It is important in relationships to know what others see in you. They will cultivate what they see in you and reflect it back to you. In this way, they can help you build who you want to be. Choose to be those around people who see your potential. Choose carefully how you talk about yourself to others when you’re building yourself. Show them what you want them to see in you. Unless another values you at least as much as you value yourself, you are better off in your own appreciative company.
To the extent that you find in another an unlived part of yourself, you will be attracted and driven to be with that person either in love or hateful struggle. While you grow, you will call into your life the people that reflect the ‘opposite’ extreme of what you lack within yourself. For instance, if you lack self worth, you’ll attract arrogance. If you lack sensitivity, you’ll attract overly sensitive people. Others bring you the qualities you battle with in an exaggerated, reflected form.
Projection creates scaffolding. I realized that all my issues with other people are projection. They have little to do with the actual person because I superimpose my projections on them and become attached to that. Others are merely the scaffolding of my projections.
I tend project the qualities that aren’t there or exaggerate those that are there and become attached to the bearer of my projection. I overestimate the qualities of the other and then cling to that misconception. Projection lends an imaginary halo of attractiveness to the object of desire. I project what I need the other to be as some hidden quality inside them that a loving relationship would bring out. The other may carry this projected aspect of myself for a time, but it will weigh them down and eventually exhaust the relationship.
You tend to project your shadows onto others. Ken Wilber explains it this way: Your shadow is your unconscious opposite, your unwanted tendencies, which you project. Whatever you project, appears to exist ‘out there’. You see it in the environment, usually in other people. You know somebody has a shadow, but since it just can’t be you, it must be someone else. All you need to do now is find this somebody else. This becomes an extremely important task because if you can’t find someone to project your shadow onto, you’ll be left holding it yourself.
Just as you once hated your own shadow and sought to eradicate it by any means, you now despise, with the same passion, those onto whom you have cast your shadow. Once the shadow is projected, you still feel it, but only as a symptom. If, for instance, you project your hostility towards people in general onto another person, you’ll imagine that they are harbouring hostile feelings towards you. You’ll begin to feel a creeping fear of people in general – the symptom. At this stage, you’ll fight your symptom as you once fought your shadow. You’ll probably try to hide it from others, just as you once tried to hide your shadow from yoursef. It is therefore of the utmost importance for you, to prove that your projections are genuinely out there, threatening you. At the same time, you feel you completely lack the projected impulse, trait or tendency.
You’ll hate people only if you unknowingly possess the despised traits you ascribe to them. They then become a constant reminder of aspects of yourself that you’re loath to admit. When you feel hurt, you may lash out at others as the cause of your pain. However, there must be pain inside you before others can trigger it. They can only act as a catalyst to bring it out. The cause is a pain within you and you choose loved ones and friends, who push your buttons, to bring it into consciousness that you may learn and grow.
What I appear to be to you exists only in your mind. I am not concerned with it – Nisargadatta
People will love you and people will hate you and none of it will have anything to do with you – Abraham Hicks
Out of a strong need to connect, I used to let struggling and broken people into my life. I thought I could help them only to be buffeted around by their incomplete understanding of me and their issues projected onto me, leaving me shaken and doubting myself. As their brokenness took its toll, I invariably questioned my own wholeness. Others fell in love with my energy, and I was attracted to feeling needed. The offer of an anchor and belonging somewhere was so appealing to me that I was willing to sacrifice a lot of myself to fit into that little box of who they were. I had sacrificed myself to start with, played myself down, made myself less and placed no demands because I knew they couldn’t handle a lot and, in the end, it never worked out anyway. I had wasted my time and energy. Fixing doesn’t work for me, nor does it work for the other, since they get pulled off their path as well.
Just like opposites attract, like also attracts like. My relationships have always been a reflection of where I am at myself. In one of my phases, I pretended to be bullet-proof. I attracted men that pretended the same. I remember how I yearned for the nurturing that I actually needed, which, of course, they could not provide. I had not been honest with myself.
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