“More often than not, the things we detest and judge in others are a reflection of the things we cannot accept about ourselves.” — Iyanla Vanzant
Projection: what is it?
Projection occurs when we react to others in ways that, ultimately, depend on the experiences we have had since our childhood.
When we are angry, our responses and how we view the other can often be us projecting.
However, there are two very complex types of people when it comes to projecting that I will be diving into today.
First, there is when we do not know we are projecting. We cannot change what has been done in the past, what we can do is understand what we have done, look into the root and practice ways of changing that.
Second, there is when individuals take out their own behaviour on others. An example of this is when a partner who has been unfaithful accuses their faithful partner of sexting another individual, the accused is often confused, hurt, upset and does not understand how someone could assume that of them.
Meanwhile, the projection in the first description with this example would have been, a partner who has been cheated on has trust issues and takes them out on their current partner although their current partner has been nothing but loyal and communicative to them. The one who has been through the pain is not aware of the depth of the burden they are carrying, they believe it is only due to that occurence in their past relationship, however, in order to move forward they will have to address a lot more to be able to trust again.
The climax is not the root
Often, when we have had bad experiences in past friendships or romantic relationships, we believe that the specific situation is the root of all issues, however, it is often only the climax.
Since our childhood, we have learned a specific dance, pattern of behaviour from our family and surroundings. Whether we were the best student in our class or had a teacher tell us to stop crying, every interaction has impacted who we have become today. We carry all interactions, whether we were “overreacting” or not, to our social life today.
The thing about “overreacting” is that, whether this is us telling ourselves we were acting out of place or, someone else, that does not mean that the situation did not have a lasting impact on us. It also does not mean our reaction was not valid.
Every reaction is valid, whether we have had a difficult few weeks or, we have been feeling low for some time, our reactions are not out of place. However, if it hurts someone else, their reaction is also valid. We cannot control others’ reactions, we can only work to control our own.
Now you must be wondering, well okay how do I know what I am doing wrong? How do I know if I am projecting?
Before starting this endless healing journey, I do want to caution you to make sure you stay safe when it comes to diving into yourself. Make sure to have a support system that is aware you are doing this work. This work is not easy, as it forces us to stop and look at our own behaviours, which we often forget about and think is decent.
Second, I also want to caution that, once you begin this work, you will have some difficult realizations, whether these are about your family, yourself, or your environment. Make sure to write everything down, to write how you are feeling and to not let anger and pain consume you. Treat yourself with compassion.
Finally, healing is not linear. Our mind often moves on before our heart does, and no matter how much we can try to ‘move on’, our heart needs to be cared for equally and we should try and stop expecting ourselves to heal fast.
Once we start working on healing, we do not stop, as everything will continuously be tested through time.
We each have our own processes of healing and working on how we treat others, and the following are questions that may serve as starting points for you to look into.
- What is an insecurity I have in my friendships?
This insecurity can be heavy or light, or you may not have any concerns. If unsure, send a message to your closest friend(s) asking what is an area they believe you should work on more when it comes to your relationships with others and with yourself.
- What is my biggest insecurity and why? Feel free to name more than one.
- Does it impact how I see others? If so, why?
- Do I compare myself to others? If so, why?
- Has it impacted previous relationships? If so, why?
- Do I sometimes judge others?
- List some memories growing up that you wish you had forgotten.
Once done, write out the reasons as to why you wish you had forgotten these moments.
- Do these memories impact you today?
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