Category Archives: Type 6

In the Shadow of Type 6: Deviance

English: Do not deviate from the path!

Do not deviate from the path! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You can count on 6s. They are the folks you want to have in the trenches: dutiful, sensible, prepared, steadfast, loyal, reliable, conscientious, thorough, stalwart, and enduring. They will keep putting one foot in front of the other to see the job through. They appreciate structure, know how to follow the rules, and cooperate with others.

6s want things to work out for the best. They’re not convinced that’s actually going to happen, of course, but they will do whatever they can to keep themselves and others on the straight and narrow path to a positive—or at least not disastrous—outcome. If you want caution thrown to the wind, don’t ask a 6 to do the tossing.

As with all types, however, there’s a flip side to this picture. It takes a lot of effort—sometimes positively Herculean effort, in fact—and some mental gymnastics in order to keep on keeping on.

You Devil, You

In The Enneagram Spectrum of Personality Styles, Jerome Wagner describes projection as the primary defense mechanism of 6s:

You project onto others your own sense of disobedience and rebellion. Other people are trying to get away with things, and you need to monitor their activities and bring them in line with your authority’s principles, or others are trying to trip you up and trap you.

Deviance is antithetical to all the positive characteristics possessed by 6s. Yet 6s do rebel—at least internally—at maintaining the steadfast, responsible, and reliable persona they work overtime to project. It’s understandable. Not only are they constantly straining to determine what others expect from them—and then to deliver it—they also have to listen to the jibber jabber of their inner committee’s running commentary about…everything!

Who wouldn’t want to turn off the phone and burrow under the covers or take the money and run and let someone else deal with the consequences this one time?

I Can Do That!

You can’t be all things to all people.
You can’t do all things at once.
You can’t do all things equally well.
You can’t do all things better than everyone else.
Your humanity is showing just like everyone else’s.

–Eleanor Roosevelt

Objectively speaking, no one would disagree that trying to be all things to all people and do everything at once is impossible. But objectivity is hard to come by for the person who’s in the middle of the massive spider web this particular compulsion tends to weave. And the middle of the web is the vantage point from which others are viewed and judged to be either allies or antagonists. The antagonists bear the brunt of 6s projections.  I’m being responsible; they’re being irresponsible. I’m being reliable; they’re being inconsistent. I’m thorough; they’re sloppy.

Enlist some Listeners

In The Wisdom of the Enneagram, Don Riso and Russ Hudson have several good suggestions for 6s, including this one:

While you want to be there in a responsible way for everyone else in your life, you tend to shortchange yourself by not believing that your own self-development is worth the trouble. This can be exacerbated by fears of change—of moving into the unknown. Take risks, especially when it comes to moving out of familiar, safe patterns. Having a therapist that you trust or a spiritual group that you work with can be invaluable for creating the kind of support you need to explore difficult issues. But remember, it is your own courage and strength that ultimately are required (and available) for such explorations.

Any type can benefit from having a person or a group to listen non-judgmentally and provide feedback, but I think this may be especially helpful for 6s who often have trouble quieting their minds enough to be able to listen to themselves.

6s might also benefit from finding an outlet for their rebellious streak, as soon as they admit they have one. Deviating from the path once in a while might be a start.

New Year’s Counter-Resolutions

Illustration Friday - Resolution

Resolution (Photo credit: The hills are alive)

Sometimes it’s best to be LESS than we can be, especially when it comes to the all-too-entrenched compulsions of our personality.

So here are some resolutions for the new year that run counter to our natural inclinations. If your past resolutions have worked as well as mine, you might be up for giving one or two of these a try.

Type 1:

  • Create a schedule for goofing off.
  • Make at least one mistake per day.
  • Let sleeping dogs lie.

Type 2:

  • Pamper myself, whether I feel like it or not.
  • Let them figure it out by themselves once in a while.
  • Start an argument just for the heck of it.

Type 3:

  • Make an anonymous charitable donation (and don’t tell anyone about it).
  • Leave the house without combing my hair.
  • Start having goal-less Wednesdays.

Type 4:

  • Lighten up!
  • Try doing one thing a week the way everyone else does it.
  • Take something at face value instead of searching for its deeper meaning.

Type 5:

  • Set up a meet and greet with the neighbors.
  • Next time, don’t read the instructions first.
  • At least once a month, throw something out.

Type 6:

  • Do whatever they least expect me to do.
  • Take a day off in the middle of the week for no reason.
  • Lower shields.

Type 7:

  • Just say “no.”
  • Finish one thing before starting something else.
  • Spend some quiet time alone without distractions.

Type 8:

  • Leave the office at quitting time—or before.
  • Find lower gear and occasionally shift into it.
  • Let the right one in.

Type 9:

  • Do whatever I feel like doing no matter how much chaos ensues as a result.
  • Give up being passive-aggressive for being outright aggressive.
  • Create a longer to-do list.

Happy New Year!

~ ~ ~

NOTE: As of January 2013, new Nine Paths posts will be published every Monday and Friday instead of every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Make It So!

A derivative collage from two other files - ca...

Captain Jean Luc Picard on board the Enterprise (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jean Luc Picard was the captain of the Enterprise. So his directive to “make it so” was aimed at the people under his command in order to further some aspect of the starship’s current mission.

Each of us is on a mission, too, though probably not an interstellar one. And we give ourselves directives to keep focused on our particular mission.

Self Directives by Type

Type 1: Watch Yourself!

Type 2: Ignore Yourself!

Type 3: Distinguish Yourself!

Type 4: Be Yourself!

Type 5: Prepare Yourself!

