideals are paramount for the Six, they can be difficult for them to attain since the following of a belief or idea requires trust. However, once attained, they hold fast to their beliefs because of this difficulty in getting to that point.
The Loyalist’s devotion to their beliefs and ideals stems from their strong need for security and consistency. They need their lives to be ordered with plans and rules to follow. Though, they are not always rule followers as some find their ideal in the rebellious. Sixes do not trust their environment causing them to respond to life cautiously. Excessive planners, they will have a tertiary back-up for everything and then another one, “just in case.” When trying something new, they need to see it done several times first.
The Loyalist’s devotion to others in their life stems from a fear of abandonment. They do not want to be abandoned and left without support when faced with life’s challenges. This drives them to not abandon others, even when they should. They value community above all else. Because of their fears this is hard for them to find so when they do attach to a person or group they do not let them go easily. Loyalists have the uncanny ability to bring people together. Partly because of their penchant for predicable routines, Sixes become the glue that holds their communities together.
As Children, Sixes learned to worry early on in life.
Growing up they took every warning to heart and when they discovered adults couldn’t always keep them safe they responded either by rebelling or dogmatically following the rules. Sixes have competing sides to their own personality: phobic and counterphobic. The phobic Six views authority and rules as their source of security. The counterphobic does not trust authority, seeking security by avoiding or attacking a threat. These opposing attitudes blend in the Six so that at times they will flee and draw away from danger, whereas other times they will fight and defeat their fears.
Early in childhood, Sixes learn to pick up on the smallest of cues danger is approaching. Though this gives them the amazing ability to forsee trouble before it ever happens or is even noticed by the others, it can be debilitating. In a lot of cases, the Six grew up in an unstable environment that offered little comfort or protection. Because of this, they doubt themselves looking to others for guidance.
Sixes do not trust themselves to have the resources necessary to handle unexpected situations so the Six prefers the comfort of predictability. Typically, they find this through rules, laws, and guidelines. They are not usually “outside the box” thinkers. Loyalists students are a favorite among coaches and teachers. Preferring team sports, they don’t like to be in the spotlight, but want to play on the team. Not wanting to cause trouble they will hold their friend groups together and keep group projects on track.
Desires and Fears
The basic desire of a Loyalist is to have security and feel supported by those around them. They are motivated to test the attitudes of those around them. Sixes fight anxiety and insecurity through strong adherence to their beliefs as well as surrounding themselves with people they trust to make decisions in their best interest.
The basic fear of the Loyalist is that they won’t have anyone around to support and guide them when they are uncertain about a decision that needs to be made. Wary of people giving too many compliments, Sixes struggle to build trusting relationships. When they find someone they can trust the Six will fight to protect that relationship for fear of losing the support and having to be without someone they can trust.
Examples (Healthy, Average, Unhealthy)
The healthy Six has come to terms with the fact that the world is full of vague uncertainties. They have become comfortable with the fact that they cannot accurately predict every scenario. The loyalist dedicates themselves to their beliefs and those they are around. They are the community builder, working hard to create a lasting bond with and between others.
Average Sixes have trouble getting out of their own heads. They can hyper-focus on authority becoming either subservient or rebellious depending on their response and perceptions of the leader. Mediocre Loyalist spend large amounts of time and energy on being stabile. They can become indecisive, not trusting their own choices preferring to follow another or a rule book. If not careful they may start blaming others for their problems.
Unhealthy Sixes allow their paranoia to rule their lives. Unable to trust themselves they will look to the strongest authority at the time to make decisions for them. At their worst Loyalist become irrational, violent, and fanatical in their beliefs. They will attack others for questioning them or those who they have allowed to be authorities in their lives.
Fear is the deadly sin of the Loyalist.
The deep desire to be secure can lead the Six to fear losing what they have gained through trusting others. They will play out worst case scenarios all day long if not careful. Typically, Sixes experience fear as anxiety or as a related anxiety disorder. Fear is a reaction to immediate danger, whereas anxiety comes at them as an vague, unknown apprehension.
While most people will be anxious when under stress or life isn’t going well, the Six feels anxiety most when everything is good. They fear and ruminate on what could happen to destroy the good things they have now. Due to their strong adherence to ideas, Loyalists run the risk of overwork or hyper rigidity in their diets which can lead to nutritional imbalances.
Sixes have a higher likelihood of alcoholism than the other types. Alcohol functions similar to many anti-anxiety medications so an unhealthy Six may over indulge attempting to self medicate for their pervasive anxiety.
Wings and Things (Arrows)
Sixes with a Five Wing (6w5) are known as “The Defender”.
