Although we are not fully aware of this, our minds can protect things in situations that affect us emotionally; and one of these defense mechanisms is psychological projection. The truth is that it can be harmful in our relationships since it usually ends up hurting someone or making the other person feel guilty without realizing it, and sometimes it is not even true and/or fair, so we have to do our best to keep these attitudes at bay.
We want to raise awareness about psychological projection in everyday life with the intention of giving people some tools to detect it before it does more harm. In this way, we can avoid falling prey to people who are projecting it or even recognizing it in ourselves, and try to change the behavior.
Psychological Projection As A Defense Mechanism
When a person cannot accept certain traits, qualities, desires, or impulses in themselves, then they can begin to project them onto others. It will seem to them that it is the other person who suffers from the qualities that they, as “projectors”, do not like.
This is, in fact, a very common way of handling things. After all, projecting yourself onto others is a self-defense mechanism. Sometimes it can help people deal with the kinds of discomfort or even embarrassment that linger in the subconscious that you don’t want to face.
If you look closely, it is actually a way that a person can deal with a difficult trait, simply without realizing that it is their own problem.
Now that we have this basic information, we can ask ourselves what we really do to protect ourselves when we project ourselves onto others. The answer is simple: in general, it is about self-esteem and ego.
That is, it takes a very solid ego to hide any kind of “bad or dark side” in yourself. Deep down, these types of people affirm, in their minds, that negative feelings, thoughts, and behaviors make them inferior, so they hide them.
Some Ways People Can Project Themselves In Everyday Life
They Blame Others And Refuse To Take Responsibility For Their Actions:
This is probably the most common way to project fears and insecurities onto others. Designers avoid acknowledging blame for a particular situation and seek reasons to assign it to someone else. Generally, projection situations are based precisely on demonstrating the idea: “It’s your fault, not mine.”
They Find “flaws” In Others And Tend To Judge Them:
For a person who normally projects onto others, it is much easier to attack and make others think that they are exhibiting a behavior rather than face the problem themselves.
This is why it is often said that the way a “projector” acts towards another person can reflect how he really feels about him or herself in a specific situation.
They Try To Mock Others:
A person who intimidates other people does it, most of the time, due to the multiple insecurities that they may suffer. Bullying is the technique they use to deal with these problems. They will try to intimidate another person so that they don’t have to deal with the insecurities that they have.
They Convince Others That Their Projections Are Real:
The worst scenario, in terms of psychological projection, occurs when a person who continues to feed his or her projections manages to incorporate them into the identity of the subject on whom he projects.
For Darlene Lancer, an expert in toxic relationships, the profiles susceptible to falling in love with these types of psychological problems are people who show signs of codependency.
In short, these are people who show excessive concern for others and, in the specific case we are talking about, they care about the person who projects and criticizes them.
Codependents tend to accept or put the needs of other people first, so they satisfy them with the intention of avoiding any type of conflict that may arise when facing the real problem of their relationship.
In this way, the projecting subject makes criticisms and judgments about a codependent person who, as a consequence, loses self-esteem and independence to the point of sowing doubts in his or her mind about who they are and how much they’re worth.
Then their identity is confused until they end up believing everything that the other person projects onto them, and this is what psychologists call “projective identification”, that is, they end up identifying with what the other person projects to them.
Have you ever witnessed a psychological projection situation? How did you handle it?