In Emotions and the Enneagram, Margaret Frings Keyes defines projection as “denying a particular feeling in ourselves and sensing it as coming from the other person.” She assures us “the same unconscious which generated the projections also strives to correct them” and describes that process:

Projection:When we believe what we believe is so.

Doubt Denied: Some information doesn’t quite fit, but “louder and wronger,” we insist it is so.

Recognition:“Small and ugly” self-blame for wrong perception.

Empathy:We can see the other’s point of view.

Assimilation: We shift to include the complexity of feeling two ways about something/ someone.

According to John and Joyce Weir (self-differentiation), though we typically act as if there’s a truth in the world around us, in fact, we create that world based on the meaning we give it. In Enneagram terms, that meaning automatically shows up through the dynamics of our particular style. There’s a constant stream of neutral input, but we select from that input based on our unique biases, forming perceptions that constantly reinforce our beliefs, even though they keep us in ruts of our own making. 

This process is mostly unconscious, but we can bring it to consciousness by:

  • assuming there’s no objective world out there, only the projection of our own perceptions,
  • recognizing that as adults we keep recreating the beliefs we were conditioned to as children, and
  • taking complete responsibility for how we behave (accepting that we can’t change other people, nor can we take responsibility for how they choose to behave).

As an experiment, take a look at your language and do the following:

Take responsibility for your projections by internalizing them through language (say these first to yourself as you learn to “try them on”):

  • Instead of saying or thinking, “Sally can’t be trusted,” say “The Sally in me can’t be trusted.”
  • Instead of saying or thinking, “It gave me a headache when my boss made me so mad,” say “I gave myself a headache when the boss in me made me so mad.”

Take personal ownership of your language:

  • Say “I” or “me” instead of “it”, “one”, “you”, or “we”.
  • For example, instead of “One should be careful,” say “I should be careful.”

Explicitly distinguish feelings from thoughts: 

  • For example, instead of saying “I think I’m scared,” say “I feel scared.” Even if you don’t experience the feeling right away, you’re giving your unconscious the message to let you feel what you feel.
  • On the other hand, be explicit about your thoughts. For example, instead of saying “I feel my boss is unfair,” say “I think my boss is unfair.” This brings you in touch with the beliefs that drive your behavior.

Projection:When we believe what we believe is so.

Doubt Denied: Some information doesn’t quite fit, but “louder and wronger,” we insist it is so.

Recognition:“Small and ugly” self-blame for wrong perception.

Empathy:We can see the other’s point of view.

Assimilation: We shift to include the complexity of feeling two ways about something/ someone.

According to John and Joyce Weir (self-differentiation), though we typically act as if there’s a truth in the world around us, in fact, we create that world based on the meaning we give it. In Enneagram terms, that meaning automatically shows up through the dynamics of our particular style. There’s a constant stream of neutral input, but we select from that input based on our unique biases, forming perceptions that constantly reinforce our beliefs, even though they keep us in ruts of our own making. 

This process is mostly unconscious, but we can bring it to consciousness by:

  • assuming there’s no objective world out there, only the projection of our own perceptions,
  • recognizing that as adults we keep recreating the beliefs we were conditioned to as children, and
  • taking complete responsibility for how we behave (accepting that we can’t change other people, nor can we take responsibility for how they choose to behave).

As an experiment, take a look at your language and do the following:

Take responsibility for your projections by internalizing them through language (say these first to yourself as you learn to “try them on”):

  • Instead of saying or thinking, “Sally can’t be trusted,” say “The Sally in me can’t be trusted.”
  • Instead of saying or thinking, “It gave me a headache when my boss made me so mad,” say “I gave myself a headache when the boss in me made me so mad.”

Take personal ownership of your language:

  • Say “I” or “me” instead of “it”, “one”, “you”, or “we”.
  • For example, instead of “One should be careful,” say “I should be careful.”

Explicitly distinguish feelings from thoughts: 

  • For example, instead of saying “I think I’m scared,” say “I feel scared.” Even if you don’t experience the feeling right away, you’re giving your unconscious the message to let you feel what you feel.
  • On the other hand, be explicit about your thoughts. For example, instead of saying “I feel my boss is unfair,” say “I think my boss is unfair.” This brings you in touch with the beliefs that drive your behavior.