The Power of Projections

I have been in a nearly consistent state of guilt for almost my entire life. I feel like I am always doing something wrong. So, for example, if I am in a room with other people, and I start to think that someone else is upset. Quickly, I could think of a reason that they would be upset with me, a reason to feel guilty. It could be anything. And the thing was, it always made sense. Why is this person upset? Oh because I didn’t go to that meeting they wanted me to go to. I’m guilty, I’m a messing up, I don’t know what I want, I don’t know what is wrong with me…on and on.

Why does this make sense? Because the rational brain uses the information it has to draw logical conclusions. But when it comes to the source of other people’s emotions, the information we have is extremely limited.  In fact, the rational mind is often unaware of the source of our own emotions. The rational mind perceives things, like our bodily sensations, but our ego has created mechanisms so that we do not understand those perceptions as our feelings. One of those mechanisms is projections.

So when we are trying to ‘figure out’ why ‘someone is upset’, this isn’t actually a thing that the rational mind is equipped to do since the inputs we have are so subjective and changeable, just as we know our own moods to be. When we do this, we create an opening for our own internal feelings of guilt to sound reasonable to us. Once these ‘explanations’ are brought up, the rational mind does not need to do any further research into our body’s sensations, our how we really feel, because it is attributed to something outside of us. In this way we are able to muffle the sensations of our bodies and avoid our soul by staying in our head. This is how projections are created and why they are so useful.

But here’s the kicker–the person we project onto is often as disconnected from their own emotions as you are. Just as you are asking yourself, how do I feel?, and you don’t know the answer, the person across from you is probably thinking a similar thing. When you stare at someone, or even if you ask them, ‘how are you doing?’, if you are thinking to yourself, ‘this person is upset’, they will pick up on your tone, on your body language. And then they might think–she thinks I am upset! Am I upset? Why would I be upset…oh, yeah, she didn’t go to that meeting she said she would go to. Ya she is such a flake. She needs to get her shit together. The person might even get upset about this. And that is why projections are so difficult to  let go of–because they can even be true. The person might actually start to feel upset about this, or have already been. But that does not mean it is not a projection.

From the perspective of the soul, both things can be true. From that place, the goal is never to be right. It is simply to be and experience what is. So, as the dreamwork therapy I am a student of teaches, it doesn’t matter whether your projection is true or not. The goal for you is to be in your real feelings, that is all. There is an intense struggle to break projections when other people are expressing the emotion you are also projecting. This is the power of the projection.

But the soul’s truth is simply to be what is. Until you break your projection you will not be able to evaluate your actions effectively. It’s not that you never do anything wrong–but only from the place of your real feelings, can real regret emerge as a pathway to change. Guilt, on the other hand will never lead you to the support and love you have to accept to move forward.