Type 6: The Loyalist/Skeptic


Loyalists/Doubters/Skeptics are typically responsible, reliable, trustworthy and value security and loyalty. These are the African gazelles of the Enneagram—scanning and on high alert for danger at all times. This person can quickly and easily identify what could be dangerous or problematic in a situation and begins preparing for that outcome. Loyalist 6s also align with the values of duty and loyalty and often feel responsible to step in during challenging situations. It can be difficult for this type to believe in positive outcomes and more moderate scenarios.
They often struggle with indecision, or they make a decision but as soon as they do, they begin to second guess themselves. They can even second guess their second-guessing. Loyalist 6s don’t put their trust in others easily but once they do, they trust with an almost “go down with the ship” level of loyalty. Loyalist 6s feel a strong sense of duty and don’t shirk responsibility, even when circumstances become challenging.


Attention Bias

Their attention goes to potential danger and threats to security. They see hazards, pitfalls, risks and experience worst-case scenario thinking. They experience this thinking as vividly as a high-definition motion picture with the worst-case scenario unfolding before their eyes. Their attention moves away from more moderate potential outcomes or what could go right in a situation.

Gifts to the World

Loyalist 6s are the emergency preparedness kits of the Enneagram. Gifted in foreseeing dangers and problems and proactively planning to address these concerns, Loyalist 6s keep the rest of us safe. When an actual emergency does arise, Loyalist 6s are usually grace under pressure, almost as if to say “I’ve been waiting for this moment my whole life.” They are deeply loyal and have an unwavering sense of duty. They take their responsibilities seriously and step up, sometimes to their own detriment, to keep commitments and ensure others are cared for.

Loyalist 6s Typically Report

1) A Heightened Awareness of Danger
Loyalist 6s are on the lookout for danger and threats to their security. As such, they usually find it. Keenly aware of their physical environment, they spot potential hazards with ease. Characterized as the African gazelles of the Enneagram, this type is on high alert for trouble at all times. This awareness can also be less about the physical environment and more on a psychological or emotional level. Loyalist 6s are sensitive to perceived threats to their security.
“For example, I’m sitting here now in front of you all, and I notice the room is a little warm. I see the person at the back asking the doorman to close the door. And I am thinking if the door is closed, the room will heat up some more. And maybe I’ll have problems breathing. In fact, maybe I’ll pass out in front of you all, and I won’t be able to finish this panel discussion… this goes through my mind.”


2) A Strong Sense of Duty
Loyalist 6s typically report feeling a strong sense of duty. Like a lieutenant loyal to the general, Loyalist 6s take their sense of responsibility to family, friends and work very seriously. They can be counted on in difficult situations and often step up when others step back.
“My immediate internal response to a need of my family or friends, or even strangers sometimes, is “act now!” It’s the same response and sense of urgency as when there is an actual emergency–”go help the situation now!” Often the feelings are so strong that I feel like I’m the ONLY person that can save the day, as though I’m the hero who needs to swoop in and do something.
This was the case just recently with my father. I made three trips from Greece to Canada to try to resolve a situation he was having. I was determined to go and make the difference because I felt this huge responsibility and duty to step in. This was regardless of the fact there is a long family history involved, and I have two other siblings who are just as responsible for their parent as I am. I felt I was the one who had to change things.”


3) Feeling Anxiety Intensely and Frequently
Most Loyalist 6s feel anxiety as part of their daily experience. They doubt their choices and decisions, and they even doubt their doubt. Many report procrastinating to make a final decision feeling that when they do, that’s when all hell will break loose. Their questioning can be internal or external, but it is frequent. For most Loyalist 6s the dangerous scenario they imagine is very real, not a theoretical or mental exercise. They experience the worst case as though the scenes were unfolding before their eyes. Because it feels so real to them, their body and breath are sometimes contracted from feeling stress as though the scenario was actually happening.
“If I press send for that final email, that’s when the trouble will start. My mind goes to all the things that could go wrong. Sometimes I find myself going in circles. I feel ready to decide, but then I start to doubt my decision. And then I start to doubt my doubt. It is exhausting….”
“I step onto the street and see a bus coming. And like a movie, I see the bus speed up, swerve into me, and how I go flying. It isn’t just a general awareness of the bus. It is a vivid, frame-by-frame scenario of me getting hurt. That’s what it is like in my mind.”


Tools for Compassion If You Have Loyalist 6s in Your Life


1) Don’t tell them they are overreacting or not to worry
Because Loyalist 6s are experiencing their imagined worst-case scenario as though it is actually happening, telling them not to worry can actually make their anxiety worse. Instead, it is more helpful to calmly go through the worst-case scenario with them step-by-step. This allows them to process their anxiety and to relax.


2) Give them assurance that the relationship is OK
Loyalist 6s often worry they have jeopardized their relationship with you somehow. Giving them reassurance that the relationship is OK goes a long way in making them feel more secure. This applies even to long-term, highly-stable relationships.


3) Work through issues with them
Loyalist 6s are loyal and want you to be too. It helps them a lot if you stay by them and work through issues together. Leaving, or threatening to leave, triggers more anxiety and anxious, worst-case scenario thinking.