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Projection Psychology: Understanding the Psychology of Projecting

Hello there. If you're read this article chances are you've heard of projection. You've been in that scenario where you're looking at someone who is upset at you thinking: "Isn't that just the pot calling the kettle black?" Or you've been in that situation where someone looks at you and says: "You're just projecting". But the thing is, most of us don't know the mechanism behind projecting. We don't know why we do it, or how to stop. This is, of course, why we're having this discussion today.

We are born whole, but that wholeness is short-lived. It's short-lived because we are born relationally dependent. To be born relationally dependent in a family that is not fully evolved yet, because society is not fully evolved yet, spells immense trouble. It means that we're about to learn that certain aspects of ourselves are acceptable, and certain aspects of ourselves are unacceptable. And this is where the trouble starts. What is acceptable versus unacceptable depends upon the family you're born into.

The aspects of us that are seen as unacceptable (both positive and negative) are rejected by our family, and the aspects that are seen as acceptable are accepted by our family. So being relationally dependent in the name of survival, we do anything we can to disown and deny and suppress those aspects of ourselves that are disapproved of and exaggerate those that are approved of. We dissociate from what we disapprove of. This creates a split within the person that we call the conscious and the subconscious.

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This self-preservation instinct is in fact, our first act of self-rejection. For example, a child is born into a family where anger is not an okay emotion to express. When the child gets angry, they're ashamed of that anger, so the child suppresses and deny their anger for the sake of survival within the household. But the anger does not go away. They just consciously deny it. It becomes subconscious. As an adult, this person will most likely not have any awareness that they have any anger in them at all. They will not and cannot see themselves clearly because they have denied that aspect of themselves.

So when people tell them that they are angry, they will not relate to that at all. They may only relate to themselves as easygoing. When we deny, suppress, or disown something it's not like it just disappears. we just lose our conscious awareness of it. We dissociate from the awareness of that thing. Now in order for us to recognize that thing that we are denying and suppressing, we have to feel the pain of the absence of that particular thing. No wonder self-awareness is so difficult.

Every human in existence that was ever socialized, which is everyone, went through this process of splitting themselves into parts. Parts that are owned and parts that were disowned. This self-rejection is the birth of self-hate. The emptiness that we feel is the result of those missing, rejected, or disowned parts of ourselves. And the soul is motivated for one thing; that's to make us whole again. We will be provided every single opportunity to become whole again. But in order to become whole again, we need to see and accept the aspects of ourselves that we've disowned. This is painful.

Self-awareness doesn't come naturally to people who like to avoid pain. Because in order for us to really get to a space of wholeness, what we have to do is to stop avoiding the pain, we have to stop avoiding that feeling of void that is inherently within us because of the missing aspects of ourselves, and instead, we need to go straight in the direction of it. So where does projection come into all of this? We tend to overcompensate for whatever trait we have suppressed or denied or rejected. For example, somebody who is super apathetic is going to suppress the aspect of themselves that strives, and someone who strives is most likely going to suppress the aspects of themselves that are apathetic.

Now because the soul is motivated in the direction of completion, in the direction of wholeness, it wants to find a partner that makes it feel more whole, so the external world becomes the substitute for what we're missing in our internal world. For this very reason, in our partnership and friendships, we tend to attract both extremes. We attract people into our lives who mirror both extremities within us so that we can have the opportunity to be aware of our own dichotomy. The law of attraction responds to both extremes.

The overcompensation, and the aspect of ourselves that we have suppressed to the extreme. We are matched to them even though they seem to be the opposite of us, because that denied self is still a part of us and is still, therefore, subject to the law of attraction. But our partners, romantic partners specifically, or those that are the very closest to us tend to be our opposing mirror. They reflect the attribute we suppressed and we reflect the aspect that they suppressed. The person who is apathetic, therefore, will most likely end up in a relationship with a success freak, and both of them will be caused pain by the other because each is a reminder of the rejected aspects of themselves. 

They reflect on each other on the lost self. Guess what? We recognize and see in other people the things we have rejected and denied within ourselves, This is really the essence of projection. When we notice an attribute in someone else that we have made not okay within ourselves long ago, we have the same reaction to that, that we did to that aspect within us the first time. Reject it, avoid it, suppress it, get rid of it.

On the flip side, when we see positive aspects in other people that we have suppressed within ourselves, we fall in love. It feels like our opportunity to become more whole we want more of it, we become addicted to it, we glorify it and put it on a pedestal, and even idolize it. This is in fact what's happening when you see crowds of screaming girls at Justin Bieber concerts. They're all projecting the post of aspect that they've disowned in themselves, onto him. Mostly a sense of significance and sexuality. They, of course, are disowned in order to be good, obedient, humble little girls who obey their parents.

The main characteristic of the suppressed or denied self is its complete invisibility to you, and its complete visibility to other people. This is why it must surprise the hell out of you that some people see the traits in you that you don't see at all. But guess what? This is how it's supposed to work if you've been suppressing an aspect of yourself, you are not supposed to have any awareness of it, that was the point in the first place. 

Disassociating from it, was your survival technique. So if somebody makes you feel like projection is another personality flaw, you can think again, because, for all of us that have been socialized, this is going to be the outcome. Any extreme aversion to a trait in another person is a reflection of the level of rejection that you developed towards that traitor and the potential of that trait within yourself. The more we love something in someone else, the more we disowned it in ourselves long ago.

