Psychological projection - blame shifting

Discussion in 'Social/Relationships' started by Em1, Feb 11, 2016.

  1. Em1

    Em1 Active Member

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    Have we ever talked about projection?

    Psychological projection, also known as blame shifting, is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against their own unpleasant impulses by denying their existence while attributing them to others. For example, a person who is rude may constantly accuse other people of being rude.
    According to some research, the projection of one's negative qualities onto others is a common process in everyday life. (Wikipedia)​

    - Do you believe it?
    - How do you point it out to someone else? This comes up on the forum periodically where someone asks for advice but gets defensive when the mirror is turned around. Why are we so sensitive about the things that we project onto others?
     
  2. Markus

    Markus Active Member

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    Yes I believe in it, as it is real behaviour. When one is sensitive or offended, he has an emotional reaction to __. Having an emotional reaction is an undeniable sign that __ triggers him. Why does __ trigger him but not another? Because he has something in his self that needs attention. Our outer life reflects our inner life. If life keeps bringing you rude people, guess why?

    The ego/mind gets defensive when the trigger points out what it would rather not acknowledge about itself. Rudeness, as your example: A mindful person will notice rudeness, may dislike it, but not have a strong emotional reaction that leads to blame - and thus find it much easier to shrug and move on with the day. When one does not want to see or acknowledge in oneself something like rudeness, the ego reacts to deny or justify or blame. It is just pointing out the dark nature of others to keep attention off one's own dark nature. As long as the attention is on others, ego/mind delays facing its own imbalance.

    Blame or projection is just an effort to look away from self, because looking at self brings awareness to one's own imbalances. Once aware of them, holding them becomes a choice. Will I choose to be rude? Or will I admit that I have this facet and take responsibility to do differently? Blame keeps one in ignorance of self, a delusion to avoid being responsible for change or growth.

    How to point it out in others? Well, you know I am blunt about it. :) Of course, sometimes it helps to find another way to say something. Just as we all speak differently, we all hear differently too.
     
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  3. Harry

    Harry Active Member

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  4. Saraswati

    Saraswati Active Member

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    @Em1: I wouldn't say I believe in projection. I would say I know there is projection. Projection is about some aspect of self that is unacceptable to the conscious mind. For instance anger. If anger is unacceptable to me then I will be unable to allow the experience of my own anger. Since I cannot fully allow my anger when it arises I need a "defense". That defense always takes the form of labeling. If we are comfortable with all our emotions then whatever is triggered by another persons attitude, actions or beliefs causes no need for defense. We can experience what is triggered in the situation without having to attack the other person. This doesn't mean we may not take action that appears as a "defense" but there is no need to react internally as if one is being attacked. If you can't recognize and or accept an emotion within yourself you will label the other person and attribute some "trait" to them that explains your own discomfort at their behavior. For instance if someone triggers anger they become "jerks" or if someone triggers fear they become "monsters" etc. With understanding of oneself and one's own emotions including the dark ones the need to label and project is lost because there is no need to defend. You still may not "like" what is triggered by the other person but you understand it's just your own reaction to them, it's not about "them" but your perception of them. This is owning and taking responsibility for what you are internally experiencing and creating. It's taking ownership of "self". If you constantly defend against perceived "attacks" you will never be able to allow and accept all of your own experiences.

    As a child defenses may be very necessary for an environmental situation that would be otherwise intolerable, but repeated enough, the defenses become automatic and when they are used continually they block growth. Projection is a very weak stance and it's actually that the other person does have "control" over you. They trigger in you some emotion you can't tolerate. Thus the need to blame which alleviates temporarily the discomfort. But the internally created discomfort is something that will arise again and again and defenses must continually be shored up to keep the feeling down. Eventually exhaustion sets in and this is often when people fall into despair and or seek a different path. Usually the most problematic are feelings that are connected to incredibly frightening ideas one formed as a child. Ideas about abandonment, lack of love or death. When a childs mother becomes so angry and acts out in a way that the childs nervous system is overwhelmed there may be the idea that anger means abandonment or death since to a child mother symbolizes life. Or perhaps whenever a child feels angry or sad they are teased or ridiculed, essentially "taught" that those emotions are unacceptable and mean abandonment. Children have very limited understanding from a psychological point of view and they are incredibly dependent and vulnerable and they sense this. They will acquiesce to the situation in order to survive either physically or mentally. Situations can overwhelm their nervous systems and psyches and create very uncomfortable sensations/ideas that last a lifetime.

