Do you remember these? Projectors. They're still around, they've just changed shapes. This one is nostalgic for me. The teacher would put a projector sheet, called a 'transparency, on it and whatever was on that sheet, would show up on the screen in front of everyone. The exact contents of the sheet, the transparency, would be projected onto the wall for everyone to see.
Projecting is something I'm really good at. I definitely mastered it over the years. Maybe because somehow it perpetuates the lie that I'm not cared about. And somehow, that allows me to stay in a place of self pity and guarded walls. I’m unsure why anyone would desire to live in such a place but over the years, i’ve found comfort here. Projecting my emotions and feelings onto others allows me to blame them instead of blaming myself. It's a terrible truth to admit; but it is the truth nonetheless.
I first noticed my projection when I had just gotten married to my amazing husband. Every time something would happen that displeased or hurt me, I would blame him. I would somehow find a way to make it his fault; even if he had absolutely no way of preventing the situation. Since recognizing this flaw of mine, I've worked hard to combat it. While I've gotten better, it's still a battle I face almost daily.
I'll pause here to give a definition and a couple examples of projection. An article I read on [citation] described projection like this:
"Psychological projection is a defense mechanism people subconsciously employ in order to cope with difficult feelings or emotions. Psychological projection involves projecting undesirable feelings or emotions onto someone else, rather than admitting to or dealing with the unwanted feelings."
There are several ways to project, blaming someone else for your own emotions is one of them. For example,: when I got pregnant with my first baby, I would get extremely hungry; as pregnant women often do. If I expressed my hunger to my husband and he was slow to respond, I would consequently blame him for my nausea or my overall discomfort. We would find ourselves in crazy fights because I compared that moment to all of the other times I've been disappointed or hurt by others. I blamed him for the fact that I felt unimportant and uncared for. I blamed him for the 100 times I've ever felt that way. He became the representation for my rejection.
A more recent example (like..it happened 10 minutes before writing this) is now I'm pregnant with my second child. It's about 11:30pm. We've had a very long day. I just finished cleaning the kitchen and mopping because I'm obsessive. We're moving in three days and our home is only half way packed. I make up in my mind that I'm going to come into the bedroom and pack the rest of my things (hoping that my husband will see me doing this and decide to do the same with his things).
Instead, he makes a comment that I should lay down (which I should) and reminded me that I was feeling lightheaded just an hour before (which I was). As soon as I realized that he would not be helping me pack, I began the “blaming and projection.” "He doesn't even love me enough to get up and help." "He should insist that I sit down while he pack because he knows it'll make me feel better" and so on and so forth. I began to blame him for not helping me. I blamed him for simply doing what was best for him -- resting. I stopped myself and alerted my conscious to what was really happening, I was projecting again.
I'm grateful yet annoyed that I'm able to so quickly identify where this projection comes from. In the first example, I compared my husband to my father. My father was always physically present but rarely emotionally invested. Whenever my husband disappointed me or fell short of my expectations (however unrealistic or unexpressed those expectations were), I saw my father. I felt the emotions of being abandoned or not cared for. I was reminded of my feelings of unworthiness. I’ve also recognized that I don't only do it with my husband. If something fails, it’s easy for me to find a way to blame others. When I’m disappointed by friends, I begin to rationalize that they simply don’t love me enough.
Because I've seen it in myself for years, I see it in others as well. People misconstrue and misread situations because they're projecting an internal feeling or insecurity onto others. A young woman feeling as if no one likes her because they make comments that remind her of her past. A person feeling mistreated or unloved because others may make comments that remind her of her negative self talk. A young man claiming that a woman isn't good enough simply because he's in denial about his feelings of unworthiness or insecurity.
There are different forms of projection. What I deal with is a form of emotional displacement that simply blames others for my misery and discontentment. I will say that I'm much better at recognizing and fighting it these days. I've learned that ultimately, the only person who can control my emotions, is me. No matter how hurt I am, how disappointed I am, how much someone else could be blamed; I control how I feel. I control what I do. I control where my mind goes.
And so do you.
Can you identify projection in your own life? If so, good, now that you’ve identified it, it’s time to learn to fight and control it. Not only for the sake of your loved ones and your relationships; but for the betterment of your overall mental and spiritual health. I live better when I recognize that I have all the power in the world to change how I feel and how I view life. If you haven't already, once you recognize that, you'll live better too.