Type 6: Brace Yourself!

Type 7: Enjoy Yourself!

Type 8: Push Yourself!

Type 9: Hide Yourself!

Type 6 Friend

Last in the series of type comics. The rest can be found here: Type 1, Type 2, Type 3, Type 4, Type 5, Type 7, Type 8, Type 9.

Type 6 Friend

Type 6: Embrace Your Inner Slacker

Busy Desk

Busy Desk (Photo credit: Russell Heistuman)

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.

Songs for the Road (the list)

If you’re travelin’, you need a road song, and everyone loves a good road song, right? But not everyone likes the same song or moves to the same beat. So here’s my list of road songs by type:

Type 1: The Higher You Climb (Dan Fogelberg)

You get a little bonus hit of Down the Road as an intro.

Type 2: I’ll Take you There (Staple Singers)

Type 3: I Can Walk on Water (Basshunter)

Type 4: Runnin’ Down a Dream (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers)

Type 5: Boulevard of Broken Dreams (Green Day)

Type 6: Road to Nowhere (Talking Heads)

Type 7: I’ll Follow the Sun (the Beatles)

Type 8: I Can’t Drive 55 (Sammy Hagar)

Type 9: Every Day Is a Winding Road (Sheryl Crow)

Twisted Affirmations (Enneagram Humor)

English: Halloween in Bonaire.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

A student in a group I facilitated years ago (not the group pictured above) brought in a list of “twisted affirmations” she’d come across. As she read them aloud, we realized how easily they could be categorized by Enneagram type. So that’s what we did. There were many more affirmations than the nine below, but some types got off pretty easy while others seemed to come out far more “twisted.” So to keep it fair (I’m an 8, after all), I’ve chosen what seems to be the most representative twist for each type. I would love to credit the author, but I have no idea who he/she is.

Type 1
I am grateful that I am not as judgmental as all those censorious, self-righteous people around me.

Type 2
As I learn the innermost secrets of the people around me, they reward me in many ways to keep quiet.

Type 3
To have a successful relationship, I must learn to make it look like I’m giving as much as I’m getting.

Type 4
I can change any thought that hurts into a reality that hurts even more.

Type 5
I have the power to channel my imagination into ever-soaring levels of suspicion and paranoia.

Type 6
Only a lack of imagination saves me from immobilizing myself with imaginary fears.

Type 7
I am willing to make the mistakes if someone else is willing to learn from them.

Type 8
When someone hurts me, forgiveness is cheaper than a lawsuit, but not nearly as gratifying.

Type 9
False hope is nicer than no hope at all.

~ ~ ~

Sometimes you just need to be able to laugh at yourself.

The Limits of Anxiety

Sure, everyone feels anxious at one time or another. There are situations and people and behaviors we’re quite right to feel uneasy or apprehensive about for all kinds of reasons. But the three Thinking center types know and live with anxiety on a different, more fundamental, level since anxiety (fear without a focal point) is their primary issue. Types 5, 6, and 7 each have a different focus for their anxiety (they fear different things) and deal with it differently, but all of them live with it to one extent or another.

Fear is a reaction to a perceived threat. It signals us that we’re in danger so we can react to the threat and save ourselves. If we succeed in saving ourselves, we’re no longer afraid because the threat is over. Anxiety, on the other hand, is a chronic state of worry. There’s no specific action we can take to resolve it because there’s no clearly identifiable threat. It’s kind of an anti-survival mechanism because over the long haul it can have deadly consequences. Continue reading

Our “Fatal” Flaws

The words guilt and shame are often used interchangeably, but they have very different meanings. Guilt is the result of something we either did or didn’t do (if we believe we should have done it). In other words, guilt arises from an act we have some control over. The act or omission may be unintentional, but we were still the agent in the situation.

Shame relates to our sense of self, of who we are as a person, our very identity. Some of the things we’re ashamed of are things we may have no control over. People are often ashamed of some aspect of how they look (too short, too tall, freckles, thick ankles) or of their backgrounds, for example. We are often ashamed of our perceived flaws, whether those flaws are physical, mental, emotional, or some combination thereof.

Guilt and shame are both feelings. It’s definitely possible to feel both guilty and ashamed of something we did or didn’t do—especially when our actions seem to confirm our worst fears about ourselves. Continue reading

Getting Fit with the Right Type

It isn’t as simple as getting measured for a pair of pants or a jacket. OK, sometimes it’s that easy; but for many people, figuring out which Enneagram type they are is like standing in front of a dressing room mirror impatiently trying on and taking off several different outfits.

I asked Debbie to sum up her experience not with her type, but with the process of trying it on and seeing how it fit her. As she says, she’s done this twice now. In retrospect, it’s easy to see how she was mistyped as a 7 and how she then interpreted her attitudes and behaviors through that lens. It seemed a “good enough” fit—until it wasn’t.

During our discussion, she said she was in a state of shock when she found out she was a 6w7, and she’s not overstating the case. I was there. But over the past year, switching her view to the lens of a 6 has made a huge difference and led to many aha! moments. For me, too, knowing her as long as I have.

The caveat is always that no Enneagram test is 100% accurate, nor do any of them claim to be. The tests are a good starting point. Then you may have to try on a few different types or combinations of types till you find the one that fits—like that suit of clothing. It may seem frustrating or time-consuming or pointless, but I think it’s well worth the effort. Once you hit on the right number, events and thoughts and feelings from your past and your present begin to resonate in a different way. Most people have the experience Debbie and I had of suddenly seeing an aspect of our behavior we never understood in a new and much clearer light. Continue reading