After our most recent 9-part blog series on the topic of how our defense mechanisms serve as guardians of our type-based ego structures, many people asked for ideas about how to work with and lessen our defense mechanisms. This new 9-part series responds to that request. Please note that we all use many defense mechanisms, each type has a particular defense that arises when we are the most throttled, anxious, sad or angry. In addition, defense mechanisms serve a protective function, so it is neither realistic nor even desirable to try to remove them completely, lessening them and relaxing them, however, can be beneficial in reducing our ego-structure’s hold on our development and transformation, both psychologically and spiritually.
The Three’s primary defense mechanism | identification
Identification is a psychological defense mechanism in which a person unconsciously incorporates attributes and characteristics of another person into his or her own sense of self. Identification is a way of bolstering one’s self-esteem by forming an imaginary or real alliance with an admired person, then taking on that person’s characteristics. When Threes model their own behavior after someone else or the idea they have of someone, they are usually not aware they are doing so. For this reason, it becomes complicated for them to untangle who they really are from this internalized image. In particular, Threes identify most with images of individuals who are admired in the Three’s desired social context, and the person/image with which Threes identify can change as their context changes, as well as change over time. In addition to identifying with people, whether real, famous, historical or even fictional, Threes also identify with what they do or with their roles as a vehicle to generate the admiration they want from others.
How to lessen identification
Ask yourself, who am I?
This question is about who you really are, in addition to or at a deeper level, than a listing of roles, functions and activities in which you engage. You can feel proud of your accomplishments and also recognize that who you are is more than that, deeper than that. Try completing this sentence multiple times: “I am….” Explore personal qualities – for example, kind, insightful, encouraging – and things you love – for example, a lover of animals, a person who enjoys good food. There are no right or wrong answers. There are simply answers. Do the above activity daily, even writing down your answers.
Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD, the author of seven Enneagram-business books, is a speaker, consultant, trainer, and coach. She provides certification programs and training tools for business professionals around the world who want to bring the Enneagram into organizations with high-impact business applications and is past-president of the International Enneagram Association. Visit: TheEnneagramInBusiness.com | firstname.lastname@example.org