Type Six in Addiction Recovery
The Loyalist, Pathfinder, the Valiant Hero
Version 1.0 Copyright 2018
by Michael Naylor, M.Ed, CCS, LADC, ET
“Trust the Unfolding” says Lynda 😊 _________________________________________________________________________________________
The Healthy Six
The healthy, kaleidoscopic Type Six expresses an array of beautiful and often ironic qualities. For instance, Tommy B., a Type Six, a mischievous glimmer in his eye, describes himself thusly: “As a Type Six I am an expert complainer, world-class in fact. I can chew on a complaint like it was a tasty steak,” his wry, self-observation radiating impishly from his gaze. Michael O. ups him and says, “Oh, that’s nothing, Tommy. I can annihilate an inspired idea in less than a minute, troubleshoot it into oblivion! I am a highly skilled naysayer!” he brags as he boyishly grins, humorously aware of the gravitational pull of his Type Six personality habit. No other type—with the exception of the Type 4—will so enthusiastically and joyfully point you towards their flaws and endear you to them.
In the company of a healthy Six one can witness a Valiant Hero who embodies relentless bravery, a capacity to deeply touch others with their emotional honesty, an earnest, reverent, down-to-earth, every-man-and-woman-counts sincerity, and a determined fearlessness to face and call others to truth and responsibility. They are intensely devoted to loved ones and willing to risk their safety and comfort in service of the individuals they have committed to. Gifted with an exquisite intuitive sensitivity in picking up on the sometimes subtly-hidden-behind-the-scenes-bad-behaviors-and-motivations of those caught up in their ego-distortions, they can see through the masks of difficult humans. Add to that their generosity, kindness, and commitment to helping those in true need, to providing an equal playing field for everyone, and one is touched by the transcendent and heroic quality of their devoted, humble heart. Selfless servants, they can lead, they can follow, and they can inspire an inexplicable spirit of teamwork and fellowship where all belong, and all rise to be their best. And, like the awesome Ellen DeGeneres, their boundless, self-depreciating humor could disarm King Kong.
Called the Loyalist, the Trouble-Shooter, Path-Finder, Watch-Dog, they are known for noticing and sensing into the invisibility of a situation and intuiting what might go wrong at any moment, often able to spot incoming danger with pristine clarity. (Some say they can read the four corners of reality with amazing precision.). Ever aware that a mysterious lion is loose in the neighborhood, at their best they are gracefully alert for its impending attack. They feel the flow of reality and know what comes next, and when. When less present they are like tremulous guard dogs, on edge, pacing, feisty, certain of an unavoidable, nameless, invisible awfulness approaching. Then, their intuitive gifts vanish in the fog of suspicion and they become what they fear. (Best to catch them on his good days.)
Ronnie—The Healthy Six in Recovery
Ronnie is an addiction counselor at Mercy House, 15 years sober, and a beloved Type Six. He is jittery and brave, bashful and fierce, timid and assertive, cranky as a prickly porcupine, and kind as the Buddha. One who follows all the rules, one who rebels against the rules, one who wants to know what’s expected, and one who doesn’t want to be told what to do. He can disappear like a Nine—vanishing into his invisibility cloak like a wisp-of-wind in the midst of a conflict—to shape-shifting and confronting the powerful, less-than-healthy-drunk-on-power-CEO Type Eight of the drug rehab in Type Eight style over issues of right treatment of clients. (As in, “Stop threatening and scaring the vulnerable clients just to get your arrogance and self-importance fed…please stop!”)
Both whimpering and cowering, then reversing and holding his ground like a Samurai in the next breath, he becomes David confronting Goliath with awesome unflinching courage. Then unexpectedly captured in a three-second-wave of self-doubt and fear, he melts and collapses like the Wicked Witch dissolving powerlessly into nothingness, and just as suddenly he arises once again out of the pool of this collapsed-self, an unshakeable warrior ready to stand for the cause he has committed himself to. He will protect the vulnerable clients! Such awesome courage just when you thought he was a goner ready to be swallowed by a hoard of piranha. As Ron will say later, enveloped in a wave of ironic self-reflection, eyes-rolling skyward, “This is just how I seem to roll.”
Being nearly vaporized while reduced to tears in the presence of the enraged-volcanic-self-esteem-crushing-boss (which is why Ronnie is confronting him in the first place, his esteem-crushing behavior towards clients), and with certain-death evident to his quaking heart, a hidden, inexplicable something arises in Ronnie from the sinew of his heroic heart and soul. You see it slip in between the gut-gripping-tsunami-waves-of-fear coursing through him, this steely force of unwavering confidence. Out of the nowhere of himself he has become a column of luminous strength. His essence, the soul-stuff of unshakeable faith that rests in the core of him, that inspires him to commit to what is true and deserving of soul faith, that rises when needed—penetrates the moment. Then, one short hour later he inhabits a different, far-away-cosmos within himself and is complaining voraciously about the details of something-so-insignificant-the-angels-weep, naysaying like an out-of-control-the-sky-is-falling-terrified-chicken, and then—click-bang—channel-change—he is back in action hyper-dedicated to tirelessly and responsibly delivering the best to the clients in his charge. Just take a breath and a new ‘Ronnie’ appears out of the mystery of his fluctuating selves.
Go figure! This is no ordinary super-hero!
What is amazing, mysterious, confusing, and awe-inspiring is that amidst the vast array of who-he-is-in-the-moment, this fluctuating, kaleidoscopic, slide-show of ‘beings’ appearing out of the nervous mystery of himself—courageous, scared, skittery-as-a-frightened-pigeon, tender, mean, laser-clear, confident-as-Gandalf, grumpy-as-Gollum—is his absolute and utter commitment to the men who walk through the doors of Mercy House. He has made a heart-vow to assure that the standards of care at the rehab don’t weaken (Rule #1: Do not change the protocols that saved him and many others. Do not! You strike a freak-out note when you do this. He is the staunch protector and steward of what has worked.).
Added to this magical mix is his remarkable ability when under stress and unexpected conflict, to draw on a deep well of unshakable clarity, stillness, and an intuitive wisdom to take spontaneous, unplanned, right-action on a dime. When shit is flying everywhere, it’s like everything nervous in him settles—his Type Six need for an external structure that demands he be utterly organized and prepared before acting vanishes—and he becomes a beacon of laser lucidity. In the midst of an emergency when there is no time for doubt, for wondering, for analyzing and preparing—his mind and his actions harmonize instantly. He is wide awake, present, mind still as a lake, knows what to do, the light of clarity filling his perceptual screen of awareness.
Summer, 2017, an August dog-day, 2 PM. He is standing on the porch of the rehab with five other men, clients at Mercy House. Ambling up the stairs to the porch is a hulking, big muscled, fiercely tattooed, red-faced, drunk-out-of-his-mind, ominously-swaggering man, with a rage-blazing-I’m-going-to-kill-someone look in his eyes. He steps towards Ronnie who looks like a wisp of wind in contrast to his giant-Self, and says, “You little mofo, I am going to kick your ass! Get out of my way!” he blasts, the reverberation penetrating Ronnie’s chest, with the five men behind him quaking in the aftermath! Without hesitation, Ronnie, 130 pounds and sleek as a toothpick, standing a good head below this Godzilla of a guy, seamlessly steps in front of him, and nose to chest without a shiver of fear, says, “It is time to get off the porch or I will kick your ass.” (Truly, this would not have been my first move.) Suddenly Ronnie is eight feet tall, a column of courage running up and down his spine, his words unquestionably real and true. The rage drains from the man’s eyes, his body softens—he’s been snake charmed by the Six! (Oddly…even endeared!) Sheepishly the rage-fueled-juiced-on-alcohol-hulk says, “Man, you don’t have to take things so seriously,” and turns and walks with drunken-uncanny-nimbleness down the stairs.