Now, there's a misunderstanding when it comes to projection; There's an idea that when the projection is happening when someone is projecting something onto somebody else, they're projecting a trait that that other person does not have. But projection is always a two-way street. That means one of two things: Either, both people have that very same trait, and the one is just recognizing it in the other, or the very act of being a match to being projected upon, is indicative of something that is being reflected in the other person. In other words, to have someone project upon us, we have to be a vibrational match to that experience.

Meaning that the experience of being projected upon is also reflecting something that is denied within ourselves. On that note, it must be said that projection has become the single biggest cop-out and deflection technique that has ever been invented, especially in the new age community. It drives me nuts when I hear people saying: "You're just projecting". It's a super-good way to get out of having to look at yourself clearly or objectively. You're never going to get to a space of self-awareness if that's what you continue to do. You cannot consciously see someone clearly until you are completely conscious of yourself. If you aren't, you will continue to see everyone through the filter of your own subconscious mind.

Every time we cop out of looking at ourselves, by saying: "You're just projecting", we miss the opportunity to see ourselves clearly and we miss the opportunity to see our world and each other clearly. Every single one of us projects. Every single one of us recognizes what we have denied and suppressed and disowned within ourselves, in its external reflection.

At this point in our evolutionary history, projection is not going to stop completely. And the goal of your life should not be to stop projecting, it should be to become completely self-aware. And our extreme negative and extreme positive reactions to others are the perfect opportunities to develop self-awareness. Also, the more we reject something in someone else, the more we perpetuate our own wounding.

Because in rejecting or disapproving of that thing in them, we are re-rejecting and re-disapproving of it in ourselves. So here we are, how to uncover your self-rejection by using projection to your advantage. 

1. Look at the negative traits or aspects of other people that you don't like. Especially, look at the traits you don't like about your partner. What bothers you?

2. Discover the positive intention behind the thing that you hate in other people. In other words, what is the real positive intention for the reason that they are doing that super negative thing or possessing that negative trait? The answer is, of course, always going to be in line with trying to keep themselves from getting hurt.

3. Why was it dangerous, or is it dangerous for those people to be the opposite of those negative traits? For example, if I'm lazy, why it was dangerous or not okay to be driven and motivated?

4. Recognize that no matter how much you might want to deny it or not admit to it, these aspects that you despise in other people, are always a reflection of yourself. These are attributes that you have suppressed. These traits are a mirror of what you've rejected in yourself. The more you're trying to protect yourself from yourself, the more the aspects you hate in others will look nothing like you. You'll tell yourself: "I'm not that way at all".

5. Be willing to be vulnerable enough that you are able to open your mind up to the idea that these traits are yours and recognize how it's true that they are yours. Now, there are two possibilities here: Either you are very much like those things you hate in others, or those things you hate in others are so buried and so rejected in you, that you never do that same thing to a degree that's unhealthy.

6. If you're struggling with this process, involve other people in the process. A good way to know if you have been suppressing or denying something, or projecting, is if you have heard the same negative thing about yourself from more than one person. Another good idea is to have people that know you well write down the things that they don't like about you. Those negative aspects that they see, and then take special notice of the things that more than one person says.

7. Just as you did with your partner earlier or with other people earlier, ask yourself: "Why was it dangerous to be the opposite of these negative traits that I obviously possess?" For example: "Why is it not okay for me to be lazy?"

8. Begin to find an approval for the things that you dislike in other people and in yourself. Now, this is not the same thing as lying to yourself. You can't say: "Oh they're narcissistic, I like that" Because it's not true. But there might be some things that come along with being narcissistic that would be really nice, they are actual positives. Those are the kind of things you want to look at so you can release your resistance, not only to other people but more especially to the aspect of yourself that you're denying, suppressing, and trying to dissociate from. For example, a person who is cruel may have no problem caring what other people think of them. Don't we all wish we could be that free?

9. Adopt the aspects of others that you dislike, that are in fact just mirrors of aspects of yourself that you dislike, in a way that benefits you. This doesn't mean becoming lazy or becoming cruel. What it means is: Take time off or quit saying yes to everyone. What is the positive aspect of someone who is lazy? 

They are not afraid to rest. So adopting that disowned aspect of yourself could take the form of you taking a rest. This will bring you closer to a state of wholeness. You can do this entire process that I've just outlined with positives as well. To do that you simply need to figure out what you admire, envy, or fall in love within other people, especially your partner, kids, and idols. And discover the positive intention behind suppressing those things inside yourself.

Discover why it was dangerous to have those positive traits. For example, if I am lazy and I envy people who are driven and motivated, why was it dangerous or not okay to be driven and motivated growing up? Find ways to express those particular traits in your life. So if I'm at a Justin Bieber concert and I love the significance that he has, how do I let myself have more significance? Knowing of course, that the aspect of me that is suppressed, is still an aspect of me. There's a potion in there that is highly significant and that wants that significance to be expressed.

Judgment doesn't have to be such a bad thing. And you can't stop judging just by deciding to do it. Has that ever worked for any of you? I've never seen it work before. What that means is, instead of worrying ourselves with stopping judging other people, we need to instead develop an open mind, that is open enough to take a look at our judgments completely, to use our judgment of other people, both positive and negative, to recognize the aspects that we have rejected within ourselves. This causes our judgments to turn into observations. So, what do you judge?

Projection is one of the best tools for self-awareness. It's also one of the best excuses to avoid self-awareness. We cannot be truly authentic as long as we continue to reject, suppress, deny or disown aspects of ourselves, whether they be positive or negative. If you're willing to be uncomfortable enough to see yourself clearly, most especially the aspects of yourself that are missing, I can guarantee you that you are well along the way to authenticity and you are well along the way to a state of wholeness.