So in the last two weeks I have been given feedback that has been so off the wall that it has really disoriented me and as it has turned out, because I am such a reflective person (read sometimes too damn reflective), on both occasions it happened to be that the people giving me this feedback were actually using words to describe that were indicative of their own situation. Almost as though they were creating an environment or set of circumstances that would make their behaviour acceptable.
Projection usually comes from insecurity, in all of us – even this very post could be considered as me projecting my own insecurities. Insecurities of any kind when perceived will make a person create circumstances that make it ok from their viewpoint. When we can get a hold of when it’s happening it’s super powerful.
Have you ever had that feeling or thought process during an interaction that you totally out of sync with what is actually going on? When that is happening you are more that likely experiencing projection because projection can, particularly when we’re on the receiving end of it, make us feel super uncomfortable and ask ourselves ‘What the hell is this person talking about? Are they even on this planet? Are we even speaking the same language?” Invariably this becomes a cycle of justifying, defending, explaining and re-explaining which leads to synthetic situations because awareness is so heightened – this leads to a volatile situation where the slighting thing will cause another flare up.
As I’m typing this I’m realising that may tie in so deeply with my recent thought patterns on identifying with the gay community and probably even why Drag Queens appeal to me so much, in terms of their behaviour and irreverence – it’s pretty clear that I have some thinking to do in those areas.
When someone is projecting, it is absolutely coming from their feelings and where they are residing at that moment, I use that word purposefully because when a person is living in projection, they really do live there and it can be very difficult to get them to even think about expanding their thought process.
Here is where we have to be very careful how we deal with projection though because it’s one thing to make snap judgements but when it heads into the truly damaging territory of a person being unable to distinguish between what they think/did and what you think/did. This is when it’s time to call BULLSHIT.
Quite often my friends, and those that I trust, laugh at me when I say that sometimes by the end of the day I feel like I am physically wearing bits of energy of all the people that I have crossed paths with. I know this because I am super emotional and that’s okay, because I am aware of it. Over the years I have taught myself to be able to regulate the fight or flight instinct that comes whenever I experience one of those moments that makes me stop in my tracks and question what the bloody hell is going on.
The best thing I ever did was to train my mind, and it is totally possible to do it, to remove the “What have I done wrong” or “They’ve done that wrong” and replace it with what are each of us missing here that we’re not on the same page? I refuse to allow my inner saboteur to come into play. Doing this means that there is always a place of security and it should be safe environment. To bring it back to my team member, she was absolutely floored when she found out that I had been discussing every single interaction and event with my line manager, she had projected onto me her lack of integrity; and actually in that instance it served us all well because she was so jarred by the honesty and support that I had been demonstrating without her even knowing that she opened up, told the truth and we agreed to move on and work on being so defensive.
The truth is that in projection what we see in others, positive or negative points to something in ourselves… I wonder if that’s why friends that hang around long enough in the same clique end up looking like replicas of one another, circular projection on a superficial level… that’s a question to consider. The key tool here is to change our own internal language to “What am I missing? let me take a step back here and get some perspective”. That being said, very often we will be alone in that thought process, because with all the best intentions in the world we are not all of one mind. What this means is that you can also say to yourself, “I am being invited to this argument, but I don’t need to attend”.
Recently my partner, Jose, called me out for saying “I’m a good person”, it had taken him a long time and a lot of courage I guess to actually say this to me but he did, I was taken aback but it resonated with me and I really thought about it. I have been under a lot of pressure because of this team member and her wild accusations and what felt like a character assassination and my defence mechanism was to become quite vocal about being a good person, which only served to make people question, “Is he though? People don’t usually say that about THEMSELVES!”
Knowledge and understanding of projection can teach us that it is vital that:
- It is vital to know yourself
- It it totally valid to receive an invitation to an interaction and not engage
- How we are perceived by others is not important, as long as we have integrity
- Not everything is about us
It is very easy to lose track and take things personally, it is easy to accept that projection when in reality, I should have simply said to myself, “Not accepting, return to sender.” I did miss that and whilst it’s unfortunate.
I’d be really keen to hear some other scenarios and how projection may have affected those, if you have any and want to share please reach out to me.