What Are You Psychologically Projecting?

By Dr. Perry, PhD


“If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.” ~Herman Hesse

Do you view the world through the sunny optimism of rose-colored lenses or is the tint of your worldview darker and more gloomy? One’s view of the world has a lot to do with the internal script created by one’s unconscious mind. You are both the author, and projectionist of the psyche’s creation. There is truth to be found in the expression “The eyes are the window of the soul” in that the eyes project and see one’s darkest secrets.

Conceptualized by Sigmund Freud, psychological projection is when a person sees behavior or personality traits in others that in fact are traits that belong to them. Thoughts, desires and feelings that one cannot accept are externalized and attributed to another person. Thus, what the ego rejects (one’s internal view) is placed externally on another person. The world essentially becomes a mirror reflecting back what is in our unconscious. We, therefore, see in others the darkness or the light of our souls. By projecting our internalized negative scripts and negative core beliefs we can shift the blame for our problems onto others, affecting our perception of the world.

Further, Carl Jung believed we all possess a shadow side that serves as a reservoir for all of our human darkness. All that we reject in ourselves and deem unacceptable becomes part of the shadow. We create and invest ourselves into an idea of who we are as individuals. Anything that is inconsistent with this persona is suppressed and put in the inner well that contains our darkest emotions. Jung felt that these unacceptable parts in ourselves likely gave rise to projection both on an individual level and on a larger national or international level.

Psychological projection is often associated with negative behavior but it applies equally to positive internal scripts that we have. For example, someone with a high level of self-esteem and self-love may project that others are saying positive things about them and that the world is a safe place where no harm will fall upon them.

Here are some examples of psychological projection:

1. Feeling others hate or dislike you
If you have a strong dislike or hatred for someone it is quite common to protect yourself from these feelings by projecting them onto another person. According to Jung, “The subject gets rid of painful, incompatible content by projecting them.” For example, you may feel your boss or a co-worker hates you. Upon reflection, you may find that in actuality the hate originates in you. Unable to cope with this, you instead project the hateful feelings toward your boss or coworker and make them into the villain.

2. Commenting negatively on others physical appearance
When a person makes disparaging comments about another person’s appearance this may be a way to mask their own negative feelings about their body. For example, commenting with disgust about someone being overweight may actually be the way you feel about your own weight.

3. If I can do it so can you!
Although at first, this appears to be a positive projection, the belief that if you can complete a task others should be able to as well, can often lead to frustration and alienation from others. For example, a parent that worked two jobs and attended college full time may have a hard time believing their child can’t graduate with honors when attending college and not having to work.

4. Repulsion about other’s sexual orientation
A self-professed heterosexual male who goes out of their way to gay bash and direct hateful rhetoric towards homosexuals may be doing so because of self-hate towards their repressed homosexuality. Unable to accept this part of themselves, they will project the hate onto individuals who are openly gay. There are numerous cases of men who have attacked homosexuals verbally or physically only to later reveal they are gay themselves.

5. Believing your partner is unfaithful
Thoughts of infidelity that a person may be having may be unconsciously projected onto their romantic partner. The guilt over these thoughts turns into blame directed at the innocent party. This may not always be the case so please be careful not to attack your partner if they are expressing an insecurity about fidelity.

6. Bullying Behavior
Often times underneath a bully’s aggressive tough exterior there is an insecure and vulnerable individual. Unable to accept their feelings of weakness they lash out at others they perceive as vulnerable. The hate they feel towards their own vulnerability is projected onto an innocent party.

We all use psychological projection on a daily basis. By identifying what we are perceiving as bad or negative we can begin to understand what we may be unconsciously trying to suppress within ourselves. Carl Jung stated that “When one tries desperately to be good, wonderful and perfect, then all the more the shadow develops a definite will to be black and evil and destructive.” Identify what you are projecting by looking at your “hates” and “dislikes.” What do you naturally feel strongly about? What you dislike and hate in others says a lot of what you dislike or hate in yourself. By becoming more aware of one’s internal negative script you can learn to accept that part of yourself that causes you the most discomfort. By unifying the good and self-professed bad parts of yourself through self-acceptance and self-love you can become more empathetic towards others. By being your whole authentic self you will be less divisive because you are no longer divided into two conflicting parts.

I hope you found this article informative and thought-provoking. I would love to hear your thoughts on how you or someone you know may be psychologically projecting onto others. Please note, this article is meant for educational purposes only. If you would like to schedule a free initial consultation to work with me on your mental health please click here.

Kindly,
Dr. Perry


www.MakeItUltraPsychology.com
“We specialize in a solution-focused approach to psychotherapy, specifically treating depression, anxiety, relationship issues and narcissistic abuse.”
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97 responses to What Are You Psychologically Projecting?

  1. Sylvia P. says:

    Great post. Very interesting topic. I love the way you to explain psychological topics in a way we can all understand. Thank you Dr. Perry.

