Exploring the Enneagram – The Number Six.
Basic Fear: Of having no support and guidance, of being unable to survive on their own.
Basic Desire: To find security and support
Superego Message: You are good or okay if you do what is expected of you.
Sixes are well know for their loyalty, both to their friends and beliefs. Their friendships are marked with warmhearted, deep feelings and they may hang onto relationships far longer than most other types. In their commitment to family and fiends, they will do their absolute upmost for the people they love. Sixes are also loyal to ideas, systems and beliefs either by sticking religiously to the rules or by being rebellious towards the rules, either way they defend their own beliefs tenaciously.
The reason sixes are loyal to others is because of their basic fear of not wanting to be abandoned or left without support. They can come to believe that they don’t possess the internal resources to handle life’s challenges alone which is why they rely on structures, beliefs and supports for guidance. Of those within the Thinking or Head Triad, sixes have the most difficulty in accessing their own inner guidance – they lack confidence in their own minds and judgements. However, this doesn’t mean that they don’t think and worry a lot. They both avoid being controlled but are also afraid of taking responsibility which can leave them paralysed especially when trying to make decisions.
Because of their childhood experience, which was often marked by trauma, Sixes have a deep sense of anxiety. They continually sense danger, which makes them fearful and mistrustful. They easily succumb to self-doubt. Sixes feel an underlying anxiety on an almost daily basis. It isn’t the event that has already happened, but the one that could happen at any time that keeps them in a state of high alert.
In order to create the solidity Sixes desire they can become attached to explanations, positions and people who offer the security and certainly they crave. Once they feel they can trust someone they will go to great lengths to maintain that connection and use them as a sounding board, mentor and someone to regulate their emotional reactions. When unhealthy Sixes can become authoritarians, people who want truth in totalitarian, self-righteous fashion. They can end up making choices that are not aligned with their deepest values or wisdom and give themselves dangerously to strongmen, hierarchical figures, and absolutely-certain groups (fundamentalists) to take away their anxiety.
The way home for the Six is to engage silence. They have a tendency to get stuck in anxiety-ridden, irrational internal dialogue clinging to fear as a way to stop them drowning. In order to overcome this, they need to come home to their mind. In doing so they can face their fears rationally and come to see that the fear they experience is in fact an illusion. Silence creates space within the Six for courage to emerge which challenges them to face their apprehensions. Silence is often avoided by Sixes because it can feel as if it amplifies their already loud inner distress. However, if they can engage it in an intentional way they begin to hear the inner truth about who they are – strong and resilient.
Riso and Hudson write this about the emergence of Essence in Sixes:
When their minds become quiet, Sixes experience an inner spaciousness that is the Ground of Being. They realise that Essence is real and is not simply an idea; in fact, it is the thing that is most real in existence, the very foundation of existence itself. People have associated this inner peace with the presence of God, which is manifesting itself at every moment, and which is available at every moment. When Sixes experience this truth, they feel solid, steady, and supported… They realise that this ground is the only real security in life, and it is what gives Sixes immense courage.
Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations
Don Richard Risso and Russ Hudson, The Wisdom of the Enneagram
Christopher L Heurtz, The Sacred Enneagram