Sixes are defined by their desire for safety and security. They seek to anticipate and avoid risk, and to ally themselves with trustworthy authority figures and institutions.
Sixes are alert and vigilant, always thinking several steps ahead to anticipate and prepare for what could go wrong.
Deepest Fear: Sixes fear being unprepared and unable to defend themselves from danger. To cope with this fear, they attempt to be prepared for every possible turn of events.
Core Motivation: This type is motivated by their need for safety and security. They seek support and reassurance from other people, and are extremely loyal to people and groups that they trust.
Key Personality Traits of the 6
- Strong identification with a social group
- Organized and well-liked
- Good at managing finances
- Excellent team player
- Belongs to a tight-knit group of friends
- Clear communicators
- Detail-oriented and precise
How Rare are Enneagram 6s?
- In a Truity study of more than 54,000 respondents, Type Sixes were found to make up approximately 10% of the population; 10% of women and 9% of men.
Enneagram Type 6 In Depth
Sixes are dedicated and responsible individuals who are keen on belonging to a social group and finding their fit in the world.
Sixes show up in two different ways. They can either be Phobic or Counter-Phobic, which deals with their nervous energy and how it presents itself to the outer world.
Phobic Sixes deliberately move away from the source(s) of fear, and tend to fly under the radar. They’re open and expressive about their vulnerabilities and weaknesses, so others can understand their situation and line of thought. This is their prime defense mechanism to avoid being manipulated.
Counter-Phobic Sixes, on the other hand, possess a high-strung, irrational fear of fear itself — which may paradoxically translate to rule-breaking. They try to keep up an image of independence on the surface: a tough exterior to shield their persistent internal uncertainty.
As a child, the Six may have grown up in an unsafe environment, had overprotective guardians, or experienced a traumatic event that shaped their worldview. This type sees the world as a place of danger — anything or anyone outside of the Six’s circle of trust is a potential threat.
Sixes are extremely logical types. They are constantly strategizing and planning for future events and how to protect themselves and their loved ones from harm. When you think of the stereotypical “survivalist,” you are likely imagining someone with several Enneagram Six characteristics.
The Enneagram Six is part of the “head-based” triad, along with Type Five and Type Seven. Each of these types deal with fear as a core emotion, but no type tackles fear as head-on as the Six does.
A healthy Six is a person you want to have on your side — they are loyal, trustworthy, honest, and protective. When less healthy, the Six can get in the habit of fear-based decision-making and creating self-fulfilling prophecies.
Enneagram 6 Wings
6w5: Six wing Five types are Sixes that share characteristics with Type Fives. 6w5s are generally more independent and introverted than other Sixes. They are less likely to rely on and trust others, and prefer to keep to themselves.
6w7: Six wing Sevens are Sixes that resemble a Seven in some ways. These Sixes are more social and relaxed than other Sixes. They are good at responding to people’s needs and often enjoy being part of groups and organizations.
Core Values of Enneagram 6s
- Security, commitment and a sense of connectedness with the group are what drive a Six's actions. They stand strong by the people in their lives who have earned a spot in their hearts.
- Seeking safety, Sixes value those who can reassure them of their importance and connection.
- Trust is the most important value for Sixes. With all the time they spend thinking up a flurry of hypothetical scenarios, knowing someone has their back is extraordinarily comforting.
- Sixes seek peace within themselves, although this initially proves to be a challenge. Through trial and error, Sixes slowly build trust and confidence over time to effectively tackle any situation.
How to Recognize an Enneagram 6
Unassuming and tolerant, Sixes blend into the social sphere seamlessly and are always willing to support their loved ones. They’re great at keeping secrets and take privacy very seriously.
At work, Sixes are the employees that stick around and do overtime with ease to support the organization and keep tasks running smoothly.
Sixes actively seek reassurance for their actions and can smell potential issues from miles away. They probably have accumulated a mental compilation of troubleshooting guides for scenarios experienced in the past. This helps them feel in control of potentially risky situations if they come across any of them again.
Healthy vs. Unhealthy Enneagram 6s
When they are healthy, Sixes are caring, generous and thoughtful team players who move colleagues and friends forward in a positive direction. They’re valuable and hardworking employees who take great pride in serving an organization and will make every effort to hone their skills. During times of stress, they know how to handle and diffuse the nerves with finesse. They develop secure attachment styles and easily trust others. Through their patience and courage, Sixes can learn to accept their independence and express themselves freely in the world. At their best, Sixes are able to let go of their worries and focus on matters they can change in the present moment.
When they are average, Sixes are mentally acute yet highly skeptical, and seek security and group approval for their actions. They become aware of their shortcomings and their self-esteem may fluctuate from time to time. When there’s a disconnect between their position and the group, Sixes become noticeably agitated and nervous. To prevent disappointment, Sixes may mentally prepare themselves with the worse case scenario before carrying out a task. They have a tendency to over-analyze messages or information as it comes in, which further fuels their anxiety—and leads to mixed signals. This confuses others, so the whole thing winds up being a vicious cycle of worry.