    Liked by 7 people

  2. Georgia says:

    I think I do this! This was very helpful. I learned something not only about this topic but about my self. Thanks as always Doc!🙋🏽‍♀️

    Liked by 7 people

    • Dr. Perry says:

      Hi Hope, great idea. I’m sure it will be helpful and at the very least it will be a good topic for conversation

      Liked by 2 people

  3. sosparkly says:

    Dr. Perry, Thank you for this thoughtful piece about projecting. I think everyone does this from time to time, and I sure that I have. I try to combat this kind of thinking by seeing that difficult person as someone who is seeking something; validation; a feeling of relevance; having their voice heard; trying to keep things the same; or striking out against something they fear. When we have some understanding of their motivation it can help us to de-escalate our negative feeling about that confrontation, so we can more easily forgive, and move on.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Sophia Ismaa says:

    2. Commenting negatively on others physical appearance
When a person makes disparaging comments about another person’s appearance this may be a way to mask their own negative feelings about their body. For example, commenting with disgust about someone being overweight may actually be the way you feel about your own weight. – this is true. When I started putting on weight a few years ago, I received negative comments from a thin friend at the time. Ironically, a couple of months later, she for the first time in probably over a decade, started putting on weight. Luckily, I was able to see that she was insecure and didn’t feel the need to feel bad about my weight gain.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Dr. Perry says:

      This is a wonderful example of kindness and personal growth on your part. There really is no need for us to disparage one another. I think we do a pretty good job of it on our own✨

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Linda says:

    This makes complete sense. I get so annoyed at certain individuals without any real reason. I think what I am most annoyed at is really my myself. Wonderful thought provoking article.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Dr. Perry says:

      Thank you Linda. Perhaps the people that annoy us are the ones that teach us the most about ourselves✨

      Liked by 2 people

  6. A L Archer says:

    Psychodynamic concepts can be tricky to get your head around but you’ve explained it really well. I used to use the ideas of projection and transference when working with people with dementia. It was a really helpful way of trying to understand what they might be trying to communicate. Thanks for posting.

    Liked by 6 people

  7. Very helpful and insightful! It’s hard to understand so many of the why’s behind certain behaviors whether it be someone else’s or your own. Self awareness and acceptance can definitely be hard to swallow at times. Especially when facing your own flaws. Thank you for this post!

    Liked by 5 people

  8. anonymous says:

    There is an older woman at my job that I absolutely hate. It started slowly but now I am at the point that I can’t be in the same room as her. I think she is the most negative person I have ever met. Could it be that I have projected onto her the hate I have for my own negativity? Thank you

    Liked by 4 people

    • Dr. Perry says:

      Hi, without knowing all the details of your relationship it’s hard to say. Perhaps she is a horrible person who has done harmful things to you. In that case having negative feelings towards her would be warranted. On the other hand, there might be some projection going on if you are the only person who sees her as negative without any concrete reason. Take a step back from the situation. Ask yourself what is it about this person that bothers you so much? If this is having a negative impact on your life, I would advise that you find a mental health professional to help you process these feelings. Hope this helps. Dr. Perry

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Fascinating article :O) I’ve come to the conclusion that, as you say, acceptance and not judgement, of ourselves and others, is really the only way forward…………now is that a mark for my dark side or the light? ;O)

    Liked by 5 people

  10. Ty says:

    This is a fascinating topic to read about. I am not even sure where to begin with myself when it comes to what I might be projecting outwardly. I definitely need to spend some time reflecting on this. Thank you for taking the time to educate us Dr. Perry. I always enjoy getting an email saying you posted something new. Keep up the great writing!

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Anna from Australia says:

    I am really embarrassed to admit this but when I read this I realized that years ago when I wasn’t being the most faithful (just emotionally) in my relationship I was always paranoid that my boyfriend was cheating on me. I never actually cheated but because it was a bad relationship I definitely thought about it. I was ALWAYS thinking he was going to leave me. It’s just weird to read about this. Thanks for keeping me on my toes in thought Dr. Perry. I’ve learned a lot from you and have only just started following your blog. Cheers. Anna

    Liked by 4 people

  12. MommaKind says:

    Thank you for another thought provoking write up. I always read your posts once and then let myself digest it before coming back to read it again. You sure inspire me to have some mighty good epiphanies good Sir. Keep it up Dr. Perry! Love your writing!

    Liked by 4 people

  13. Kevin says:

    After reading this it only makes sense that much of the world’s horrific events against each other must have been a result of this kind of projection. All I can say is wow. We all need to work on being more aware of this. Great post!

    Liked by 5 people

  14. Maria says:

    Hi Dr. Perry, my aunt is a therapist and she has talked about projection before to me. I never really got it but now it makes a lot more sense. I am going to share this article with her and tell her about you. I really love your blog. It’s literally the highlight of my day when I get a notification about a new post from you. Thanks for all you do!

