Type Six: The Loyal Skeptic


Someone with the Type 6 Enneagram pattern is a perceptive, loyal, attentive personality with a strong belief that love and protection are gained by vigilance and endurance. They habitually focus their attention on possible hazards. They are driven by fear of possible dangers and what can go wrong.

Challenges for this type include being reactive (defensive/accusatory), doubting and procrastinating.

Each type has its own idealization, avoidance and defense mechanism which holds the idealization “in place”.

For Type 6:

Idealized self-image: “I am loyal”.

Avoidance: Uncertainty, Vulnerability, Deviance (from the group norms)

Defense Mechanism: Projection; projection is a way of attributing to others things about ourselves that we cannot accept both positive and negative. The Six may see someone else as angry when in fact they are angry themselves.

Six’s tend to amplify data in the environment to support any given projection. This allows them to leave the uncertainty in the present moment. They shift into doubting and questioning. This feeds the habitual search for certainty. 

What to expect if you are in a relationship with a Six:

  • Expect shifts of mood as certainty shifts to doubt and back again.
  • Expect to be challenged and/or questioned.
  • Spontaneous reassurance, romance, and surprise will work wonders.
  • Sixes identify the problem areas of a relationship. Recognizing the issues doesn’t require you to immediately change, but denial creates mistrust.
  • Sixes can attribute their own feelings to others. You can seem to be angry or withholding when its the Six who feels that way. A clear statement of your position is hugely reassuring.
  • Expect challenges with softer emotions which point to their vulnerability and insecurity; offer genuine assurances.
  • Your Six wants to affect you in relationship. They need to know they have value in your eyes. In return you get enduring loyalty and support.

Learning to recognize the patterns of type, accepting them with compassion and learning to relax them brings us to the present moment where life can be experienced more fully.


Recognizing these patterns in others helps us understand and relate to them.

The practices for growth for Type Six:

  • Accept insecurity as part of life.
  • Use your five senses. When you walk outside or go into the grocery, pause. Notice shapes, colors, sounds, smells. Notice how it feels in your body to PAUSE and appreciate 5 sensory reality.
  • Check out your projections. Sometimes they are only partially true. There may be other important information that helps you with perspective.
  • Practice checking in with your own “inner authority.” This helps you gain faith in yourself, others and the world.
  • Recognize that fight and flight are reactions to fear.
  • Observe fear and calm it through gentle breathing. Click here for Type Six breath practices.
  • Move ahead in spite of fear.
  • Leslie’s meditations for Sixes


Feeling grateful is helpful when working with the Enneagram because gratitude automatically shifts focus away from habitual thoughts.

Intentionally cultivating a gratitude practice is an excellent way to broaden our focus of attention.

If you are a Six, practice gratitude for your successes, your gifts, for the good things in your life. You tend to have amnesia when it comes to your successes. 

Also, check out your Green Zone behaviors and Red Zone behaviors. This may help you to see how you react when calm and grounded and when under stress.

Sources: Helen Palmer; Type Six panelists; The Narrative Enneagram

Here, a man with a Type 6 pattern describes challenges he experiences in relationships.

In the video below, I touch on the differences between 1s and 6s in the final third of the video. I cut it as I was trying to keep under my 3 minute video goal so let me write about it in order to flesh out the differences more.

6s often mistake themselves for 1s. They both can be hard on themselves and others. They both can experience inner anxiety and worry (particularly 1s with the Self-Preservation instinct) and they both struggle with anger (the counter-phobic 6 will look more overtly angry). Both can be sarcastic in their humor and both tend to procrastinate.

Yet, the 1s have a more contained energetic quality while 6s are more “kinetic” and may have a harder time sitting still. The 6s eyes tend to be busier than the 1s as they are scanning for safety and security. Can this person/group be trusted? Is this authority figure going to misuse their authority? Am I feeling like I am a part of this group so I feel secure or do I need to bail?

I’ve often found 6s to be ambivalent about the groups they’re in; they may look like they’re loyal and “all in” on the outside, but on the inside, there is still a lot of questioning as to whether the group can be trusted and whether the 6 trusts themselves in the group. There is a LOT of energy about the authority or perceived authorities in the group and a lot of energy around whether the group is following the unspoken “rules.”

The phobic 6s don’t want to deviate from the rules as they want to feel secure and safe on the inside and the counterphobic 6 may want to challenge the rules to see if these people can be trusted and to see if they are who they say they are. They’re looking for inconsistencies. The operative words are “trust” and fear.

The 1s are focused more on internal correctness. There is a more energetically rigid physical stance in a 1 and this also translates into how they see the world. It can be quite tight as 1s have a hard time seeing other perspectives once they’ve fixed on the “one right way” things should be done.

One woman with the 1 pattern says when making a point, she can be a pit bull….like a dog with a bone…if she feels she’s right. I’ve often (not always) found 1s to tend towards more linear, ordered thinking then the 6. 1s also have more of an idealistic side than 6s who are part of the 3/6/9 practical triad who don’t tend towards idealism.

The 1s idealism is rooted in high standards for how a perfect world and a perfect relationship might be. The 1s’ outer criticism of perceived imperfection tends to be tighter and more detailed. They focus on precise inaccuracies. The bottom line is about doing the right thing in order to feel worthy.

This video is part of the Enneagram Shorts series on my YouTube page. (Subscribe here.) I talk about what you might want to know about 6s at work along with how 6s tend to communicate.


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