The Type Six – The Loyalist

First, let’s look at Riso-Hudson’s definition of the Six:

“Type Six—the Loyalist. The committed, security-oriented type. Sixes are reliable, hard-working, responsible, and trustworthy. Excellent ‘troubleshooters,’ they foresee problems and foster cooperation, but can also become defensive, evasive, and anxious—running on stress while complaining about it. They can be cautious and indecisive, but also reactive, defiant and rebellious. They typically have problems with self-doubt and suspicion. At their Best: internally stable and self-reliant, courageously championing themselves and others.”[1]

This is what I’ve frequently heard from my beloved, Type Six friends. That immediately after waking in the morning, the electric buzz of fear turns on inside them, and along with it comes the sting of anxiety. It’s as though a built-in hyper-vigilance device occupies their mind-stream, an inner-sniper, such that the moment they wake up, their inner radar begins scanning their thoughts for things to be afraid of. Or more specifically, what could go wrong today. One Six recently described this as the “The tiger is loose in the neighborhood and I’ve got to be on guard so I’m not eaten.” This hyper-vigilance has reached peak proportions in some Type Sixes, such as Edgar Hoover, George Bush, Richard Nixon, and Richard Cheney. Nonetheless, the Six knows fear and anxiety[2], and struggles with establishing an anxiety-free existence, and learning to know what is truly worthy of their worry. In the short term we give them “The worry wart award” and frankly, they are experts at anticipating what could go wrong, so the personality habit is not without merit. For this sometimes spaced out Four, the Six can provide essential grounding.

One of my dear friends is a Six, and clearly he is an ace worry-wart regarding what could go wrong. Caught in the anxiety side of Sixness, he finds comfort in routines, clear guidelines, the less ambivalence the better. Ironically, the Six is often in a non-stop dance with internal ambivalence. This oscillates from throwing complete loyalty into a trusted authority, to then getting paranoid, and withdrawing trust into one’s own judgment, followed by mistrusting oneself and latching on to the authority again. Back and forth, back and forth. Because their Thinking Center is blocked,[3] their capacity to trust their own mind is very limited. In fact, they don’t truly know what to trust and this causes the vacillation between trusting people, and then withdrawing in mistrust. Ironically, in spite of their psychic terrain being strewn with land-mines of mistrust, they respond on a practical level in a manner that is exemplary. Sixes are known for their commitment and loyalty to causes they believe in, and individuals they’ve grown to trust. It is paradoxical in lieu of the deep reactive oscillations that occur within them regarding trust. And perhaps because of this the Six, due to their inner suffering, counters their fear with a strong dedication to service towards others, and a deep commitment to family, their work, etc. When healthy they are known for being unpretentious and down to earth, a team player you can count on who will work for the good of the group and the group purpose, and committed to doing their share of the work—and more.

My dear friend George (name is changed to protect the lovable) is a case in point. His desire to end the suffering of addicts who have been storm tossed into horrendous situations, is amazing. He has an intuitive radar that notices what is most vulnerable, scared and weak in an individual, and his heart goes out to help. In some ways he attempts to provide the support the recovering addict needs to feel welcome and safe, support that he struggles so much to sense in his precious self. He is a great study in opposites, vacillating from taking strong positions, usually in regards to a moral or ethical code being broken, or a client not being provided with adequate support, to then retreating and wondering whether he has gone too far, over-reacted and protested too loudly, maybe it wasn’t such a big deal, maybe he was out of place, maybe he was dead wrong. I remind him that he was spot-on in his evaluation of the situation, and yet he is so pulled by the inner gravitational force of his missing sense of “I know I was correct, no doubt about it” that he searches inside for validation, and then outside, hoping that somehow he will land and truly feel this inner sense of confidence. It is a fleeting thing, like sand through his fingers, and often each time he encounters another conflict of opinion, it’s as if he is starting over with no internal foundation of experience to stand on, out in the open and not protected, Is he right? Is he wrong? Usually he’s right, but this ability to understand this, to hold this, to feel it is one of his deepest sufferings.

On the other hand, what I find truly remarkable, is in the face of not feeling confident, while also feeling a conscience-driven impulse to speak the truth, he actually throws himself off the cliff of his terror and anxiety into a deeper vulnerability, and “tells the truth”, stark and bald as it is. Shaking and quaking, gustily he steps forward and leaps into fear. Courage at its brightest. [4]I always notice that when he makes these moves, I feel the energy of “courage” emanating in my gut, prodding me from the inside out, and feeling urged to tell my truth in turn. Very wild. And yet the effect he has on others can be unbeknown to him. But this is so for all the Types, each of us having our own Private Idaho, that place where we are asleep and trying to wake-up, that psychic terrain in us that if navigated opens us to the wonderful truth of our inner nature. This is the gift and tool of the Enneagram, guiding each unique type towards the psychic tools that hold the treasures they yearn.

Often the doorway is closer than one thinks. Often I say to dear George, “Have you ever considered meditation.” Eyes bulging, he says, “Have you been eating jaw-breakers for breakfast, or what? You’ve got to be completely mad, my friend. Why would I want to sit and stare into the face of worry for ten minutes. I worry enough without meditating about it.” Wow, I hadn’t really thought of it that way. And before I can elaborate on the possibility that meditation might, in fact, allow this worry habit to mellow, he is out the door, duty-called to do the next responsible and helping thing. Perhaps he’s now he’s also worrying about meditation…

1 From the Enneagram Institute’s website, From Free Hudson-Riso materials, Section 3, The Types in Brief. All
Rights Reserved Copyright 2001 The Enneagram

2 From Riso & Hudson Part 1 Training Manuel, p. 318, Personality Type Six, which describes the Type Six
Passion of Fear and Anxiety. All Rights Reserved Copyright 2001 The Enneagram Institute.

3 From the Enneagram Institute’s website,How the Enneagram System Works, “The Triads.” All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2001 The Enneagram Institute.

4 From Riso & Hudson Part 1 Training Manuel, p. 318, Personality Type Six, which describes the Type Six Virtue
of “courage.” All Rights Reserved Copyright 2001 The Enneagram Institute.

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