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Discussion Starter #1
Hi fellow INFJs,

As an INFJ enneagram 6w5, I have an ongoing curiosity on this question:

What parts of my perception are best understood as INFJ-related (Ni-Fe-Ti-Se), and what parts are best understood as 6 (or 6w5 specifically) enneagram-related?

These two aspects seem very integrated in my own internal experience - and for me, it's like I simply couldn't be one without the other. But I know there are many INFJs who have different enneagram types, so clearly there are differences.

I've been trying for a while to figure out how to ask this forum for input on this point. And while this post may not be the best way to ask, it's an attempt at least.

So here's one enneagram description - "Focal Issues of the Six"

Sixes are vigilant. Their attention is highly focused, and when they’re alarmed, they look outside for clues to explain their inner uncertainty. The environment becomes suddenly meaningful. Faces and gestures seem to emanate a response to unarticulated questions “Do you like me? Am I safe?” It seems like undisclosed emotion is being demonstrated: “I saw you waver. I saw you freeze.” The unstated resounds loudly: “Your voice softened. I felt you relax.”

All nine types project to some extent, in that aspects of themselves that are hidden by defenses are attributed to other people; but projection is almost synonymous with the fearful tendency. Danger seems so clearly “out there” until you start getting feedback, like this Six engineer who went to a party one night.

My wife and I are driving home late after a party. Our teenager, Amy, is at the wheel. She’s just gotten her license. Amy takes a back road and enjoys going fast, and I’m starting to freeze. I hate being the crank parent, and I’m thinking that my wife, the One, has to know what’s happening. Don’t Ones always know when someone’s out of line? So why doesn’t she say something? Why is it always me? My arm is braced against the dash, and I’m thinking, “Ones wait for you to go first and then they criticize.” By now I feel her silently judging me. “She’s waiting for me to stop Amy, and then she’ll say I’m uptight.” By the time we get home I’m steaming. I hate it when she’s on my case, and it’s been happening a lot lately. She’s a One, right? They always know when stuff goes wrong, so I know it’s deliberate. I get out and yank open the back door. In the same second that I see my wife wake up I say, “Why do you always have to be critical?” She answers, “But Henry, I’ve been sleeping since we left the party.”

Doubts can be softened if someone else will go first. Sixes are susceptible to people who initiate and who find them attractive. Being on the receiving end is safer than having to go first. Consistency is important. Tell the truth and make it as consistent as possible from one day to the next. Untruth triggers suspicion and is very hard to forgive.

A Six wants to know what you want and what you’re thinking because it eliminates doubt. They can move toward a steady, friendly presence but become increasingly suspicious of moodiness and mixed intentions. Another’s change of feeling will be taken personally, because it makes them afraid. They were comfortable with that person yesterday. Now they aren’t. Worst-case thinking takes over. The whole relationship is in doubt. “Why are you mad at me?” “What have I done?” The Six will push for reassurance unfortunately at exactly the moment when a stressed or moody partner is least inclined to give it.

Troopers need certainty. If the news is good, they can be pleasantly surprised. If the news is bad, at least they know where they stand. Bad news is familiar to types that imagine worst-case happenings. They can mobilize to deal with difficulty, but the unknown is paralyzing. Anything could happen. You can’t prepare. Sixes get pinned by their own imagination when the news is uncertain. A good way to offer reassurance is to get the basics in order. Get the Six to voice fears and cover each in turn. “If this turns out to be serious, then I’ll need money, a car, and a place to stay.” Then determine that the basics are available. Locate money, a car, and potential living space. Last of all get the Six to imagine the best-case outcomes and to voice those aloud as well.

Six doubt takes the form of inner questioning. Appearances are examined. Face value is less interesting than what lies under the face. Motivations that telegraph from the unconscious are more compelling than a pleasant smile. The objective world is searched for deeper meaning. The eye goes beneath the surface. A lovely face, striking clothes, a polished manner – and what? Questioning appearance doesn’t seem doubtful. “What’s hidden?” “What are they thinking?” “What’s the motive?” “What can we trust?”

