Stop Projecting

An old friend and I were catching up on skype the other night. He was telling me how life was in Jamaica and how other mutual friends were ; specifically a friend from art school. She was a very laid back girl, moderately good looking always in shape and always seemed to be high. He told me she had wanted to stay by him but decided to stay by a friend we shall call “Q”.

“I cant be friends with Q” he said.

“Why?” I asked. I always get bothered when someone tells me they cant be friends with someone. No idea why.

“He was the kid that always looked up to us in school. He would tell us how cool we were to him. I cant be friends with someone like that. I cant live up to that image someone has of me, I’m just me.”

Its true, I realize that people do that all the time. They project unto others. When we like someone, we project unto them. Everything they do we see them with rose colored glasses. We magnify their positive traits and ignore or forgive their hang-ups.

“Yes I know he’s not working but he’s trying.”

“Yes I know he has five kids, with no job, but he helps them with bus fare for school.”

This is the same dynamic between a celebrity and a fan. The fan considers the celebrity as a role model, or someone who is exceptionally cool for saying certain lyrics or living a certain way. Which is why people get so outraged whenever there’s a celebrity scandal. The actor or singer who was thought to be so pure is actually as human like the rest of us. They actually cheat or do drugs. Usually after that scandal the same media that praised them is then quick to bring them down.

We do the same thing with someone we don’t like. We project unto them. Everything they do irritates us. If they do good we search for the bad in whatever they’ve done to justify our dislike for them. They can actually be upright and great people but we are blinded by our own emotions. Gossip works like that. It and negative emotion can go down to ones inmost parts. It poisons us and even if the person is actually good we see them as awful. We look for them to do bad so we can say: “I knew he was the worst!”
We like to place people in categories; its how we make sense of the world. So when we catch someone acting differently than what we expect, we don’t like it. It messes with our reality so we either adjust our perspective of them, or search for the bad in what they’ve done. Like my dad used to say. “If you walk on water today, tomorrow people who hate you will say you can’t swim.”
Think politics, most political tactics aren’t in logic but invested in the emotion of the public. They use words that charge certain reactions from the people, which make people associate that feeling with the politician. Look at how the media can paint a president as a saint and the opposition as a pariah.

Emotions are powerful like that.
I’ve seen that I’ve done the same thing in the past. I remember something a friend taught me years ago. I listened back then but I truly understand it now.
“Stop projecting.” He said.
“Take a look at the people you don’t like and the persons you admire. The people you hate, are actually the parts of your own personality that you don’t like. And the people you admire represent the parts of your own personality that you need to develop…”

So stop projecting unto others and work on your own self.

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