Psychological projection or projection bias is a psychological defense mechanism where a person unconsciously denies his or her own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world, such as to other people. Thus, projection involves imagining or projecting the belief that others have those feelings.
We hear this phrasing used so often these days. Projection this and projection that. The truth is, it’s a very real defense mechanism that the subconscious mind uses in order to avoid its own shortcomings etc. Have you ever been in a situation where someone calls you something that is so far off of who you are? Do you just look at them and think, who are you talking about?
Before I came to understand the full workings of projection, I use to believe what others were saying. I would take it in and try to change something that was not even mine. Ironically, it wouldn’t work, because it wasn’t mine to begin with. As time went on and my awareness and education expanded, I am now more capable of spotting this and I make a conscious effort to not “own” anything that is not mine.
When I recognize someone projecting onto me, I stay as fully open as I can (because sometimes it could be my behavior) and as the words come up, I evaluate each statement and I only take accountability for what is mine. I actually had this happen last night. The person I was dealing with last night had so much personal guilt over a situation that she attempted to try to put that on me. What she was feeling inside, she started blaming me for. It’s difficult not to get upset when someone “sees” you so differently from who you are, but if you remember they are subconsciously doing it, maybe your approach and understanding of the situation will diffuse heavy emotion from creeping in and clouding up the situation.
The key is to stay rational. Allow them to speak and then calmly say something like, “That is not mine. I believe you are speaking from your own place. Please don’t attempt to put that on me.” If you are dealing with a somewhat rational person, and you can remain calm, that will usually do the trick! Because deep inside they know it’s not truly you, it’s them.
This was something that took me awhile to get good at. I’m by no means a master, but when I can come from a clear place of knowing and peace, I immediately recognize what is mine and what is not. It takes strength and confidence to stand behind yourself and it takes peace and calm to diffuse a situation, allow the truth to surface and let the healing begin.