These pervasively interesting questions are easy to stereotype as negative thinking, particularly when an obvious answer is overlooked in search for deeper meaning. Sixes are famous for bumping into telephone poles because they’re preoccupied. They overlook the obvious. “An earthquake? Where? I missed it. But look at that interesting face!” Disregarding appearance does not seem at all suspicious. Dismantling obvious remarks does not seem negative. Assuming hidden intentions seems realistic. Doubting does not seem cynical.

It helps to get a reality check. Doubts vanish with honest inquiry. It helps to voice both positive and negative thinking and to get direct feedback. Are these perceptions false ideas, intuitions, projections, or doubts?

The Devil’s Advocate
Doubt can produce unusual powers of discernment. The Six mind is organized to question, to discard the obvious, and to cut through overlays of obscure meaning. The joke about the paranoid attention is that a query such as “Hello. How are you?” is examined for secret meaning. “Hello? How am I? Why do you want to know?” Safety depends on knowing people’s intentions. “Could I be put at a disadvantage?” “Why do you want to know?” Doubt is usually an inquiry about intentions. What is the intention behind the facts?

An unusual mental precision develops from negative questioning. The Six mind doubts, repositions the refined proposition, and doubts again until there is no doubt. It’s the appropriate state of mind for sleuthing. Sixes are impressive troubleshooters; doubts are confirmed when the obvious turns out to be devious or mistaken. They see holes in an argument and inconsistencies in reasoning. They see the context that influences the discussion. Most of all they see intention. What are the motives here? Are they oppressive or kind?

Doubt can create depression. You lose confidence. You’re convinced it can’t be done. It wouldn’t work anyway, so why try? Unlike biological depression, a doubt-induced depression lifts with a call to action. The challenge is to get Sixes mobilized without looking like you are an oppressive authority, to get them to act without your having to be a cop. The best medicine is a good example. Carry out your part and leave the Sixes’ part undone. Filling in their piece is going to be easier because your part works. Sixes are rarely proactive. Going first, especially into success, feels like walking into a trap. Because it’s frightening to be alone and exposed and successful, encouragement can feel like a setup. Sixes may read compliments to mean they’re being set up to be an authority. Honest support can feel like being thrown to a hostile world again.

It helps to remove as many areas of uncertainty as possible. Reaction is much easier than proaction, because you know what you have to face.

Authority [I deleted this section because I don't feel this as relevant to my questions or even to me, but it's in the original post]

Source: Palmer, Helen. The Enneagram in Love & Work: Understanding Your Intimate & Business Relationships. [San Francisco]: HarperSanFrancisco, 1995. Print.
And here's my response:

Quite interesting and accurate in many ways for me.

What it seems to disregard, however, is that reading below the surface can in fact reveal truths that are hidden. This is where I get unclear about what part of me is best assigned to my cognitive processes (INFJ) and what to the enneagram. As an INFJ, I very often know what's happening before others do. Part of that is an unconscious reading of objective data (Se) for it's subtler meanings, combined with introverted intuition and introverted thinking.

My accuracy is actually kind of impressive. I feel streams before they occur in time. My problem, and this IS something identified with 6s, is self-doubt. Yes, I perceive that X is happening, yes I am picking up on subtle physical and energetic cues that others want hidden or don't see or choose to ignore. But then I question what I perceive, tell myself that since others aren't acknowledging this (MBTI Fe function or 6s gravitation toward groups/external validation), it must just be me and not really true. Then, later, things usually unfold in such a way as to show the validity of my initial perception.

As I write I realize that the posted article could encourage self-doubt in someone like me. It seems to suggest that I scan for dangers and even make them up. That's quite consistent with my practice of questioning myself.

