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  • Writer's pictureAlex Rathbun

Enneagram Six: The Loyalist

Enneagram Sixes are nicknamed The Loyalist. Their basic need is to have support and guidance. As you can imagine, Type Sixes are really great, loyal friends to have. Today's interviewee is my good friend Kristen Coughlin. We first met as freshmen in college, and since then I've had the pleasure of watching her do some amazing things from connecting with and caring deeply for high schooler students to going on The World Race to quickly rising to success at her job. As she talks about in her interview, healthy Type Sixes can be leaders, community builders and advocates and I've watched Kristen become these things!

If this is your first time hearing about the Enneagram, check out this post for an overview.

Since learning about The Enneagram, I've had a hard time understanding Sixes, but Kristen's words have helped me a lot in this! Read on to better understand all your Loyalist friends.

1. When and why did you first learn about the Enneagram?

"I learned about the Enneagram from a mentor of mine, Pastor Judy Peterson while I was an undergrad at North Park University. I was at a point in my faith life where I was really seeking understanding, growth, and self awareness and Judy recommended the Enneagram as a tool to guide me in that. I also had several friends in my life who were learning about the Enneagram around the same time so there were lots of opportunities to discover and learn! "

2. How has the Enneagram impacted how you see yourself?

"The Enneagram has allowed me to understand aspects of myself that I previously couldn’t put words to. It has helped give me clarity about the 'why' behind the things that I do. I think the Enneagram is all about moving past perception of how a person is or who they are superficially and instead considering WHY.

"The Enneagram has allowed me to dissect and identify areas of growth that I might have missed otherwise (especially being a Type Six who struggles to listen to and trust my inner voice)."

3. How has the Enneagram impacted the relationships in your life and how you view others?

"If there is one thing I have learned, it is that there is NO WAY to accurately type others (nor is there much of a reason to). The Enneagram is a personal journey. It has given me so much more grace towards people because it has really helped me to understand the ways that circumstances and life events can shape a person. We all have a main 'type' but there is so much flexibility between stages of 'health,' 'unhealthy,' and 'neutrality.'

"As far as how I approach relationships, it has helped me to see how my insecurities can have larger impacts outside of just myself! As a Loyalist, my most basic need is security and I wholly commit to relationships—even unhealthy ones—in attempt to avoid being abandoned by others and gain security. I tend to rely heavily on others to help me deal with inner issues because it can be so hard to trust myself.

"I have learned to identify my motive in building relationships so that I can invest more fully in relationships that are life-giving and loving rather than relationships that are built strictly out of a need to feel secure. Realizing these tendencies has also allowed me to gain more self satisfaction and reliance."

4. How do you most relate to your Enneagram?

"There are a few things that stick out to me. First is definitely the ways that I react to authority. I tend to either blindly trust the authority, or I full on rebel and disagree with the authority. It can be difficult to find a happy medium. For me I see this come out in either being a 'teacher’s pet' and doing everything I can to fulfill the needs of the authority figures in my life or I question every move they make and actively voice my disagreement.

"I also relate to the idea of trying to quiet my inner anxiety by creating stability and external things I can rely on. So I spend time and energy on things that I know will never fail me as a means of dealing with the chaotic thoughts that are going on in my mind. It can be so hard to unravel those thoughts because I have a hard time trusting my feelings or instincts! By creating some stability in my day to day I am able to center myself and stay grounded.

"Lastly I really relate to the truth that Loyalists are a big bundle of contradictions! I often feel many opposing things and it causes a lot of inner tension. This is where I feel that my Investigator (Type Five) wing most benefits me. That part of me is able to approach the chaos with a healthy curiosity and a desire to learn that helps when picking it apart.

"I think I have been able to grow to much healthier places by using the Enneagram to identify the places that call for more attention. I am loyal out of love, not fear. I am more self assured than ever before, and I feel like I can trust myself to untangle some of the anxiety without the affirmation or input of others."

5. What's the biggest misconception about you or your type?

"I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that Loyalists are the worst or most negative type to be due to the high levels of anxiety we tend to feel. But I want to dispel that misconception because healthy Loyalists are leaders, community builders, advocates, and generally positive individuals. We have a uniquely unifying affect on the people and places around us."

6. Answer the following: I feel loved when ____. I feel unloved when ___. 

"I feel loved when people go out of their way to affirm me or show they care—small and large gestures alike. I feel unloved when people intentionally distance themselves during conflict rather than working through it together."

To connect with Kristen, find her on instagram here. If you want to learn more about Type Sixes, take a listen to this podcast.

Did you learn that you may be a Type Six? Or maybe you have a loyal friend that thrives on security and support that would benefit from reading this interview? Please share it! I've put together this series to help people better understand themselves and each other, so please pass it on to someone it could be helpful for.

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