There are times when I sense a lot of disapproval coming from the people around me. This is a classic example of projection, the psychological theory that states that people project onto others traits and motivations that they themselves feel. Knowing this, when I get that feeling that others disapprove of me, I check in with myself and find that, really, I’m the only one disapproving of myself.

Byron Katie would say that that’s all we do—project our view of the world onto others. And I can see how this is true.

When I’m really happy, nothing anyone says to me bothers me.

When I’m sad, I can interpret almost anything you say to me in a way that increases my sadness.

Knowing about projection has helped me see how I filter everything through my own worldview, based on the emotions of the moment.

The other thing to know about projection is we usually project our negative emotions and character traits onto others, the one we don’t accept in ourselves.

We’ve all met people who think everyone’s out to get them—that everyone will cheat them or lie to them. Those are the people who cheat and lie. They don’t see or accept these traits in themselves, but they project them onto others and use this as an excuse for their own behavior.

In my life, I don’t cheat or lie, nor do I project that onto others. But I do see people disapproving of me all around me. This seems rather harmless, but there are times when it’s not.

Earlier this year I was considering taking a business course to improve my entrepreneurial skills. I decided my husband would disapprove of this idea as it costs money and I wouldn’t be able to make it up until this fall, or even next year. So I passed on the course.

A couple of weeks later, we were discussing my business, and my husband said, “Why don’t you take a business course so you can learn some of these skills you feel you’re missing?”

I was so surprised, but when I really thought about it, he’d never expressed any disapproval of my becoming a better businessperson—I was the one doing all the disapproving.

So lately I question myself when I feel someone else’s disapproval. I turn it around and ask myself if I’m really the one disapproving of myself and if that is useful for me.

What do you project onto the people in your life?



Subscribe To My Newsletter

I send out a monthly newsletter and an occasional quick email with news, events, or resources. Plus, you will receive instant access to an article containing tools that will help you start living your best life today!

(I will never share your email with anyone else—I won't sell it, either!)