How to Deal with Psychological Projection - Dr. Brian Alman
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How to Deal with Psychological Projection

Do you project yourself onto others? It’s important to become more aware of when you are projecting yourself onto others and when others are projecting onto you. Although you might find temporary relief by projecting onto others, it’ll never last because it’s only denying and delaying the addressing of your true feelings.

Psychological projection is a defense mechanism in which the ego defends itself against unconscious impulses or qualities by denying their existence in themselves and attributing them to others. Put simply, it’s when project undesirable feelings or emotions onto someone else, rather than admitting to or dealing with the unwanted feelings ourselves.

A common example is when a cheating spouse suspects their spouse is the one being unfaithful, or when one’s insecurities about themselves are the ones they attempt to highlight in others. Bullies often project their own struggle with self-esteem onto peers, and parents might project their shortcomings onto their children when under stress.

Signs of Projection

Here are seven signs someone might be projecting onto you:
  1. They have selective hearing.
  2. They don’t see you as your own person.
  3. They expect history to repeat itself.
  4. They overreact; their response seems unreasonable to what they’re reacting to.
  5. They treat every conflict the same way.
  6. They reference their exes more than they should.
  7. They put up a wall.

Sometimes, you might be the one projecting onto others.

To stop negative psychological projection, be more aware and proactive when you communicate and respond to others:
  1. Stop saying, “I’m fine” and be honest. Look inward to see if your reaction may be stemming from something inside.
  2. Learn more about mindfulness from a book or the course Less Stress Now.
  3. Learn about the compassion response. Be present and have empathy toward others.
  4. Enjoy more time alone with the book Alone (2021).
  5. Question your thoughts and feelings. Why do you have the emotional response? Could there be something deeper?
  6. Ask more questions and avoid making assumptions.
  7. Recognize your personal (inner) power.
  8. Talk to healers, therapists, coaches, and trusted friends.

The Positive Side of Projection

Although psychological projection is commonly referenced as a negative, the projections could be positive, too.

For example:

Complementary projection is when you assume others hold the same opinions as you do or see things the same way. This is common. Less common is complimentary projection when you assume everyone has the same skills and abilities as you do. These positive projections can be stress relieving to hold, but quite the shock when you realize they’re untrue.

Be careful when projecting and projected upon, and always seek to understand others with FCC: friendliness, care, and compassion. These are the ingredients of love and what’s necessary to hold healthy, thriving, and stress-free relationships together. To learn clinically proven techniques for less stress and better communication with others, check out the Less Stress Now course and use code XXX for 50% off at checkout.

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