Enneagram Type Six

Type Six

DIETnosis Enneagram Type Six


MBTI Types: ISFJ, ISTJ…(IS and J Types)

Food Type: The Favorite Feaster

Exercise Type: The Goalie

DIET Strength: Vigilance (Troubleshooting)

Power Skills (Level-1): 
Problem Solving and Contingency Planning
Action Skills (Level-2): Goal Setting, Prioritizing
Maintenance Skills (Level-3): Process Focus, Realistic Expectations

Trouble with Food (habit): Constricted Palate
Emotional Eating Trigger: Low-Self Esteem, Anxiety (Paranoia & Skepticism)
Trouble with Exercise: Needs Exercise Guidance, Afraid of Injury
Trouble with Body Image: Sees body as not fitting in, suspicious that body is weak or body will fail to support them and needs testing
Typical Fitness Excuse: Inflate Task and Deflate Self





Popular Enneagram authors commonly name type Sixes: the Guardian, Loyalist, Skeptic or Troubleshooter. They are diligent, prepared and systematic.  Type Sixes are beloved by others for their dependable, committed and hardworking attitude.  They look to make their world a safer place by vigilantly anticipating and troubleshooting problems.

Sixes look for security in long-standing relationships, groups, unions, military, or family traditions. They are the consummate fix-it types, become skilled craftsman and will look for things to improve in their environment. They follow the rules and boundaries that they are given and feel comfortable in this range. They tend to go along with the status quo in terms of rules, dress and social norms. Their sense of tradition and systematic way of thinking makes them a stabilizing force in any organization.

Type Sixes value loyalty and security, and envision making the world a safer and more trustworthy place.

Type Six focus their attention on contradictory evidence, inner questioning, and hidden intentions.

Friends value them and seek them out for their loyal commitment and ability to plan ahead.

You might be a Type Six if you are a good contingency planner, are focused on what could go wrong and often second-guess your own decisions.

Variations of Type Six

Type Six is a contradictory and complex personality type because the way that they handle fear. They can be “phobic” meaning fearful, cautious, indecisive and paralysed into inaction. They can also be “couterphobic” and be uncomfortable with fear so that they choose not to dwell on it and be careless, reckless or imprudent. Without thinking about the consequences, Counterphobics impulsively jump in head-first. (REF: Out of the Box Coaching)

Another big variation for Type Six is their neighboring Enneagram type which can have a big effect on their behavior. If they lean more toward Type 5, then they will appear remote, refined and calculated. If the Six leans more toward Type 7 then they appear more casual, warm and relate more with others. (REF: http:/www.enneagram.net/type6.html)

Enneagram Type 6 Careers

Sixes choose a variety of career paths, but they tend to take very traditional or mainstream jobs. Phobic Sixes tend to have jobs that do not require high risk taking behavior including craftsman, technician, safety inspector, banker, or paralegal. Counterphobic Sixes (see Type Six Variations box) may focus on the danger element and choose professions in the military, or as firemen, security guards or police.  Overall they tend to be detail oriented, cautious and meticulous.  Sixes tend to serve certain roles for others including the true believer and loyal follower, the patriot, the concerned parent, the community builder or volunteer.

Negative Aspects and Weaknesses

Type Sixes weaknesses are related to their fear that they will not be able to support themselves. They therefore heavily rely on structures, systems and traditions.  While seeking security of an external system or authority for guidance, they are at the same time suspicious of that authority. They worry that their support will abandon them. This manifests in generalized paranoia, suspicion and skepticism.  Sixes may unconsciously put their support to the test: lashing out at their colleagues or loved ones.

At times this defensive attitude can be so ugly and opinionated that it isolates the Six from their loved ones or causes them to be fired from their job.  They lack confidence in their  inner guidance and are often unable to make quick decisions without others’ opinions. They also may find themselves proceeding with so much caution that progress is too slow or ineffective.


Style of Impulse Control

When studied as a group, Sixes score the highest in a personality trait called in “Neuroticism” or the “Need for Emotional Stability.” This trait means that Sixes are highly reactive, excitable and sensitive to stress. They take workplace stress personally and feel that it is their personal responsibility to solve problems. They may feel more tense, worried or discouraged under stress than other Types. Stress affects their ability to resist temptations, especially food temptations that feel nurturing, traditional, and safe.  Therefore managing stress should be a part of any weight loss program.

Style of Activity

Sixes also score low the “Openness” trait which directly translates into an activity style that is practical, traditional and safe. These activities vary considerably such as team sports, individual aerobics like running or biking, physical leisure like sailing or golf. They take a methodical approach to learning activities and once they feel skilled in an activity they enjoy staying within those boundaries. When choosing a self-improvement regimen Sixes prefer tried-and-true methods.  They are more comfortable with a step-by-step plan that doesn’t move too fast or make them prone to injury.  Sixes also thrive with tracking measures, routines or memberships that increase their accountability.