It's not completely inaccurate even in that. But it seems like a double-edged sword, for me at least - putting forward the possibility that 6s make things up out of projection or fear or whatever and don't see what's actually happening, then telling us to trust ourselves.
So on the question of where INFJ leaves off and E6 picks up, or vice versa - what do you all think?

361 Posts
Nice post. Almost all of what is written really resonates with me. For what it's worth, as an INFJ 6w5 I've always directly related it to my Ni/Ti side colliding with my Fe/Se side. I suppose integration is in order.

I am a huge player of devil's advocate! Anything could have multiple meanings. When I start bringing 'what if' scenarios to mind, the possibilities are endless. This kind of thought process kind of reminds me of a tree. One trunk -> multiple branches -> multiple more branches that are ever expanding. It isn't until I cover every possible branch that I can conclude what the most probable meaning is. It's sort of odd, because it's more of a flow or a presence that leads me in the right direction than an actual checklist. When I can't seem to find the right direction, I can get caught on something for hours, going over and over all of the 'what ifs'. While it can be incredibly aggravating in certain situations, it's really amazing when I'm doing research for fun or have to work out a complex issue.

Doubt ties right into my above response. It's like looking for the deepest meaning, for the most precise answer, but not knowing if I missed a clue along the way. I feel that I've found the right answer, but if no one else sees it, I could be wrong. There are countless ways to see any one thing. Even words fail to describe anything because they are symbols used to describe other symbols... ugh...

...which brings us to certainty and action. Because I doubt, I search for truth. Truth is subjective, so I doubt I find it even if I think I did. And the cycle goes on. I think I find my calling in life, and then I find out that it's not what I thought it would be. I work out an issue and realize that I need to take a step back even further and rework the whole situation. It's seems the best way for me to be certain is to watch someone else take a swing at an issue. It allows me to see the process, see how the person deals with the process, and conclude that there is a better way. If the process is internal... it feels like a cyclone.

And... now that I've come off as immobile and completely neurotic :tongue:, I'll end with my response to your question.

I would like to see what everyone else says. I feel as though this is a huge part of my being. I couldn't separate my INFJness from my E6. The functions seem to work in tandem with each other. I pick up some external information, throw it into the abyss to be sorted, send it through the gauntlet with respect to it's interaction with mankind (myself if its internal or the people involved), and see what comes out.

641 Posts
In my opinion, 6's basic fear tend to cause them to overexaggerate the INFJ's Ni-Ti loop. The constant internal struggle that 6 faces with themselves and self doubting can lead to a lot of "what if's" which just fuels a cycle of self victimization worrying about the unknown and the unpredictable. There has been many great threads I've read on here dealing with the Ni-Ti loop, and when I catch myself in one, I just literally tell myself to shut up and that I have no external functions to help me atm and I just stop thinking. You really have to remember that without Fe and Se, Ni-Ti just goes completely nuts in cycles that DOESN'T get you anywhere in the practical sense, any and every possibility could exist and happen but the likelihood of you figuring out which one is the correct choice is near impossible without external validation. 6's can get into the habit of complaining without taking any definite action that would change the situation. I think 6's will benefit from listening to their Ni, and to drown out all the internal voices that they hear which doubts them. Being INFJ's, we have lead Ni, and 6's above all other enneagrams need to learn to trust their intuition and self above all else to build their own platform of security and self. In the end, the way I see it is that 6's basic fear amplifies the INFJ's Ni-Ti loop and needing to learn to relax, clear their minds, and have faith in their Ni is the way the 6's can be free from doubt and worries.

Even when 6's come across achieving goals or that moment in confidence through their bulwarks of security, they always tend to worry about the next cycle of anxieties: the next meeting, the next date, the next X and what ifs. In the enneagram book that I've been reading, there are suggestions for 6's that might improve their decision making process/anxiety/choices, I'll paraphrase in the following:

- When you do achieve a goal, stop and relax, breathe and savor the moment. Take in and remember the impression of your competence, this feeling will help you see the ways in which you are supporting yourself and others and this memory will help you in the future when you doubt yourself/your abilities.

