So much that emerges in our adult relationships we bring from our childhood. We build a template replicated from our earliest experiences that shows us how to create connections.
The perfect childhood doesn’t exist. Perhaps we come from a family where we had reasonable parenting and grew up believing that people are inherently good and to trust our interactions with others. Or maybe we come from a traumatized family system. This environment may have been chaotic, abusive, or emotionally closed and we learned the world is dangerous and people are not to be trusted.
What is Projection?
We unconsciously zoom in on unwanted emotions or qualities that we don’t like and attribute them to someone else. We are unknowingly avoiding something about ourselves.
- Say you dislike Steve, but are unable to acknowledge this, so you persuade yourself that Steve doesn’t like you. This protects you against feeling lousy for disliking someone no matter what the reason. Allowing you to sidestep something you can’t admit that exists within yourself.
Feeling insecure about some aspect of ourselves; unconsciously, we find ways to identify insecurity in others. Think about the bully who targets others’ insecurity so they can escape dealing with their own feelings.
Projection urges us to feel superior and ignore our own shortcomings, focusing in on what we deem defective in others. Failing to see the good as we are solely focused on their imperfections.
It’s Not Me… It’s You
I am talking to my partner and he says something that touches into my own trauma history. Instead of being able to own what I’m feeling, I shift my anxiety and distress onto him. It is now because of him that I do not feel okay. And instead of dealing with my activation, I blame him for how I am feeling. It is now all about him and it is his fault.
We create an atmosphere of “us and them”. I start protecting myself. We are no longer connected. Most people have had an experience where they feel excluded whether it’s in our family, workplace, school, or community. At some point, we have felt that sense of not belonging and rejection.
Feeling comfortable in your own skin is important but feeling safe with others is revolutionary
It takes courage to look within to see where we may have created some of the difficulties we have experienced. The mirrors, people and circumstances, we pull towards us are an opportunity that allows us to go within and explore the hidden fears.
We continue attracting the mirrors needed for our growth and evolution until we can feel more of our truth. We may uncover a new direction and create a new template for developing deeper connections, intimacy, and allowing more love in.
Responding To Projection
YOU PROJECT Projection tends to be unconscious and there can be intense feelings of being wronged with an obsessive quality to it; we keep turning it over in our minds. To become more conscious of it helps to shift it as you are pointing your focus toward something more constructive.
Try to face problems and clashes more directly instead of becoming defensive. Change places: if you think about how the other person feels you can humanize them, and maybe have a little more compassion.
OTHERS PROJECT Some common projections : you’re selfish, crazy, judgmental, angry or it’s always about you. When you’re on the receiving end of the projection it is essential you don’t get trapped. They want you to defend, explain argue, discuss, project back. They want the focus on you instead of themselves. The worse they feel about themselves, the more vicious the attack.
The best practice here is not to engage and give yourself space to remove yourself from the situation.
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