Moments later Ronnie is shaking and ambushed by aftermath-anxiety. The doubt is on him like a team of Dementors, sucking his confidence from his soul. Did I do the right thing, I’m not sure, did I say too much, was I wrong? Will I get fired? What do you think? Back and forth he goes, his inner committee now forcing him to consider every possibility, he unable to stand on the sure ground that he fully and completely inhabited minutes ago. Luminous strength has vanished. The amnesia of his skillful action takes him over, trancelike. Staff and clients say, “You were awesome. That was amazing what you did! Where did you get that freakin’ courage!” In this moment he can’t reference, feel or remember the courage of his actions or the clarity of his awareness that came through him, when his real nature came online, Ronnie knowing exactly what to do in the critical moment, unexpected heroism flowing through him. (This can be a powerful challenge for the Six, the felt sense of their successful encounter with difficulty vanishing like wind through their fingers, leaving in its place a hole of doubt where inner knowing resided…swoosh, gone! It will be an essential growth curve their recovery will take them upon.)
Equally significant is Ronnie’s vast and enduring loyalty to those who pulled him from the mouth of the Balog in the mines of Morea, those counselors and friends that held his addiction madness at bay long enough until he gained eyes to see himself again. From the muck and mire of the dark swamp of addiction he was revived and held. And his commitment goes something like this: you saved my life and in return I will give my undying devotion and commitment to those who need similar help. I pledge myself to them. I will adhere my heart to their heart.
A resilient, psychic, heart-cord of his Being attaches to those he is moved to serve. He is embedded in his intention to serve them.
Like it or not, this is simply the way he is wired, much like Samwise Gamgee who was given unmistakable evidence to abandon hair-brained, wide-eyed, sanity fluctuating, deluded, often mad, ego-power-ring-driven, nut-case, sometimes kind and sweet and courageous Frodo on the way to the friendly fires of Mordor. In other words, I will follow you all the way home. You’ll have to kill me to get rid of me as I’ve attached my soul to yours for safe-keeping. (This scene comes to mind from Lord of the Rings. Frodo has decided to travel solo the rest of the way to Mordor alone. He pushes his small boat off the dock into the lake as Samwise bursts down a hill towards him. Thirty yards out, Frodo sees Sam gallantly running towards the shore and Frodo says, “Sam, I’m going to Mordor by myself. This I must do.” And Samwise replies, “Of course you are, Mr. Frodo, of course you are! That’s why I’m coming with you!” And plunges into the water…and sinks…because, well, he can’t swim. Never mind. He’s coming with Frodo. Frodo retrieves him from the water and pulls him into the boat. And Sam, heart as big as the ocean, eyes filled with passionate devotion, says “I’ve pledged myself to you Mr. Frodo. I’ve pledged myself!” This, the devoted heart-cry of the Six.) The gift of the Six: Once I make a commitment I am all in. I will be your eyes in the darkness on your journey home through the mines of Morea. I will find the path home.
An interesting study in paradox is Ronnie’s relationship to worry: On the one hand, there is his often-percolating sense of anxiety and worry that threads through him like an electric current, hot-wiring him for the danger-that-awaits-him-at-any-turn-in-the-road. Juxtaposed in him is a corresponding counter-intuitive trait: to the level that he feels anxious and on edge, on the verge of being destroyed by the next monster of terror that reveals himself out of the fires of his anxious worried imagination, he will and does go out of his way to eliminate any unnecessary worry, stress or anxiety for clients who enter Mercy House. His radar is exquisitely attuned to their fear. He tastes it, feels it, senses it immediately. He intimately knows the suffering of anxiety. He is too aware of the all-to-familiar-pulse-of-fear in his soul, which often greets him when his eyes flutter open in the morning, waves of anxiety and self-doubt the first emotional impression touching him. It has trained him to instinctively sense who is scared, uneasy, or tremulous. This suffering, this holy unrest, inspires him to compassionately alleviate it in others. And often he does.
While clients are shaking and baking and disoriented in early recovery, he calms them down. He does it without fanfare and guys love him for it. Here his tender-boyish-innocent-loving-heart comes online. You see, with all his oddness and lack of traditional male energy, he is given a free pass into the world of wounded and rough men. They are eye-witnesses to the way in which he navigates fear. It’s like he stands back and notices his own terror and says, with great humility, “Okay, terror is here, but there is a job that must be done.” (Like Frodo, he says, I will take this ring to Mordor even though certain death awaits me.) And then walks through it—which has the amazing result of tenderizing their hearts. Somehow guys get how extraordinarily courageous he is, this timid looking, so shy, anxiety-fierce guy. He, terrified of them, walks directly into his fear, engages them, greets them, welcomes them, asserts himself…and they soften and disarm. His trembling-courage catches them off guard. In effect, he teaches them without speaking a word, how to work with their fear. Step with and through it, that’s the drill.
When men arrive at Mercy House rehab their hearts are thread-bare with hope, their souls still imprisoned in darkened bars or hypnotically trapped in time-warp-scenes of horror-filled interactions with loved ones. They are empty shells, wandering ghosts without a true home. In the fog of their disorientation they encounter Ronnie, an often near-invisible force working behind the scenes, so unassuming, so unpretentious, so-not-a-big-deal that you mistake him at times for one of the clients, or the janitor, or one of the aids, he so a part of the ordinary-unsung-fabric of the moment. When he enters the group room there is a quiet formality to his posture, a sense of the dutiful-humble-boy-scout there to bring earnest good to the group of men, a trusting naivety and innocent sincerity flowing in his presence. He is fueled by an unquestioned and inherent confidence, a mysterious knowing that he can help these guys, men straight out of prison, men homeless living in shelters, men wandering the streets lost and disoriented, victims of the Balrog of addiction that has had his way with them, eating their opportunities and devouring their hope. This is the Goliath he faces every day. This is the ring he carries to Mordor.
And Ronnie, this unassuming guy with a flow of kaleidoscopic opposites a serious gravitational force coursing powerfully through his mind-stream, radiates a hidden essence that is so simply caring, so not pretentious, so solidly gentle, and so street-smart-kind, that men draw near to him, edge in a little closer, as if to say, Who is this guy that hangs with us like he’s no big deal, like there is no difference between us? Who is this no-reason-not-to-be-scared-and-terrified-guy that is so likable? And what is this child-like adorable quality that softens our hearts? What, in the complexity of this opposites-colliding-on-steroids-worried-anxious-humble-being that is so endearing, so smile-causing, so sweetly kind. Even cranky kind! Who weirdly makes us feel safe! Who inspires us to be kind!
Ronnie, unaware of his impact and his innate transmission of a mysterious-grounded-stillness, walks into this den of wounded-to-the-core men—who wield knife-sharp, hair-trigger emotional defenses and laser-probing-can-spot-a-fraud-instantly-awareness—like a gardener gently watering newly-budding-flowers, matter-of-fact, like no-big-deal, just another day in the garden. He is among dangerous and deeply wounded men but it doesn’t seem to faze him. He just walks in like he’s supposed to be there, like he knew they were coming and he’d been waiting for them. Walks in and does that amazing Six thing. He befriends them, becomes one of the guys, no barrier here! Never mind the non-matching trauma, never mind non-matching deprived childhoods, never mind non-matching criminal behavior, never mind non-matching life losses—their interior fundamental humanness is what counts!
