At some point in our lives, we have been the victims of projection. What is projection? Projection is a coping mechanism we use when our ego feels fragile. We do this by disengaging from the characteristics in ourselves we deem unattractive and then attribute these characteristics to another person. As human beings, we seek to cope with our insecurities by projecting onto others. Frequently, we are unaware of this behavior since avoiding focus on ourselves is the very reason we project.
Here’s an example: Let’s say recently you have been feeling guilty about not spending enough time with your mother. You’ve been wondering if you have been selfish. Your sister calls. You tell your sister that she has been acting selfish lately because she hasn’t spent much time with mom. In other words, the selfish characteristics you see in yourself are too painful to admit to. You decide to give the characteristics to your sister as your way to cope. Taking the focus off yourself and placing it onto your sister helps you to avoid dealing with the feelings you may have about your mother, your own selfish behavior, etc.
When we are the victims of the projections of others, we can react in a number of ways. One of these ways is a counter-projection. A counter-projection is the act of the victim projecting back at the projector as a way to cope. This is usually expressed as an explanation or retaliation.
Why would a victim respond with counter-projection? The victim could be coping with the frustration of being the victim or could be battling the fact that the projection could be triggering experiences of psychological trauma that is lying dormant in the victim.
So what is the best way to deal with the projections of others? As difficult as it may be, the best way to handle being the victim is to ignore the behavior of the projector. Entertaining the behavior will keep the behavior alive. The projector will continue to ignore their feelings and will continue focusing on others. Ignoring the projector will only leave the projector alone with their feelings to deal with.
It is very difficult not to take the bait of projection. It becomes easier if you realize that despite the fact that these projections may be directed toward you, they truly say nothing about you and your character.