More introverted, the addition of the Investigator introduces a desire for alone time and preference for solitary activities. This may come off as them being aloof or uncaring. The Defender prefers a strongly defined belief system and will surround themselves with people who share the same ideals.
The key for the 6w5 is balancing their alone time with relationship building and maintenance. They have a tendency to ruminate excessively and become highly indecisive when spending too much time alone. Inaction leads the Defender to analysis paralysis so they are more likely to align with an authority figure to make their decisions or find security.
Sixes with a Seven Wing (6w7) are known as “The Buddy”.
The Enthusiast brings an interesting twist to the Loyalist, adding an exciting adventurous nature to the typically cautious Six. The Buddy is the most extroverted of the Sixes. They are willing to sacrifice their comfort or even themselves for their loved ones.
The 6w7 is less rigid than the other Sixes, pushing boundaries with a willingness to even take some risks in order to have more options available for their adventures. Unable to completely remove their anxiety, the Buddy will always have a backup activity if the adventure takes a sour turn.
Direction of Integration or health for Sixes points to Nine or The Peacemaker.
When moving from unhealthy fear and anxiety, the pessimistic Six will start to relax and see the good side of people and situations like the healthy Nine. The tranquility of the Peacemaker allows the healthy Loyalist to become flexible, energetic, and light-hearted. The healthier a Six becomes, the less dogmatic they are in their beliefs.
Sixes moving toward Nine are able to see more than just the worst case scenario. They begin seeing life from more than a singular angle or view point. Less likely to succumb to anxiety, the healthy Loyalists begins to rely on their own intuition rather than putting all their trust in an authority figure.
Direction of Disintegration or stress for Sixes points to Three or The Achiever.
Under stress the Loyalist gains an unhealthy competitiveness, to the point of being arrogant similar to the unhealthy Achiever. Unhealthy Sixes run the risk of becoming workaholics. They fear being incompetent and in the place of actual competence will give the appearance of competence.
Lacking confidence in themselves, when unhealthy the Loyalist will not take on anything they are not already proficient at doing. Definitely don’t ask them to try something new and untested. They may even begin to hoard resources for fear of being without. This is especially true for those with a Five Wing.
Interacting With Others
Interactions with Sixes.
When interacting with Sixes, remember that they are motivated by a need for security and will tend to defer to authority over making a decision for themselves. The Loyalist is charming and quick with their wit. They can be entertaining when they turn their own anxieties into self-deprecating comedy.
Until you get to know them, it can be difficult to tell if a Six will be phobic and find their security in authority or if they will be counterphobic questioning everything. If not careful a Six may suffer from analysis paralysis, unable to make a decision. In this case, they will look to their friends and family to make decisions for them. This is especially true in legal or moral gray areas within their belief system.
Working with Sixes.
Some of the most annoying people to work with, Sixes can rain on any parade or great idea with their nervous fear of calamity or impending doom. However, this makes them great trouble shooters or QA since they are constantly concerned about the worst case scenario. On teams they balance the idea person who may not think about all the ramifications of their brilliant solutions.
Because of their focus on preparedness and safety, they make great database administrators and security analysts. Loyalists, especially those with the counterphobic bend, enjoy working for failing or struggling companies and bringing them back up when told that it isn’t possible.
Friendships with Sixes.
Loyalist make the best of friends when they are healthy. They will stick by those they trust no matter the situation, even to the point they will fight for their friends who they consider to be family. The Six will go out of their way to maintain their friendships and their tribe, or friend group. They are the glue that holds their communities together.
This however, can lead to issues where they do not leave toxic friendships or people who use or bring them down. That is until they hit a counterphobic point and start questioning everything and everyone. The Six’s sarcastic nature and dry, self-deprecating humor can be a lot of fun for those who enjoy it. Their fear and anxiety brings about a perspective that offers lots of fodder for comedy.
Relationships with Sixes
Relationships with Sixes can be exasperating, especially in the beginning of the relationship when trust is being built. Their fear of commitment or making the wrong choice can destroy many potential relationships. Their anxious nature and history of past emotional trauma leads them to warily watch for any signs of betrayal or abandonment.
The Loyalist fear of abandonment and perpetual anxiety causes them to second guess everything in a relationship. They will constantly pester their partner about the status of their relationship. While this behavior seeks security many times it has the effect of driving the other person away. Once the Loyalist gets past the early phases and begins to trust their partner the Six will become their biggest advocate. The stability of long term relationships with Sixes is steady and undemanding.
Tricks of the Trade
Rule-following, while often denigrated, is surprisingly useful for allowing you to keep a focus on the things that are truly important, by reducing the complexity associated with doing lower priority tasks.