We project onto one another all the time. We can’t help it. It would take an extremely high level of consciousness and self-awareness to not project – something akin to supreme enlightenment, bodhisattva style.
What do I mean when I say we project? We see one anotherand interact with one another through our own eyes, our own set of assumptions, our own perceptions, our own history. We assign meaning to another’s body language, tone of voice, look in the eye as well as the actual content of words used based in part on those assumptions, perceptions, and history. But there’s more – We also have a shadow side. Our Shadow is the part of ourselves we have devalued, disowned, refused to see much less claim. Often it is negative, but just as often it has a positive aspect. What we refuse to see in ourselves, we will eventually see in someone else who exhibits these characteristics as if we are looking in a mirror and hate what we see. The clue is the level of inner reaction we experience.
A classic example is the animus possessed woman who comes across as a controlling, busy-body, “let-me-tell-you-what-to-do” type who can’t stand her new co-worker because she “has control issues.” Or the adult alcoholic who has abdicated responsibility for taking care of himself and his life yet resents the hell out of his enabling parents for “not doing what they said they would” to clean up his debts.
How to know if you’re projecting? Pay attention to your gut and your reactions. If they are out of proportion to a given situation, check yourself. Is it really “them?” or is it something in you?