Projecting From Central Casting
As most of you know, I have come to Australia to be in a Holy Relationship with Hannah. I have been here for five months now. One of the things I discovered about Hannah is she has many facets. She has the usual sides to her personality that everyone has, but she also has qualities that, for me anyway, are not fully “sides” so I think of them as “facets”.
For a long while, I felt I could not see her clearly. It felt like I was looking at her through a fog, but I couldn’t see what the fog was made of. However, as I slowly became familiar with her sides and her facets, the fog seemed to disperse, and she came into clearer focus. Then one day, without even thinking about it, I saw what the fog was made of: My projections. And I saw how I formed them.
A Course in Miracles tells us that, unconsciously, we see people in our past in the people in our lives in the present. They may have a physical or a personality resemblance to someone in our past, resulting in us responding to them as though they were that person rather than themselves. The most obvious example of this is when we instantly like or dislike someone. For example, a man may have a sense of humor like your beloved Uncle David so you like him instantly. Or a woman may resemble your childhood best friend’s critical mother and you instantly dislike her.
But, of course, projection is something ongoing in all of our relationships, and we are most triggered by those closest to us. On a day to day basis, this can also show up as being emotionally triggered not by a whole person, but by aspects of their appearance or personality that remind you of someone no longer there.
With Hannah, because of her many facets, I saw many more women in her than what I would usually project onto someone with just the ordinary number of “sides”. Some I knew: My mother; my sister. But some were just “types” for whom I’ve developed ideas, judgements, and responses. Actors are often “typecast” because of their looks or personality, and I “type” people the same way. My mind takes a trait—physical or personality—and I expect certain things from a person. With Hannah, because of the way she was dressed or the glasses she wore (or didn’t wear); or because of certain moods, expressions, gestures, etc. I would see a whole lot that simply had nothing to do with her. This was very subtle and largely unconscious. Mostly this did not leave me upset with her (my upsets have come from other unreasonable expectations!), but simply feeling like I couldn’t see a cohesive Hannah.
Have you ever played a game with a friend when you’re out in public and you “people watch” and tell each other what you think you know about the people passing by? We project not just from our personal past, but from our collective stereotypes. That heavy, swarthy guy with the slicked back hair and New York accent? He’s a mafia hitman. The mousy little woman with the pale, narrow face, conservative clothes, cat eye glasses, and pulled back hair? Librarian. Single. She has a cat or two.
Projection is simply how our minds work. There is nothing wrong with projection. But when you have an emotional charge from your projections, you are judging from the ego, and this is an obstacle to peace for you. In that case, you do want to know what story you are projecting onto the other, especially when it’s someone with whom you have any kind of relationship. Unrecognized projections create perceptions and expectations that cause problems in relationships.
In any case, it’s always good to be aware of your projections. They make up your world. Watch yourself sometime when you are in public. Notice if you react to a stranger, positively or negatively. What do you think you know about them? It’s all in your mind.