MichaelEmeryArt

Projecting ourselves on to others

The following is excerpt I found at above website:

While many of us can identify the process of projection in somebody else, few of us are able to see it in ourselves.  Think about it — how many times have you stopped yourself and said, “I’m just projecting.

Our own projections are difficult to spot, first of all, because we don’t want to identify them as such:  the whole point of projecting is to rid ourselves of something unwanted.  While there are instances where people project their good qualities into others, ridding oneself of painful or unpleasant experiences is much more common.  I’ve discussed these issues in earlier posts about projection and the toilet function of friendship.  Today I’d like to talk about how we can become more attuned to and aware of our own projections, even when we’d rather not.

Our own projections are difficult to spot, first of all, because we don’t want to identify them as such:  the whole point of projecting is to rid ourselves of something unwanted.  While there are instances where people project their good qualities into others, ridding oneself of painful or unpleasant experiences is much more common.  I’ve discussed these issues in earlier posts about projection and the toilet function of friendship.  Today I’d like to talk about how we can become more attuned to and aware of our own projections, even when we’d rather not.

So at the end of my work day, I may be feeling irritable because (I believe) members of my family are doing things I find annoying.  In my thoughts, I may begin to zero in on those irritating behaviors — say, that person’s irksome habit of constantly complaining about his or her daily stresses.  These irritations may become preoccupations; I may find myself intensely focused on those behaviors, waiting for them to recur; I may be talking to myself in repetitive ways that have the effect of intensifying my irritation, while at the same time justifying it.  My focus may be exclusively upon the other person with a corresponding lack of attention upon myself and my own body.  The underlying assumption is that the other person is causing me to feel grouchy and if only he or she would stop complaining (as usual!), I’d feel better.

I’m familiar enough with the process by now to recognize it, though without exception, I fight off that recognition every time.  I’ll hear myself thinking something like, “Yeah, but this time is different.  That really is irritating.”  With effort, I can silence such thoughts.  Silence is key, at least for me; as a fairly verbal person, I find the thought processes that support and justify the projections come in words.  Putting a stop to those words and focusing on my breathing is a crucial first step.  Then I have to shift the focus of my attention away from the other person and into my own body.

I “look” in various places:  my back and shoulders where I carry tension, around my eyes where I register fatigue and sadness, in my belly where I feel hunger and other kinds of longing.  I may notice that my back hurts; I may have the beginnings of a headache.  Often I discover that my body feels tired and a little achy.  I try to hold onto these sensations without “explaining” them in reference to someone else, a difficult and uncomfortable experience.  In the end, I may realize that my own day was stressful, that rather than feeling the depth of my own pain and stress, I’m projecting it outside into someone who complains and whom I mentally criticize.

This is a simple example of owning a projection, and one that many of you will likely be able to replicate.  It’s more difficult when we’re projecting experiences such as shame or neediness.  In those cases, our entire character structure may be organized around validating the reality of the projection.  The characteristic defenses against shame, for example, have as a common goal projecting damage or unworthiness into other people and then treating them in such a way as to insist upon the validity of the projection — by blaming or regarding them with contempt.

Finding Your Own Way:

Experiment with grouchiness and let me know what you find.  Does my description of the process hold true for you as well?

Next, think about other areas where an intense focus on or preoccupation with someone else may indicate that a projection is at work.  Do you find yourself dwelling on somebody’s else behavior or personality in an intensely critical or angry way?  You may have legitimate reasons, but you may also be projecting something into them.

Some other feelings that may indicate an underlying projection:  contempt (projection of shame), feelings of superiority (projection of neediness ), recrimination (projection of guilt) or envy (projection of an idealized fantasy).  I don’t mean to suggest that these are always signs of projections, but when joined to an especially intense preoccupation with the other person, they’re a strong indication.

Notice the polarity involved in these projections:  I don’t complain about stress and it annoys me that you do.  I feel no shame about my own damage but you’re a contemptible loser.  I’m not needy and pathetic like you because I’ve got it all!  I did nothing wrong and you’re entirely to blame.

Now if only I could stop thinking about you.

In psychology, the false-consensus effect or false-consensus bias is an attributional type of cognitive bias whereby people tend to overestimate the extent to which their opinions, beliefs, preferences, values, and habits are normal and typical of those of others (i.e., that others also think the same way that they do).[1] This cognitive bias tends to lead to the perception of a consensus that does not exist, a "false consensus".

This false consensus is significant because it increases self-esteem (overconfidence effect). It can be derived from a desire to conform and be liked by others in a social environment. This bias is especially prevalent in group settings where one thinks the collective opinion of their own group matches that of the larger population. Since the members of a group reach a consensus and rarely encounter those who dispute it, they tend to believe that everybody thinks the same way. The false-consensus effect is not restricted to cases where people believe that their values are shared by the majority, but it still manifests as an overestimate of the extent of their belief. For example, fundamentalists do not necessarily believe that the majority of people share their views, but their estimates of the number of people who share their point of view will tend to exceed the actual number.

Additionally, when confronted with evidence that a consensus does not exist, people often assume that those who do not agree with them are defective in some way.[2] There is no single cause for this cognitive bias; the availability heuristic, self-serving bias, and naïve realism have been suggested as at least partial underlying factors. Maintenance of this cognitive bias may be related to the tendency to make decisions with relatively little information. When faced with uncertainty and a limited sample from which to make decisions, people often "project" themselves onto the situation. When this personal knowledge is used as input to make generalizations, it often results in the false sense of being part of the majority.[3][clarification needed]

The false-consensus effect can be contrasted with pluralistic ignorance, an error in which people privately disapprove but publicly support what seems to be the majority view (see below).