Stop Projecting Your Fears

Try staying open and objective

Psychological projection is a defense mechanism. It protects the human ego against their unconscious impulses or qualities by denying them within themselves and attributing them to others. Bullies project very well. There’s a great Key & Peele episode called School Bully that is a prime example of this.

Everyone isn’t a bully but most people project. Our parents when they’re warning you against something then offer up the worst case scenario. Significant others who blame their behavior on exes. Friends who are too afraid to fly so they expect you to cancel your trip and hang out with them.

Projecting distorts contextual meaning because the projector essentially shifts their thinking onto you. You begin to see things their way. A POV is fine but don’t lose your perspective. Just because you take a random trip across the world, start working from a hammock in Bali and dye your hair purple doesn’t mean you’re a (insert insult).

Here’s what I do when I find myself projecting

After I finish having a mini panic attack because someone doesn’t agree with me I chill the f*** out. Then I gather context. After, I reflect. In other words;

  • Empathize, walk a week in their shoes
  • Ask more questions
  • Stay open

Walk a week in their shoes

You know the phrase “You couldn’t walk a mile in my shoes”. It means before passing judgment or projecting fear, consider their experiences their thinking and approach. Most times people are so wrapped up in their own narratives that they never truly consider a new one. Try ‘A day in the life’ where you turn your routine completely upside down. It could give you a new perspective.

Ask then ask again

If you have a question, ask it two different ways because it’s likely that you didn’t ask the real question first. Get to the root of your real concern by asking more specific questions.

Stay Open

Whenever I’m faced with some new uncomfortable point of view I tell myself “This is a judgement free zone”. Staying open by listening to understand and remaining receptive throughout conversation. I’ve discovered that in general people are actually really smart, they just have biases and other forms of truths like the rest of us.

One last thing, it could be worth it to make an effort in staying objective in most conversations. Everything doesn’t require a response.

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