Let’s Stop Projecting Our Own Fears Onto Others!

Last updated by Katie M.

When I share my plans with those around me or my family, I feel like all I get are negative opinions and worries. “But aren’t you scared of ending up alone?”, “You’ll never find a job if you resign” etc. I know full well that they’re worried about me, but I think there’s something else going on. They’re projecting their own fears onto my life and my desires! We all do it, but it can be exhausting for yourself and for others. So how can we stop projecting our own fears onto others?

Contents: 

A defense mechanism

It’s important to understand why we worry about our sister or why we judge a colleague’s behavior. Intimately linked to the savior syndrome, we project our unconscious worries onto others. And it’s not wrong to worry about others, but in reality, it’s linked to ourselves. According to Freudian theory, projection is a psychological mechanism of displacement of our persona onto an object, a situation, or another person.

There are two types of projections:

  • When we attribute our own effects that we don’t assume onto others,
  • When we don’t perceive others objectively but through our own emotional grid.

➜ For example, a friend tells me that she’s going to do a parachute jump. In the first case, it’s about things that we’d like to do and don’t, but the other one does. In the second case, it’s about referring to our own feelings. Again with the same example, if I have a negative reaction like, “You shouldn’t do that, it’s dangerous”, it’s because I have trouble managing my emotions like fear.

Expelling fears

Psychoanalyst; Jean Laplanche explains that projection is a way of expelling the qualities, feelings, and desires that we don’t know or refuse. As we know, anything new or unknown frightens us. So it’s a defense mechanism because it’s a way of rejecting the anxieties of our subconscious. We’re not all able to face our demons, so we prefer to project what we’re not capable of doing or combatting.

😨 Projecting our fears onto others doesn’t make us a toxic person. It’s a way of reassuring ourselves without being totally harmful to others.

Not facing our own reality

Yes, we project onto others. No, it’s not conscious. This mechanism occurs because it’s always difficult to face our own reality. It’s always difficult to see ourselves as we really are. As a result, it’s easier to worry about others than to question what we fear or our repressed desires. It’s much more intolerable to face yourself than to project onto others.

The transmission of fears

When I announced that I was leaving the region I’d lived in for 10 years, those around me reacted strongly. Everyone was worried: how was I going to do it, how was I going to make new friends, how was I going to find a new place to live, etc. I know that they were really worried about me, mixed with this projection mechanism. I thought I was getting caught up in the transmission of their fear, but I held on to the fact that if I wanted to do it, it’s because I needed it. This is how I explained it to them.

➜ Agnès Verroust, a clinical psychologist, explains that we can question ourselves, but questioning the negative emotions brought by others is much harder.

How to stop projecting our fears?

Of course, projecting our fears onto others prevents us from being emotionally uncomfortable. However, it means that we listen to our own desires and wishes less. That’s why it’s important to become aware of this defense mechanism to recognize all aspects of who we are. This will prevent us from becoming victims of an unfair and unsympathetic life, like the Calimero syndrome. It will also prevent us from annoying those around us, who might blame us for the constant worrying.

Getting out of the projection

The first step is awareness. Whether by ourselves or with the help of others (through dialogue). By definition, the mechanism of projecting our fears onto others is unconscious when it’s happening. It’s afterward that we can self-analyze to understand our fears. It’s the most complicated process to do to understand the fears embedded in our unconscious.

💪 This is done by listening to our emotions, by understanding the things that scare us or by accepting who we really are…

Getting free of the projections of others

If it’s vital to work on ourselves, it’s also important to free ourselves from the projections of others so as not to prevent ourselves from realizing our dreams. We must work on our self-confidence to free ourselves of what others think. The more we tend not to believe in ourselves and our abilities, the easier it will be to allow ourselves to be changed by the beliefs and fears of others.

👉 Taking into account our defense mechanisms and those of others allows us not to base a relationship on doubts, but on trust and consideration of different paths. Of course, life is always unpredictable, full of unknown adventures, but we need to reason without the prism of our fears in order to help others evolve so that we can in turn evolve too.

Editor’s note: And you?

We all tend to project our fears onto others when they announce something new or a change. We hope that this article will have allowed you to become aware of it and avoid hurting your close ones in the future. How did you react when your best friend told you she was changing regions? When your colleague told you she was separating after 20 years in a relationship? 👉 It’s not an easy exercise, which is why it may be interesting to carry out this work on yourself with a psychologist.

🤗 Understanding yourself, accepting yourself, being happy… It’s here and now!
#BornToBeMe

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Article presented by Katie M.

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