Discovering the Projection
You Spot It, You Got It!
Author: Lynne Namka, Ed. D.
Projection is the unconscious act or process of judging and ascribing to others one’s own undesirable traits and impulses. To blame others for what you do not like in yourself. To project is to externalize ones thought or feeling so that they appear to have objective reality. Maturity is keeping your focus on your own actions instead of worrying about the behavior of others. The Buddha reminds us, “Do not look at the faults of others, or what others have done or not done; observe what you yourself have and have not done.”
Projections R us! Your projection of someone is a reflection of you! Judgments, criticisms and labels all function to isolate us from others. Our attempts to project our own painful elements onto others interrupt the growth process of both the sender and the receiver. In the esoteric traditions, projections and judgments are merely versions of the body, mind, and spirit trying to resolve the dualities inherent in the human mind. Judgment, being an either/or process, divides and separates us from others, God or our sense of wholeness.
Projections protect us by keeping a lid on the terror that knowledge of our dark side might provoke. Jung believed that projection functions like a mirror between the ego part of the Total Self and the unconsciousness personality. The negative characteristic that has been disowned which has been tying up psychic energy in the ego will be reflected in the person’s daily experience. Our need to denigrate others or beat our self up arises from the antagonistic, Energy-seeking parts of the ego. Jung’s approach was to look at the projections as a way to find the areas that needed healing: “A man’s hatred is always concentrated upon that which makes him conscious of his bad qualities.”
Projections are a defensive mechanism where we ignore what we do not like about ourselves and become upset about that same trait in another. Blaming others protect us through distractions and help keep a lid on the terror that knowledge of our dark side might provoke.
Fear helps us identify with beliefs and copings that make up the Shadow parts. The Shadow work is a disidentification process, which allows for old scripts from the various aspects of the self to begin to be integrated in positive ways of thinking and being. Projections are judgments and labeling other person’s actions instead of just observing or witnessing them. They are warning signals that something is unresolved in yourself. Catching your negative projections helps identify the energies that have been separated which become the sub-parts. “Taking back the projections” was Carl Jung’s idea of owing the projection. Jung said, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead to an understanding of ourselves.” If you do not know your unconscious self you will project your negative repressed elements on other people.
What you resist, persists. The intensity of the projective response is a function of one or more of:
- The size of the part inside yourself
- The amount of the denial that you have about this trait in yourself
- The need of your soul to work out this projection, judgments, criticisms and separatist thoughts.
I noticed an attitude, trait, or behavior in _________________________________ that I disliked. The attitude, trait, or behavior was ______________________________________.
I projected this by worrying, criticizing, obsessing, or blaming another person. The fact that I was triggered indicates that there might be a part of me that has a similar trait. The strength of the trigger, from mild to strong, shows the amount of a similar attitude, trait or behavior in myself. This sub-part may be lurking there hidden from my past, currently operating in my present life, or both.
If I am willing to look at this negative attitude, trait, or behavior, I might learn something valuable about a sub-part of myself. This triggering is an opportunity for me to own the projection and find the dark corner within that is asking for correction. My challenge is to look at the cause of my conflict and find what lesson it has to teach me. My choices about anger and negative judgments are to own them or project the. I can choose to sort out and balance this Shadow part of myself. I can use my projections to balance pieces of my Shadow.
Sometimes judgments are thoughts that are envious of other people. Envy has two parameters:
- Positive form– A desire to have the advantage or positive attribute of the person. I give myself permission to obtain this attitude, trait or behavior, reinforce myself when I do it and address the opposite sub-part, which prevents it from happening. I can make a plan about how I can get more of this desired behavior for myself.
- Negative form–Feelings of resentment and ill will towards a person because he or she is perceived to have an advantage or positive attribute. This negative form of envy leads to unfavorably comparing self to another person and self-criticism and tying up of personal energy. I give myself permission to process this resentment so that I can grow. I can use this awareness about my envy and judging and labeling of others to soften this Shadow part of myself.
Working With the Sub-parts of Your Personality
Virginia Satir described the emotions are the parts of the self that are related to the soul/spirit that carry energy. The negative feelings were described as gems and pearls are priceless in our understanding of ourselves. Your sub-parts and their subsequent strong feelings are your teachers. They hold valuable lessons for you about letting go of emotional baggage. You can process the negative feelings by giving them a platform to speak out so that you can understand the meaning behind them.
Projections can be windows into the darker regions of the self that are still yet unresolved. Projections are the unknown unconscious tendencies that we dare not own that are placed on other people. Marie Louise von Franz, student of Jung, described projecting the shadow as a means of encouraging duality and separation of me versus the other. She said “Rather than face our defects as revealed by the shadow, we project them on to others—for instance on to our political enemies…Projections of all kinds obscure our view of our fellow men, spoiling its objectivity, and thus spoiling all possibility of genuine human relationships.”
