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Projecting Explained

Updated on April 19, 2012
Projecting involves your own undesirable feelings, beliefs, etc., being projected onto someone else
Projecting involves your own undesirable feelings, beliefs, etc., being projected onto someone else | Source

Projecting is Not Transference

Projecting and Transference have been used interchangably when they are not the same. The only commonality they have is that they are both unconscious behaviors. Sigmund Freud was the first to describe transference as "a phenomenon where a person, for example, may not like someone because they look or act like someone that has treated them poorly, such as an ex-spouse". I think of it like if you don't like your neighbor and its because she/he reminds you of your ex-spouse or abusive sibling or parent. You have put your dislike of your ex or sibling or parent onto the neighbor subconsciously because he/she reminds you of them in some fashion.

Projecting is the phenomenon of placing your own unacceptable feelings, wants, needs, desires, etc. onto another person or someone putting their own unacceptable feelings, wants, needs, desires, etc. onto you. Let's say, in a very simple example, you become irritated when your spouse works overtime. You know that she/he is working overtime to help pay the bills, but you don't like it. You know that your feelings are inappropriate. Instead of admitting your anger to yourself or spouse, the anger is projected onto your spouse. Now in your mind it is your spouse that is angry with you for working overtime. When it was your feeling in the first place.

  • Liars believe that everyone lies.
  • Thieves believe that everyone steals.
  • Cheaters believe that everyone cheats.
  • Abusers believe that everyone abuses.
  • Haters believe that everyone hates.

Random Examples of Projecting

We have all had this happen some time or another growing up when an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend tells your mutual friend that he/she "hates you" or says that "your weird" after you've broke up.

Let's look at "hates you" first. More than likely your ex doesn't hate you at all. They are probably still very much in love with you. He/she hates themselves for losing you. People don't want to hate themselves so they project it onto you which in turn eases their pain that they don't want to accept or experience.

"He/she's weird (stupid, ugly, insert any adjective that you experienced)". At the time of hurt like breaking up, nobody wants to see themselves in a bad light. It helps to put any question in our mind as an attribute of the other person. Maybe your ex is feeling stupid for not providing more attention to the relationship. Your ex will subconsciously put that attribute onto you thus, "He/she's stupid". Or they might be feeling like they could have done more to groom themselves before each date. Its going on you, so you get, "He/she's ugly". Do you see how this happens? Its all subconscious. If it can be brought out into the open and the negative feelings dealt with, then that line of projecting can and will stop.

We All Do It - So Use It

At some time or another we are all guilty of projecting. If you can see that within yourself then you will be able to see it within others. It can be an insightful tool if you can grasp when its happening. My ex projects constantly. I know what he's been up to just by his projecting. If he says to me, "I know you've been calling my phone and hanging up" guess what??? It means he's been calling my phone and hanging up. If he says, "Your trying to undermine me" guess what????? You got it, he's been trying to undermine me. I know what he's gonna do before he does! Its from this one insightful tool called projecting. These examples are similar to what you may hear from a friend, ex, family member, whomever, and you just need to look at it and ask yourself, "who are they really talking about?" Especially if the projection really doesn't sound like you or your behavior. Think twice about it because it may be a projection.


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