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Beware of Projection


You can’t know enough about projection if you want to live your best life. It’s a nasty little defense mechanism that humans employ to make themselves feel good and others bad. I’m pretty sharp at spotting when a client is projecting onto me, and I try to use my expertise to take note when it happens in my personal life. If you make it your business to recognize projection, you’ll improve your relationships and self-esteem exponentially.

If you feel bad about yourself much of the time—defective, unworthy, unlovable—there’s an excellent chance that you have many people in your life who project their emotional garbage onto you. Projection happens when people tell you that you’re X (close-minded, uncaring, stupid, etc.) when they are describing a trait they possess. You know the kind of person I mean: Someone who could pinch a penny til it screams while complaining about the lousy tip her friend gave the waiter at lunch yesterday. 

Projection is a way for people to feel better than or less bad. Maybe you hurt their feelings, so they say you’re mean which they are being in saying it. Maybe they secretly fear they’re not as good as you are. They’ll zero in on whatever your worst insecurity is and tell you about it in spades just to bring you down a peg and them up a notch (which shows their insecurity to anyone who’s looking). 

Stop taking everything that someone says about you seriously. Really, stop it. As I’ve said a gazillion times: If it comes from their mouth, it’s from their mind and not about you, even if it has your name attached to it. If people are constantly putting you down they’re not friends (and not family to be around) and most likely they’re projecting their bad feelings about themselves onto you. 

If you’re a redhead and I tell you I love your blond hair, do you start believing you’re a blond? Of course not. You know the truth about yourself and know I’m wrong in my perception. If I say to you, a banker, that you’re such a great farmer, you don’t start plowing the back 40. You naturally assume I’m mistaken. If I say you’re mean-spirited when anyone who’s ever met you knows you’d give a stranger the shirt off your back, you know I’m speaking in error.

This is how to approach everything that’s said to you. Be curious and question people’s motives. Quit believing they’re all benevolent. Be reflective and decide if a comment is true or false about you—or them. Don’t let what people say you are color your own ability to make up your own mind. Remember, projection says nothing about you and everything about the person who’s doing the projecting.