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“Projection” is a psychological defense mechanism that people unconsciously employ in order to protect themselves from difficult feelings or emotions, in which you project your failings, your weaknesses, your insecurities, and other undesirable feelings onto other people. This allows you to insulate yourself from criticism, from genuine self-reflection, and from eventual transformation by refusing to take responsibility for your faults while simultaneously blaming others for them.
And we don’t only project our darkest shadows onto others, we also often project our own goodness as well, casting our own unintegrated virtues onto people who do not necessarily embody those same qualities — at least not in the same way that you do — which can further delay or even stunt your ongoing awakening and unfolding.
So long as you neglect the work required to Clean Up your own shadow projections, you diminish your ability to Wake Up to ever-present reality; you hinder the developmental inertia you need to Grow Up through increasing waves of wholeness; and you restrict your capacity to fully Show Up in your life, in your relationships, and in your world as the awakened force of evolutionary power that you truly are.
Whether you are projecting your highest angels or our darkest demons, it’s all just different flavors of self-delusion that ultimately undermines your happiness, sabotages your relationships, and warps your perception of the world into a shattered circus mirror where all you can see is your own distorted reflection.
In this riveting presentation, world-renowned Enneagram teacher Helen Palmer explores some of the primary patterns that our projections take, each pattern corresponding to our own Enneagram type. She also describes some simple techniques to help us identify and integrate our own psychological projections, helping us to fully own our unconscious shadows and reclaim the very best parts of ourselves.
This presentation was recorded at the 2018 What Now conference in Denver, CO.
Text by Corey deVos
- Try to think of a “negative relationship” in your life. Is there anyone who you frequently experience conflict, resistance, or friction with?
- Consider the possibility that the source of the friction you feel with this person does not only originate with them, but with you and your own unconscious and unintegrated qualities. Try to consciously relax any defensive thoughts that may arise as you reflect upon this question.
- Ask yourself, “What am I avoiding?” Oftentimes we have a difficult relationship with, for example, our own inner feelings of anger, so we project that anger onto others. “I’m not angry, you’re the one who is angry.”
- Once you have identified the deeper source of your projection, try to engage with it directly. Imagine that this unintegrated quality is sitting in a chair in front of you, and ask it, “What can I learn from you?”
- Now that you are in dialogue with your own pattern of projection, try to step into the difficult feeling or emotion at its core, and let it express whatever it needs to express through you. If it’s an aversion to anger, then be anger. If it’s an aversion to sadness, then be sadness. If its an aversion to vulnerability, then be vulnerable. See what it’s like to confront these challenging feelings head-on, so you can both enhance your own inner resiliency while also integrating the wisdom that is waiting for you at the very root of your particular pattern of projection.
- Most importantly, be kind to yourself. Projection is a perfectly natural psychological defense mechanism, and everyone does it. Simply bringing more awareness to your patterns of projection allows you to more easily recognize them whenever they do arise, which in turn loosens their grasp upon your thoughts, behaviors, and emotional wellbeing.
The Nine Enneagram Types
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About Helen Palmer
Helen Palmer is an internationally recognized teacher of intuition, and the best-selling author of five works in the human consciousness sector. She is the co-founder of Enneagram Worldwide and the Enneagram Professional Training Program offered by Enneagram Worldwide.