    Liked by 5 people

  15. Rayne says:

    This actually happened to me during therapy one day… I was convinced that my therapist was angry with me, but it turned out that I was the one who was angry with her.

    Liked by 5 people

  16. I love #3 – sad to say, I’ve found myself telling people that and like you said; while at first it seems positive, I never thought how those words could actually make someone else feel. Now, I’ll be careful in verbally using that sentence when I’m talking to people. Great Post!

    Liked by 4 people

  17. It is very interesting that you decided to write about “your world view.” It is so true and something many need to think about as they develop relationships and/or go through their lives. It is definitely something to keep in mind and is very helpful/useful.

    Liked by 5 people

  18. Joël says:

    Nice one, in my teenage years number 2 used to be part of my daily repertoire. Eventually, I realized it though, which allowed me to change both my lifestyle and my attitude towards others.

    Liked by 5 people

  19. Anonymous says:

    I am not ready to admit this anywhere else but I feel like this is a safe environment to share anonymously. I want to start by saying that I am happily gay. Years and years ago before coming out I found myself bullying males who I thought were overly feminine. This started in High School and it wasn’t until college that everything started to make sense for me. I just wanted to say that this post really hit home for me.Thank you for helping me make a little more sense out of something I feel like I have put behind me.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Dr. Perry says:

      Thank you for sharing such a personal insight. I want to reassure you that this a safe and no judgment zone. I believe that your comment may inspire others to live a more authentic life. I wish you well✨

      Liked by 1 person

  20. lunarpoet says:

    I’ve learned about projection, both in therapy and in having a master teacher in how to project, being my mother. Realizing, that you can use this for good as well is something truly powerful. The so called “sympathy spell” works I guess. If you are emitting joy and understanding, you will receive the same. Same attracts same, this might also explain the feeling you sometimes have, meeting someone for the first time, thinking you’ve already know them for quite a while. Fascinating was the part about the Jungian “shadow”. This concept is really intriguing to me, that somehow we are feeding the parts of ourselves we are desperately trying to suppress. Great read!

    Liked by 4 people

  21. sandymancan says:

    It’s always been my point of view when people’s rejections are based on just what they see it has nothing to do with you or me, it’s what the know about themselves they reject knowing nothing else.

    Liked by 4 people

  22. When I realized the truth of what you explain here, it got me to humbly look at my own traits and see where I may have been projecting onto villains the darkness I was unable to admit. When we are able to look upon ourselves with honesty, acceptance and forgiveness, we seem to have less need to point the figure at others. Human nature is tricky business… thanks for wisdom here.

    Liked by 4 people

  23. Laura says:

    This is such an incredible article. I’d once read about how the things we dislike in others are things we dislike in ourselves and I’ve always tried to remain conscious of that. This article truly is food for thought and, if utilised properly, a road to freedom! Thank you for sharing such a though-provoking and honest post 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  24. Jeff says:

    What a fascinating topic. Makes me wonder what I may be projecting. I am an email subscriber and appreciate your posts.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Very interesting we just covered this in part of my therapy last night and I completely saw things differently after the session.. I was always looking through lens at different times in my life and found out why I feel so dark now, but then who says its really dark. I’m learning that’s my perception of what darkness is, when to others it’s not dark at all.

    Liked by 3 people

  26. My therapist would say that most of this is true about me, I live in a world according to Jane where I expect as much from myself as I do from others and often struggle with feelings of disappointment or failure when things do not go as I think they should, not a good place to be. I am trying to ‘adapt’ my ways of feeling during these periods but it is so hard not to give in and express my disappointment or react to the feeling that I or others have failed. I would love to be able to just ‘let go’ and say “I’ll do better next time” but not getting it right first time is a big ‘no no’ in my world…….

    Liked by 4 people

  27. There’s a famous saying of Jesus in the Gospel of Mathew (7:3) — “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” So the topos of projection is very old! We’re supposed to temper our judgmental tendencies. Indeed, the passage begins ““Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged.” I think the usual assumption is that God will judge us by our own severe standard, but I note reading it that the passage doesn’t really say who this judge will be. So it does leave open the possibility that the judge is the self — and that the judgmental stance in life falls back upon the one who indulges it because it’s coming from inside — and at some time or other the judge is obviously anyone, everyone. To be judgmental is to be human.

    On the plus side, I suppose that if you wonder “what would I like to change about myself?” then judgmental thoughts provide actually a potential road map for self-change since the judgments we make about others are a type of mirror. We can gaze into that mirror and see aspects of our inner life that we hide. It’s not a good idea to judge others, and we can seek to be more benevolent in even our thoughts — but we all do judge — and knowing that our judgment is mirror-like — well, it seems as though one can learn from this dynamic and that it offers potentially a form of revelation too. If one owns it, looks into that mirror with openness and a desire to learn … and so on. I don’t like these qualities about So-n-so, but if these criticisms are really the reflection of what I dislike about myself, then what should I do about it?