- Get in the practice of noticing what you trust and how you come to decisions. Ask yourself why do you feel that others will know better what to do than you do? Also notice any feelings of anger or rejection of them when it is clear that they don't have the answer you seek. You can avoid thees situations by turning more to what you heart and instincts are telling you at the moment. Remember that these internal doubts are nothing more than fearful aspects of your imagination and your superego and nothing more.

- Move out of your zone of comfort when you have built a trusting systems of security. Explore difficult issues and seek variety and diversity. It could be simple things as going to a hockey game even though you're an avid basketball fan. By interacting with things/people outside your comfort zone, you will learn more about yourself and the world around you and in safe environments, you will begin to see that many things are not as dangerous as you believe and this will expand the feeling of security that 6's seek.

In the end, the journey of 6's is about finding guidance in yourself among anxiety and doubt. To transform and rid yourself of this, 6's have to realize that their fearful and doubting is the very root that causes them to be less secure of themselves. Rather than giving 6's the answers they need, the self doubt makes 6's feel small, helpless and without direction. They have to see through this fearful pattern to reconnect with how they truly are deep down.

So overall that's my impression from what I've read and learned about the 6's. I have a fix 6w7 in my second tritype so I have some characteristics that I can relate to. The following is a paraphrase of 6's transformation.

"Sixes achieve transformation by confronting their basic fear of being without support and guidance. As they do so, they begin to experience a vast, empty inner space, and they may sometimes feel as though they are falling into it. If they can tolerate this sensation, this space may change and feel solid or become intensely shiny and luminous -- or it could transform itself in numerous ways. Sixes then come to recognize that the inner space they experience is actually the very support they have been looking for. It is free, open, and infinitely wise and patient. When this spaciousness is present, sixes feel self-reliant, courageous, and brilliantly intelligent--in short, all of the qualities they have been looking for. Faith is not belief, but a real, immediate knowing that comes from experience. Faith without experience is belief. Faith with experience brings reliable guidance."

1,788 Posts
My most dominant Enneagram is 6 with a 7 wing. I don't believe that there is a point where INFJ and the corresponding cognitive functions disconnect and then connect with my core values. It seems as if they work together.

IMO my own experience of being INFJ does not mean that I can read into other people and their motives. I've had my share of right and wrong notions, and whenever I assume something about someone, I feel like I am betraying myself by blinding myself and leading myself on with my intuition that might be so far off. I feel no different even if I am right on the mark. In this way, I think you and I are different even though we are both INFJ and 6's. You probably are a lot better at looking into people, or at least it sounds that way. My Enneagram causes me to believe that there are many possibilities into the complexity of human behavior, emotion, and experience. Even though I notice someone may act because of anger, and know it, I never stop there and keep wondering what underlies that and what underlies that, which underlies the anger. I always believe people are deeper than I can fathom.

My Enneagram causes me to be afraid of other people and at the same time it causes me to seek them out with cautious interest. I also tend to put myself in risky and dangerous situations at times with the same cautious interest. The INFJ processes never left, and are always there, and it's the same for the 6.

192 Posts
I don't have any insights, but I looooooooove you all for your fantastic insights!!! I just started thinking about my own behavior in terms of distinguishing between what's more Ni-Fe-Ti-Se talking (considering the thread about INFJ variants) versus 6w5 talking. I wouldn't know where to start without these insights!!!! <333

INFJ, 6w5, :proud:

INFJ 6w5, 1w2, 2w1 Sx/Sp
10,469 Posts
I feel like that too sometimes. Sometimes I think something about myself is a more of the 6 influence rather than an INFJ thing but then other INFJ's will be like uh no, we can relate to that too. And I'm like, "okie dokie then!"

You should visit the 6 sub forum if you haven't already.
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