Enneagram Type 6: The Loyalist

Written by Tim Branch

Original Design: They use their gift of Faith to ground the body of Christ and inspire belief in others. Their prayers are powerful and effective because of their strong belief. They show us the faithfulness of God in every aspect of their lives.

Desire: To remain safe and secure from life’s many dangers.

Fear: Being without guidance and support.

Sin: Fear blinds them and causes them to blame others for their anxiety, rather than realizing the anxiety first starts within them and then “lands” on something out in their world.

What they long to believe: “You are safe.”

Enneagram 6 at a Glance

Enneagram Sixes are reliable and loyal. They find their people and stick with them. They’re also the most security-oriented of the enneagram types—and therefore the most anxious. Sixes struggle to keep their anxiety in check and will over-prepare for possible problems or dangers. Their anxiety leads them to skepticism and doubt, but they also have an incredible gift of Faith that, when harnessed, gives them an unwavering belief in God and in others.

You Might Be a 6 if:

  1. You’re a very anxious person, even when things are going well.
  2. You’re always looking for the worst-case scenario—just to be prepared.
  3. You’ve been told that you “overcommit” to people who “don’t deserve your loyalty.”
  4. You don’t like it when someone tries to rock the boat too much.
  5. You’re skeptical of authority figures, new friends, and people who give you a lot of compliments
  6. You’d rather do things the way they’ve always been done, because it’s safer.
  7. You’re known as someone with a dry, witty sense of humor.
  8. You’ll put the team on your back when they need you to, because they’re your people.
  9. Anxiety is like a conveyor belt—once one thing goes away, the next thing appears.
  10. You have strong beliefs and you don’t like it when people try to undermine them.
  11. You look to others for guidance on big decisions, because you don’t trust yourself to make the right decision.

How Enneagram Type 6’s Work

Sixes are the most cautious and security-oriented type on the enneagram.

Their goal? To create a world where they don’t have to worry about what could go wrong.

So they constantly scan their environment for potential dangers, and they make sure they have a plan—just in case.

When I spent a month in Colombia, my sister—a Six—sent me with small plastic bags of 12 different medicines, along with dosage instructions. (And surprise, I ended up using some of them!)

Sixes are incredibly loyal to their people—which is how they got the name “The Loyalist.”

They’re naturally skeptical—so their trust is hard to gain, but it’s also hard to lose. Meaning, when you make it into the inner circle of a Six, they’ll stick by you through thick and thin.

My sister describes herself as my “human attack dog.” Nobody messes with someone a Six cares about if they know what’s good for them.

Sixes are also extremely hardworking and dependable. When they say they’re going to do something, it gets done. My brother also happens to be a Six (lots of Sixes in my family) and people have always told me he has incredible follow-through.

If Sixes had a superpower, it’d be “rarely ever getting caught off-guard.”

They’re always prepared—but the downside is that their mind is so focused on what could go wrong, they can get caught in a state of constant anxiety.

Sixes are the most anxious of all the enneagram types. In fact, most Sixes I know are either  on anxiety medication or have been at some point.

Their mind is always saying, “What if?”

So they might hear you say, “I love you” with a slightly different tone and wonder, Wait…why did they say it like that? Is something wrong? Are they upset? Is this relationship in trouble?

That’s why most people recommend that if you’re married to a Six, it’s best to give them constant reassurance that things between you are still great.

Sixes tend to see things in black and white. This “black and white” thinking comes from their desire for security. They long for a firm foundation—and they don’t want that foundation to be shifting.

Because of this, it can be hard to get a Six to question what they believe. Because it’s likely they find a great deal of security in it. Gray area is anxiety-inducing, so there’s no room for it.

One of the most important aspects of most Sixes is that they don’t feel confident in their own inner voice to make an accurate judgment about what’s right and true. So they look for guidance outside themselves—friends, family, authority figures, etc.

This creates an interesting thing that you don’t see in any other type:

There are actually 2 different types of 6s, based on how they respond to authority—the Phobic 6, and the Counterphobic 6.

If you’re a phobic 6, you move toward authority to feel secure. If you’re a counterphobic 6, you question authority and move away from it.

I know a few counterphobic 6’s. And their mantra seems to be, “Don’t tell me what to do.”

On the other hand, phobic 6’s are more likely to trust authority. They find comfort in the idea that “The people in charge know what’s best for us.”

How Enneagram 6’s Reflect God

Sixes are an incredible picture of God’s faithfulness.

They reveal the part of God who says “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” The part that gets hurt time and time again when we sin—and yet still loves us. The part that caused Jesus to die for us while we were still sinners.