It’s like everyone is down to zero with no separation in the ranks, no hierarchy. Big, husky, muscle-hardened, swaggering, don’t-come-near-me-or-I’ll-kick-your-ass guys…relax. Weird, strange, nerdy, fringe-dwelling-I-got-the-wrong-universe, rebel-outcasts…relax. Cool, narcissistic, I’m-too-cool-and-too-superior-to-be-with-you-losers…drop their act. Cool is gone, tough is gone, weird is gone. That is, something in his presence engages them such that they don’t feel that horrid sense of inferiority for the merciless, shameful losses they’ve experienced—their true manhood, their true strength, and capacity lost in the barren wilderness of their addiction.
Masks become unnecessary in Ronnie’s world.
And this is what is so very cool about him—he infuses them up with causeless faith. As in, you can trust me. You can trust that I can help you. You can have faith in me. Simple. Always simple. (He’s a Jedi that commands, “Disarm. Lay your weapons down. It’s safe! Trust now!” And they do!) And then he embodies it. That is, he trusts them. Without saying it, but through the deep-yet-appearing-insignificant-ambiance of his gracious soul, he communicates: “I trust you. I trust your better-selves to arise.” Like it’s an unspoken fact, established and now in reality…nothing to question…fact…their better selves will prevail.
He deems them trustable!
He knows it, expects it. It’s just the way it is. This flow of Ronnie’s genuine-soul-fostering-faith-in-them reaches through their save-your-life-kill-anyone-who-approaches armor and finds the microscopic openings in their protective shell…and penetrates them…resurrecting their buried, innate self-confidence, awakening their faith and true wish to heal themselves!
He is the safe, stable ground they desperately need to re-enter life!
In his own intuitive, Type Six peculiar way, he delivers this additional message: But for the grace of God, there go I. (Another Fact.) There is simply no difference here in our fundamental humanity. As well, his devoted heart says this in every glance or movement he makes: We are here to help one another. As a team, we will succeed. And this all transmitted by his grace, his kindness, his wish to alleviate their suffering, his wish to give to them what he was generously given—safety, care, and hope.
He is a model of pure and real humility. And this alone is the equalizer. Being in the presence of real humility heals you, settles you, disarms you, relaxes you, reminds you of what you’ve had inklings about, that there is fundamental goodness in the heart of human beings that can be trusted. Go figure. The guy who’s wired with anxiety and the task of managing a multitude of fluctuating, nervous, often-catastrophizing selves, is a channel for trust! Through the maze of his conflicting selves arises the mysterious, still, solid, healing force of trust.
One last note about this precious guy. The men in rehab play whiffle ball in a Boston Red Sox style parking lot improvised-baseball-field, the green monster the huge brick side of the four-story Victorian. Teams divide up, six on a team, and designated hits to certain zones in the field are marked as single, double, triple or home run. Anything clearing the green monster, the roof of the Victorian…a home run. Staff plays with clients, and Ron is anything but a ballplayer. Yet he has this kind of abandon about his awkwardness and is so humbly-awful-yet-sincere in his efforts to swing a bat, or throw or catch a ball, that everyone is endeared to him. To see someone struggle yet take delight in being awful is a thing to behold. No pretense. No ego. Like a five-year-old first exposed to the game, it’s an exploration filled with curiosity. And of course, being a Six, Ron is quite open about how awful he is, but never mind, let me swing the bat again. It is this openness, this refreshing down-to-earthiness, that makes him a precious jewel. Everyone feels like they can try. There are no failures here. And trying and failing repeatedly is no big deal. All are welcome. (So much like Ellen DeGeneres and her often funny shows when she’s not afraid to make a fool of herself and does so with such an endearing and humorous heart.) Ron, in the ambiance of his awkward actions, states: We are brothers in arms, here to serve each other. All walk on an even field. It is the deeper and truer message of AA when it’s working at its best: no one leads, the group serves everyone. Everyone is equal and needed, the core transmission of the Six soul–only as a group, as a team, is deeper healing energy transmitted.
Because the Type Six has spent so much time dealing with his internal anxiety and dis-ease, he is inspired to lesson one’s suffering. To do something to help you relax and feel safe, be it stand up for you against unjust forces (like Michael Moore standing for all the disenfranchised Americans via his documentaries), relaxing your addiction to worry through humor (Chris Rock is wildly and sarcastically funny as the devil, yet compassionate, tough as nails, straight-talking-cutting-through-the-bullshit…and kind), or loosening the grip of your panicked, worried, neurotic self through creative endeavor (Woody Allen’s autobiographical movies, there to remind the Six that you are not alone, crazy yes, alone, no!). Add this to the holy mix: heroism in spades. This is Ellen DeGeneres at her best, so tenaciously down-to-earth-courageous in exposing herself as a lesbian woman in the middle of a TV episode, losing her job and being thrown out of work for three years, she steadily climbing the horrendous mountain of homophobic hell and oppression such that her fabulously-courageous-loving-heart cut through the crap-shit of prejudice, she embracing the archetype of The Valiant Hero with amazing and humble dignity, and with inexhaustible, loving, sweet, truthful humor. And luminous strength—she being heroically called to spotlighting the courage in others and heralding them on her talk show.
This is the courageous and devoted heart of the Six. And Ronnie, at his best, is an exemplar. Glimmering blue eyes when feeling well, steel gray eyes when facing down the dragon, a puppy-tender heart that welcomes you, fierce-courageous-abandon when called to duty, unwavering clarity and confidence when down to zero, a nano-second to act with grace and skill. Such a beautiful example of a recovered, heart-open man!
The Balrog of Addiction
The Balrog of addiction is fed by the accumulated impressions of soul shame and hurt and humiliation that boys encountered and now lay buried, like dark-cursed-jewels, in the basement of their Being…A mother who is a drug addict who brings horrific men into her life who beat little boys to a bloody stump while she mired in the role of the victim who can’t protect her children, even though she continually chooses the next crazy-bat-shit-crazy man, who simply mirrors her crazy, bat-shit wounded soul. Pain-body meets pain- body, the unconscious gravitational pull of deep suffering defying sanity or logic, defying the deep and desperate wish of those wishing to jump from the treadmill of their unconscious patterns. (Much like the gravitational pull and magnetism of opiates to suck men and women into the black hole of their death, their best wisdom and commitment to never use again ejected from their consciousness like Dave ejected in a space pod by his formidable foe, Hal the computer-gone-rouge in 2001.)
The Balrog of addiction was born in the homes of the men at Mercy House where they inhaled fear through their pores, drank deeply of hatred and shame, the flesh of their soul infected with the vibration of not being wanted or loved. This alone creates a young boy who is anxiety-panicked and on the verge of madness, who, based on his Enneagram type will seal himself off to protect himself with his type-specific armor, safeguarding whatever is left of his soul. A little boy’s heart (or little girls) can only take so much assault before it shuts down, hardens, disappears. These men were conditioned to turn their aliveness, sensitivity, and heart-wisdom “off” to survive and not suicide by age ten. Their substance abuse was the lifeboat that carried them through these painful times.
How the Six Enters Addiction Treatment: Drunk on Suspicion
The Six, blinded by his addiction, is driven to the basement of his being where emotional distress, fear, suspicion and bone-rattling paranoia haunt him. He is locked in the prison cell of his unhealthy personality patterns. Here, in the hell realms of Type Six at Level 7, his graceful, endearing gifts reverse themselves. Now the camera lens of his objective awareness closes to a microscopic dot of near nothingness. Then his actions say, “I abandon you based on nothing but my fear! I destroy your sense of support and security to protect myself! I attack you with my anxiety and blame you for it! I read all of your reasonable and kind actions as the actions of a traitor. I confuse everything you say and turn it into an attack on me. When you are kind, I see hatred. When you are considerate, I read conspiratorial. You are the enemy and cannot be trusted! You’ve abandoned me. Never mind that I cut off from you completely and utterly! I can’t see that!”
