You’ve been in that situation where you’re looking at the person who is upset at you thinking “now isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black?” Projection is the ultimate form of hypocrisy. But most of us don’t understand the mechanism of projection or how to stop doing it ourselves. Hence why we are having this discussion today.
We are born whole, but that wholeness is short lived because we are relationally dependent. Being born relationally dependent into families that socialize us into a society that is not fully evolved yet, spells trouble. Basically we learn that some aspects of ourselves are acceptable, and others are not. What is acceptable vs. unacceptable depends on the perspective of 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 not. So, being relationally dependent, in the name of survival, we do anything we can to disown and deny and suppress those aspects in ourselves that are disapproved of whilst exaggerating 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. 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 ok emotion to express. When the child gets angry, they are shamed for that anger so the child suppresses and denies their anger for the sake of survival within the household. But the anger doesn’t 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 will probably only relate to themselves as easy going. When we deny, suppress or disown something, it doesn’t disappear. It just fades from our awareness. To acknowledge it, brings up the same fear of rejection and so it makes us feel like we are going to die… No wonder self-awareness isn’t so easy to attain. 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 are 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 our self. And the soul wants one thing, 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 disowned and denied and rejected. This is painful. Self-awareness does not come naturally to those who avoid pain because to become aware of those aspects, you must stop trying to escape the pain and emptiness within you where those missing parts should be. So where does projection come into all of this? We often overcompensate for whatever trait we have denied. For example, the person who suppressed the aspect of themselves that is a striver, becomes apathetic. The person who suppressed the aspect of themselves that was apathetic, is such a striver, they excel at everything.
So what do we do? We attract people into our lives who mirror BOTH extremities within us, so that we can have the opportunity be aware of our own dichotomy. The law of attraction responds to both extremes. We are a perfect match to them, even though they seem to be the opposite of us, because that denied self is still part of us and is still therefore, subject to the law of attraction. But our partners (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. This means the person who is apathetic will end up with a success freak and both of them will be caused pain by the other because each is a reminder of the rejected aspect of themselves. They reflect to each other, each of their lost selves.
The crucial thing to understand is that we can see the things in other people that we are totally unaware of in ourselves. This is the essence of projection. When we see negative aspects of ourselves that we denied in other people, it causes us to feel triggered. We have the same reaction to it that we had to it in us long ago. Reject it, hate it, get rid of it, avoid it!
When we see positive aspects of ourselves that we denied in other people, it causes us to 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 what is happening when you see crowds of screaming girls at Justin Bieber concerts. They are all projecting the positive aspects that they have disowned in themselves, onto him. Mostly a sense of significance and sexuality, which they of course disowned in order to be good, obedient, humble little girls who obeyed their parents. The main characteristic of the disowned or denied self is its complete invisibility to you. And it’s complete visibility to other people. Guess what? This is how it is supposed to work if you’ve suppressed an aspect of your wholeness. You are supposed to not be able to see it in yourself and only see it in others. So projecting doesn’t make someone wrong or bad. It makes them normal.
Any extreme aversion to a trait in another person is a reflection of the level of rejection you developed towards that trait or the potential of that trait within yourself. The more we hate something in someone else, the more we rejected it within our self long ago. The more we love something in someone else, the more we disowned it in our self long ago. Now there is a misunderstanding when it comes to projection. The current concept of projection suggests that someone who is projecting, is projecting their own denied self onto someone who doesn’t have those traits at all. But projection is a two way street. Often what we project onto someone IS actually a trait that they possess as well and we only recognize it because it causes a flare up of the wound of that rejected aspect within ourselves. Also, 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 being denied within ourselves.
On that note, it must be said that projection has become the biggest, most obnoxious cop out and deflection technique of all time. It’s a really good way to never have to take an objective look at yourself to simply say “you’re projecting” to anyone who approaches you with a negative aspect that they see in you.
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 one of us projects. Every one of us becomes aware of what we have rejected and dissociated into the subconscious through its external reflection, whether that thing is positive or negative. Our goal should not be to stop projecting. Our goal should be to become as self aware as we possibly can be, and our extreme negative and extreme positive reactions to others, are the perfect opportunity to do 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.
How to uncover your current self-rejection by using projection to your advantage:
In order to stop the process of self-rejection, we need to do two main things, the first is to find approval for those aspects of other people that we currently have a strong negative emotional reaction to. The second is that we need to start giving the positive aspects we love in others, room to express themselves in us.
1. Look at negative traits that you hate in others, especially in your partner. What bothers you in others?
2. Discover the positive intention behind the thing you hate. What is that trait trying to keep them safe from? What is its positive intention for being here? The answer of course is always going to be in line with trying to keep them from getting hurt.
3. Why was it dangerous to be the opposite of those negative traits? For example, if I’m lazy, why was it dangerous or not ok to be driven and motivated?
4. Recognize that no matter how much you want to deny it, 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 will tell yourself, “I’m not that way at all.”
5. Be willing to choose to be vulnerable and open your mind to gain full awareness of how you are like the traits you dislike in other people, especially your partner, children and parents. There are two possibilities here. Either you are very much like those things you hate in others, or it is so buried and rejected in you that you NEVER do that same thing to a degree that is unhealthy. 6. If you are struggling with this, involve other people in the process. This is a humbling step to take I’ll warn you. A good way to tell if you have suppressed something within yourself is if it has been reported to you by more than one person. So think back on common complaints people have had about you. Another good idea is to have the people that are the closest to you write down your negative traits and take special notice of the things more than one person said. Especially pay close attention to the things people say about you that bother you.
7. Just as you did with your partner, ask why it was dangerous to be those negative traits for you? For example, why is it not ok to be lazy?
8. Begin to find approval for the traits that you dislike in others and in yourself. Without lying to yourself. You can’t say you like something you do not like. But there may be things about that negative trait that are positive that you do like. For example, a person who is cruel may have no problem caring what other people think of them.
9. Adopt the aspects of others that you hate that are suppressed aspects of yourself in a way that benefits you. This doesn’t mean become lazy or become 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 the state of wholeness.
You can do this entire process I’ve just described with positives as well. To do that, you simply need to figure out what you admire, envy or fall in love with in other people. Especially your partner, kids and idols. And discover the positive intention behind suppressing those things inside yourself. Discovery 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 ok to be driven and motivated growing up? Give yourself the opportunity to own and express more of those traits within your self in your day-to-day life.
Judgment doesn’t have to be such a bad thing. You can’t stop yourself from doing it by simply telling yourself to stop. What you can do is to use both your positive and negative judgments, most especially of your partner and those closest to you to discover and integrate what you’ve rejected in yourself. This causes our judgments to turn into observations. So, what do you judge?
Projection is the ultimate tool for self awareness and the ultimate way to avoid self awareness. It is a great tool to use, so long as we are willing to stop avoiding ourselves. We cannot be authentic if we remain fragmented and fractured, disowning and rejecting negative and positive aspects of ourselves. If you’re willing to be uncomfortable enough to fully see yourself (most especially what is missing from yourself), you are well along the way to authenticity and well along the way to wholeness.