I Just Can’t Stand Them! – What Are You Really Saying?Shaun Matthee
When I was younger, I had a real issue with Summercon Developers. We stayed in one of their townhouses for a few months and just hated it. Stephen and I were in a young relationship and we were fighting like cats and dogs. And of course EVERYONE heard it.
I could not understand why Summercon were allowed to put up these terrible little boxy houses, with no privacy that were ridiculously priced. Also only the bottom units actually ‘owned’ the land. They were built badly and quickly. They were all the same, and I felt like a prisoner in them. Yet they were building everywhere and people were just buying into this ridiculous housing system. It was criminal! If I were a terrorist I would bomb their head office. Who gave them this power to manipulate people into believing that this type of living is ‘good’ and acceptable? I can carry on here about Summercon and what bastards they were at length.
Now, years later, I realize that I was projecting. All the unconscious feelings of being trapped, manipulated and oppressed by my relationship at the time, were projected onto Summercon. (thank God I didn’t go and bomb them )
And that my friends, is a really good example of projection.
PROJECTION IN A NUTSHELL.
That is exactly how it works. You dislike someone or something intensely? You are projecting! You are taking unconscious content within your own psyche and putting it out there onto someone/something else. The stuff you don’t want to deal with, or look at, or accept about yourself ‘ that stuff is all projected outwards. After all, it’s got to go somewhere if you can’t deal with it.
Just think about all the things/people/ideas out in the world that rile you up. What does that say about you?
GOOD FOR TRANSFORMATION
Of course, on a positive note, the opportunities for yourself to change and grow increases when you have this realization. Every time you catch yourself reacting to something external, you can use that emotion to guide you to insecurities, vulnerabilities, repressed beliefs about yourself. In Jungian terms we call this process becoming ‘conscious’. Just imagine how much less friction, disagreements, fights and hatred would exist if everyone took responsibility for their own reactions.
But that means a life without blaming others. Are we all ready for that? Think about how many times a day you blame others on the road, in queues, on TV, in newspapers, in your relationships, your children, your parents, your friends etc. What would you do with all that time if you were to stop blaming?
Projection can also be incredibly positive and motivating. Just think of people you think are wonderful and do meaningful work, or are successful, or kind or happy. Whatever you think is important, you will project out there onto someone who you think is embodying this quality. These people are inspiring and motivate you to become more like them.
For example, I find Redi Thlapi very inspirational. She is assertive, opinionated, doesn’t get intimidated and does a great job of bringing various opinions on topics to light. I think that is fabulous! A bit of fame mixed with doing good.
She inspired me to start blogging and I would love to be on her show as a regular guest . Positive projection in action. You may totally disagree with me and see her in a very different light. But that is what is so great about projections ‘ they are uniquely yours!
THE LIMITATIONS OF PROJECTION
Now I would like to get into the nitty gritty of projection. This is where it gets complicated.
Lets say that I make a new friend. I think she is fabulous. She displays all the characteristics in an individual that I really like. She is outgoing, intelligent, successful in her line of work, together, etc. I get to know her and after a few months, she suddenly confronts me about something I said to her. I am stunned. I can’t even remember when I said it and in what context I said it. Now what! I get really irritated and all of a sudden I start realizing how she behaved badly towards me. She did this and she said that. I should have seen it coming!
This is a typical experience of projection gone wrong. In the beginning of the relationship we were both projecting onto each other. Although it helped us to bond and develop a friendship based on similarities, the truth is that neither of us were able to see the other clearly. We both viewed the other through rose tinted glasses. Eventually the projection starts waning and then we start seeing each other more clearly. All the stuff that you could not/would not see before is now visible. It is not that your friend has changed, it is that you now see her more clearly than before. Everyone has good qualities and bad qualities. Can you accommodate the bad qualities? If not, this friendship is doomed. The same with your friend. Can she accommodate your bad qualities?
And this is the crux of the matter. Projection is a double edged blade. On the one hand it helps to develop relationships, but on the other hand it separates you from the other.
It can really work against you in isolating yourself from others. Unless you manage to work through your projections and start seeing those around you for who they really are AND accepting them for who they really are, you are having relationships that are one sided and limited.
When you are projecting, you only see yourself reflected back to you. You are missing out on the magic and joy of knowing, seeing, appreciating and learning from someone else.
Until next time.