To understand projection of insecurities, we need to first understand projection psychology. Projection psychology is a mental process of attributing one’s thoughts, emotions, and feelings to others to either make them responsible or accountable for them. The term projection psychology was coined by the legendary neurologist, Sigmund Freud, in his writings about defensive mechanisms.
To clearly understand projection, refer to a projector (the device). Leaving out the technical language involved, the projector flashes out light that carries images. When this light meets a white wall or sheet, it forms visible images. That is the technological version of projection.
With man, what he feels or thinks inside of him, is flashed out in form of words or actions to another person so it can be seen not on them but on the other person.
Most psychological projection is fueled by insecurities in a person (projector). Insecurities are feelings of inadequacy or uncertainty about oneself in various or certain aspects or parts of one’s life. People have insecurities about themselves. These can be about their, looks, personality, status, skills, speech, etc.
How they cope with those insecurities varies. Some confront them and work out a solution. Others accept them and take on an inferiority complex. Then some try to numb them with a superiority complex and project them onto others. The latter is our point of focus today.
Types of Projection.
The reverse of the commonly known type of projection, negative projection, is positive projection. It is attributing your good thoughts, positive emotions, and feelings to others to make them feel like you do. An example is supporting a friend who feels discouraged. Attempting to make someone happy when you see them not as happy as you feel.
Our main point of focus. Negative projection means hiding one’s negative feelings, emotions, and thoughts by attributing them to another person. A clear example is a person who feels insecure about his competence at work but chooses to blame his boss for not liking him. A spouse cheats and assumes her partner is cheating as well.
Examples of projection.
Dictators of governments that oppress citizens. When the citizens protest, they are called criminals and violent ungrateful people when in actual sense the dictators are the real criminals.
An abusive partner gaslights his or her partner into believing they are liars yet in actual sense, he or she is trying to cover up for the feelings of guilt and also avoid the burden of being accountable.
A person with low self-esteem will think others are against them and often accuse them of not liking him/ judging him or being unfair to him yet in actual sense it is him who dislikes himself.
Forms of projection.
Conscious projection happens when a person intentionally projects his thoughts, emotions, and feelings onto another person. One is fully aware that he or she is projecting something that is clearly about them and has nothing to do with the person they are projecting it on.
This is similar to displacement psychology. A manager accused by his boss of being incompetent in his leadership projects the incompetence to his subordinates.
Perhaps the most experienced form of projection. People with insecurities get used to the defensive mechanism of projection and it becomes second nature to them. They act on autopilot whenever their insecurities are at risk of being exposed. By resorting to projection psychology, they project their insecurities on others.
Signs that a person is projecting their insecurities on you.
The ability to detect projection of insecurities takes some a required level of self-awareness and mental acuity. Without them, you can easily end up badly affected. Worry not with these signs you will be able to recognize projection of insecurities.
Note: It is important to be sure you are not projecting your insecurities yourself by accusing others of being insecure or projecting their insecurities on you. People that often use projection usually accuse others of it. You have to be self-aware so you can know that you are not what is being projected on you.
Projection of insecurities is sometimes detected when the person projecting overreacts. Common with narcissists. A narcissist will project their insecurities on you and overreact when you deflect them.
For example. He/she will accuse you of lying. Deep down you know you have not lied about anything. The narcissist then overreacts and accuses you of calling them crazy, not admitting your mistakes, and goes on to do more theatrical stuff.
Deep down, they are struggling with the burden of you refusing to carry their cross. They are not saying you are a liar. They are saying ‘’ I am a liar, but will not accept it so I have to force it on you to carry instead’’.
2. Distorted perception of reality.
People with jars of insecurities that they refuse to deal with and instead resort to projection psychology, put themselves in a fantasy bubble. In that bubble, they start to believe anything wrong or any feelings of insecurities are about others but not them.
They are run by emotions which makes them unable to use logic to come out of their distorted reality. This makes it hard to convince them that they are insecure and will only calm down if you take the burden of their insecurities from them by accepting their projection.
3. Negative energy.
When you live with a person who projects their insecurities on you or other people, you will feel surrounded by toxic or negative energy. Even when you are not the victim of projection, you feel that negative energy.
