Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons

In recent posts I've been writing about the concept of projection, first in general and then last month about negative projection.  But this all important process isn't only about the negative we see around us:  it also has its positive component.

Take a moment and think about someone you admire more than anyone else in your life:  what is it about this man or woman that makes you look up to him or her?  Courage?  Intelligence?  Modesty? Tenacity?  Charisma? LoveSpirituality? Talent in a particular field?  Really try to hone in on the one or two qualities of the person you admire.

Now hear this:  those qualities are in you, seeking to come out, and that's why you're able to see them so clearly in another person.  Just as with last month's example with the person who felt great hostility but wouldn't acknowledge it and so saw it in those outside, so too the positive qualities you're not acknowledging within yourself are appearing in those around you.

If you've ever been a teacher, if you've ever led a group, if you've ever spoken to an audience, you have felt these projections.  As soon as you step in front of the class/group/audience you are looked at differently.  People begin to project onto you and you can feel it.  This can have a lot of positive aspects:  people are more open to someone they have a positive projection on.  Your words take on more weight; your actions are invested with more significance; you have greater capacity to impact people.  This is leadership in its positive light:  you are able to influence people, ideally guide them in a way for their own good.  Uniforms of all kinds inspire this kind of projection:  a police officer's uniform should inspire a projection of trust and security, a doctor or nurse's white uniform a projection of medical know-how and competence; a priest or other clergy's vestments a projection of spiritual authority and guidance.

The downside to positive projections, like negative projections, is when we don't take responsibility for where they come from within us.  We need to take ownership of the positive qualities within us, believe in them, and bring them to the surface.  If we leave them unconscious, we will always look to others for guidance in all matters of our life when ultimately we should be using other people's positive qualities as a means to access our own inner resources. 

There is an interesting and subtle process to positive projections it's good to be aware of.  Teachers and role models are important for showing us what is possible.  We need them as something to aspire toward or to emulate.  But if we stay only in the realm of the positive projections -- "I'll never be as ...... as you" then we miss the opportunity to become our own unique version of that quality.  It's very important that each and every one of us takes seriously our own abilities and use positive projections as a way to surface them. 

You are reading

Putting Psyche Back Into Psychotherapy

Why What I Admire In You Also Says Something About Me

How the good we see in others should help us to see the good in ourselves

Why What I Hate in You Also Says Something about Me

Negative projection, its source, and its solution.

Projection: How We See Ourselves in the Outer World

What is "real" and what is our internal drama played out on the screen of life?