How to Stop Projecting When You're Projecting
Since projection is a natural phenomenon, a defense mechanism of our ego state, it's so easy to point out other people's projections and so difficult to snap out of our own. Why is this? Because when we are projecting, we actually believe that what we are seeing is the truth about another person. We actually believe that we are different from them and incapable of their behavior. Now remember, like the philosopher and psychologist Ken Wilber tells us, if a person or thing in our environment informs us, if we receive what is happening as information, a point of interest, we probably aren't projecting. On the other hand, if it affects us, if we're pointing our fingers and judging, if we're "plugged in", chances are that we are a victim of our own projections.
When we fail to have compassion for somebody's behavior, it is because we are rejecting and disliking ourselves when we are doing something similar. We can't heal ourselves and heal our relationships until we really study, understand and own up to our projections. We can't keep working on ourselves thinking that we are the enlightened ones and they are the ones that are stuck and need fixing because in doing so, we have fallen prey to the very thing that we are projecting on to another.
I know that this can often seem mind-twisting. How can I be projecting? How can this be my stuff and not theirs? But whether you're projecting your angry self, your arrogant self, your know-it-all self, your judgmental self, your stupid self, your boring self, or your better-than self, these are all parts of you that need love too, parts that need you to own and embrace them and that need you to open your heart to them. And when you do, you will open your heart to all those that you've been projecting on. In that very sacred moment, you will break free from the trance of your unexamined life and breakthrough to the power of your authentic nature.
Your Weekly Shadow Work
(1) Who are you projecting on? Write down one person in your life you are judging harshly.
(2) What are the things that you tell yourself about them? What is the quality in them you most judge. Write it down.
(3) Identify how you display that quality, even if it is in a completely different way. If you can't see how you display that quality now, allow yourself to see how you could display it in the future, the circumstances that could bring rise to that quality.
(4) Once you realize that you are capable of displaying the quality that you see in the person you've been judging, notice if your heart softens and if the judgmental voice in your mind quiets as you wake up from the trance of projection.