This state of being, where he is locked into suspicion and paranoia, is often what finally drives the Six to get help for his addiction. (Be mindful of this. None of the types are at their best at Level 7. Each has their own dungeon from which they view reality. Each unwittingly reverses their gifts and turns them into weapons, flipping reality upside-down! What complicates this is the Six’s ability to shape-shift such that when needing to show up at his best socially (for survival), he can pull out of this nightmarish-paranoia-swamp and temporarily be socially graceful (this is the Six going to Three wherein he can become what is needed to impress or appear normal.) At least for brief, critical periods. This magicians-slight-of-hand in which out of the blinded fog of his paranoia he appears as a normal, functioning, likable chap, (although looking to those who know him, as if he is masterfully manipulating others and is mean-spirited and cruelly calculating) when in actuality he is as unconscious as the night is dark. He can’t see that he moves back and forth from an unconscious, mean-spirited madness to temporarily appearing sane—gracious even! (You can see why family members start to go a bit crazy in his midst, and why we call it a family dis-ease.) A strong buffer shuts him off from this realization.
Family members, friends, and colleagues are horrified by his merciless and sometimes heart-chilling responses to their attempts to help him bridge the gap between these two worlds, knowing that if he could see himself in action he’d run to the halls of recovery. And yet when confronted, he is caught in the fog of sincere-black-as-night-delusion, and truly shocked that you would accuse him of unkind actions. (Not intentionally deluded, sincerely deluded!) This is the dis-ease of addiction: I can’t see myself objectively.
Those horrific alcohol-driven-drug-addicted behaviors that stab your soul like an ice pick are like a dream he can’t retrieve, that slips through his awareness like water through his fingers. Until he can, in which case he will weep with profound sorrow for his actions. In this awakening moment, when the door of reality creaks open, one prays that he will have the courage to stay with the remorse that rises in him like a dragon, ready to overwhelm him. Then angels lean forward and whisper: stay with this, it will pass, this is the first door you must pass through…you can do this.
The Six in Addiction Recovery: Welcome to the Hell Zone of Level 6 and 7
Like all the types, the Type Six enters treatment with only tiny threads of awareness free from the mechanical, self-defending, fear-driven patterns of their type. Their perceptual camera lens on reality narrows to a thread-bare-filament of panic through which they see and interpret reality.
Meet Marvin, an Oregon farm boy, husky and thick through the torso, wired to lift heavy bales of hay, milk cows, throw farm equipment around like child’s play, who arrived at Mercy House so thoroughly tightened by anxiety and fear-infected-imaginings that he could barely sit still in group. Suspicious eyes darting around the room, restless and searching, everything said in group reaches him through the churning fog of his worried-mangled, mind-confusions and is heard wrongly. His attention is glued to a replaying, internal movie. The scenes mercilessly unfold…he discovering six months ago that his wife of many years had been cheating on him with a neighbor, he screaming How could you do that, after all I’ve done for you, after my loyalty to you! Never mind I’ve been drinking myself blind the last 10 years, and barely noticed you from my freight-train-of-alcoholic-insanity tearing through the tracks of our life!
And the scenes unravel, he powerlessly glued to them. He blows past his wife and heads to the neighbor’s house, tornadic hurt burning through him, bursts through the front door splitting the screen door in two—the hurt now transformed into volcanic rage—and readies to pound his neighbor within an inch of his life, using a tire iron to deliver the message. And it’s only by a miracle that the police arrive, pry him off the neighbor, and stop him from committing murder. Seconds away from a life sentence, his life irrevocably destroyed, they disarm him, and he is jail-bound.
In a whirl of cyclonic-shock, he detoxes in jail. In the moments of being forced to sit still in a jail cell, memories slip through the fog of his alcoholism revealing situation after situation in which he has hurt those he loves. He’s been sleeping through everything important to him—his wife, his kids, himself. God have mercy on him. He has destroyed everything he cares for (but not permanently). The deep-felt sense that no one will support him is ice in his heart. His inner critic whispers with casual abandon as if this is a ‘fact’ that needs no promotion: “No one wants you. You are done. Your father was right. You are hopeless. You’ve failed at all of your responsibilities.” Desperate, he swings on the pendulum of Type Six in stress: he desperately wants your kindness yet pushes it away. He wants to trust…he doesn’t trust. He rages…he begs for forgiveness. He pleads, please take me back…then…oh, fuck you, get away from me, I don’t need you!
While trapped in the prison of Level 6 & 7 he cannot sense, hold on to, or remember when he’s actually being supported and cared for by others, be it group members, friends, or counselors and will need tons of tenderness, patience, and supportive learning experiences to penetrate this instant-amnesia pattern. A single thread of doubt often interrupts all accurate recall and he instantly forgets that just moments before that he was emotionally supported by others. In a split second, he falls into a recurring trance: no one supports him. He is abandoned. Nobody cares. It’s not safe here. (This is a core pattern that he will be challenged to transform throughout his recovery at deeper and deeper levels until liberated.)
In the face of heart-rendering loss, his heroic heart will crack open revealing the spirit of a tender, kind little boy. But seconds later the intense hurt and loss will impel him to stand up and leave the rehab and go to his wife and beg her for forgiveness, and on the way, threaten the life of the offending neighbor. With a restraining order in place and jail the consequence of violation, he is forced to stay with his experience, with his hurt, his shame, and the men at rehab. This is the mercy of the universe providing the staying structure, beginning with jail, the protection order, and a wife who is done with him. Merciless mercy. Slowly he will learn to sit with his suffering, sit with the heartache, allow that vulnerable spot in his heart to open, to hold it like a small child in his arms. This staying-with-it, this allowing himself to feel his hurt and remorse, this inner-kindness-and-act-of-courage will open him to receiving and feeling the love and support of others. He will remember his deep value and preciousness, and that he is wanted and belongs.
The First Twelve Weeks of Residential Treatment
And so, Marvin’s work begins, he courageously enduring and transforming the necessary and temporary suffering of his type–fear and mistrust. In the group, he is met with tremendous compassion. Nine other guys have no problem understanding how hurt, shocked, humiliated and abandoned he feels, learning that his wife and neighbor have betrayed him. They get his rages, his difficult-to-track-temperament, his sudden flashes of paranoia, his broken heart, and his fierce need to blame all of it on those two! The men will hold space for him when he falls off his righteous horse of blame as realizes it was his alcoholism that betrayed and fooled him, that he didn’t have ‘eyes’ to see it. A predictable cycle will ensue: shock followed by genuine remorse followed by self-recrimination–Why didn’t I see what I was doing?—to self-hatred—I am horrible and despicable! A total loser!—to hopelessness—I’ve destroyed everything, it’s too late for me!—to surrendering and feeling his suffering, his heart courageously inching forward. Slowly this cycle will simply wear out as he realizes the blamelessness of everyone, himself included. Kindness will begin to reach him. Forgiveness will reach him. Healing will ensue as he arises out of the fog of his addiction and gains eyes to see what is real.
With practice, his anxiety will shift to acceptance as he learns to stop unconsciously attaching a storyline to it. Unwittingly he assumes, “If I find the story/reason/cause of my anxiety I will feel better. This will calm me down.” If only his inner critic, the dark magician pumping pictures of fear and worry and impending catastrophe through his mind-stream, would just silence! Just when Marvin relaxes for a moment, another fear-wave arises. One worry gone, up pops another. Meditation will save him. In time he will report, “I started doing meditation and stopped identifying with my worrying-monkey-mind. I learned to focus much of my free-attention toward sensing my body. This changed the level of anxiety I was feeling and gave me the ability to discover what lie beneath it—flowing energy! Cultivating quiet and still mind has brought such relief!”
His discovery: Sitting and enduring, with unconditional kindness and patience, the machinations of his mind, while sensing his body and breath, invites innate peace to arise and inhabit him.
