Have you ever felt like everyone doesn’t like you? Or maybe people are all judging your style or whether or not you gained weight?
Perhaps you’ve found yourself judging someone based on their sexual endeavors. Or maybe you condemned someone for liking something you detest.
These are all common cases of projection. Projecting is when you believe something about the world and then start to see it in other people. It’s a typical situation for humans to see not only their beliefs but their insecurities in other people they encounter.
Instead of seeing everyone for who they are, we are only able to see them through the lens we’ve created for how we view the world.
That lens is constructed piece by piece throughout our lives, depending on our traumas, pains, achievements, and life events.
There’s no one to blame, especially not yourself, if you find yourself projecting your deepest fears or your strict standards onto other people. It’s natural. It’s part of being human.
But when our projections begin to interfere with our lives and relationships, it’s worth considering if they’re serving us in a useful way and to potentially work to get rid of some of them.
If you’re feeling like it’s time to change the way you interact and see people, there are simple steps you can take to unraveling these deeply ingrained notions and change your behavior.
Become Aware of Your Insecurities and Beliefs
The first step in changing any behavior is awareness. If you’re unsure of what your insecurities even look like or if you don’t realize that you have unfaltering beliefs on how all humans should act, then you don’t stand a chance in changing the actions that they manifest.
To become aware of your actions, I’d suggest keeping physical track of them. Maybe write them down in a notebook or on the Notes app in your phone. You’d be surprised how quickly we can think of something and then completely forget it.
Whenever you feel yourself judging someone or like you’re being judged, consider what the belief is behind that thought. Why do you think that person is less than? Why do you think that the stranger didn’t like you?
Re-frame the situation into a belief.
“I believe that people who go out every night are careless.”
“I believe that people don’t think I’m interesting.”
The more specific, the better. Once you’re aware of your beliefs, you can start to work through them.
Consider Why They Exist
Your beliefs exist because of the life you’ve lived. Maybe your parents taught you them, maybe your friends did, maybe traumas happened, and these beliefs were once subconsciously used to help keep you safe.
Either way, if they’re causing negative actions, they’re not serving you anymore.
But knowing where our thoughts may have come from, what specific events and people created them, will help eradicate them.
Notice When You’re Doing It
Becoming aware of whenever you’re projecting a specific idea onto others is the next step.
If you live passively, letting your thoughts completely rule your reality, you’ll fall victim to them time and time again. Until you’re aware of when you’re doing them and consciously making a note of when you do, they will continue to run free throughout your life.
At this point, once you’ve accepted that they exist, merely being aware of when you’re projecting is the next step. Changing a deeply engrained life-long habit is going to take time, so let’s take this in baby steps.
Make the Connection
Now that you’re aware of what your beliefs are and when you’re projecting them onto others, you can start to make connections.
Let’s say you have an interaction with a work colleague, and you leave feeling like they thought your ideas for the meeting were dumb. In fact, you actually believe that they think you’re dumb in general.
If you’re aware that one of your fear is being perceived as dumb and that your interaction left you feeling like your intelligence came into question, you’ll start to be able to see how those two are connected.
That perhaps, your own belief on how smart you are influenced how you perceived your co-worker’s reactions.
This is the step in which you make the connection between your beliefs and the moments in which you’re projecting onto others.
Consider Alternatives of How Things Really Are
Once awareness and connections are being made, it’s time to consider that things may not actually be how they seem. That may be our beliefs are actually altering the interactions we have with other people.
Maybe your co-worker doesn’t think you’re dumb. Perhaps he was tired or didn’t care about the project in general. Or maybe, he actually did love your ideas. Not every verbally expresses everything they’re thinking.
Maybe the way that your best friend chooses to live her single life, going out on several dates a week, isn’t indicative of her character. Sure, it’s not how you might choose to live your life, but that doesn’t make her decisions wrong.
This is the point in which you can start to re-frame the way you think about situations in your mind. If you consciously work to do this whenever you feel you may be projecting, you’ll start to see your reality change without anything in the physical world actually ever changing.
See a Professional to Work Through Them
If you find yourself having a hard time working through some of this, a professional is always a great resource.
Insecurities and beliefs took a lifetime, your literal lifetime, to form in your psyche. They’re not an easy thing to change.
If you feel like your life is drastically affected by your projections, consider seeing a therapist to help you work through them on a deeper, more specific level.
This is simply a sort of guide to help you work through some instances that are acts of your mind projecting beliefs.
In some cases, your assumptions could be accurate. If you’re worried a partner is cheating on you, that could be the case. But it is worth considering if you’re projecting an insecurity of not being enough onto them first.
The mind is a powerful place, so much so that it shapes our reality. Luckily, we have a bit of control over what it creates for us.
Working through the psychological act of projecting will have profound effects on your life in numerous aspects.