6s are some of the most industrious people I’ve ever encountered. If you need to get something done, get a 6 on your team. Something I noticed early on when I was learning about the Enneagram is that one difference between 8s and 6s is that 8s are able to stop doing. 6s seem to have a very hard time stopping—especially Doing type 6s, who are the Energizer Bunnies of the Enneagram.
Two things drive them. The first is anxiety. The second is being anxious about being, being seen as, and being acknowledged for being responsible. They over-perform to alleviate their deep-down fear that they really aren’t sufficiently responsible. Because 6s are other-oriented, they are quick to pick up on the responses they get from people. If they perceive that someone thinks they are—or accuses them of being—irresponsible, they often react by blaming either the other person or themselves.
This relentless pursuit of meeting others’ expectations takes a toll on 6s. It’s also one of the reasons they have to know what the rules are, what the plan is, and exactly what is expected of them. Being so focused on what’s out there, they have a difficult time tuning in to what’s important to them. So don’t ask them what they want to do or where they want to have dinner or what they want to get out of life. They don’t know. This isn’t to be confused with having opinions, though; just like 8s, 6s have plenty of those.
Chill Out, Already
6s need to give up the idea that if they prove how uber-responsible they are, they will win the approval and support they seek. They need to learn to be responsible to themselves and less at the effect of the whims and demands of others. When 6s embrace their inner slacker, they can take a deep breath and relax for a minute or two. After doing that a few more (dozen) times, they might be able to look inward long enough to get in touch with what matters to them. They have plenty of energy and drive. It wouldn’t hurt if they directed at least some of it toward meeting their own goals and satisfying their own needs. Paradoxically, that could make them even more valuable to others.