Stop Taking the Bait of Projection!

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All of us have projected our own thoughts, feelings, motivations and desires onto others, and have been at the other end of projection. Many of us learned to project onto others as we were growing up, when our parents, siblings or caregivers projected their unconscious feelings, thoughts and motivations onto us.

We might project onto others when we have judged our own feelings, actions, desires and motivations as bad, wrong, shameful or dangerous.

This article is about being at the other end of someone projecting onto you.

Projections are very different than someone offering you gifts of valuable information about you. Projections are often angrily hurled as an attack, while valuable information about you is generally offered with kindness.

Projections may create a sense of confusion; they are not about you, but the person projecting is saying something as if it is about you.

For example, Frank is upset and Mary is trying her best to be there for him. Suddenly Frank attacks Mary with, “You have no compassion!”

If Mary takes the bait, she will defend herself, vehemently explaining that she is doing her very best to support Frank. But no matter what she says, it does no good. In fact, it gets worse, as more insults are hurled her way.

Mary needs to understand that Frank is projecting. The real message behind “You have no compassion,” is “I have no compassion for myself or for you. I feel ashamed of myself for something I feel, want or have done. I don’t have the courage to face myself, so I’m defending against it by attacking you.”

What is the best thing to do in this situation? Often, the best thing is to say something like, “This is not about me,” and then lovingly disengage – keeping your heart open, in case the other person decides to open to themselves and with you. Be very compassionate toward yourself, as it is lonely and heartbreaking to be attacked about something that has nothing to do with you. We all want to be seen and understood by the important people in our lives, and it’s painful when they project their own issues onto us.

Common projections are:

  • “You’re selfish.” Translation: I’m being selfish and I don’t want to admit it or deal with it.
  • “You’re judgmental.” Translation: I’m judging myself and I feel ashamed of this, so it’s easier to blame you instead.
  • “You’re angry.” Translation: I’m angry, but I judge myself for being angry so I won’t admit it.
  • “Everything is about you.” Translation: I’m being narcissistic and I don’t want to know this.
  • “You’re crazy.” Translation: I’m feeling or acting out of control and I can’t let myself know this.
  • “You’re abusive.” Translation: I’m being abusive and I refuse to deal with myself.

The thing NOT to do when you are at the other end of projection is to take the bait. If the person projecting can get you to take the bait, he or she is off the hook. As soon as you try to discuss, explain, defend, argue, teach, cry, attack back, give yourself up, project back, or any number of other ways of protecting against the projection, the person projecting can now do exactly what they want to do – which is to focus on what you are doing rather than on themselves.

The worse they feel about what they have done, want, or feel, the more attacking they may be. It’s a crazy-making situation, so generally the only thing you can do is remove yourself from the arena.

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a best-selling author of 8 books, relationship expert, and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® process – featured on Oprah. Are you are ready to discover real love and intimacy? Click here for a FREE CD/DVD relationship offer, and visit our website at www.innerbonding.com for more articles and help. Phone Sessions Available. Join the thousands we have already helped and visit us now!

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a best-selling author of 8 books and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding healing process. Dr. Margaret Paul is the author/co-author of numerous best-selling books, including: Do I Have To Give Up Me to Be Loved By You? Do I Have To Give Up Me to Be Loved By You?…The Workbook Healing Your Aloneness The Healing Your Aloneness Workbook Inner Bonding Do I Have To Give Up Me to Be Loved By My Kids? Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By God? Margaret holds a Ph.D. in psychology and is a relationship expert, public speaker, seminar leader, consultant, facilitator, and artist. She has appeared on many radio and TV shows, including the Oprah show. She has successfully worked with thousands of individuals, couples and business relationships and taught classes and seminars for over 42 years. Dr. Paul’s books have been distributed around the world and have been translated into many languages. After practicing traditional psychotherapy for 17 years, Margaret was discouraged by the results – both for her clients and herself. She had spent years trying to heal from her own dysfunctional and abusive background, but found herself still suffering with anxiety and relationship problems. She started to seek a process that works fast, deep, creates permanent change, loving relationships, inner peace, and joy. In 1984, she met and became friends with Dr. Erika Chopich, who had half the Inner Bonding® process, and Margaret had the other half! They have been evolving this incredibly powerful healing process for the last 26 years. Margaret works with individuals and couples throughout the world – on the phone, in workshops and 5-Day Intensives, and with members of Inner Bonding Village at http://www.innerbonding.com. She is able to access spiritual Guidance during her sessions, which enables her to work with people wherever they are in the world. Dr. Margaret has just completed a 12 year project call SelfQuest®, which is a transformational self-healing/conflict resolution software program. SelfQuest® is being donated to prisons and schools and sold to individuals, families, and businesses. You can read about SelfQuest® and see a short video of it at http://selfquest.com. In her spare time, Margaret loves to paint, make pottery, take photos, watch birds, read, ride and play with her horses, and spend time with her children and grandchildren.
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