    Projection does not mean that anytime you are uncomfortably triggered by another you are "wrong". Sometimes it is very much natural instincts to move away from a person who is themselves trying to project some of their own inner uncomfortableness onto you. But sometimes the uncomfortable emotion simply stems from an idea you have formed that causes fear or anger and the idea is really an irrational idea. For instance people who hate homosexuals because they were taught they are bad and evil and dirty. Or women who fear all men because their father was an abuser. Understanding where the emotions are coming from can help one to sort out if what you are feeling in the present is really about what is or if it's about some unresolved issue from the past that keeps arising because it has never fully been integrated. Emotions such as shame and guilt are good examples of emotions that are most often about some past event rather than a present one. An abusive experience as a child stays with you and while you may have been unable to integrate that experience as a child if the defenses continue to be utilized to block the experience that keeps being triggered it ends up creating much more suffering than the actual experience. Experiences cannot be erased but they can be integrated.

    In the end, it's impossible to actually feel what another person feels so whatever we feel and experience is our own. Ideas about and reactions to our own inner feelings can be our own too but only if we are willing to meet those emotions/feelings/sensations with openness. This is what it means to be an individual. Creating right and wrong about internal feelings sets up a harsh judge within that continually judges what we feel and labels experiences as good or bad. But that is all just about what we were taught in the past. Accepting all emotions and inner experiences and learning from them is the path to inner freedom. Knowing thyself is probably the hardest thing anyone will ever do but ultimately, it's the only truly worthwhile knowledge.
     
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  5. Shiv

    Shiv Active Member

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    Projection is something we all do. It doesn't have to be only with regards to negative things. As humans our power to project is deeply integrated into our experience so its not something that is undesirable or necessarily something we need to do away with (or even can do away with for that matter).

    For example, when you are in love with someone you project a number of positive qualities on to that person. They may appear more beautiful, more loving, more humorous, more special than the average person. From an absolute perspective of course these are only subjective valuations and no one person is any more special than the next. But this ability to project is what allows us to engage in those intimate personal relationships with one another. Why do I love my own daughter more than any other child? Its because I project onto her many personal qualities that I don't with other children.

    Unfortunately, projection is a double edged sword. It is impossible to project only the positive and not the negative. And so every relationship, even the most functional ones, will have their share of blame, frustration and hurt feelings. The idea that we must stop projecting is one that is readily offered up by a lot of spiritual teachers but is a load of nonsense. Even worse is the accusation whenever anyone expresses an opinion that is remotely critical, that they are "only projecting". This is a famous deflection tactic a lot of spiritual teachers use any time one of their disciples calls into question any behavior on part of the teacher that they find questionable. When teachers come off as arrogant or insensitive and are called out on it they respond by accusing the students of harboring that attitude within themselves instead. Its an endless, and in the end unhelpful, cycle of blame.

    Instead, if we accept that we are all always projecting and will always project then the issue becomes not about whether we are projecting but what we are projecting. Everything we project, both positive and negative, serves as a map into our own internal makeup. How intensely we feel about the projections we make, indicates what ideas or beliefs we are holding onto dearly and where we feel a lack of control.

    That doesn't mean we need to repress our opinions. For example, responding to rudeness in someone and calling them out on it may also indicate that we have a capacity for being rude. But that still doesn't mean that the other person should get a free pass from being told off. It just means, that we also get to use the event as a learning tool towards developing a deeper understanding towards the makeup of our own psyches.
     
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  6. NothingsPurpose

    NothingsPurpose Active Member

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    Would I call it denial? No, to me it feels more like... teaching? Hmm that's weird, where did that word come from?

    When I'm called an insult, it almost feels like someone is trying to teach me something. Preaching to me some sort of pain that we all should go through. In a weird way, we teach each other pain. Like its a lesson, and for some reason I feel like I need to "teach" it to other people. Obviously I don't internalize it as a lesson in the moment, what really happens is my ego is hurt and I crawl within myself.

    I also see it in other people. You can tell because projection is often random, irrelevant and it comes out of nowhere, especially when its projected onto you from someone else.

    But does pointing it out solve anything? Nope, not in the slightest, if anything they only get more pissed off at you.

    In a really weird and subconscious way, I think all we're doing to each other is teaching pain to one another. I feel as though humans are robots for the most part, our behaviour is... not sporadic and free like nature but rather calculated and a circular pattern. We subconsciously do onto others as others have done unto us, like machines.
     
  7. Em1

    Em1 Active Member

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    Do you think projection is necessary for connection? Could that be part of why we gravitate to one partner, or caring for our own children versus all the children in a community?
     
  8. Em1

    Em1 Active Member

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    I just mentioned this in another thread - I'm finding it difficult to have productive conversations with people on social media (or to read other people's conversations sometimes). By productive I mean a respectful exchange of ideas, solving problems etc. I see people reacting to triggers, projecting onto other people... it's unusual to see a discussion that shows mutual respect for everyone's opinions and doesn't break down into a pissing fest, someone fluffing their feathers to show their ego/power, etc. It could just be the people/groups I'm looking at but I get the sense this is happening across the board (with Americans, at least).