There’s something special about Sixes’ gift of faith. They can hold more tightly to their beliefs, even during moments when others may doubt. They have a certainty that inspires us—because they’re not so easily shaken.

But here’s one of the most powerful ways that helps the rest of us:

In Mark 11:24 Jesus says, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

And in Matthew 17:20 he says, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

If you trust the character and words of God…then you believe that God has given us the keys to a bulldozer. And faithful prayer makes it go.

Do you realize what that means about the power of a Six when they pray?

Sixes have the faith and diligence to “pray without ceasing” in a way that can genuinely transform the world around them.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that incredible things happen when we pray.  World-shifting things. Especially when you don’t see the results of your prayer. But a Six is really, really good at it.

I’d venture to say that many miracles have happened because of the faith and earnest prayer of a Six.

Sixes also have very good follow-through in life. Woody Harrelson famously said, “80% of life is showing up.” Sixes show up. They’re not just faithful in prayer, but in action. They do what needs to be done so that the group can function.

The body NEEDS Sixes, and would be at an extreme loss without them. They keep us stable when we doubt, they put the team before themselves—and when they pray, God’s ears perk up.

Where it Goes Wrong

When we look at Sixes, we see the image of God’s faithfulness.

But, just like other types…when fear enters the picture, that image gets twisted into something it was never meant to be.

Sixes grew up seeing that the world wasn’t safe. So they developed a keen sense of what could go wrong. They started training themselves to avoid danger by having a plan.

But that created a habit of assuming everything was unsafe. They conditioned themselves to always be looking for the next bad thing that’s going to happen.

Fear took the driver’s seat.

Other types struggle with fear…but Sixes specialize in fear.

Fear is the Six’s “cardinal sin.”

One of the most ironic things about the gift of faith is that, when it’s twisted, it looks like the opposite. Fear feeds doubt, which creates more fear…and it spirals downward.

This quote from Sister Mary Tricky feels especially powerful for Sixes: “Fear is faith that it won’t work out.”

The gift of Faith gets hijacked and turns to Doubt.

A Six’s main struggle is that they begin to have faith that things will NOT end up okay. “It’s not fear, I’m just being realistic,” they might tell themselves. “I’ve been let down before. Why wouldn’t it happen again?”

When they begin to doubt that God has it under control, Sixes will quickly begin looking for something else to anchor their lives and make them feel secure. An authority figure, a politician, a relationship, a belief system that makes them feel safe.

This is why most Sixes are afraid to trust their inner voice. Their first instinct is to think, “I don’t have what it takes to do this. I need guidance.” The LAST person a Six trusts is themselves.

The paralyzing fear actually freezes the Six’s ability to look inside and say, “I have the Holy Spirit inside me. This inner voice can guide me.”

And the disconnection from God’s voice leads them away from the peace they were designed for.

Why They Embrace Their Burden

The enemy’s lies make us believe our fear is actually helping us.

And that’s why we grasp onto it.

For a Six, fear may feel like an unwanted visitor that never got permission to stay.

But in reality…a Six has an unspoken agreement with fear. They believe the fear is keeping them safe. Because now, they’re prepared for danger. Fear is showing them where they’re vulnerable.

The problem is, fear turns into Doubt…which pulls them away from their gift of Faith.

The voice of Doubt echoes the age-old lie from the snake in the Garden of Eden:

“Did God really say…?”

Doubt says, “Are you sure you’re going to be okay? What if this happens? What if that happens? Let’s team up to make sure you don’t get caught off-guard.”

That sounds like a great deal to an anxious Six. The problem is, it’s not fully true. Yes, they feel safer with their new defense system. But it also leads them to a life of skepticism and crippling anxiety, which can damage their relationships, self-worth, and any chance at a moment’s peace.

At Their Worst

The more a Six’s fear spirals downward, the less peace they have.

There’s always new danger to find. There’s always something terrible that could possibly happen. And when you have zero trust that you are safe from these things, you live in a constant state of terror.

Eventually, you’re unable to rest. And you’re exhausted.

This is when “Blame” starts taking a Six’s life apart.

Subconsciously, a Six believes, There must be something out in my world that’s making me feel this way. And if they would just stop, I could finally be at peace.

So the Blame goes out and sticks to anything associated with the anxiety.

Your spouse. Your kids. Your boss.

These people are the reason why I can’t relax.

The anger builds. The distrust grows. And the relationships become strained.

At their worst, a Six can hurt their relationships with their loved ones, leaving them feeling more alone and afraid than ever.

