Diane Cooper says “You do not know how anyone feels or is. Everything you see in another is a projection of an aspect of yourself”.
This is a great description of The Law of Projection.
The Law of Projections says that our external world-view is an extension or a projection of the beliefs you have internally about yourself and your experiences.
Simply put, honest people believe that most others are honest as well. This doesn’t mean that they believe that absolutely all people are honest, rather they believe it until it is proven otherwise. They may need to adjust for a dishonest individual, then they will move forward giving others the benefit of the doubt.
“For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” Mat 12:34
Likewise, if you are generally dishonest with yourself and don’t trust your own judgment, you will believe you can’t trust others or trust their judgment. Untrustworthy people don’t trust others. It may take quite a bit to learn to trust another person, and when you do, the chances are you will continue distrusting most others and treat the honest person as the exception.
Thieves tend to believe that most everyone steals. People that lie believe everyone lies. People who aren’t responsible for themselves believe everyone else is irresponsible. This is how we can know how someone see’s themselves.
“…every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.” Mat 7:17
I have learned over the years how this plays out in the workplace. People can’t help but to project their internal perspective onto peers, subordinates, and customers. Good or bad. A person with a low self-image and doesn’t like who they are, will find it challenging to refrain from being critical of others. Low confidence in yourself will lead to having little confidence in others. A person with a healthy self-image will find it natural to believe the best in others and treat them as such.
Much of the time we don’t even know that how we perceive others is how we perceive ourselves. We judge the motives of another and it makes us angry. Well, how could we feel angry unless we have a similar personal experience to relate to?
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Mat 7:3
When we are distrusting and skeptical of others, we believe we are that way for a good reason. We believe we are justified for such view because of our experience of being let down by others. We react to our own personal experience. We may believe our cautious ways are a product of wise thinking, however it may be something more cynical going on in our minds.
“If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all” – Every Mother ever
Do you have anything good to say?
So how do we know if our thoughts are accurate interpretations of our circumstance, or just a faulty projection from our own sinful mind? How do we know that our fears we project aren’t just a product of self-preservation? How do we know when our thoughts are separate from reality(poor self-awareness)?
These are tough questions, however here are a few questions to consider;
- Does it line up with reality as you normally see it?
- Does it line up with not only in your own experiences, but also with everyone else’s experiences?
- Does this thought truly serve your long term wellbeing?
- Does it line up with your values, and vision for the future?
- Does it serve others?
Of course, we cannot know what everyone else has experienced, but we can open up our own mind to seek out a broader base of input that expands beyond our own realm of conscious awareness.
If you want to know what message you are projecting, just ask others. Ask then to help you see what others see when they look at you. Give them permission so you will receive it well. Open yourself up to a new perspective on life that takes you out of your skull and into a more introspective view on the world and other people.
When preparing to write this blog, I sat down and wrote out the different things that set me off about other people. Then I asked myself if these attributes I dislike in others I find in myself. The answer was an eye opening experience for me. I was aware of this to some degree, but had not realized that these were entirely applicable in one way or another to how I view myself.
The best leaders I have ever met are people who have first addressed the mess in their own head so they can have an honest and inspiring message to project to others. It all starts with the content on the movie projector and not with the image on the silver screen.
People need a reason to believe better about themselves. Sometimes they have some pretty dark blinders on and a thick wall established to protect them. People become very comfortable with others being to blame for where they are in life. It is easier than taking responsibility. People with a dim perspective naturally project a dim perspective on others, not really knowing the diminishing effect it has on the culture.
Great leaders shine their light brightly onto others bringing a hopeful spirit to an environment in desperate need of good news, encouragement and direction. The power of a person with a great message is inspirational and transforms the people around them. People will follow a person with a better message than the one they own. It may not come automatically. They may have some obstacles to overcome, but they are paying attention. I promise!
Don’t be the reason your team members stay stuck. Be the light that pulls them out of darkness!