The Trickery of Addiction: Euphoric Recall & The Inner Critic
Sixes who become addicted to substances often start by innocently using them to calm the whirlwind of anxiety, self-doubt and worry they are experiencing, not realizing that the chemicals used work from two ends. First, they shift anxiety into another sensation, maybe excitement, maybe deep numbness, perhaps a vegetative state of calm (the opiate-induced-death-is-a-peaceful-solution-no-big-deal-trance-state), allowing for moments where the anxiety just isn’t there—until it reverses itself! The next day the escape-state vanishes so that the moments of anxiety-freedom turn to heart-explosive-anxiety-and-boundless-self-doubt that sends one through the roof. Ride that relief-train too many times and it’s hard to jump off. The anxiety one sought to escape has now morphed into a larger dragon of terror, along with one’s addiction cravings. What started as relief becomes a death trap.
Early recovery for the Type Six is a walk in a firestorm of anxiety, suspicion, and worry while searching for someone, something he can trust. His Inner Critic is working overtime, reminding him, “There is not a single soul you can trust here! A drink, drug, anything would be better than hanging with this ragtag group of recovering weirdo-freak-alien people who obviously are not trustworthy. You could feel good right now! You deserve to feel good!” And then re-runs his favorite euphoric-recall-movie through his mind-stream where all the bad moments of his addiction are erased (you can find these in the “Deleted Scenes” portion of his addiction movie) and all the feels-good-confident-self-adoring scenes play in an endless loop of temptation. Never mind he’s seen the movie three thousand times, with the same ending! The movie is so compelling he believes it again. The challenge for the moment (which will pass) is that he feels he can’t count on anyone, and everything seems ready to fall apart. The good news: it’s a temporary illusion. However, Type Six anxiety on high voltage inside your chest, with his Inner Critic incessantly talking to him while infusing your cells, bone, and skin with anxiety—he feels possessed!
Suggestion: Starve this pattern one moment at a time (meaning don’t feed it a drug or a drink). Ask for help from above and around you. “God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change…” Put yourself in the presence of sober people. Breathe and sense your body. Hang in one moment at a time…and your path to liberation will unfold.
Beautiful Hearty Sixes in Recovery
Teresa, sober twenty-five years, says, “I’m scared every day. I’ve never gotten rid of it. I walk through it every day and it has yet to kill me! I hate to fly, yet I have flown to Tibet and taken care of orphans every year for the past fourteen years. I am terrified every time I get on the plane, certain I will not make it. If I don’t step through the fear my life becomes dedicated to managing fear, rather than living audaciously.” Teresa is one of those outrageously courageous recovering women who, with a little knowledge of the Enneagram, combined with awareness around the power of sensing her body and developing a quiet mind, could transform much of this fear she breathes in every day into deep stillness, intuitive clarity, and inner security. But in the meantime, she’s taken on the Goliath of her fear directly and endures the suffering of terror that resides on her trip to Tibet, the gold being the loving connections she experiences with the Tibetan kids she nurtures. Awesome courage.
Maria, as well, is a recovering Type Six, a salt of the earth sweetheart, a rough and tumble Idaho girl who’s both rugged as a horse and tender and kind as a kitten. Sober ten years, she’ll dish out what you deserve, truly. No words minced. If you are kind, she will give you kindness in spades. If you are snarky, she’ll push snarky right back at you. Tough and direct when called for, kind and generous when needed, dedicated to humanitarian realism and action, for Maria everyone is equal and deserves relief from their suffering. She’s no one’s dummy (as she’d say, swagger in her gait) and doesn’t like to take shit from anyone. She might not know all the highfaluting, smart-sounding words you might try to impress her with, “Whatever!” she scowls, but she knows what is earthy-real. It’s in her eyes, it’s in her body, it’s in her heart, she radiates and feels it. She relies on it and can smell danger a mile away, be it a deluded narcissist trying to impress her, a client in a rehab center who’s fixing to put one over on her, or an employee sucking up to the boss. You name it, her bullshit detector is screamingly awake and in the weave of the invisibility—the subtle emotional currents that fill the room—she senses the razor-edge of a lie, she earthily-attuned to danger and disturbance in the Force on a variety of levels. Usually, it’s an uncanny, instantaneous knowing that arises in her. Zing, there it is! She just reads it in the field of the individual. Sneaky triangles happening at work, she flushes them out in a heartbeat and is vigilant not to get caught in the smarmy dynamics.
On the other hand, if you are genuinely suffering she’ll give you the shirt off her back. She is about as real as you can get, and she spots ‘real’ needs. You could call it ‘Idaho’ real, meaning “What you see is what you get, and if you feed me crap, you get it right back. Not here to kiss the earth under your feet, mister, or bear the brunt of your self-importance; don’t care how pretty you think you are or how much ya’ think of yourself; I’ve got bigger priorities, like my husband and son, my dedication to addicted-hurting clients, and my faith in God. So don’t try to trip me up with your narcissistic agendas or manipulations cause we don’t play to that sort of ‘stupid’ in this neck of the woods.” Like many Sixes, no filter exists in her real communications.
Her radar is finely attuned to egotists (They’re damn troublemakers!), those who think they are a cut above the rest. She spots their Achilles heel every time and ruthlessly but joyfully points it out, unafraid of consequences (a lot like Michael Moore, I might add). “Hey Hank, you’re a little high on yourself today, what’s up? Not getting enough praise and adoration? Poor thing! You’re having a difficult time hanging out with us mortals? Here, have a cup a coffee, relax, chill out, things will get better,” she says, grinning ear to ear, eyes gleaming and piercing into Hank’s ego-unveiled eyes, pleased that she has put another rooster on notice, meaning ‘I can see exactly what you’re up to and it ain’t pretty, mister, it ain’t pretty. Just thought you should know.” Never mind it’s her less than healthy Type Eight boss who parades around the office like a grand peacock, his every step boasting his magnificence. But something about her ballsy approach softens him and he comes out from behind his facade. He softens and drops his guard. Like I said, she’s a snake charmer.
Maria is untouchable because she works so hard at what she does, managing the office, going out of her way to help men at the drug rehab who have real emergencies, giving 120% because she is driven by her commitments, whether she is applauded or not. Makes no difference to her. She is dedicated and responsible to the core. Not here to ‘put on a show’ but to do what is expected of her, and what she has dedicated herself to. Plain and simple. Addiction recovery has allowed her to transform her anxiety into a steady faith, mindfulness, and intuitive clarity. At her best, she is unequivocally courageous, direct, and balls to the wall, fierce. Followed by the tenderness of a kitten, or the fearfulness of a cowering puppy. But that puppy does not cower for long.
The Recovery Journey
First days in rehab (or AA, or a counselor’s office) the Six can barely sit in his skin. It’s as if he is sitting in a fire, the fire of “Are you telling me the truth? Do you know what you are talking about? How do I know you know anything?” Doubt…doubt…and more doubt.
“I know I’m a damn Six, I worry about everything, I second-guess everything, I don’t know whose advice to take and I don’t want to take any advice from anyone. I want to be independent, but I feel like a weak little boy who is always looking for Daddy and Mommy to guide me and tell me what to do. And then I get really mad when people tell me what to do. I want to be a grown-up, but I feel like a kid. I’m just never sure about anything. Back and forth I go. In my head is a constant argument between warring parties, arguing about what to trust. It’s awful. And every time I get sober this is what I go through, this indecision and not knowing what to do, what not to do, who to trust, and who not to trust. Are people telling me the truth or are they purposely deceiving me? What are their motives? Man, I get so suspicious. I just can’t tell. And then I take advice from the wrong people, I can see that now, finally. And they rip me off because I’m a nice guy and I want to help, I hate to see people suffer, and then I drink because it takes my suffering away. My mind stops for a while and what a relief. Then the whole thing starts up again. I hate it.”
