By Lori Lines
Projection is the subconscious act of transferring your own unwanted traits, emotions, and behaviors on to someone else. Projective identification, sometimes referred to as projection as well, is the subconscious act of taking feelings from one interpersonal, connection, situation, or relationship and place it on to an unrelated one. Finally, externalization is when we blame others for our circumstances and problems, falsely assuming a victim mentality.
It can all seem a little confusing to someone who isn't familiar with these terms, so here are a few examples. An example of projection is feeling bad about not giving your all at work. Subconsciously you feel guilty that you've been disinterested and unfocused at work. Instead of assuming responsibility for not giving your all, you lash out at a blameless co-worker for being lazy and inconsiderate for not doing their fair share. You took your negative feelings and placed them on your co-worker.
An example of projective identification is having left a relationship where you were undervalued and felt unheard, and you go to a skilled therapist and counselor. You get frustrated with the therapist because they never hear you and often treat you with a lack of respect, unconsciously painting them with the same brush as your ex.
An example of externalization would be poor money management and thoughtless spending having you in a financial crunch. Instead of assuming responsibility for your carelessness, you blame your innocent partner for always suggesting expensive activities.
Now that you know what these terms are, you may ask why we do them. They are coping mechanisms to help us deal with uncomfortable and unwelcome emotional and mental experiences. The above are examples of maladaptive coping. There are different reasons why we engage in these particular maladaptive coping techniques. They can be a means to avoid shame and damage to the ego-self. Some people are trying to prevent fearful or unpredictable outcomes. For others, it is merely a consequence of trying to block these unwanted thoughts, feelings, or behaviors out of their mind. By deciding not to think about them, our quirky brains focus on them even more. We have all engaged in this type of coping at some point in our lives, they are unconscious mechanisms after all, but a chronic or contentious tendency towards projection and blame can be very damaging to others, our relationships, and our spiritual path.
As I'm sure you can imagine, when someone is projected upon or blamed when they are not guilty of the perceived offense, it can damage their self-esteem and self-worth, if they choose to take it on. Over time, when someone is met with a constant barrage of projection, it can build a toxic shame within them. This toxicity can spill over into all areas of life. This is why it is essential to consider and shape our interactions, our reactions with empathy and compassion.
The truth is, the avoidance of negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors thwart our own healing and spiritual growth. We cannot walk in the light if we don't first acknowledge and accept the dark or shadow components of our past and who we are. If we project that which is undesirable in us onto others, we never get the chance to open it to the light and to correct ourselves. By projecting and blaming, we damage our sense of empowerment, our strength, and our self-worth. We assume the role of victim and, by doing so, we cease striving to surmount our challenges and our traumas so that we can move forward in our lives in a healthy way.
Finally, the path to enlightenment is one of love, love of the self and love of others. When we project and blame, it is a victimization and a rejection of who we really are, there is no room for self-love in this chronic pattern of denying our truth. Also, as mentioned, by casting unwarranted guilt on others, we can do damage to their spirit, which wrongfully impacts their path and their ability to fulfill their purpose, love cannot be sustained in this circumstance, either.
Psychological projection, projective identity, and blame all stem from judgments. Judgements of ourselves that are manifested as judgments projected onto others. The first step in breaking the toxic pattern of maladaptive projective coping is to release judgment. The ego-self is sustained by judgments, when you can observe your thoughts, your feelings, and your behaviors with awareness, and without judgment, you are on the path to negative ego-death and enlightenment.
It is exciting to see a trend in my QHHT practice that many of my clients are beginning to recognize, and to take responsibility for, their own role when they are projecting their own wounds into situations and relationships. As the article states, we all do this from time-to-time, but when it becomes a habit of deflecting the underlying issues, projection can take a very dysfunctional turn.
This trend is showing me that the collective is allowing these underlying wounds to float up to the surface so that we can finally have the opportunity to deal with these shadow parts of ourselves in order to finally make the changes needed and put them to rest.
In love and truth,
Author Lori Lines
Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.