In the last of this Inner Work series, I’m going to look at a powerful phenomenon alive in my life at the moment: projection.

What is Projection?

In psychological terms, it’s a defence mechanism that protects the ego from painful, ‘unacceptable’ aspects of the self. Thoughts and feelings that an individual can’t accept about themselves are externalised and literally ‘projected’ onto an external object/person.

Living in the world

This term is thrown around a lot these days. In fact, my friend said to me the other day, ‘Em, everything is a projection’. And in a way he may be right. A lot of my training with the Clairvision School has been about seeing these projections in order to live more in the world, rather than my world. Easier said than done.

Projecting onto another

projectionRecently I had a tangible and confronting experience of projecting onto a dear friend and colleague in the work. Over the past few years, I’ve been exploring my worldly desires and embracing my intensity. Without realising it, I’d gradually rejected and effectively disowned the more serious, focused and ‘spiritual’ part of me. Despite it once driving me and being central to my life, I’d not integrated it into my new sense of self and instead projected it onto this friend.

I started to see her as a judgemental figure in my life, like a stern father-figure. I found myself lying to her about things I wanted to do as I thought she’d judge me for not doing what I imagined she thought I ‘should do’. Everything she said to me was heard through this harsh, cold and judgemental filter.

Disowned & unable to heal

This obviously not only affected our relationship but also meant I was unable to integrate this part of myself. It was like having a scab or broken bone, which was not bandaged nor given the chance to heal because it was outside myself.

It wasn’t until I found the courage to talk with my friend and own this dynamic, that the projection started fading. I realised she held none of the belief systems or attitudes towards me that I thought she did, and I could actually see her again for who she is. It was like a curtain falling away from in front of her.

Pain of being projected onto

Lately I also had a tangible experience of being projected onto, and it was both confusing and painful. A close friend of mine whose mother left him when he was a child had been projecting this figure onto me with his accompanying feelings of anger, mistrust and hurt.

Until we realised this, I kept getting hurt by him as he’d defensively close off and push me away very soon after we were open or intimate with one another. I mistakenly took this personally, was really confused about what I’d done wrong and felt really unseen.

Being seen

Projection3The moment he saw how he’d projected his mother onto me, I could actually perceive a cloak or filter in front of me which he was relating to. It was so tangible. It wasn’t me! This in itself provided much relief and clarity. He can now work on the issues around his mother which he’d disowned, and I can be seen and relate to him in a more authentic way.

How to know

It is true that to an extent we are always projecting our stories/perspective/beliefs etc onto others and our experiences. What I’ve related above are tangible experiences of projections which were causing a lot of pain and distance in our relationship. I felt ‘stuck’ in my relating with both of these people, like we were just playing out the same dynamics and not moving forward or getting closer.

If you feel like you’re hitting your head up against the wall constantly with someone, like they are relating to you in a pre-programmed way – like it doesn’t matter what you do, you get the same response – it’s possible that you are being projected onto. I had a clear realisation when talking with the guy mentioned above – there is nothing I can do as long as he projects this onto me, because he’s not seeing or relating to me.

What can you do

Ultimately the person who is doing the projecting needs to get to a place where they can see what they’re doing. This takes a level of self-awareness and tools which can help gain this clarity.

Inner dialogues can help a lot – I’ve successfully written with and spoken out loud to parts of myself which I feel a conflict with, or which feel unintegrated. It may sound a bit crazy but if you can tune in to these parts of yourself, it’s very tangible, the words just come tumbling out. This is something I can facilitate during coaching sessions.

If you are not aware of these different parts of you, ISIS is a very powerful and direct way to connect to parts of yourself which may be buried or even feel missing. Until you’ve experienced it, it’s difficult to understand exactly how an ISIS session works, so people can often feel hesitant about making the initial investment.

I offer free consultations beforehand to discuss what you’d like to work on and give you a taste of what will happen in the session, so contact me today.

Over to you

Have you had an experience of being projected onto or projecting onto another in this tangible way? I’d love to hear your experiences.

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