The Six must learn to sit through the waves of fear. More than anything they need compassion and a reminder that the longer they stay clean the quieter things will get…slowly, if they do the necessary work. The Six in men’s rehab will glide from being outrageously funny, able to articulate the foibles of their doubting mind with such raw humor everyone will be in stitches—welcome Chris Rock—their self-depreciating zeal and fierce earthiness both touching and highly engaging, and then will sharply plunge into deep distrust of everyone, becoming over-sensitive to teasing, feeling insecure and suspicious of everyone, and unable to notice a single positive attribute he possesses. He swings from despair to anger, too timid shyness to unbridled rebelliousness, to awesome and stark courage.
This is life at Level 6 and 7—unconscious and often reactive. When the Type Six gets unhealthy due to substance abuse, one of their finest capacities disappears, the ability to be tuned into their intuition and inner guidance. When healthy they are in direct contact with their intuitive knowing. Their mind is still and clear. Awake to the moment, when challenging situations arise they simply know how to respond. This innate GPS allows them to relax, to be present and to trust. And of course, their addiction distorts this capacity and creates the opposite: they feel like a kid who’s been dropped off in an alien culture where they don’t know the language or the people and have no idea how to find their parents. (Watch Open Water to get the feel of this!)
Helping the Six—the Dark Fortune-Teller
When the Type Six’s are feeling powerless and panicked—like a cornered, unprotected animal—and are filled with feelings of inferiority, they can attack and berate others, lashing out in response to a paranoid belief that others are out to get them. Mind-readers, they hold internal conversations with you without your knowledge, believing the imagined paranoid statements they ‘hear’ you making in their imaginary conversation, provoking them to strike out and accuse. In a sudden flash they become reactive and blame/judge/indict the individual they’ve been mind-reading. Seconds later, having a moment of sanity, they are filled with regret and remorse for their actions. They apologize profusely. They become compliant. And then, the wheels of their suspicion again turn on without their permission, and they go into a reactive replay at the object of their betrayal. In the beginning, they are often possessed by this rollercoaster of reactive emotions and this habit of mind-reading. One second docile, kind, considerate, and the next moment ferocious, defensive and outraged.
The Six in early recovery experiences tremendous inner confusion, polarities of feeling and thought, all of this held in the sticky glue of pessimism, i.e., nothing will work, there’s no one I can trust, I can never retrieve my life, it’s your fault, no, it’s my fault! Damn, I can’t make up my mind! With a light heart remind them of the inherited pattern Six’s fall into when afraid: imagining the worst-case scenario—catastrophizing something horrid is going to happen! Help them to intercept this pattern and learn to name it and observe it before the trance hypnotizes them.
Along with extending much compassion and acceptance for the difficult inner world Six’s inhabit and not taking it personally when suddenly attacked or accused—you can offer the Type Six this gentle observation: their imagined conversations are easy to mistake for real conversations. Encourage them to speak to it out loud: “I’m having an imagined conversation with Tom and it feels real. I’m imaging he’s saying negative things about me and growing angrier and angrier. Yet we haven’t even had a conversation. Help me sort this out!” Teach them to do reality checks before acting, for instance, having a conversation with their counselor or sponsor can dissolve a delusion in the making. Teach them to forgive themselves, to understand that this mind-reading pattern has a life of its own and will unleash without their permission. It’s not their fault they have it but is their responsibility to tame it! Apologizing sincerely to those they’ve attacked will make the pattern more conscious. After enough apologies, a window of awareness will open up and they won’t have to ride this reactive, suspicion horse into an imaginary battle. Then, the angels will sing.
Kindly remind them that when they get scared that they instinctively begin to blame others for their state of stress. They must learn to observe it—the flood of blame thoughts—and communicate it to counselors/sponsors/allies before they believe the thoughts and unleash them. Suggest saying something like, “I’m experiencing a flood of blame thoughts towards Tom and feeling really justified and right about it.” Gently remind them that blame does not help and puts them in the position of the victim, keeping their spiritual and psychological waters muddied and agitated. Relief does not arrive through the channel of blame.
With a loving heart remind them that as vigorously as they blame others, in a heartbeat this blame pattern will be reversed toward them by their Inner Critic. (You’re loading up the guns of your Inner Critic when you indulge in blaming or judging others. Now he’s locked and loaded, primed to attack you viciously!). Teach them to notice and sense the fear or hurt in the moment that turns into blame, allowing it to reside inside them, holding it with kindness, feeling the sensations in the body, keeping it in ‘conscious’ awareness. This alone will help them to derail the blame-train, which is their unconscious escape from the discomfort of fear.
The Snarky Scared Type Six
In residential treatment, a go-to survival strategy for the Six is to find out what is expected of him, i.e., what are the rules that when followed will give him a sense of stability, predictability, and settles his sense of disorientation. At Mercy House he is required to do a job and, driven by his predisposition, he will not only do his job but will notice who isn’t doing their jobs and fall into complaining. (His ego-story is “I am responsible and wish others would be too!”) He asks, “How come George isn’t doing his job. I’m doing what I’m supposed to, how come he isn’t? What are these rules for if no one enforces them? Why aren’t people more responsible—like me!” Great patience is required, and the knowledge that he is wired this way under stress. For a period of time, he will remind you of how everyone, including the counselors, are not living up to their agreements and what is expected of them. Never mind that a trail of unconscious, over-the-edge, irresponsible actions trail him like a bounty hunter.
Mark, a beloved Six, swings from revealing the truth of his life, the heart-breaking errors he’s made that make it difficult for him to see his kids—to being enraged that chores aren’t being done in the rehab, he wondering Where’s the accountability, dudes! Often he is grumpy and edgily-threatening to the other men, not afraid to mouth off and condemn someone on the spot for their laziness, or whatever ill-natured quality he sees in them. Under stress he is driven to taking sides, his side against the other, the good guys against the bad guys, and so easily can turn his attention to habitual complaint and protest (some would call it whining!) to then laying heart-breaking self-blame on himself. He’s a crusty one, men will say, always grumbling. Yet the truth is he has suffered terrible loses and his sorrow plays out in this manner. Almost in the same breath of complaint, he will be making an effort to help somebody get the clothes they need, or direct someone towards a needed social service, food stamps, general assistance; or even cheering someone up who seems down. Complaining and helping, back and forth, he a study in opposites.
As he continues to open up he discovers a personal truth: his crustiness and grumbling are the way he deals with anxiety. In vulnerable moments he will talk about his fear and worry about his life, and his despair that he will never resolve these matters. And while he might be caught in a complaint about another’s inability to follow the rules, it is never done from a place of “I’m better than him.” More attentive and responsible perhaps, but not better.
Trust will not come easily to him. He will see the forces of life working fully against him, he in a dog-fight to survive the opposing forces. But if you are consistent and true to your word, if you treat him as a fellow man; if you have an earthy humility, he will grow to trust you, and rely on you. And as he feels safer and calms down a bit, the edges of his negativity will begin to soften. At heart he wants to be in community with those around him, playing an integral part in creating a team effort. As he develops more compassion for his mistakes, sees that no one judges him as harshly as he judges himself, his softer side will appear more frequently, his open heart more will become more visible to others.
He will need to question and doubt everything. He will need to know if you think he’s doing okay, is he getting better, do you think so? Really? How can you tell? Are you just feeling sorry for him? His confidence will be in continuous flux for a good period of time. He will trust you and then he won’t trust you. Back and forth he will travel. Don’t take it personally; he’s doing the very best he can. Sometimes he will give all his trust over to you and fall into doing exactly what you suggest for him. You have become his inner authority. Your job as a therapist or friend or sponsor is to challenge him to not attach so strongly to your opinion but to begin to take baby steps in trusting himself. But don’t be surprised that just about the time you think he’s fully agreed to follow one of your suggestions, he does the opposite. In fact, count on it. It’s just how he’s wired!