How to Self-Actualize As an Enneagram Type 6

I remember hearing one of my friends describe her husband (a Six) during a particularly stressful time in his life.

“I can see it in his eyes when we lay down to sleep. It’s not just anxiety. It’s terror. He can’t rest. His mind can’t shake the fear of what might go wrong. And I have no clue how to help.”

Maybe you’re a Six and you resonate with this.

Maybe it feels like you’re straining your eyes as hard as you can, looking into the darkness for whatever danger is lurking, trying to protect yourself and your loved ones.

You’re so sure it’s there, that you can’t relax your eyes for even a moment.

But at the same time, you’re tired. So, so tired.

All you want is to finally feel safe enough to rest. You long for the world to stop being so hectic so you can finally have a moment’s peace.

God so deeply wants His peace for you. And with every fiber in my being, I believe His plan is to give it to you. His original design for you is for your gift of Faith to make you a sanctuary—a place where peace reigns.

So, what does this look like? What does the journey of a Six look like, moving from crippling anxiety…to overwhelming peace?

The story of a Six is a lot like when Peter walked on water in Matthew 14.

Peter sees Jesus walking on water and says, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come out to you on the water.”

So Jesus invites him out. “Come.”

And this happens:

“Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’”

This is so incredibly similar to the journey Sixes go on. Jesus calls his people onto a journey of Faith, a life where amazing things can happen—and he is there with you through all of it.

But so often, fear causes us to lose our focus on Jesus. We start looking at the wind and the tidal waves. And we become terrified. And then we begin to sink.

A Six fights a battle of focus. Because of fear, their tendency is to focus on what could go wrong—instead of what could go right, what is going right, and especially all of God’s many, many promises that He is your refuge and strength, and that his plans are to prosper you, not to harm you.

Your need for security was intended to send you running toward God, who has promised to be your refuge and strength.

And yet, when you are trying to get your need for security met in other things, when you doubt that things will be okay in the end because God’s heart for you and for others is good…it creates a whirlwind of fear. A Six without a refuge is a hurricane of worry.

Yes, the storms are real. And the presence of anxiety is okay. Even the most devout Sixes still struggle with anxiety. But when that anxiety comes, where does your focus go?

God has promised us we can trust in Him. We can walk on water if we focus on Him, rather than focusing on the wind and the waves.

And even more beautiful?

During the times that we fail to have Faith we’re going to be okay, and we start to sink…Jesus is always there to catch us before our head goes under.

When the storms are raging in a Six’s life, and they are crying out for refuge and security—God is there to say:

I am big enough to protect you. I love you too much to let you go under. And I made you with a special ability to believe and trust in that. I am bigger than everything that can go wrong. I made you to be a sanctuary. You can have real peace in me. Relax into me.

“You are my beloved. I will protect you. I will save you. I am all-powerful. And I am so incredibly attentive to your life. It hurts me to see you straining your eyes to watch the darkness for danger. Would you trust me to watch the darkness for you? Please, rest your eyes and let me take on the responsibility of keeping you and those you love safe. This is the first step to becoming the sanctuary I made you to be.”

As a Six begins to finally start believing this…something else wonderful happens:

God starts to show them (or remind them) what his Holy Spirit’s voice sounds like. It’s that still, small voice inside us—which guides us, and reassures us, and even advocates for us when we don’t know what to pray.

As they draw near to the Lord, He starts helping them trust in their own ability to hear the Holy Spirit’s voice within themselves—something they forgot in their search for outside guidance.

That helps the Six finally stop searching. Instead, they grow in Faith that God lives inside them, and they can trust His inner voice for guidance.

Sixes were made with the power to genuinely believe that everything is going to be all right—even as they see everything that could go wrong.

So, what does the journey toward powerful Faith look like?

The Pathway To Growing in Your Gift of Faith as a Six

Of course, anxiety doesn’t typically just stop overnight. With a Six, I doubt it’ll ever fully go away this side of heaven, because it’s the dark side of your gift. There’s not an “easy button” for it.

At the same time, I strongly believe that as a Six grows into their gift of Faith, they’re able to trust more and more that everything is going to be okay—and finally know peace.

So…what’s it take for a Six to grow into a sanctuary?

  1. Change your focus.

Again, the presence of anxiety is not wrong.

The question is, what are you doing when anxiety hits?

When it spirals, when it starts leading you to distrust yourself and others and blame others, when it deafens you to your inner voice and makes you default to seeking guidance outside yourself and becoming more of a follower of someone else than a follower of Christ…

That’s a response to the anxiety. And that’s something you can learn to control.

