The Story of Projection

As a psychological defense mechanism, the powerhouse of the mind can block emotions that it does not desire to acknowledge, feel, or express. Suppressionis when the mind is consciously aware of such a block. For example, some people clean their homes when they are suppressing emotions until they are ready to face them. Repression is a more severe block to the conscious mind from extreme emotions such as terror, guilt, rage, or shame.  While it's an effective mental block to help keep one’s sanity and go about daily life, these extreme emotions remain with us on an unconscious level.  As a means to remove our pain, we then direct these emotions toward someone or something outside of ourselves. This external transfer of emotional energy is called projection.  Projection allows us to be convinced that our emotions are being caused by a wholly external person, place, or thing, rather than originating from within.

When repressed emotions are projected onto someone or something else, we see the other (and not ourselves) as possessing or embodying those qualities. If we unconsciously repress our personal shame and instead project it upon another, then we will view this other person as shameful.  If we repress our anger and rage only to then project it, we see other people as angry and full of rage.  They become people we believe we need to protect ourselves from, and we accuse them of all the things we fear within ourselves.  Our mind tells us that someone else is to blame for the terrible things that have happened in our life.  We demand that others be punished so we feel righteous, safe, and comforted.  But this defense mechanism only carries us so far.

Be aware of when you are projecting!  The moment you pass judgement or get angry at someone, you just projected.  What you see as objectionable about a person is merely a reflection on what you have rejected or denied within yourself.  You just projected onto them - had you not, then you wouldn't be so upset.

When feelings of judgement or anger arise and you know you are about to project, take a moment of pause and self-reflection. These feelings arise within you, not in the other person.  Make a conscious decision to not play the victim and accept that the scenario being played out is not happening to you, but rather for you.  Awareness of projection is an opportunity to heal old wounds and find growth from within.  Remove the projection and instead forgive what is arising inside of you.  If you choose to ignore yourself, then the painful cycle repeats and you will continue to project what you have repressed for so long.  Let the healing begin from within.