(A Woman’s Guide To Reclaiming Wholeness After Sexual Abuse)
Blog and Podcast Show notes
By Simone N
For a more in depth discussion, check out the podcast episode for this blog, to listen.
Do you dump your stuff on other people?
Do others always have the issue, and you don’t?
Why is it counterproductive to do this, and what consequences and effects does it have on relationship?
I thought this would be a very interesting topic to speak about.Projection, is a fear based behavior. Fear is something that stops us from becoming our best selves, taking responsibility (for ourselves and lives) our growth. It is a hindrance/blockage to everything we want, trying to overcome and do. Fear, in a nutshell is something we need to rid ourselves of (or most of it) and it’s resultant behaviors.
For this article (or episode), we are looking at how fear manifests in relationship with others, through projection.
So what is projection? (The term in psychology) Projection occurs when someone who is experiencing uncomfortable/painful/scary/frightening feelings, thoughts impulses , qualities in attempt to ease the anxiety of it, they project or point out or direct onto another person. This is done to dissolve the awareness of their stuff by seeing it within another.
The projector, imagines that the other person has the qualities, behaviors, attributes, feelings, etc, that they originally posses.The behaviors that the projector possesses, they then attribute it to the other by projecting. At times they do something to illicit that same behavior or quality (they find displeasing, unworthy, unacceptable or in fear about) within themselves, in the other person, then responding and reacting that behavior; the difference is they feel justified in doing it. It is claimed that it is in response to what was done (which is unacceptable), is not theirs, but is OK for them to do it, because it they make it so (acceptable).
If you are following what I am saying, you will know for certainty that this is about control (ego); which is at the root, fear. Insecurity, wanting to maintain a certain image, most importantly scream volumes of this. Not wanting to face, deal with the self; the issues, thoughts, feelings and behaviors, is a basis of fear.
Projection, is a manifestation of an subconscious protective mechanism, to protect ourselves from the painful things within our minds (thoughts/feelings/impulses), that stem from trauma, childhoods pains. With that said, there are times, or those of us however, that we are aware that we project, and the stuff that give us the impulse to engage in this behavior.
Projection, in its behavior, can manifest in different ways: blaming, denying, detachment, justifying (behaviors, actions), making guilt and shame inducing comments, harsh, mean. degrading labels/names/judgments/ criticisms.
I’ll give you some examples to illustrate this.
- You accuse your partner of cheating or a betrayal, or deception in some ways. The thing is, you’ve already done the cheating or betrayal. The guilt and/or shame you feel (and don’t want to own and acknowledge), is so painful, that it must be separated in your mind (protective mechanism); at the other person’s expense.
- You call someone (your partner, friend, colleague, etc.) names, make judgements, and criticisms.”You are so lazy/selfish/controlling/mean….You cannot make any friends….graduate, become a star…” are the things you might say; when in actuality you are speaking about yourself, the traits within you (that you don’t like) and/or the things you believe about yourself
- Your friend asks if your upset. You say no (clearly you are upset). However you deny or disown this emotion within self, then project it on to them by saying something to trigger this anger within them. To you, it is just easier to manage it (uncomfortable, difficult emotions), manipulate, control, or accept in another, than within your own self. Then after you hear the response in them, a retaliation. You then react to them in the anger you’ve already been feeling. The difference between their anger and yours is that theirs is unacceptable, and originates within them, not from you, and your anger is justified and/or acceptable because it is a response to the one who really has the anger, which is them (untrue) and not with you (untrue).
Do you see yourself in any of these examples?
Why is projection counterproductive and hindering/obstructive to relationship growth, and to the self? Why is it something that should be shaken?
- It’s confusing. In relationships, projection causes confusion. Specifically for the projected individual, when they experience called protective identification. This is when they have taken on, or identified with the thoughts/emotions/labels/qualities/attributes of the the projector, as though it were their own. This can occur if this has gone on long enough (projection). They may even have a sense that something is amiss, and they may not feel that they are these things, but by being invalidated, blamed, labelled continuously, as well as the projector denying and avoiding certain truths, can cause confusion and doubt (of emotions, thoughts, beliefs and identity)on behalf of the projected. It can also be confusing for the projector themselves, as they have already convinced, avoided, denied themselves of certain truths, as well as believing certain thoughts/feelings/behaviors belong to others, creating a further dissonance, or conflict within the self;thus deepening the illusion about themselves, their world, and relationships.
- Creates unnecessary problems, and sabotages relationships. For the projector who does not face their issues, it affects their interactions with others, who have to deal with the resultant behaviors and conflict that comes from the denial, avoidance, insults, and blame. Fights, arguments, issues and troubles of all kinds can ensue; and can be avoided, but is not possible when there is not honesty and exposure, ans a willingness to face the uncomfortable. The person who is projected on, may not feel safe, understood, validated; and not trusted by the projector. Feelings of frustration, anger, lowered confidence and self esteem, can become more rampant and develop. This may result in the termination of the relationship.
- Projection, does not allow healing; of the self and the relationship. Healing requires acknowledgement and the owning of our stuff. If this is not done, healing cannot be achieved. Issues that remain unresolved, fester, becoming worse, and wreaking havoc on the minds, emotional well being, bodies, behaviors, of the projector, and the relationships with other individuals. Relationships get worse, as the wounds and trauma of the individual remains unresolved it bleeds into the relationship; it becomes that mirror. In order to heal it, we must heal ourselves.
So how do we stop (or at least become aware of ) projecting behavior:
- Some people are unaware or unwilling to see themselves and their behavior, therefore, they cannot change themselves and behavior. As I said before, it is a subconscious mechanism, that was created in childhood, so it is a deeply ingrained habit. In some people, many times, they have no awareness of this. Everyone is different, at different levels of awareness, so the ability to overcome such patterns depends upon the spectrum of awareness, and willingness one has.
- If you happen to suspect that you engage in this behavior, then you may very well do. You can ask those around you if you do. You can at times gain insight by what another says about the things you do.
- In any given situation, before you are about to fault-find, blame, label, judge, or have the intention to use guilt or shame inducing comments on someone else, freeze for a moment, Check your inner state, your feelings (are you angry, resentful, ashamed, sad?). If you cannot decipher your feelings, what are your thoughts? What do you believe, or feel about yourself in the moment? Do you feel (or think of yourself as) small, powerless, insecure, victimized, badly about yourself? There is always a cause.
- Know that every emotion originates with you. Your thoughts are the originator of these feelings; no one can make you feel anything unless you allow it. Learn to get in touch with your feelings, and own them.
- We all have stuff. Things we need to heal, acknowledge, fears, wounds/traumas we struggle with and need to be addressed. Life consequently, leaves us with our own set of issues, problems, and shortcomings that we must solve, and/or deal with. You are not the only human that has no problems, and only inherent in other people.
- Listen to what people are saying to you. Listen to the common thread of people’s comments and words used to describe and said to you. Observe how they react in their encounters with you. Do you listen to them? Can they talk to you? Is there always a fight with you? Are you told the same thing over and over, and do they become frustrated? Have you considered that they may be telling you the truth about themselves and feelings, as well as you? Pay attention, and observe.
We are all in the process if becoming, growing, and learning. It takes time to recognize and/or admit the patterns and habits we carry; and that which can become a problem to others as well as ourselves. Whatever it is, whether it is projection, and/or something else, don’t be so hard on yourself; it takes time to become aware of ourselves, and grow.
Check out the next article: How To Overcome Fear: The Need To Control Others