Has someone acted out on you seemingly out of nowhere, to the response of someone else telling you, “Oh, they’re just projecting”?
It’s a term that’s been tossed around quite a bit lately, so you’re probably wondering what it means.
Projecting is a psychological defense mechanism that’s used when somebody experiences or feels something uncomfortable and bounces their own emotions onto you. For example, an S.O. who cheats may start accusing you of cheating, because they’re dealing with their own insecurities.
Here’s what you need to know about the all-too-common forms of projection, and how to spot if it’s happening to you.
Projecting Can Be Harmless… Until it Isn’t
Projecting is when a person is experiencing feelings (can be positive or negative) and they attribute them to somebody else. For example, your rude friend may move through the world thinking that everybody else is rude to them. This behavior is typically harmless and can stem from somebody’s own personal self-esteem issues. That said, there’s a difference between an innocent projection and somebody who constantly sabotages your relationship with their insecurities.
If you know someone who lacks self-esteem and you find them constantly projecting, it can be something harmless you should help them get over. If you find yourself defending someone’s projections fight after fight, it may be time to reconsider your relationship. Monitor others’ projection, and don’t be afraid to bring it up in an open and honest conversation if it feels right.
Bullying is another form of projection—one that should never be accepted. Bullies who project do so because of their vulnerabilities and insecurities.
How to Know If You’re Projecting
Projecting can happen in any relationship, but it tends to creep up in romantic situations often. If you don’t feel pretty leaving the house, you may quiz your S.O. 17 times about the way you look, expecting to “catch” them experiencing the same emotion. If you find yourself in this loop, you need to break the negative cycle and shift into a positive mindset. Instead of leaving the house with negative thoughts, try to say an affirmation or two next time. Little changes like these can alter the negative feedback loop and avoid you projecting on your S.O.
How to React When Someone’s Projecting on You
An easy way to spot somebody projecting on you is if they’re adamant you feel something that you’ve never even thought about before. If you find yourself in this situation, try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Give yourself a moment to realize where the projection is coming from. Is it fear? Is it insecurity? The next best step is to share with them that you feel their projection. People tend to get defensive when they hear this, so pick your words carefully and don’t aim to insult. Starting the conversation in this way will make it productive and get you both to the root of the cause.
Still navigating your relationships? HERE’s what it means when your S.O. doesn’t make you a priority.