What is Psychological Projection
The GOOGLE Definition of PSYCHOLOGICAL PROJECTION: “a defense mechanism people subconsciously employ in order to cope with difficult feelings or emotions. Psychological projection involves projecting undesirable feelings or emotions onto someone else, rather than admitting to or dealing with the unwanted feelings”.
Projection is about them not you. However, so commonly we fall on the receiving end of someone’s projection, and we take it very personally. It can be hard not to. It’s all very well having the awareness that this person is going through their own pain, but how can we protect ourselves from feeling the weight of one’s projection?
STOP TRYING SO HARD
As humans, we want to feel connected and liked. The minute someone starts treating you unkindly, being passive aggressive or dismissive towards you, you believe it is ALL YOU. In come those negative thoughts. I am boring. I am not pretty enough. I am not clever enough. I am not cool enough. Whatever you're feeling the feeling instantly comes down to feeling like you are, ‘not enough’. We feel like if this person would bless us with their time and/or friendship we would feel like we are enough. When you learn to like & love yourself it becomes very hard for others to make you feel bad. Yes, life is nicer with friends, but the term ‘frenemy’ is real. If you feel like you're in a friendship / relationship where you need to try very hard to ‘fit’ then this is a relationship you need to recognize as not, true & authentic. These types of relationships will only enhance feelings of inadequacy. So, stop trying to be someone else and start learning to be you.
If you exercise regularly, you will often hear, ‘engage/squeeze the core’. When the core is strong you have a solid foundation. Just as you need a strong core physically, you need a strong core mentally. Understand your core values so that others can’t shake you up as easily. Try hard working on yourself, not working on making others like you. Challenging figures will always arise, and you need to know you can handle it.
DON’T MAKE EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU
When someone’s having a bad day avoid trying to be the fixer. Give people the space and time they need to own their feelings and let them get into the bad mood. Whenever I am on the receiving end of someone‘s bad mood, I always remind myself you never know what is happening in that person’s life. I know when I’m in a bad mood, I never take it out on strangers, obviously not clients or colleagues. I project onto the people I love the most. Once cooled down, I always apologize and explain that it‘s simply been a tough day. I also forgive myself we all have bad days, own it, apologize, move on. Don’t waste energy overthinking and making everything about you.
SOMEONE WOULD LOVE TO RECEIVE A MESSAGE FROM YOU
We waste a lot of time & energy longing for validation from others whether its via WhatsApp messages, social media likes, DM’s. Often you can find yourself staring at a phone waiting for some form of validation. Ask yourself this question. Who would love to receive a message from you? My answer to this is always my mum, then sister, and a handful of amazing friends who are more like sisters now. Any gap in my day now rather than scrolling on insta, checking my likes, I check in on my mum, sister or one of my good friends. I know these messages will always brighten up the recipient's day. Nurture and invest in the meaningful, authentic relationships in your life. These are the relationships that will help you manage the more challenging relationships, they also put into perspective how meaningless other relationships actually are.
TURN A NEGATIVE INTO A POSITIVE / INVEST IN YOUR EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING
It gets quite sticky when the person who is making your life miserable is a work colleague or even worse a manager. I am sure everyone can relate to a time in their life where a boss has made your life a living nightmare. I certainly have. I had a manager whose hostility towards me was unbearable. It was a real low in my life where I felt truly defeated. However, it was actually during this time I began seeing a Life Coach and the rest is history (as they say). I am not saying go and see or become a Life Coach. However, finding a safe space when a place where you spend a lot of time doesn’t feel safe is really crucial to help heal and move you out of hostile situations, not just physically but emotionally too. Also grab some besties, boyfriend, girlfriend, dog (whoever) get some popcorn and watch Horrible Bosses to make light of the situation.
“BE SO GOOD THEY CAN’T IGNORE YOU” / WRITTEN COMMUNICATION
‘BE SO GOOD THEY CAN’T IGNORE YOU’. Steve Martin. When at work you have to work hard, be good at what you do, care about what you do. When you are able to do this your working life will just be better. Go above and beyond for your own piece of mind, self -esteem & job security. Secondly avoid verbal communication. Particularly if you know someone has a tendency to be cruel, rude & unkind. It’s hard to prove what someone said. However written communication leaves a paper trail. Also it creates distance and you are setting a firm boundary by opting to communicate via email. Therefore, cover your tracks and communicate via email’s. Be professional, polite and concise with the words you use. Avoid any kind of attitude and tone to your email. Do not use any personal devices to communicate. Don’t invite hostility into your personal spaces. Remember work and personal life are better separated.
WHAT’S THE BIGGER PICTURE?
There is that saying people come into your life for either; “a reason or a season”. There are many seasons which come and go. However, it is important to pay attention to the reasons. My horrible boss really did come into my life for a reason. It was the first time in my life I really stood up for myself. I paid attention to my emotional well-being. Rather than numbing and bitching about it, I wanted to be proactive about this and handle it. I was a new mum at the time and I remember thinking, what advice would I give my daughter if she was going through this? It’s important to sometimes look beyond our own pain and ask ourselves much bigger questions.
KEEP YOUR INTENTIONS PURE – GOOD INTENTIONS HAVE POSITIVE OUTCOMES
You know it’s easy to be kind and mindful when in relaxing situations such as a yoga class or whilst on holiday. The real test is when you can be pure even when in the thick of high stress environments & emotions. So even when someone is being so, unkind to you can you still send them love, light & healing? “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die” – Buddha . Let the universe do its work. Don’t plot revenge or scheme your way to a small victory. The best revenge for people who have tried to break you is simply your happiness. Your ability to move not just past them but beyond them that they can’t even reach you now. You can’t control how others treat you, but you can control how you treat and react to others.
Sometimes yes we have to communicate with people we wouldn’t necessarily choose to be friends with. However you can set boundaries without being hostile, cruel or calculated. I cannot guarantee everyone will show you the same respect. However these simple steps will help you take projection far less personally & in turn encourage you to redirect your energy onto the positive relationships in your life.