This week, we are exploring Enneagram 6. One of the key things I try to do in the office is to help folks become more conscious – more aware. If they can step back and look at what they are doing and if it is counter-productive, they can then make different choices. The Enneagram is just one way to become more aware of why we behave the way we do, which is why I have been going through the Enneagram’s 9 different types to discover motivations – what motivates us.
Enneagram 6 Motivations
For example, Enneagram 6 is motivated by the need for security. I am a six. Sixes fear being without support or guidance. Phobic sixes tend to be outwardly fearful and seek approval. Counter-phobic sixes confront their fear. Both of these aspects can appear in the same person. (Phobic and counterphobic are terms used to indicate the growth movement.)
I am certainly a pleaser, the seeking approval side of six. Being aware of that helps me be able to counter it. For example, I know as a therapist/coach, I can’t help everyone who knocks on the door of my office. I would like to but realize that is not realistic. I know too that I tend to approach most challenges (doing workshops, teaching, playing competitive sports, etc.) with a good deal of fear. (Sixes tend to have the most fear of any of the Enneagram types.) The positive move – the counter-phobic move – is to do it anyway which I think I have been able to do most of my life.
In hindsight, those of you who know me, know my emphasis on safety in a relationship. I am sure that comes in part from my six energy. Safety is all-important in a relationship, it is. If you don’t feel safe you will defend, but I am sure being a six makes that even more of a priority.
The Enneagram for Relationships
In her book The Enneagram for Relationships, Ashton Whitmoyer-Ober says this about the Loyalist:
“The word loyal is defined as ‘giving or showing firm and constant support or allegiance to a person or institution’. Reliable. Responsible, always prepared. Those are just a few traits that describe Enneagram Sixes and who they are. … It always goes back to being loyal to a person, cause, or the environment. They tend to have either strong or resistant relationships with authority figures, meaning there is no in-between. … Loyalists do the thing that they do based on what makes them feel safe and secure.” P. 98 And then a little later “Counter-phobic Sixes confront the fears because that is what makes them feel safe and secure, instead of retreating and being bound by anxiety.” (P 100)
Enneagram 6 Wings & Movement
The wings for sixes are 5 and 7. Sixes with a more developed 5 wing tend to be more introverted, intellectual, cautious and standoffish. Sixes with a more developed 7 wing tend to be more extroverted, materialistic, active and impulsive. I am married to a 7 and one positive is how she pushes me out of my comfort zone and towards new experiences. That is a whole other area of study, the combinations of different Enneagram types in intimate relationships.
The movement for six is to 9 and 3. The positive move to 9 helps sixes to take life less seriously and to put more trust in their own inner authority. The positive move to 3 helps them take decisive and effective action and to feel good about all they accomplish.
In The Enneagram Made Easy the authors give practical suggestions and exercises for a six, one of which is to “remember it is ok to make mistakes.” For years I have had a saying by Alfred Adler posted on my office wall, and as I tell my clients, it is more for me than for them. It reads: “Have the courage to be imperfect.”
Again this is just a quick overview. There is lots of information on the Enneagram out there, one place being my wife, Crystal’s, website – Journey to Inner Wisdom. She is doing an online Enneagram workshop in June if you are interested and want more information.