    Or maybe it's not natural to have virtual conversations with people we don't know. Talking to a stranger in person we get all sorts of non-verbal signals showing how they react to what we say. Online, you're really left with nothing but your own projection of the other person... So, why is that we have built trust/respect in this virtual world and it works??
     
  9. shi

    shi Active Member

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    We tend to get ruffled most of the times when our viewpoints are challenged or contradicted. Our defences go up with a speed that's faster than light; and in order to protect our precious perspectives - we now come up with a viewpoint that's more slick, more foolproof and harder to challenge.... We're so good at it.

    The old tale rings so true:
    Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have.

    We want peace but we also want to be right. We want peace but we are not ready to let go....I see this contradiction everyday in my own reactionary attitude :). And the times that I don't - peace becomes obvious.
     
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  10. Shiv

    Shiv Active Member

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    Asking if projection is necessary is like asking if memory is necessary. Projection is just one of our brains capacities as is memory. You can't switch it off. Is memory necessary for connection? No. Is it necessary for relationship? Yes.

    A relationship is a sustained connection. You can connect with someone, even a stranger, briefly. But in order to develop a relationship you would need your memory of having connected with that person. The movie The Notebook is a good example of this where the female character develops Alzheimer's and fails to recognize her husband everyday. It is only his own memory that sustains the thread between them and resparks that connection anew each day.

    Projection is the same. We need our capacity to project in order to create a hierarchy of experience and relationship. You will always love your own mother more than mine because a combination of your memories of the past and your projection of certain positive (and negative) characteristics upon her. Its unavoidable.

    The issue only comes in when we begin to use our power of projection as a tool for avoiding our own inner angst. That's when projection can become a destructive process. But the same can be done with memory too. Many people doctor their own recollection of past events in order to avoid certain painful feelings. That doesn't mean we need to do away with our power of memory. It just means we need to learn to face up to our own inner reality.

    In the end all these mental powers can be used both for creative and destructive purposes. When you view an art piece or a beautiful scenery the only reason you can experience the beauty of it is because you have the power to project the beauty onto it. Other than that the art just is and the scenery just is. So, projection can make us powerfully creative or powerfully destructive, depending on the state of being we are operating from.
     
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  11. Saraswati

    Saraswati Active Member

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    @Em1: I think Americans are super material oriented and that mentality will reflect in all interactions. But of course, not all are. It's just that the economy is largely a bunch of messed up superficial systems all oriented towards the primacy of money as value rather than money reflecting value, it is value. I don't know it that makes sense but yes, there are many people in the world that are not at all interested in human interactions. They would prefer zombie or animal like interactions and this is reflected in their attitudes and behaviors. It's a reflection of how they view their own self. Looking at it from that perspective you just have to thicken your skin and look inward and deal with what you do have power in regards to which is your own perceptions.

    When someone is showing you disrespect it's not really their disrespect or lack of caring towards you that hurts. It's that you've somehow internalized that same reaction because it's you that's feeling it. When someone angers me, I sit with the anger and let the thoughts go, I feel the emotion and surrender it. When I calm down I often view things differently. But before I understood this process I would nearly instantly when angered go into a barrage of oppressing/hating myself. I may display my anger, but inwardly I was angry about being angry and that would create a really negative cycle. It's always our own reactions to what we perceive in others that creates our emotions and what we perceive in others has a great deal to do with our families, our teachers, our friends etc. A great deal of it is just conditioning until you stop and go inward. When the verbal level of concepts and ideas goes away you are present in the actual vibration of oneself, where all concepts are "born". Letting go of ones that do not serve you is a process of focusing inward and simply being. When you stop feeding these vibrational patterns with concepts, they begin to go away. Its not easy, but nothing worth anything is. Pleasure comes and goes, but learning how to be at peace within even in the midst of storms is priceless.
     
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  12. Harry

    Harry Active Member

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    Nothing can go faster than light. If our thoughts go faster than speed of light, then we will cease to exist and if we cease to exist, then there is no need of defense mechanism :)
     
  13. Em1

    Em1 Active Member

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    So here's an example of what I just had recently. I asked someone on social media (who I don't know), "Do you ever encounter xxx in your job?" And the response I got started with, "Don't be stupid. Of course I do." I was asking from a place of curiosity but the response I got was someone who thought I was being condescending towards them. I don't see that as being challenged or contradicted - it's being misunderstood. I could continue the conversation, but I would have to start by backtracking and explaining why I asked or clarifying that I wasn't being condescending (and knowing that I'm having a conversation with someone who's projecting and not particularly polite about it). Or, I walk away and till don't have an answer to my question.
     
  14. Em1

    Em1 Active Member

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    Do you mind expanding on this?
     
