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Projection, By Lorie Sheffer

Have you ever noticed someone will say they can’t stand a personality trait or behavior of another person, and thought to yourself, “But that’s what YOU do!”

Psychological projection is a rather commonly used defense mechanism. We project thoughts or feelings that we have onto someone else. The classic example is the jealous husband who constantly accuses his wife of cheating, when he is the one who is being unfaithful. “Jane” may not like her sister in law, “Edith”, but she won’t admit that, so she will say that she can just tell that “Edith” doesn’t like her. “John” always feels the need to judge others, and yet he accuses “Sam” of always judging him.

If there is someone who gets on your last nerve, sit down and write a list of what you do not like about this person. Put the list away for a few days, and then come back and take a good look at it. Does the list include things you don’t like about yourself? If you substitute your name for the name of the person for whom you have written the list, does it ring true for how YOU behave? For example, if you have written “Joe is so stupid. His grammar is horrible, his social skills are atrocious, etc.” could this mean that you are perhaps insecure about your own social skills and intelligence?

If we pay close attention to what bothers us about others, sometimes we find that it is actually what bothers us about ourselves. We have no control over changing someone else, but if we take a really close look at our own thoughts and feelings, we CAN make changes that will result in our liking ourselves much better. You can’t fix what you are unwilling to see.