There’s a difference between seeing the worst-case scenario and letting the terror rule you, vs. seeing the worst case scenario and trusting that God will actually provide for you and keep you safe.

So let’s talk about some ways to do that:

  1. Remind yourself of what God has already promised you.

The best way to combat lies? Give yourself a steady dose of truth.

  • In Jeremiah 29:11, He promises His plans are to prosper you, not to harm you.
  • In Psalm 46, He promises He will be your refuge and strength, and an ever present help in times of trouble.
  • In Psalm 36:7, He promises you will find refuge in the shadow of His wings.
  • In Isaiah 43, He promises that when you pass through the waters, He will be with you. And when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned.
  • In Psalm 23, He promises that even though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you don’t have to fear evil, because He is with you.
  • In Psalm 91:11, He promises that His angels will guard you in all of your ways.

These verses only scratch the surface of everything God has promised you.

Read His promises daily. Commit them to memory. Make sure you can call to mind what God has said to you when anxiety feels like a tidal wave.

  1. Set up Ebenezers to remember the times when God has already come through.

Back in the day, when God did something for His people, they would set up a giant rock called an Ebenezer, which would remind them of what God did every time they looked at it.

When God comes through for you, don’t forget it. Set up something in your home to remind you how faithful He’s been to you. A quote, an object, even an actual rock.

Because then, when the future looks uncertain, you’ll see it and remember the character of God and how faithful He was last time.

This is one of the most powerful ways to control your focus.

  1. Notice when you are blaming the outside world for the anxiety that’s actually starting inside you.

My brother says being a Six is like having a conveyor belt of stress. Once you’re done being worried about one thing, the next thing just takes its place.

But there’s a way to relax the conveyor belt.

Sixes tend to feel anxiety within themselves, and then find a place outside of themselves for the anxiety to land. “You’re the reason I’m feeling so anxious.”

But if you can start to see how you are reacting with anxiety inside yourself, and THEN finding a place for it to land outside yourself, it gives you more power over it. Because at that point, you’re dealing with your own reactivity rather than some uncontrollable scary thing in your environment.

This allows you to stop seeing your loved ones and your job and your boss and your kids as stressors—and you begin to slow down that conveyor belt.

So when something makes you feel anxious, ask yourself:

Is this thing making me feel anxious, or am I reacting in anxiety? Do I have the power not to react in anxiety? Would I still be safe if I said no to the anxiety? Could I still plan for the worst-case scenario without feeling the anxiety of the worst-case scenario?

See what happens to your anxiety.

  1. Practice walking through hypothetical worst-case scenarios.

A couple sixes I know have found this incredibly helpful in therapy:

When you feel anxiety, begin to say, “If that happened, what would happen next?”

Who would you be able to call to come help? What doctor could help you fix the problem? Who could you live with for a little while?

The scariest thing in the world is the unknown. So try to make it known, and it should help.

  1. Practice being comfortable with gray areas.

Sixes struggle often with black-and-white thinking because they’re afraid to shake the foundation on which they’ve built their beliefs. It’s hard for them to question what they believe, because that would create instability and anxiety.

But often, without allowing gray area, you’ll deteriorate into an “us vs. them” mentality, which can tear apart churches and friendships and communities.

The fact is, life is full of gray area. Can you accept that and still trust God?

Look for ways that God might encouraging you to explore gray area. It can lead to a lot of productive conversations with people on the other side of the aisle—who God may be calling you to form a relationship with.

  1. Pray. 

When someone of faith prays, God’s ears perk up.

And as a Six, you have the Faith that Jesus talks about when he says, “Your faith has healed you.” So pray for whatever you need, knowing you can “cast your anxieties on Him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7).

Pray for peace, but also that God would watch over you and guard your steps. Practice using your gift of faith not just to believe in God, but to believe that God is big enough to protect you and everyone you love.

What Does the Ultimate Enneagram 6 Look Like?

When a Six is operating in their original design, they’re able to feel anxiety, yet at the same time feel God reassuring them that things are going to be okay. And because they’ve grown mature in their gift of Faith, they believe Him.

They no longer get caught in the downward spiral of anxiety. Instead, they trust without doubt. And because there’s no doubt, they can walk on water with Jesus even through the winds and the storms.

Super healthy Sixes are able to stop looking outside of themselves for guidance and support—and instead they discover the voice of the Holy Spirit inside them.

They aren’t frantically searching for answers from someone else. Instead, they’re alert to God’s voice.

They pray fervently, believe powerfully, and their Faith moves mountains in their lives and in the lives of everyone around them.

Do you have any other thoughts about being a Six that should be covered in this post? Email me at [email protected].