    The last part of that verse in interesting: “first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.” So dealing with the projection offers not only self-healing, but an avenue toward helping others.

    Liked by 4 people

  28. Sean D. Layton says:

    Interesting post. I like to think of myself as a positive person — I’m generally kind and supportive — but in reality, when I stop and think about it, I can bring others down because I tend to project my own negativity, even though I dislike it. And I”m usually not aware I’m doing it at the time.

    Liked by 3 people

  29. Geary Erua says:

    Thank you Dr. Perry, this was the right time I needed to hear this! Over the past, people have come at me, and I have done that also. You’re right, it really does start from within and how you feel about yourself if you want to treat others right.

    Sincerely,
    Geary Erua.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dr. Perry says:

      Hi Jaclyn, thank you for your comment. I have read some of his work. He was a very motivational and inspiration person✨

      Liked by 3 people

  30. Very interesting and #6 sure hits home with my thoughts on why my daughters bullies would have bullied her to a mental break down. Unfortunately one of them is a therapist and should understand all these behaviors and not partake in them.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. Len Palcon says:

    This topic directly hit me to the point. Really interesting to know these things are what we actually project and not the other way around. Thank you for this wonderful post Doc.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. julielelder says:

    Such an interesting topic to me! I’ve tried to understand the dynamics of this in order to not take things personally from a couple of people I once had in my life. I would be thinking “wow, you’re being really hard to get along with” after they’d been berating me, and then they’d stop, look at me and say “You’re so hard to get along with!” I thought, “Wait—did they just read my mind?!” Finally I realized it was projection rather than psychic abilities, phew!

    It’s a good lesson for something to watch out for in my own behavior because it can be crazymaking!

    Liked by 2 people

  33. MSPLens says:

    I’m going to address this at a later time …but I want to say thank for digging deep and being precise enough to break and confirm a barrier

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Idalia G. says:

    I wish I would have read this about a year ago. I quit my job because I honestly believed my boss had it out for me. Upon reflection I think I was the one who hated my boss. Lesson learned!

    Liked by 2 people

  35. submerge says:

    Interesting piece. The section on ‘if I can do it, so can you’ caught my attention. My boss often uses this and I find it to be disempowering and patronising. It doesn’t help me because he doesn’t share techniques with me or guide me. Surprising given that we’re both teachers!

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Great post! In all honesty, I don’t think I do this. I think I spend more time putting myself down. I don’t think I could put someone else down the way I do myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Really insightful. I tend, for example, somebody in my life to be rather insufferable when it comes to certain topics. I’m always polite to this person, but she is from out west, and makes these sweeping, unflattering generalizations about the entirety of the east coast (of which she’s seen about 30 miles) from Maine to florida- about how we are unintelligent because of regional dialects or colloquiallisms- and it drives me up a wall. She is also very loud (this is not an issue, the volume of one’s voice is unimportant outside of the context of what was being said) and we were raised to always be quiet and respectful- a stricter home if you will. I can see the projection of my own low self esteem and psychological fetters- I would love to be loud and not care what other people think, but I can’t because of psychological walls built on childhood. Speaking of which, something in this person’s ability to speak with such authority with regards to topics she knows nothing about actually awakens within me a bit of envy- it would be nice not to think about it to the nth degree with racing thoughts. Well written post, provided a lot of insite. She’s a very good person, please don’t get me wrong- has a good heart- but was raised socially in every manner my parents told us not to be. It’s like I have some jealousy towards a person whose burdens are not my own.

    Liked by 2 people

  38. Dr. Perry I was listening to an interview with David Goggins and Joe Rogan just the other day and this concept was discussed. I started to relate to this issue of projection. I have an issue with folks who have addictions because I feel like it’s a weakness and a cope out. Not that I have had an addiction; however, I have been co dependent on someone. It has taken me a while to work through that. I was very upset with how weak I had become. Thus resulting in my intolerance to those who have these issues that I deem weak. Not that I am so arrived as I am still on the journey to self discovery, which has started with weight loss because of a belief that I had about myself. I know I’ve rambled on your feed, but thank you for this piece.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dr. Perry says:

      Hi Eve, thank you. I appreciate the time you have taken to share your valuable insight.✨✨✨

      Liked by 1 person

  39. Monaminga says:

    Thank you for the insight, it was very educational. The most difficult part is to accept one’s dark spots once they are discovered. I sometimes feel that I’m not interesting enough for other people, that I might be boring … The more I think about it, the more I understand that it’s my own projection. So I find people not very interesting and boring. My job now is to reflect on ways to become more interested in the others and find them more exciting. If you have any ideas 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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