Relateful Concepts: Projection 🧠Sep 14, 2023
We mention projection all the time but I haven’t actually sat down to define it in this email before. Here’s one relateful way to think about “Projection”:
When something is too much for you to hold in your own identity, you ask other people, objects, or institutions to hold it for you, until you’ve grown big enough that it no longer threatens your sense of who you are.
The "it" refers to any uncomfortable, troubling, or undesirable emotion, impulse, trait, or belief that you’re not ready to accept in yourself. “Undesirable” is relative to your own subjective fear of disappearing/death/non-existence here; if as a kid you grew up in a family where happiness threatened a parent, you might have learned to project your happiness onto your favorite teddy bear, asking it to “hold” the well-being for you (since in that world, well-being is a threat to the relationship with the parent you needed to survive).
Most of the time we unknowingly ask others to hold our baggage for us, and mostly others agree to do so unconsciously. One implication of this is about our own growth and reintegration, but another is about others: By becoming conscious of this dynamic, we can also opt-out of taking on the burdens of others. Or we can say yes consciously, thereby undermining resentment.
With love, Jordan
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