Because the person using projection is full of unresolved insecurities, they spend a lot of time trying to hide them. They do this through continuous complaining, accusations, blaming, and sometimes yelling. It is hard to feel surrounded by positive energy when all you hear are complaints, arguments, or accusations.
4. Unfair blame.
The blame game is one tool they use. It is used to keep their insecurities hidden and any attempt to expose them will have you blamed for everything. Without caring whether you did it or not, they will shift all the blame on you to project their insecurities on you.
A cheating spouse will accuse you of cheating to hide their guilt without caring what damage the false accusations will cause you.
5. Try to change you.
Instead of trying to change themselves to resolve their insecurities. Insecure people that use projection psychology attempt to try to change you into one that would not see their insecurities.
They try to manipulate you into believing that it’s about you not them. A stepmother insecure about the stepson’s ability to grow up and become someone stronger who she can not mistreat will often tell him he will never amount to anything.
This changes his mindset to think that he is useless. When he feels useless, she can turn him into the person she wants. Trying to change you can make you a victim of projective identification where you start to identify with the false projections on you,
6. Playing the victim card.
One way to emphasize their projection of insecurities on you is by acting as a victim. Playing the victim cards helps them create guilt in you to ensure that you accept their projection.
Self-victimization can create feelings of self-doubt and selfishness in the real victim and if he does not have enough self-awareness and self-esteem, he can easily fall for the projection.
Why do people project their insecurities on others?
Not all people are strong enough to accept their faults, weaknesses, insecurities, and limitations. It takes a certain level of self-awareness, self-confidence, and self-esteem to do that.
Accepting that you are feeling insecure yet at the same time have low self-esteem can be emotionally painful. It feels more like emphasizing the reasons why you feel low self-esteem.
For this reason, denial becomes the only option. There is no better way to deny any underlying insecurities than to project them on others.
Cover up of traits.
Similar to denial but conscious to a larger extent. Some people hold bad characteristics or traits they consciously are aware of. Because they are not proud of those traits and would not want other people to know them, they try to project their insecurity about them on others.
A spouse who is aware of his cheating behavior will be overly jealous or clingy to ensure that they are not cheated on as they do.
One can project insecurities on others not because they are a bad person, but because they lack trust in others because of the traumatic experiences they went through.
One who was abused will easily call others abusive even when they are not because of the traumas he or she holds.
Projection itself is a coping mechanism. When one fails to resolve their insecurities, he or she will hate to be identified by them in the eyes of other people.
Because the insecurities have not left, projection becomes the best option to give them a false perception that they are not insecure and that it is others. It becomes their defensive mechanism.
A person raised by parents or guardians who often project their insecurities on them will most likely do the same to his children. Because the projection creates the same insecurities in the child, when the child becomes an adult, he or she will project the same insecurities on his new family. This can go on for generations if not resolved through therapy.
The effects of projection of insecurities on you.
If you lack self-esteem and self-awareness, you will lose your ‘’SELF’’ when a person projects his or her insecurities on you. You will develop self-doubt and self-hate which will make you start to identify with what is projected on you.
You start to think that if they are saying you are stupid, it is because you are yet in actual sense you are not.
People who project their insecurities on others, most especially those who play the victim card, do it so well that you start to think they are right. This creates feelings of guilt which can affect your inner peace.
When you are dating an insecure person or are a friend to one, it is hard to have a healthy relationship. A healthy relationship requires being responsible and holding oneself accountable for your mistakes.
Where one uses projection, it implicates the other as the one always in wrong. Such a relationship can not be stable.
It is a shock to your sense of reality when one projects their insecurities on you. When they do it with uttermost seriousness and make it look like it’s the truth. You are left wondering if it is you who can not see that you are wrong. This can gaslight you into damaging confusion.
Transfer of burden.
Many times, when people project their insecurities on others, they get away with it. The burden is then transferred to the wrong person. The consequences get to be paid by the wrong person which is not fair at all.
Final thoughts. It is better to confront our insecurities than to project them onto others. Projection does not take away what will feel. It only causes more harm. You may feel like you have gotten away with it, but soon enough people get to figure you out and expose you. If you are the victim of projection of insecurities, check out my article on ways to deal with a person who projects their insecurities on you.