  15. shi

    shi Active Member

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    @Em1 -
    I was stating it in a generalized manner. But I see what you mean. I reason that there are no set rules of how one will act or react in any given situation. But I do tend to feel that our reactions are the greatest opportunities to look at our self. The other person could say whatever – but the judgment, resentment, blame arises in me. The attention somehow shifts from others towards my own self. Not so much in a critical manner – more out of curiosity with my own triggers. I watch myself projecting, defending, blaming, needing to be right and countless other biases…all temporary balms to keep looking away from myself. And the much needed respite comes only when I begin to look at myself. Not immediately, but gradually as the realization begins to dawn that I have been looking in the wrong direction – I become aware and friendly with my own reactions. You kind of loose interest in the countless interpretations and million meanings given to things; I suppose this is what is meant by the saying ‘the world is in you’
     
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  16. Srini

    Srini Active Member

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    @shi, @Saraswati & @Shiv - First thing I've realized when started dis-identifying with "I", is that this "I" is it-self is very temporary. Initial-Body is being borrowed from parents, nature feed this initial-body to grow, and by and large society (parents in particular) conditioned this body's intelligence to fit in the society. People around this "I" act as if they live forever taking their life-journey very seriously, very few people act as if they might disappear from this planet, at any time. This realization of temporary nature is very big thing in my journey.
    When you start living on your own-two-shoes, this conditioning plays very important role, as stored neural path-ways, primarily fight / flight responses, so when emergency arises these reactions will fire in this body and takes you to "safe" space.
    If you pay more attention to what this "I" is trying to do is, to protect it-self from as many as possible distractions to keep it in womb-raised-status. But the reality is that you are bound and forced to face this reality with this body and conditioning. To lead a more balanced life, on day-to-day basis, this should be align with this "temporary" nature of everything including it-self. The more aligned this "I" with this ULTIMATE TRUTH, the better experience and express it-self. IMO.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2016
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  17. Saraswati

    Saraswati Active Member

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    @Em1: What I mean by this is that it seems to me many people do not want to be aware of themselves. They prefer to react from a purely conditioned state..zombie like....or just react based on their animalistic tendencies such as rage, fear etc. Rather than becoming fully self conscious and looking inward they prefer to continue as they are. If you try to interact in a mutually self aware way, pointing them towards self awareness, they become enraged and attack you or refuse to speak with you again etc. You can't open anyones eyes for them anyway because it's always an inner choice and maybe some are simply unable. I don't know. I just know that it's not very common to meet people who are truly introspective and want to learn about their own self. They prefer the illusionary world they project. Since that is so, they don't really care what you think, feel or have to say. They are not looking for conscious self aware interaction which is what I consider human. Does that make sense?
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2016
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  18. Em1

    Em1 Active Member

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    Absolutely! That's a great way of explaining it. Any idea where this sources from, when it started changing, etc? Or do you think it's been this way for a long time?
     
  19. Saraswati

    Saraswati Active Member

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    @Em1: I think it's been this way for a very long time. I think there is a deep fear of looking inward instilled into submissive minds through really crazy religious stories and crazy government attempts to control. The bottom line is people do what "works" for them and in general our systems are very anti looking inward. It's much easier to just go through life mechanically and to a certain extent I don't think a human can not be conditioned. We are all conditioned, so the question is, who are we conditioned by and why? Then we see governments and religions who have instilled ideologies often through brutal force to control and it's no wonder people are terrified. Also, since there is general fear when certain oppressed energies come up they come up in ways that are often chaotic and overwhelming and destructive which further serves to create terror. People are just really, really frightened I think. The deepest terror is fear of death and I think this is what keeps minds submissive, ironically. People submit to those who promise to "save" them. They buy into all sorts of crazy ideas to avoid the idea that they will one day no longer exist. But we are dying every day, every moment we die. We know this and it terrifies us. There is a strong identification and clinging to body and we all know that bodies die so we submit mentally to those who say they have the answer to our eventual non existence. We submit to doctors, gurus, priests, etc. because we fear death. I think this is the ultimate reason for the fear of looking inward.
     
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  20. Srini

    Srini Active Member

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    @Saraswati - As you said... and continuation of it, earlier the inner-journey starts for majority of human population the better the societies and world becomes. Until then, we can look at the nature (where life and death work together harmoniously - and most perfectly), in all other life forms. But as you said, it is not possible to not to get conditioned, by our very nature, and if used it right way that would lead to better world ( at least from the current one... I suppose).
    The law-makers, religious groups and each individual when try to work towards this, by not masking this LIFE & DEATH inevitable nature, and educate people and conditioning them (or should we say un-condition) to be aligned with it, if that happens (hopefully... very soon), I do not see a reason for wars between countries. Together our human-society should realize this simple and profound truth of nature (LIFE & DEATH should go along... nothing can / will / should change it). It would make people to align their life's journey worthy of contribution to this world, not going after meeker pursuits.... Just IMO.
     
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