Projection is where a person projects their own personality traits, beliefs, emotions and ways of thinking onto somebody else.
Projection may be present in the average well balanced individual, however people with personality disorders are more likely to use projection in a more unhealthy way and use it far more often.
Projection is considered to be a defense mechanism, this is when the ego cannot deal with certain negative thoughts and feeling. Someone may actually project or transfer negative and undesirable thoughts and feelings onto another person. They may know that their thoughts and feelings are socially unacceptable so they may project them onto somebody else.
For more on this type of projection see the following post about the shadow and accepting your dark side.
Psychological projection is when a person projects their own thoughts and feelings onto another person. For example somebody who lies often may assume that everybody lies just as much as they do. This also allows the person to feel better about themselves as they may tell themselves that lying is perfectly normal and acceptable. It also allows them to feel like they have something in common with other people, a common ground, giving them a sense of comfort and contentment.
It’s believed that generally people think that we are all the same, therefore we project our own beliefs and personality traits onto other people. However sometimes we are more different from each other than we think, so often these projections and judgements are inaccurate.
This type of projection is a type of faulty thinking which allows us to judge, make decisions and come to conclusions about other people quickly.
Both of these forms of projection are very common in everyday life, it’s a result of the unconscious automated mind (id) and the ego.
Example of Projection
A bully may actually be projecting his or her own weaknesses, insecurities and/or negative thinking or beliefs onto their victim to mask their weakness and feel superior.
Awareness of Projection
If you’re self aware that you project your negative thoughts and feeling onto somebody else, you can understand it and therefore control it. This type of projection could possibly harm yourself, others around you and harm your relationships with other people.
The solution to this problem may not be easy, if you believe that this is harming your life in some way then professional help may be required to find the root cause of this issue, then you can start working on correcting it. Self awareness is often all that is needed to get a handle on your mental projections.
How well do you know someone?
Projecting all of your own personality traits excessively will prevent you from seeing people for who they really are. This will affect your relationships with people, you may never truly get to know someone if you’re just projecting your own traits onto them. This even happens with family members and people that have known each other for a long time.
Knowing the truth about ourselves and being honest is the foundation, and it’s incredibly important when it comes to self improvement.
“I believe it is better to know than to be ignorant.” H. L. Mencken