Skip to main content
Center for Action and Contemplation
Enneagram Part Three: Head Center
Enneagram Part Three: Head Center

Type Six: The Need for Security

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Enneagram Part Three: Head Center

Type Six: The Need for Security
Thursday, March 12, 2020

Holy Idea: Holy Strength, Holy Faith

Virtue: Courage

Passion: Fear [1]

People who are predominantly type Six have tremendous gifts: they are cooperative, team players, reliable, and loyal. In relationships, one can count on their fidelity. Their friendships are marked by warmhearted and deep feelings. They do their utmost—give body and soul—for the people they love. They are often highly original and witty with a dry sense of humor. Sometimes it takes those around them a moment to catch on to the joke!

Because of their childhood experience, which was often marked by trauma, Sixes have a deep sense of anxiety. They continually sense danger, which makes them fearful and mistrustful. They easily succumb to self-doubt. While most of us experience the aftereffects of a stressful or traumatic event, Sixes feel that kind of anxiety on an almost daily basis. It isn’t the event that has already happened, but the one that could happen at any time that keeps them in a state of high alert.

The lack of genuine self-confidence leads Sixes to look around for authority figures and structures that offer them the security and certainty they crave. At their worst, Sixes can become authoritarians, people who want truth in totalitarian, self-righteous fashion and are loyal to a fault, making choices that are not aligned with their deepest values or wisdom. They often give themselves dangerously to strongmen, hierarchical figures, and absolutely certain groups (fundamentalists) to take away their anxiety.

Sixes used to be categorized into two types: phobic and contraphobic—those who obeyed their fear and those who rebelled against it by taking great risks. But it appears that most Sixes are a combination of both, “playing it safe” or facing their fear head on, depending on the situation. This makes perfect sense according to this description of Sixes from Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson:

No matter what we say about Sixes, the opposite is often also as true. They are both strong and weak, fearful and courageous, trusting and distrusting, defenders and provokers, . . . aggressive and passive, bullies and weaklings, . . . thinkers and doers, group people and soloists, believers and doubters, cooperative and obstructionistic, . . . —and on and on. It is the contradictory picture that is the characteristic “fingerprint” of Sixes, the fact that they are a bundle of opposites. [2]

Riso and Hudson write this about the emergence of Essence in Sixes:

When their minds become quiet, Sixes experience an inner spaciousness that is the Ground of Being. They realize that Essence is real and is not simply an idea; in fact, it is the thing that is most real in existence, the very foundation of existence itself. People have associated this inner peace with the presence of God, which is manifesting itself at every moment, and which is available at every moment. When Sixes experience this truth, they feel solid, steady, and supported. . . . They realize that this ground is the only real security in life, and it is what gives Sixes immense courage.

This is the real meaning of faith, their particular Essential quality. Faith is not belief, but a real, immediate knowing that comes from experience. . . . Faith with experience brings reliable guidance. [3]

References and definitions:
[1] Christopher L. Heuertz, The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth (Zondervan: 2017), 128. Chris defines these terms as follows (see pages 246-248):

Holy Ideas: The unique state of mental well-being, specific to each of the nine types, in which the mind is centered and connected with the True Self.

Virtues: Like the nine fruits of the Spirit [see Galatians 5:22-23] the Virtues are . . . gifts of a centered heart that is present, nonreactive, and at rest in the True Self.

Passions: The inverse of the Virtues are the Passions . . . [which] emerge as the heart indulges the Basic Fear that it will never return to its essence and therefore seeks out coping mechanisms that ultimately compound each type’s state of emotional imbalance.

Chris’ upcoming podcast, Enneagram Mapmakers: Exploring the Interior Landscapes of the Ego (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2020), begins March 24, 2020 and is available for subscription on most podcast platforms!

[2] Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson, The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types (Bantam Books: 1999), 236.

[3] Ibid., 259.

Adapted from Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert, The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2001, 2013), 131, 132.

Image credit: Female Head (detail), Leonardo da Vinci, second half of 15th century, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: What [Eastern traditions] all agree on is the true nature of Mind is complete stillness, silence, and spaciousness. Boundless stillness, peace, clarity, forever and ever, amen. So I would say that the Head Center gives us the possibility of sensing, recognizing the Eternal Presence that’s right here in the midst of phenomena. —Russ Hudson
Navigate by Date

This year’s theme

A candle being lit

Radical Resilience

We live in a world on fire. This year the Daily Meditations will explore contemplation as a way to build Radical Resilience so we can stand in solidarity with the world without burning up or burning out. The path ahead may be challenging, but we can walk it together.

The archives

Explore the Daily Meditations

Explore past meditations and annual themes by browsing the Daily Meditations archive. Explore by topic or use the search bar to find wisdom from specific teachers.

Join our email community

Sign-up to receive the Daily Meditations, featuring reflections on the wisdom and practices of the Christian contemplative tradition.

Hidden Fields

Find out about upcoming courses, registration dates, and new online courses.
Our theme this year is Radical Resilience. How do we tend our inner flame so we can stand in solidarity with the world without burning up or out? Meditations are emailed every day of the week, including the Weekly Summary on Saturday. Each week builds on previous topics, but you can join at any time.
In a world of fault lines and fractures, how do we expand our sense of self to include love, healing, and forgiveness—not just for ourselves or those like us, but for all? This monthly email features wisdom and stories from the emerging Christian contemplative movement. Join spiritual seekers from around the world and discover your place in the Great Story Line connecting us all in the One Great Life. Conspirare. Breathe with us.