An activity that looks at links between our „enemies“ and ourselves and how our view of our „enemies“ can tell us a lot about ourselves.
1. Ask all participants to write down three things that they hate or fear about their enemy. They should try to think of someone or a group of people that they really dislike, either for themselves or for what they represent. If they find it impossible to think in those terms, they can use as an enemy someone or a group of people they were taught to hate or fear as a child. (5 min).
2. Then participants should draw up a list of things they dislike.about themselves. Ask them to find things that they are genuinely uncomfortable about, or would really rather not acknowledge. They then add to the list things that they feel they are not, and would like to be. This list will not be shared with the whole group. (5 min).
3. In pairs, partners look at their lists, stating the three things that they dislike about their enemy. Ask them to see how many links they can make between the two lists. What do their enemies have in common with themselves? Can they see in them anything they reject in themselves, or anything they would like to be and are not? Make sure that pairs spend time on the lists of both partners – five minutes each. (10 min).
4. Back in the large group, people are told that they do not have to share all the information they wrote themselves or discussed in pairs. However, open out the discussion by asking questions like:
Did people find links between what they do not accept in themselves and what their enemies represent? Does this tell them anything about themselves or the nature of „enemies“? What can we learn from facing up to our own fears and hates?
It might prove useful to reform the pairs to consider these questions or to ask two pairs to join together to form small groups of four. Some general comments or discussion in the large group should draw out some of the main learning points from the exercise.
Some self-awareness and empathy for others are the main aims of this exercise as is an introduction to the nature of projection.
Cari Jung, an influential psychologist, suggested that we project what we dislike or fear about ourselves onto others and disassociate ourselves from it, thereby creating enemies. It is a tough concept to apply to ourselves because it requires us to see ways in which our enemies and we are the same. A good starting point is to look at what we have in common on a practical level, such as families, lifestyle, expectations, dreams and children. These links can be a good introduction to breaking down some psychological barriers.
Further exercises on the results of projection, in the form of hate and fear and prejudice and discrimination could follow.