Leisure Style

Sixes can be very dutiful in their fitness efforts and see it more like a job. When they are active, Sixes leave little room for decisions about whether they should do it or not exercise — they just do it.  In this way, they oftentimes separate their leisure from their fitness. Their leisure activities are related to their level of the personality trait “Extroversion.” If they lean toward Type 7 which is more extroverted and “Mainstream,” then they enjoy activities such as sporting events, hanging out with friends or family, shopping, or going to movies. If they lean towards the introverted Type 5, then they enjoy being more of a “Homebody” or a hobbyist, choosing to garden, watch TV, do woodworking or mechanical work.


Enneagram Type 6 Fashion

Type Sixes fashion statement is “I thought ahead” or “I am a proud member,” Their dress is appropriate, classic, trusted and secure. They are prepared for the weather or their expected environment. They may wear a shirt from their ball team, fraternity or sorority, or college.

If highly fashionable, they prefer well known name brands. Sixes like to follow the group trends, but are often not experimental or at the cutting edge of fashion. In order to avoid adopting a fashion as it is going out of style, they tend to stick to clothes that are new but represent a more classic or traditional look. Once they find a style that they like and trust they will typically stick with it. They have a frugal aspect that makes it hard for them to throw away clothes.

Tattoos and Accessories

If a type Six gets a tattoo, it is likely to show loyalty, patriotism or membership in an organization such as a team, a band, military unit or gang affiliation.  Also, they may tattoo the name of family members or war buddies that have passed away. They proudly display them so the tattoo may be large and placed on the shoulder or chest.

Enneagram Type 6 At Home

At home Sixes tend to be masters of upkeep and may perform regular maintenance on their home and vehicle. Their garage or kitchen may be highly organized and filled with tools or appliances for every situation.  Their decorations are usually very traditional or mainstream, and they prominently display memorabilia from teams and organizations of which they are loyal members. They even tend to be neat, reserved and traditional in their bedrooms and personal spaces, decorating them with reminders of their parents or bygone ways of life.  Their home likely has a security system and other protective measures. They may also have a guard dog.



Body Judgement

Type Sixes’ self-awareness regarding their body is suspicious and negative. They rely heavily on comparing themselves to others in their group. They worry that they do not “fit in” or their body will fail them in some way.  They tend to underestimate their physical prowess and seek protective measures like always being in a group, carrying a weapon, or walking with a dog. Their pessimistic body-judgment tendency can be a significant source of anxiety in their lives and physical exercise can be used to help relieve this stress and boost self-confidence.

Value and Self-Worth

Sixes draw self-value and self-identity from their supportive affiliations, mainstream culture, past history and family traditions.  They see themselves in terms of what they offer their group. They look for approval and protection from these affiliations. Beware that if the affiliated group has no concern about health and fitness, then the Six will not concern his/herself with fitness. Also, Sixes must beware that placing so much value in being like someone else – as opposed to deriving inner value – causes distress and lowers self-esteem.



Sixes prefer to have their decisions validated by an outside source.  The way this unconscious phenomenon manifests itself in regards to food is that Sixes’ have a constricted palate. It is often that Sixes stick to their past tried and true favorite foods; they have an unwillingness to explore the culinary landscape outside that of their upbringing.

Enneagram Type 6 Favorite Foods

A typical Six prefers a hearty home cooked meal, prepared in a traditional manner, and eaten with family. Sixes are meat and potatoes people because they know it will always be satisfying.  Their palate tends to be traditional, and they stick to what they have liked in the past. They allow first impressions of food from years ago to guide their choices. Some sixes are very strict about food rules like “I never eat onions.” Even if onions have touched the plate or a very small part of the meal, they may avoid it. Type Sixes’ overeat when they are eating socially, for loyalties, for the sake of tradition, or to calm themselves.  In the book, “Your Fat, Your Fault,” their food metaphor is that food offers comfort, security, and a loyal connection with the past.

Food Shopping Style

Sixes are very “mainstream” with their consumerism, tending to feel that if something is popular then it must be good.  When Sixes go shopping, they are quite price-conscious and this makes them astute at finding good deals. This also creates uneasiness with big purchases so they seek guidance from others before they buy such as consumer reports, parents, or their friends.

Meal Setting, Preparation, and Presentation

Type Sixes favorite setting is to be surrounded by their family and friends. This could be at with their family at a holiday meal, at a work lunch with their best friend or at a sports bar with their teammates. When cooking they closely follow the recipe and don’t typically experiment with food. Their meal presentation tends to traditional or from mainstream culture.