Your mission as a therapist (sponsor or friend) is to roll with it, to expect it, to be steady in your receptivity to him. This is the best anchor you can provide and one that he desperately needs. Even though he changes his opinion, his decisions, and his perspective rapidly and without warning, at least he can see that you are steady in your attention and present with him. You can, with quiet and still presence watch him move back and forth without being thrown by it. This teaches him to do the same, that in the midst of his back and forth movements there is something that is steady and able to watch within him. You teach him to begin to watch and observe himself without judgment and not to be thrown by his back and forth movement by your stable and deep presence.
Your steadiness will begin to permeate him, touch him, touch what is at his core—his Essence, his sturdy, unshakable Being—and to call it forth such that it becomes available to him. Trust this process. By being a still, grounded container of presence you begin to permeate his confusion with an energy that is inherent to his soul, that wants to come forward, that is his True Nature. This presence alone can be a game changer. Model it…and he becomes it…starts to notice that buried underneath the chaos of his mad-hatter-worried-catastrophizing-where’s-the-next-emergency Type Six mind…is this inherent stillness, just waiting to be touched.
The Zen of AA, Worry, and Self-Sabotage
Each Type arrives in dearly recovery thoroughly shell-shocked. All feel that their core fear has been established as a reality. The One: I’m bad. The Two: I am unlovable. The Three: I have no value. The Four: I’m an insignificant nobody. The Five: I’m am not wanted here.
The Six has certitude around the issue of abandonment and certainty: There is none. He is abandoned. No one supports him. There is no path home. He knows he’s blown the doors off anything or anyone he can trust, including himself, by his addictive actions. He seriously wonders if he will ever feel supported again by anyone. Whatever certainty he had disappeared through the window of his erratic addiction spiral. He feels he has let everyone down. His anxiety has gone full blown as his addiction has soared, and caught in an anxiety- frenzy, he has alienated everyone. At his worst, he has scared others by abandoning them, by not supporting them, by making them feel as fearful as he feels, by attacking them to unsettle their safety. He has become what he has feared in others and he is shaking in the aftermath of his actions. How could he ever act this way?
The Six’s protective mechanism for dealing with the sense that there is no solid ground underneath them is by wrapping themselves around a belief, a code of behavior, a clearly defined path. Just give them the map of what is expected. This could be the code of AA, where they become strict advocates of the AA rules, expectations, and philosophy. They follow it, hold on to it, as their life-raft (make no mistake, it might save their life). Gripping the AA ideas, they rigidly advocate and promote this path. In essence, they replace their lost sense of inner knowing with an external form of authority. This is not an altogether bad thing because it may get them sober long enough so that they start to nurture their relationship with their own presence and inner guidance. Obedient and dutiful, the 12-Step program becomes their missing authority. At the start they are quivering and vacillating between trying to trust again while simultaneously retreating in shame for violating the very codes of loyalty and commitments they’ve believed in. They harshly judge themselves, guilt a crushing weight on their soul. Give me the rules, so there is something to hang on to. A structure. A rope. No matter how crazy and tipped-upside-down I become, at least I’ve got the AA program (or my church, or a belief structure that guides me.)
In early recovery they are torn between two extremes: following the rules—so as to not upset anyone and increase their chances of safety. Or suddenly rebelling against their fear and acting out against the environment they are trying to please and placate, attacking impulsively those that they are seeking guidance and support from. They will test all their supports, push them away, just to see if they will hang in. This could be their counselors and fellow 12-Step members, or anyone who is a part of their circle of help. It is this rebellion and compelling impulse to self-sabotage that can undo all of their efforts to be sober and clean.
When the Six loses touch with their intuitive guidance their mind goes into hyper-kinetic-override trying to provide the feeling of guidance by worrying about everything. So much so that the Six begins to feel that “If I don’t worry, then I’m not prepared. If I actually trust something, such as AA, I’m not prepared for danger. Trusting means putting myself at risk.” This makes it extremely difficult for the Six to trust their instincts and their decisions, and as they succumb to addiction, their GPS is scattered in a hundred directions, they unable to know what is trustable within them. As they get sober and begin to settle down, an important hallmark of their growth is in slowly but surely gaining confidence in their innate wisdom and ability to trust their decisions. This does not happen quickly and many times they will turn to others to be their guiding light.
Sixes want to trust with all their soul, so they can feel secure and protected. Thus, “trust” and “guidance,” although central to every type in recovery, is even more important to the Six. Equally palpable for the Six is the fear that they will suddenly be put in circumstances that they don’t know how to navigate, as if suddenly lost in a strange land where no one speaks their language. It’s this kind of dread that greets them each morning, the sense that suddenly I will not know what to do, will not be prepared adequately, will face unpredictable and unforeseen circumstances. This is a core fear, being abandoned by all of life, no guiding light to assure their navigation through life. In response to this, Sixes develop vigilance and watchfulness for any signs of unexpected events intruding and blindsiding them. If they just prepare enough, cover all their bases, go over all the possibilities they might be safe, might establish certainty and avert disaster. Nagging at them is the worry that they might have missed something, that they will be unable to divert the catastrophe they sense is lurking hidden in the next moment. To keep working, keep preparing, and do what they can in the face of feeling it’s not enough—these are the Six’s robotic patterns they are challenged to master.
Several Sixes describe it this way: the moment their eyes open in the morning, worry and anxiety turn-on in their perceptual stream of awareness. One can only imagine what that would be like, to wake up and instantly go into worry mode, fear mode, with anxiety entering your first breaths of the day–addicted to worry, being ever-vigilant, and not feeling safe. And counter-intuitively believing that worry makes them safe! Egads! There is a path to healing, and first and foremost is the necessity of learning to develop a quiet mind. In so doing one can settle, be internally still, the fluctuations of the mind quieting like a clear, still, lake. The Six will be challenged to find a technique that allows for this transformation and healing of the thinking center.
The Challenging Journey Home
Arriving in addiction recovery, the Six support system consists of a group of strangers trying to recover from addiction, members of alcoholics anonymous, or men at a rehab center. Strangers, broken strangers, and none of them seem reliable and steady. The Six thinks, “I better find that one person who I can commit to, who can be my strength and who I can count on. Who, by my association with them, will give me a sense of strength that I cannot feel on my own. They will be the strength I wish for, that I feel is missing, that I can’t seem to embody from the inside out.” And so, the Type Six radar goes on the search, looking for someone to be loyal to, someone who can fill in for their missing sense of inner support and inner strength. If they find someone they can attach to, they bring new meaning to the word “attach.” They become loyally attached.
The individual in early recovery is hungry for safety. Willing, in some ways, to go to any length for this safety, and yet trusting nothing, no one, not even oneself. Tossed back and forth by anxiety, and always questioning everything they think or do, never sure if they are perceiving reality correctly, least of all the motivations of others. In compensation for this doubt, the Six finds several sources of support, sometimes unwittingly collecting more than one sponsor, more than one counselor, more than one support group. As a guide to the Six, asking the simple question: “What new support system have you added to your life this week?” can be very useful in helping the Six not spread themselves thin in their search for sources of support.
The good news: the Six, as they maintain sobriety, as they endure and transform fear patterns, will settle down, will land in their essential nature, will begin to experience the sense of inner authority and clarity that they seek. All of this is learnable, slowly and steadily. Everyone in recovery must take a journey like this. Slow, steady, walk with and through the fear…that’s the Type Six drill.
