Do you ever find yourself blaming, judging, pointing the finger, or displacing your thoughts, feelings and actions onto another person? In a clinical sense, we call this transference. In a general sense, this is called projection. The fascinating thing about projection is that our minds tie things together by association. We may non-consciously associate something someone says or does with a memory of something our mother, father, siblings, peers, or someone else said or did to us when we were a child or teenager.

This can be as seemingly forgettable as our siblings or peers teasing or picking on us when we were younger, or as overt and visceral as physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual abuse incurred at the hands of another. Whatever the case may be, we are often operating off of projections and NOT reality.The challenge then becomes the false stories we create around other people based on our inability to SEE them for who they truly are. If we only see them based on the associations we have with people in our past, then we are still living there!  

I have the privilege of seeing people for who they really are in therapy. Sometimes,  I only get glimpses of their authentic selves  because they show up as their addict-self, their vulnerable child, or their avoidant protector.

However, I know when their authentic (functional) self shows up because they are open, honest, accountable, vulnerable, connected, and in tune with reality. Their walls come down and they let their hearts open. They are not projecting onto me or another person; they are fully accountable in the present moment. 

Take a moment and ask yourself when you project your stuff onto other people? We all do it so the best thing you can do is own that you do it as well. Being accountable for our own stuff can actually be really freeing. We take responsibility for our side of the street; that is all. Nothing more. 

If you project a lot, you will have a tendency to do the following (adapted from D. Chopra's The Path to Love, 1997, p. 121) :

1. Finish people's sentences for them

2. Get defensive even before you are accused

3. Use verbal formulas like "She is the type of person who…"

4. Ask someone's opinion then get angry at them for it

5. Struggle to read other people's faces, and  assume you know how they feel

6. Frequently feel misunderstood

7. Take things TOO personally

8. See authority figures facial expressions and actions as a threat even when there is no justified reason

9. Believe that when your partner looks at another person (male or female) that sexual interest is being shown. You feel jealous as a result.

10. You have extreme likes or dislikes for people you hardly know.

The way to resolve this? ACCEPTANCE.

  • Accept yourself for having imperfections,and accept others' imperfections as well
  • Forgive your shame
  • Learn to love your flaws
  • Love your perfect imperfections.

We cannot love another  completely without fully loving ourselves. If you struggle with this statement (especially if you have children), look at your projection.