Food Decision Factors

When faced with decisions at stores or restaurants they prefer to go with what they know rather than try something new. They are inclined towards the familiar so they may go to older outdated stores that are known to them in order to be in a more comfortable environment. In restaurants, Sixes are cautious when ordering. They often look for confirmation from others about what to order. They prefer large portions, stability and consistency. They often order the same thing every time they go out to eat.


Emotional Eating Pattern

Sixes like to eat on schedule and will eat because “it is eating time.” They overeat to clear their plate for money reasons, tradition and because it could be their last meal (the future is not certain). Type Sixes are “Meat and Potatoes” people and they love dinner with friends and family, or a holiday meals like Thanksgiving Dinner. Sixes may find themselves eating even though they are not hungry when they do not feel secure, when they feel anxious, uncertain about the future, or have to make a big decision. They eat to quite the inner worry-wart. It is key that Sixes recognize these fearful eating triggers so that they can learn to cope with them.

Hidden Calories

They may eat too much if they prepared the meal. Sometimes they rationalize “eating for a rainy day,” meaning just in case I can’t eat later. It is like stopping for gas before the tank is empty — I have got to keep the machine running.

Representative Meals

Foods and settings that best represent Type Sixes is a holiday meal with family, picknicks or camping meals where they thought of everything and were prepared or meals at sporting events or barbecues.

Lifestyle Eating

Sixes must beware when their habits include steady visits to the sports bar, regular tailgating, barbecues or other events where there is always alcohol. Sixes seem to have an affinity for alcohol for its anxiety relieving properties, but alcohol is a Six’s “Kryptonite” because it takes away their vigilance.

Ordering Style

Type Sixes tend to order the same thing every time — sticking to tried and true favorites.


Sixes have limited food favorites, so food changes and substitutions are met with resistance. They will look for different diets to lose weight but will likely choose a diet that fits their specific tastes. They may jump from diet to diet before giving one diet enough time to work — not fully trusting it will. Therefore, evidence based diets for Type Six are best.



Exercise Motivation

Type Sixes have an overall high basal energy expenditure. They tend to constantly tinker and toil around the house. They keep improving their surroundings and station for a rainy day. Due to their desire for security, Sixes may start to worry that their body is failing them. They may fear that exercise will cause further injury. The appropriate response is for these concerns is to cause a desire make a healthy change towards injury and disease prevention.

For a Six the most motivating reason for fitness is that being healthy will create security, comfort and decreased anxiety. Sixes want to prevent injury and avoid being unhealed or crippled in their old age. This motivation is more powerful when it comes from within as opposed to an authority or associated group.

Favorite Exercise

Sixes enjoy a methodical approach to exercise; they are not the type to jump on board a new exercise fad.  Their goal is to slowly move forward without injury, and they prefer guidance from a trusted coach or authority.  Sixes don’t mind working out alone. They often prefer the quiet time and like to avoid distractions from their exercise plan.  If they do have a workout partner, it is someone with whom they are very comfortable. If Sixes are a part of a team, they are the team pillar.

Exercise Environment

Sixes prefer familiar, calm, simple, and comfortable surroundings that allow them to be focused on the job at hand. They get annoyed when they are distracted by chatty people, congested gyms, or unexpected changes in their routine.  Sixes are deliberate about their exercise and oftentimes schedule it in the middle of the day as if it was a normal part of their job. They tend to do the same workout over and over, without getting bored. This consistency can be good for steady growth but bad for getting out of a exercise plateau.

Exercise Vigilance, Variety and Intensity


Sixes strongest ally is their ability to stick to a routine even when the job is not fun or is painful. They tend to be pre-determined, slow and methodical, and once they get on the right path they will not stray.  They get satisfaction from following through on their plans and working on a job until it is done.


They tend to do the same workout over and over, without getting bored. This consistency can be good for steady growth but bad for getting out of an exercise plateau. Furthermore Type workout partners may get bored or frustrated with the deliberate pace.


Even when working out alone, Type Sixes are able to maintain intense workouts. They closely follow workout prescriptions or plans and typically know their limits and practice pushing them a little on each workout.

Exercise Anxiety Regarding Preparation and Performance

Sixes are excellent preparers and planners. They get ready the night before and plan for anticipated distractions. They schedule exercise appropriately into their everyday activities.

Pre-Exercise Anxiety

Type Sixes may worry they are not doing the exercise correctly or are fearful about trying something new that may get them injured. Sometimes they get paralyzed into not taking any action at all.

Exercise Performance Anxiety

Sixes get frustrated when they can’t perform their workouts according to plan due to external factors.

Post-Performance Guilt

Sixes are typically humble about their successes and may underreport their achievements.

Learn About Diet Strengths and Skills for Type Six

By Dr. Scott Harrington

JUN 2012