People are always projecting themselves on to others. This is almost axiomatic. The only question is around how much one does it. How aware are you of when you might be projecting yourself on to others? Projection is fundamental to how the human animal lives and we owe it to ourselves to understand it.
The classical idea of psychological projection comes from the psychoanalytic tradition. Projecting happens when one denies the existence of certain feelings in themselves, and attributes — or projects — them on to another. For example, rather than acknowledging their own anger, someone might accuse you of being angry, when you are as calm as can be!
While this is the classical form of projection, it can also happen in much subtler ways. In how we view the motivations and intentions of others, in how we evaluate and judge people and circumstances.
Our own worlds
We can only really make sense of the world in terms of how we understand it. This too is axiomatic. While this is in a sense unavoidable, you can still be aware of how much you judge others through the lens of your own experience. Sometimes, your experience may be a very relevant lens — at other times, it may not be. It is holding in your mind the possibility that such experience may, or may not be, relevant that can be tricky. This takes humility and awareness.
The flip side to this is finding yourself on the receiving end of projections. For example, when projections masquerade as “feedback”. Sometimes, the input you receive is so heavily rooted in someone’s partial experiences, which have no relevance to your situation, that you might as well ignore it! Once again, the tricky part is unpicking what is going on — sifting through feedback and figuring out what makes sense and what doesn’t. There is no magic bullet to this process. It is an art that one refines over time.
Notice when you are projecting yourself on to others
Seeing the world through our own perspective is in a sense how we experience reality. There is no way around it. At least, by recognising this truth, we can develop more humility and rigour in how we view people and events. You can approach situations with an awareness that you might be projecting yourself on to others in a big way.
Remember, the question is not IF you are projecting, rather how much you are projecting?
Harsha is a 1:1 coach and independent thinker based in London. He empowers people to find more clarity, confidence and focus in their lives — to cut through the noise, in a world so full of it. Harsha’s new book, Machine Ego: Tragedy of the Modern Mind, is now available in paperback and Kindle through Amazon.