Yesterday I started screaming at a woman who did not return my email. After I calmed down, I apologized and started wondering why I had done that. I quickly realized I was projecting. What is that? In this particular case, I was talking to someone in the present and seeing someone from the past.
I was seeing my mother who used to be too busy to help me. I had three siblings and that took up a lot of her time, so she had reason to be busy. My mother was fragile and eventually she ended up in a mental institution. As a self-centered child, I did not understand her limitations so I just got angry. A part of me also was hurt but this was too painful so I just stayed in the angry mode.
People do not just get angry when they project. All kinds of emotions can come up like shame, fear, judgment, love, etc.
Here is a list of the different kinds of projection:
1. Seeing in another person what you do not see in yourself. [denial]
2. Seeing in another what you do not like about yourself [shadow projection]
3. Seeing in another your untapped potential [envy]
4. Seeing in another what is hidden in your subconscious. [loss of memory]
5. Seeing your Imago. [Hendrix: composite of your parents]
6. Seeing someone from the past as you look or talk to someone in the present.
7. Seeing your ideal mate in someone you just met.
Projection is like a private detective. It is the best way to see what is hidden in our unconscious. It is like cutting a hole in the floor to see what your neighbors are doing. Before you see for yourself you can only guess what all that rumbling is all about.
Think of a movie projector in the theater. The movie is in the projector behind your head. But you see what is in the projector by looking at the screen in front of you.
Remember that flashbacks about our difficult childhood can be triggered by projection. This is helpful in therapy.
Projection is triggered by one or more of the following . . .
made to feel invisible
rejection which is perceived as abandonment
almost anything . . .
Involuntary projection is a major problem with wounded adults. When this happens to you then take some time to understand what you have done and why you have done it. What is it telling you about yourself. What needs to be changed or modified.
Personally, I have never been able to stop involuntary projection and I end up apologizing a lot, but I can nip it in the bud if I see it is about to happen. Self-awareness is the key. What success I do have is due to a lot of therapy, fourth step inventories and God' help. You may be more successful. Be hopeful.
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