Realization of the Shadow is the process of coming to terms with the unacceptable aspects of one’s personality such as hidden impulses, desires, selfishness, hostility and greediness that are merely aspects of the ego seeking unification. The disappointment, hurt, betrayal and anger that we feel at others’ behavior can be an invitation to look within at an aspect of our Shadow Self that is waiting to be reclaimed. The willingness to have an open mind regarding one’s character defects and look at the hidden away aspects of the self breaks emotional stagnation. Jung believed that healing happens when the person goes past the entanglements of the ego and into resolution of the disowned Shadow parts moving into self-acceptance.
Giving Voice to a Shadow Part
Each disowned part wants to have its own voice. It wants to be heard. Language gives power to those feelings that have been locked away and never talked about. Speaking one’s truth and expressing what is in the Shadow is the premise behind the effective Voice Dialogue technique. Voice Dialogue was developed by Hal and Siddra Stone which asks the different parts of the person to speak in turn. As the different parts take their voice and speak their concerns and erroneous beliefs, they begin to relax and soften their stance. A cooperative part or Higher Self can then be brought in to first affirm and then negotiate with opposing sub-parts.
Sit with a part of yourself and feel its strength of purpose or lack of power. Give it a voice and let it express itself in the first person. Go to the deepest feelings it can muster up and let it talk until it runs out of things to say. Do not be upset if it is negative or even malevolent at first; just seek to understand its purpose and deepest nature. Now go back to your usual self and sit with this information for a minute or two.
Go to the Observer Self which is a form of dissociation that can be therapeutic. This part is neutral; it does not judge or condemn. Watch what is going on in terms of your feelings, body tension and thoughts. Befriending the different sub-parts cast aside separation. Seen from a higher perspective, our sub-parts, projections, neurotic behaviors and seemingly irrational thoughts hold gifts for us.
My sub-part name is _________________________________________________. Affirm to yourself while tapping on your chest with your fist: This Shadow part is merely indications that I have been hurt, disappointed, rejected, frightened or traumatized by others. I fully accept this part as being a piece of the greater whole of who I am. I deeply and profoundly love and forgive myself for having this part.
I was born when ____________ was ______ years of age.
I first became aware of my part when…
I come out when he/she feels…
My behavior is…
My rules are…
I hurt him or her by…
I help or protect him or her by…
I am afraid of …
I am angry because….
What makes me sad is or what I regret is …
My counter part or nemesis is…
What I really long for in my heart is…
I can retrieve my balance/ power by talking with the part____________ What I would say to this part is…
To Make the Unconscious Conscious
Complete this same exercise on the counter part. Have the sub-parts talk back and forth with each other getting to know and understand their function and fears. Bring in a mediator or the Higher Self to address each part in turn. Ask the parts dialogue with each other so that they each be seen and heard. See each part from a higher perspective.
Feel yourself taking charge as you invoke the Light/God/ Higher Power or whatever you believe in. Tap briskly on your heart as you say the following out loud:
I give myself permission to accept, love and forgive this part. I thank you for being my protector in the past and holding the bad memories for me.
In humility, ask your Higher Self to help you perceive this part in new and different way. Acknowledge that you do not want to remain in pain and despair any longer and that you grant the permission for change. Tell yourself that you are much larger than the self-limiting conditions you have set up. Bring the Light/God/Higher Power down through the crown of the head with your breathe to the sub-part that was formed in fear. Bring your local mind in line with Universal Love:
I give myself permission to accept and love this part which is an energy within me that has sought to protect me. I thank you for all that you have done to take care of me.
Address your Shadow part directly:
I ask that you soften and see things from a more loving point of view. I ask you to stretch now to find a vibration that is of a higher frequency. I forgive you and ask that you come forward to work with all aspects of me for our best and highest good.
Move now to a position of power by asking your Higher Self for help and compassion. Put your shoulders back, put your head back, your chin up and breathe deeply. Ask that in which you believe to help your understand and accept this part of yourself. Smile at this part, which has tried to protect you in some nebulous way and ask it would be willing to soften for the benefit of all concerned.
Watch the shift in your feelings and sense of mastery as the defended Shadow part feels more accepted. Let go of any old message that has kept you limited and helplessness. Tell yourself that you no longer define yourself as being a victim of trauma.
“Mind looking at itself going back to center.
You can only be the observer of your mind.
It is all you.
Everything you thought they were, you are.
Until I can see it’s all me, the Work is not done.
Love is what is left on the other side of undoing beliefs.”
– Bryon Katie