Enneagram Type 6: The Loyalist/Skeptic

Enneagram Type 6 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.


Hear directly from Enneagram Type 6s

Watch the 3-Minute video from a Type 6 panel during an online training.


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.


Enneagram Type 6 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.


Enneagram Type 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 Enneagram Type 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.


Enneagram Type 6 Levels of Awareness

Loyalist (6) When Self-Aware

Loyalist (6)s trust their inner guidance and have faith and confidence in others. They successfully balance interdependence and independence. They exhibit strong leadership skills and are fair and courageous. They are balanced and assess risk thoroughly and accurately. Their genuineness and caring touches others. Loving, affectionate, endearing, and appealing, they have trust, duty, and reliability as core traits. Honest bonding and long-term relationships are essential. The Loyalist (6) is deeply supportive and dedicated to issues and people with which they are aligned. They are hard-working, self-sacrificing, cooperative, and idealistic in their pursuit of creating a safer and more secure world.

Loyalist (6) With Tightening Defenses

The mental focus is very much on safety, security, and stability. Vigilant and anticipatory of problems, they look outside themselves to alliances and systems to keep them safe. In the face of mounting anxiety, they become indecisive, suspicious, cautious, evasive, and contradictory. They experience a lot of internal confusion, becoming highly reactive. Alternatively, they may become passive-aggressive as a way to avoid direct confrontation. Their actions become unpredictable, even to themselves. Blame enters the picture as a way of compensating for their own insecurities. The line between “us” and “them” may be drawn more clearly and more harshly. Their mind constantly scans for threats while their relationship with authority may take on a push-pull nature.

Loyalist (6) When Fixated

Anxious, erratic behavior is peppered with angry outbursts or deeply evasive strategies. Fearing they have jeopardized their security, they may become harshly self-critical with acute feelings of inferiority. Their thinking becomes extremely clouded as nothing feels safe and secure. They seek outside parties or systems to help them clarify their thinking and make decisions. They feel attacked by everyone and begin lashing out violently. Their extreme behavior begins to bring what they fear in terms of abandonment and a loss of security. They become deeply suspicious, even of their own inner circle. They become hysterical, self-destructive, and hyper-anxious.


Subtypes for Enneagram Type 6

“Warmth” Self-Preservation Subtype:

The self-preservation Loyalist (6) expresses the drive for security through forming friendships and warm relationships. This is a person who strives to have no enemies and who wants to feel the warmth of a supportive environment. They seek a protective force, someone whom they can rely on for safety, stability, and decision-making. To the outside world, this person looks very friendly, warm, and pleasant. They are typically in an environment where someone else is making the decisions for them or acting as their protector. Internally, this person feels a great deal of doubt, insecurity, and fear. The dependence on an outside “protector” can present almost like separation anxiety, and it can be challenging for this person to connect with their own inner guidance. They have the title “Warmth” because of their cultivation of warm relationships.

This is the Loyalist (6) who most seeks outside support and appears the most in need of protection. They can develop a deep dependency on their partner.

On the positive side, they are warm, loyal, supportive partners who tend to be in a good mood with a pleasant disposition.

On the less positive side, they struggle with self-doubt. They have a difficult time making independent decisions.

“Duty” Social Subtype:

The social Loyalist (6) expresses the drive for security by aligning with systems and guidelines of conduct. This is a person who finds safety in authority figures and systems (political, religious, family) and often has an underlying fear of disappointing the authority figure. This person often has a philosophical or intellectual way of thinking. They rely less on intuition and feelings and more on their mind. To the outside world, this is someone who is highly reliable, precise in their action, and committed to doing the “right” thing. Unlike the self-preservation Loyalist (6) who can look very insecure, the social Loyalist (6) can look almost too sure. Internally, this person is feeling a great deal of anxiety and insecurity. They feel most secure when things are in clear categories and can have a very hard time with ambiguity. They have the title “Duty” because of their sense of obligation and commitment and their feelings of duty and responsibility. Whereas the self-preservation Loyalist (6) seems warm to the outside world, this Loyalist (6) seems cool.

This is a person with a lot of anticipatory anxiety – they believe that things will go wrong. They often have an internal set of rules about how to stay safe, and they can get frustrated when the people in their intimate circle don’t follow these rules.

On the positive side, these Loyalist (6)s are loyal, dutiful, and gifted at anticipating and avoiding danger.

On the less positive side, they can become alarmist and ungrounded in reality due to projecting negative scenarios.

“Strength/Beauty” Intimate Subtype:

The intimate Loyalist (6) expresses the drive for security through cultivating an inner sense of strength. This Loyalist (6) wants to come at their fear from a position of power. They go against their fear by rushing at it. They are constantly on the lookout for danger, feeling like it is a dangerous world out there, and anyone could become a threat at any time. To the outside world, this person can look strong, powerful, and intimidating. In women, this person looks polished and composed. However, this person is also usually inconsistent and can seem to change their mind and direction frequently. They can be strong, yet weak, decisive, yet indecisive, secure, yet insecure. They have the title “Strength/Beauty” because of their focus on using their power to diffuse their anxiety. Whereas the self-preservation Loyalist (6) is warm and the social Loyalist (6) is cool, the intimate Loyalist (6) is hot. These Loyalist (6)s are often highly protective of their intimate circle. They may appear reserved, stoic, critical, and watchful, but internally, they may feel paranoid, as if ready to spring into defensive action at a moment’s notice. On the positive side, these Loyalist (6)s are less openly anxious or self-doubting. They appear confident and in control. On the less positive side, their inner world is often quite different than their presentation, and they can struggle with anxiety and a great deal of inner conflict.

For more information on Enneagram subtypes, I recommend Beatrice Chestnut’s book “The Complete Enneagram.”


The Wings

6w5: The Defender

Type 6s with a 5 wing are typically more intellectual, introverted, and less trusting than their 7 wing counterpart. The 5 wing brings a desire for self-reliance and a tendency to withdraw.

6w7: The Buddy

Type 6s with a 7 wing are typically more social, gregarious and seek the support and acceptance of others more than their 5 wing counterpart. The 7 wing brings a playfulness, curiosity, and cheerful, forward-looking drive.


Enneagram Compatibility: Type 6s in Relationships

Learn more about Loyalist 6s in relationships in “The Nine Keys: A Guide Book To Unlock Your Relationships Using Kundalini Yoga and the Enneagram.”


Tools to Relax the Habit of Attention for Enneagram Type 6s


The information on this page is excerpted from Headstart from Happiness and The Nine Keys by Lynn Roulo.


Additional resources for Enneagram Type 6s

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