When they are unhealthy, Sixes become extremely paranoid and suspicious of everything and everyone in their path. They’re prone to developing anxiety due to their hypervigilance to any impending (real or imagined) sources of harm. As a result, false memories may form, and they may start to suspect others are trying to fool them, when they’ve become masters at fooling themselves. When events go out of the frying pan and into the fire, Sixes can develop overwhelming and debilitating anxiety from the illusion of constant danger. This causes them to psychologically latch and cling onto a protective figure in their lives in order to get through each day (also called codependency). When exasperated and fed up, Sixes will project their insecurities onto others and claim they’ve done something, when it was all brewed up and imagined from the beginning.
Growth Tips for Enneatype 6s
- Own your power. Sixes tend to view life as a series of events that happens to them, rather than a journey where they steer the ship. When Sixes learn to acknowledge and own the power they yield, they can be braver and bolder in how they show up to the world.
- Be aware of how you create self-fulfilling prophecies. A self-fulfilling prophecy happens when you unconsciously make something happen by over-fixating on it. Sixes do this when they allow their fear to lead to extreme paranoia. For example, if a Six over-fixates on the fear that their partner is less interested in them, they may introduce added tension to the relationship that wouldn’t be there otherwise.
- Work on building trust in your relationships. Understand that not everyone has ulterior motives or is out to harm you. This kind of skepticism can cause problems in otherwise healthy relationships. When Sixes learn to have more faith in the people in their lives, they can form stronger and more meaningful connections.
- Develop healthy habits to release anxiety. Sixes spend a lot of time in their heads, so it’s essential to practice habits that allow your energy to focus on your body. While exercise is important for everyone, it’s especially helpful in getting a Six to focus more on the present and release stress.
Famous Enneagram Type 6s
- Mark Twain
- George H.W. Bush
- Joe Biden
- Prince Harry
- Marilyn Monroe
- Woody Allen
- Richard Nixon
- Jennifer Aniston
- Kristen Stewart
- Mindy Kaling
- Michael Moore
- Julia Roberts
- Sarah Jessica Parker
- Rush Limbaugh
- Ellen Degeneres
- David Letterman
- Tom Hanks
- David Sedaris
- “Hamlet” (Hamlet)
- ‘Ron Weasley” (Harry Potter)
- “Mulan” (Mulan)
- “Dwight Schrute” (The Office)
- “Ben Wyatt” (Parks and Rec)
- “Dre Johnson” (Blackish)
Type 6 in Relationships
Enneagram Relationship content was co-developed with marital therapist turned relationship coach Christa Hardin (MA).
Enneagram Type Sixes in a romantic relationship tend to be very caring, thoughtful and protective of those they care about and are aware of their own needs as well. When they aren’t as healthy, they can be anxious and freeze up, rather than moving towards whatever it is they need to do. They often plan out worst-case scenarios in order to make sure they are prepared, and have trouble centering their minds on the fact that spouses or partners do not always want to be controlled or to have a plan for everything.
Sixes also must learn that people will let them down sometimes but that does not mean they can never be trusted. Sometimes things come spontaneously. Sixes must learn that life is even more of a curious adventure when you learn to take some things in stride.
If a Six allows fear to limit them by creating perfect boundaries and curated relationships, then there is very little growth, even if life is smooth. Sixes do better to honor their courageous journey back to hope and trust. Their spouses do well to let them process fears for a little while each day but then move into gratitude and planning.
If you love a Six, remember that they are often worried that they can’t trust themselves because something in their past made them feel as though they were not safe. Now they are projecting onto you or hoping you will meet all their needs - but you must resist this and let them get their own self-care. Whether through journaling to work through their thoughts independently, meditation, exercise, or other tactics, self care can help Sixes get “unstuck” and allow them to grow stronger in body and mind.
If they worry too much aloud with you, set worry sessions with them to a limited time versus letting it run your schedule, and encourage them to take some time on their own to verbally process, uncomfortable as that may feel at first. Also, if they have a faith life, it will be helpful for the Six to do a Bible memory about fear and courage.
The goal isn’t for them to avoid healthy risk but to plan for healthy security and the completion of their wonderful and caring courageous goals, both as individuals and as a couple with their beloved partner. Click here to find the Enneagram and Marriage Glow Pairing Guides so you can find tips for a type Six with each of the individual types!
- Type Sixes with Type Ones: Tend to be both planning-oriented and caring. Click here to find the Type 6 & Type 1 couple pairing guide for this match.
- Type Sixes with Type Twos: Tend to be both safe and loving. Click here to find the Type 6 & Type 2 couple pairing guide for this match.
- Type Sixes with Type Threes: Tend to be both innovative and planning-driven. Click here to find the Type 6 & Type 3 couple pairing guide for this match.
- Type Sixes with Type Fours: Tend to be both loyal and creative. Click here to find the Type 6 & Type 4 couple pairing guide for this match.
- Type Sixes with Type Fives: Tend to be both analytical and planning. Click here to find the Type 6 & Type 5 couple pairing guide for this match.
- Type Sixes with Type Sixes: Tend to be both practical and caring. Click here to find the Type 6 & Type 6 couple pairing guide for this match.
- Type Sixes with Type Sevens: Tend to be both practical and fun. Click here to find the Type 6 & Type 7 couple pairing guide for this match.
- Type Sixes with Type Eights: Tend to be both loyal and strong. Click here to find the Type 6 & Type 8 couple pairing guide for this match.
- Type Sixes with Type Nines: Tend to be both practical and comfortable. Click here to find the Type 6 & Type 9 couple pairing guide for this match.