Projection is possibly one of the most difficult concepts for people to accept when they start on the path of personal growth.
Nobody seriously wants to believe that they are in any way similar to that person who is always driving them nuts.
But the truth is, this is often the case.
But when we can at least entertain the idea as a possibility, I have found that life becomes dramatically less challenging in three main ways:
1. Attention is drawn away from the other person
If you’re angry with someone, the temptation can be to gripe about it for hours, telling all your friends and their dog about it, torturing yourself with thoughts about what the offender has done and how you want to get even with them.
If you are willing to accept that they are reflecting part of yourself back to you, that you’ve drawn them into your life, then the anger doesn’t hang around for as long as it once did.
Even if you don’t understand what it is that the other person is mirroring back to you, just a willingness to acknowledge that it might be true will help you to let go of your anger more quickly and eventually, move past that behaviour or trait in yourself.
2. The other person will either change or disappear
A few months back I noticed that I was attracting a couple of people who I thought were creepy.
I really, really didn’t want to apply that adjective to myself and tried my best to tell myself that although I believed in projection, it obviously wasn’t true in this case. These people were creeps and I was the innocent victim. Simple.
As hard as I tried to convince myself of this, though, I knew that wasn’t true.
I had to face the fact that with projection, there are no exceptions.
Reluctantly, I asked myself in what ways I was being a creep, and immediately, the answer dawned on me; I’d recently been looking a bit too much at the social media pages of people I saw as my ‘competition’; checking out how many likes they had, whether their posts were as good as or better than mine.
I told myself that it wasn’t creepy at all. After all, I had to look at the competition; see what I was up against. It was just good business sense, wasn’t it?
Then a thought came in to my mind: Would you want them to know about it?
Of course, the answer was no, because I was sure if these people knew about it, they’d think it was a bit…creepy.
So I stopped doing it. Just like that. Knowing that my actions may be coming back to me in that way gave me an incentive to put a stop to this unhealthy behaviour.
And you know what? Both ‘creepy’ guys have completely fallen off my radar!
Before you ask , yes, I do realise some of the people I was spying on may be reading this post and considering taking out a restraining order right now, but that leads me to my next point.
3. The fear of what other people think loses its power
I used to worry all the time about people thinking I was stupid. I’ve spent much of my life keeping quiet in the hope that I can go through life unnoticed (and then get ticked off when no-one noticed me).
Starting to write and share my thoughts with the world has been a big learning curve in letting go of the need for the approval of others.
When I worry that someone might tell me my work is no good, I remind myself that if that happens, that’s just the part of me that still believes I’m useless, coming back to me in the form of another person; it’s the old me who wants my life to stay the same as it was before.
I don’t have to worry about what others say about me because they’re all me, anyway.
Likewise, just as I’m projecting my fears onto others, they’re also projecting onto me. If someone thinks I’m stupid, talented, a waste of space, then they’re only seeing me as they see themselves.
Suddenly, the pressure is off. The fear is no longer as strong. The threat of failure or rejection no longer has the power it once had.
If we can learn to embrace the concept of projection, in all circumstances, then it can truly set us free.