Projection in a psychological sense is defined by an unconscious self-defence mechanism characterised by a person unconsciously attributing their own issues onto someone or something else as a form of delusion and denial. As humans we often transfer our own guilt, thoughts or emotions to someone else during conversations or confrontation. It’s usually done unknowingly and it can be hard to pick apart if someone is actually addressing a real issue within you or themselves. For example someone with adulterous feelings might accuse their partner of infidelity.
Common Examples Within Your Daily Life
“They make me feel uncomfortable”.
This particularly common when we or others suffer from low self esteem. Rather than looking to ourselves we blame others as making us feel uncomfortable.
“If i can do it, you can do it”
With all the best intentions not everyone can do what you do, and making this assumption can cause upset and frustration on both sides. Social media and adverts use this tactic to sell products and it can be very harmful especially if you are expecting something unrealistic like ‘lose 100lbs in 10 days’. We are all individual and have varying capabilities for any given situation.
“They hate me”
We get most of our information from body language, and often we can pick up subtle clues that someone is feeling uncomfortable and we can read this as we are not liked. When nothing could be further from the truth. Sometimes we feel a dislike of someone purely as we have decided they also feel the same and construct this view to protect ourself from rejection.
When we react strongly to something the chances are we are reacting to a shame inside us for example, a dislike of porn could be from a feeling sexual shame. Commenting when people are dressed revealing could show a body insecurity. So next time you react to something in this manner try to figure out what projection is behind it.
“Look at the state of them”
We have all had moments when we have looked at a persons outer appearance and criticised it as its not what we find ‘attractive’ or ‘ideal’. This stems from a very deep routed feeling of insecure about our own physical appearance.
“They’re just stuck up”
Have you ever got the feeling someone is looking down their nose at you? Like your not good enough? This often signifies a feeling of inadequacy you hold for yourself in that given situation. It could be you feel your clothes are not suitable or you are not as clever. But you can be sure of one thing, the person is more likely NOT stuck up.
“They are having an affair”
This is very common in relationships and is usually caused by the shame of feeling attracted to another person or having adulterous feelings. It’s worth remembering its natural to find other people attractive. Its a whole other ball game to do something about it!
How to spot projection and how to deal with it?
Being mindful of what you are feeling and saying is the first step to spotting when you yourself project onto others. If you have a feeling such as, ‘they are being disrespectful’ ask yourself if its them being that or you? Projection often happens during conflict so it’s a good idea to take a deep breath and centring yourself before saying things you may identify as projection later on.
Projection is very common so spotting it in others is very easy, it can seem like the other person is concerned for you or being very precise in what they are saying for example, ‘i do not like the way she is dressed’. or ‘you are such a liar’. It can help you in deciding whether or not its something you should have a feeling about or whether you disregard it as an untruth.
For the most part projection is something that happens unconsciously and we have very little control in it. Having knowledge of what it is and how we can deal with it can make you be more successful when communicating with others and stop you from becoming unnecessarily upset by ill thought out comments from others.
Do you have some examples of projection you have experienced or use, let us know in the comments below.