It is often said that in the very beginning of a relationship, one doesn’t see the other person for who they are, what they see is their own projections. So here, one will create all kinds of associations in their mind and attach these to the other person.
The other person may even posses one of these associations or a couple of them. And this can then lead to many other associations being formed and projected onto them.
This is often described as the halo effect; where one notices one positive trait in another and then concludes that just because they have this one trait, they must have many other positive traits.
So what this can lead to is the creation of one big illusion. In some instances this will involve seeing someone as possessing the odd trait that they don’t have and in other more extreme situations, this will involve seeing someone as being the complete opposite to who they really are.
And through the creation of this illusion, one can end up doing all kinds of things that they wouldn’t usually do. The associations in one’s mind that have lead to the creation of these illusions, will then create a filter
Here, one will interpret everything the other person does based on this filter. And if what the other person does or says doesn’t match up, it is then likely to be ignored or dismissed.
What the other person does, it then irrelevant or secondary to the ideas that exist inside one’s mind. They say that being in love is the equivalent to being high on drugs. So ones rational nature can then be rendered useless.
Now, what will happen as a result of this will depend on how accurate or inaccurate these associations are. In one’s mind, their true and will therefore be projected onto the other person, regardless of how true they are.
If these associations are moderately inaccurate it could result in one compromising their values and if they are extremely inaccurate, it could lead to one being abused or taken advantage of.
Due to one being affected by the associations and being in a kind of hypnosis or altered state, it is often ones friends or family who are the first to notice that they do not match up with reality. At first, one may disagree with them or deny what they are saying.
But as time goes by, one will start to see or notice things that make them question the ideas in their head. This could be weeks, months or even years.
However, while these ideas are inaccurate or may even be causing one to put up with behaviour that they wouldn’t out up with from their friends for example; the mind will have a tendency to hold on to them.
And what these projections are often doing is allowing one to avoid pain. So if one were to admit to themselves that they are false and have little to do with the other person, it may open up all kinds of deep and repressed wounds.
The Missing Pieces
What one projects onto another person is often what they believe they haven’t got within them. This often goes right back to ones childhood years and the kind of nurturing that one received as a child.
And although this would have happened many years ago and times have changed, emotionally one can still see themsevles and others in the same way. As a child, one may have had a caregiver that was less than nurturing and lead to one having numerous experiences where they felt: abandoned, rejected, empty, ignored, unworthy, unloved, and alone and many others.
The opposites of these feelings will then be attached to the other person. So this person will then be seen as being the opposite of one’s caregiver and this will enable one to feel: accepted, loved, worthy, validated, whole, heard and connected.
And although that part of oneself, often described as the inner child, wants to experience what it didn’t receive as a child through another adult, this adult can never be their parent and their not perfect either. So these illusions will have to fall at some point.
This will be influenced by what ones childhood was like and if one has healed any of their past pain. The more that one feels they are missing on the inside, the more likely they are to project what they feel they are missing onto others.
Projection is something that takes place all the time and is not dysfunctional per se. It is more a matter of degree and how much one projects onto others that will define whether it becomes dysfunctional or not.
Part of what attracts one to another person is projection and part of what repels one from another can also be projection. The projection that attracts is often based on what one has not realised within themselves. And the one that repels is often what one hasn’t healed within themselves.
But over time, after the positive projections have died down, one will begin to notice the other side of the person. And if one has built another person up in their mind, this might to not always be too pleasant.
If ones projections are constantly causing one to attract or to be attracted to people who are abusive or dysfunctional, it might be beneficial to seek some kind of assistance. This can be through a therapist, healer or a coach for example.
Or through self inquiry and this will enable one to improve their self awareness.
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 25 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.