Suggestions for Navigating Recovery
- You must make friends with your worry habit. You’ve come installed with a Type Six Worry Program. It’s a part of the psychological hardware of YOU! It’s a program that runs whether you want it to or not, and your job is to begin to relax some of your attachment to it. One Six describes it this way: “I wake up in the morning and seconds after I’ve opened my eyes an electric current of anxiety begins to course through me. With this running through me I naturally start scanning my inner library of known things to worry about until I find something. It only takes a second, actually, such that I match up a subject of worry with the energy stream of anxiety running through me. It’s as if I need to make sense of the anxiety and that this will make me feel better. I rarely see the mechanism that creates this. First step: give the worry-pattern a name, an identity, a face, a size, a name, a gender, and declare out loud “Voldemort is streaming worry scenarios through my mind. Have mercy!” See it and feel it in your body, heart, and thinking center.
- Notice your bargain with worry. A Type Six bargain has been struck with some unseen force that goes like this: If I put enough time into worrying, and suffering from worrying, this will be a form of ‘preparation’ that perhaps will ward off anything bad happening to me. If I’m anxious and worried, then I will be safe and okay. That is, I’ll end my worry by worrying.” Your challenge: You must develop a quiet mind, and a willingness to let go of worrying as a way of propping up a sense of weirdly crafted false security.
- The Zen of doubting and Your Inner Review Board. The agony of the doubting mind is that what the Six knows to be true suddenly loses its surety within them. “Three seconds ago I felt absolutely sure about the next step I must take. I took a breath and all confidence disappeared.” Their thought screen, once vividly clear, is suddenly foggy upon review of their actions or decisions. They might clearly “know” that a certain action they took was done correctly in the moment but their doubting-mind, fueled by a team of saboteurs in the hidden back corridors of their perception, throws doubt on everything they are certain of. The voice of the Inner Critic/Review Board says, “Maybe that wasn’t so good. Hmmm…I doubt it was done correctly. If you are certain, you are sorely mistaken. Better to be doubting. Self-doubt means you are responsible and not arrogant. Self-confidence will lead to more errors.” This is a rare form of internal torture—the horror of second-guessing. A dear friend calls it—‘a loss of confidence in myself’—as their sense of inner, palpable sureness, is fogged out by their doubting-mind that inaccurately revisits actions taken, revving up second guessing! You must find a trusted friend to help you break this trance!
- Learn to stop indulging your self-doubt. You must stop indulging and laying down in the strange, negative comfort of worry. Counterintuitively, you may have to endure the anxiety of not being anxious, or the discomfort of feeling confident, as a first step away from worry. Your Inner Critic will whisper: “Because you are not self-doubting, disaster edges ever closer to you!” Suggestions: Develop an exercise habit that needs your full attention and gets you out of the thinking center! Develop the capacity to inhabit your body through sensing practices. Let people support you when engulfed in doubt. Or as some schools suggest, stand with your arms outstretched, parallel to the ground for 10 minutes. The physical focus and will it takes to accomplish this requires taking your attention out of your thinking center, the home of your worry. Or, step into a cold shower for 10 minutes. Presto, worried-mind disappears into the effort to survive and not leave the shower. Try it, you’ll be surprised at the results.
- Stop reviewing yourself! It’s a form of self-torture. You can trust yourself, you just have to give yourself a chance. Dear Six friends describe this as nights lying awake, compulsively reviewing the day behind them, asking themselves the question, “Did I make the right decision? Did I have the facts straight? Did I do it correctly? Am I certain of the position I took? Is this a horrid mistake I made or was I actually correct in my actions?” And then re-imagining and re-feeling the situation over and over again, trying to establish a state of calm and certainty that rarely comes through these means. Do any inner “Stop” and turn your attention away. Try this meditation: Like a cat at the mouse-hole of your mind, you patiently name the worry, go back to your breath, and welcome the next worry. Touch it and let it go. This dis-identification will help you to not bond with every worry/second-guessing thought that emerges in your precious psyche!
- Begin to notice that your first intuition regarding the correct course of action is often accurate and can be trusted. If you pay attention to your intuition you will begin to realize that you often know exactly what needs to be done. However, if you hesitate for a second or two, and the crowd of your internal committee/review board—your ‘inner rugby team’ one Six calls it—begins negotiations with you, the wisdom of your inner knowing gets drown out in the ruckus. You must practice stepping into your initial knowing, stepping with and through the fear. With practice comes confidence.
- Discover what brings you into a state of peace. Some possibilities are yoga, painting, weaving, your favorite crafts, walking, swimming, meditating, dancing, or singing…find what works for you and nurture it. Learning to trust quiet mind is als0 growing edge for you. This is moving in the direction of Type Nine, where you become deeply still, peacefully embodied, settled and at peace.
- You must begin to own your courage and capacity. Six’s develop a habit of disowning their capacities. It’s as if they say to themselves, “It I disregard or play down my successes then I am being a careful, humble, practical, and responsible.” Notice your tendency to take for granted what you do for others. Here’s an example: It is often true that Type Six’s are deeply committed to their children (as in awesomely committed) and will move heaven and earth to assist them, but they don’t count this beautiful capacity as noteworthy. The reasoning is: “I can do that well, so why note it?” However, the areas where you are struggling are noteworthy! This is a form of negative narcissism, wherein you make myself feel like a good person for noting how bad or ineffective you are. Suggestion: notice yourself doing this and stop!
- Notice your tendency to develop too many support systems. Sixes are funny this way. Not all of them of course, but a certain strain of them does this thing in recovery that no sooner have they gotten a sponsor, they then start looking for another sponsor-type influence. Then they add a spiritual mentor, then a coach, then one, two or three more 12 step groups. For whatever reasons adding another support system alleviates anxiety for a while—so they are less likely to feel abandoned! They all become a part of the Six’s Inner Committee. This tendency can make it difficult and confusing, with too many authorities influencing their decisions, making it difficult to develop a relationship with their own inner authority.
- Catch yourself in the act of complaining. To habitually complain can engender a feeling of false strength as if you are doing something about an issue. It drains your precious energy needed for embodying better states of joy, calm, peace, love, clarity, satisfaction and acceptance. Complaining is much like your habit of worrying. You unconsciously think if you complain enough, long enough and fierce enough, then your life will change for the better. In fact you will nurture negativity. Your intuition will get muted. Your clarity of perception will shut down. Get help from loved ones as in, “Please, help me notice when I’m needlessly complaining so that I can be more aware of it.” You’ll be surprised how willing they are to help you.
- A Meditation Practice. Sit down, feet on the floor, back against a chair and start by following your breath. As you begin to observe the flow of your thoughts, check in and notice and label the thoughts, and say to yourself: “Oh, how very interesting. I’m having a fear-thought about ________. (Then breathe, let it go and wait for the next one.) Oh, yes, here comes another fearful thought about __________. (Then breathe, let it go and wait for the next one.) And another worried thought about _________. (Then breathe, let it go and wait for the next one.)” There is a thought-storm of fear/worry thoughts pouring through you unbidden and you don’t have to attach to any of them. Notice also, thoughts almost have a personality that demands that you listen and be loyal to them, that say to you, “Hey, these are Big Deal thoughts. You better listen to me or you are doomed to a horrific ending.”
They are just thoughts. Nothing more. You don’t have to believe them! You might think, “Not only am I wired to be loyal to certain people or beliefs, I’m wired to be loyal to my worrying thoughts.” Stop it. That is, the second you notice yourself caught in repetitious thought, declare a firm inner “Stop” and refocus your attention.
Dear Six, you can do this! You can find support, you can learn to trust yourself, you can learn to bring forth your wonderful gifts of serving others, connecting them to their best, heralding the underdog. The world needs you and you deserve to be here. So keep showing up. There is much hope for you. One day at a time, one moment at a time, trust the unfolding! In time you will discover that the universe has your back!