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How to Stop Projecting

These tips can help you stop projecting your less-flattering traits onto other people.

Expert Source: Psychotherapist and clinical psychologist Joseph Burgo, PhD, author of Why Do I Do That? Psychological Defense Mechanisms and the Hidden Ways They Shape Our Lives.

Cranky existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre once wrote, “Hell is other people,” and we’ve all felt this way from time to time. Especially when the snide comments of a coworker, a friend’s constant complaining, or our sister’s endless bossiness annoy us to distraction. If only they would change, we think, we’d find some peace.

We’re often wrong about that. In a process psychologists call projection, we attribute traits we dislike in ourselves to other people. Then those people drive us crazy when they remind us of qualities that we’re trying to suppress.

“Parts of ourselves don’t simply disappear when we disown them,” explains psychotherapist Joseph Burgo, PhD, author of Why Do I Do That?

Shouting “I could never be like that!” in response to an annoying person helps deflect attention from the part of us that is actually like that. And even if the other person renounces his or her unpleasant behavior forevermore, someone else will come along and trip that trigger — at least until we accept that we’re rejecting it in ourselves. This process is part of what Burgo calls our “innate tendency toward integration.”

Learning to identify projection, Burgo says, is enough to stop it in its tracks — and prevent it from harming our relationships. He offers some tips on how to get a handle on this sneaky psychological defense mechanism.

Challenges to Overcome
• Ego. We tend to believe we’re mostly perfect, which has its drawbacks. “When we encounter something that challenges this idealized view of ourselves,” Burgo says, “we’re much more likely to blame it on other people than to own it.”

• Lack of awareness. The projection response is largely unconscious, he notes. Until we notice its signs in our mind and body — physical tension, mental obsession — we’ll be unaware that we’re doing it.

• Psychic resistance. The whole point of projection is to offload feelings that we don’t want to feel — usually aggression, sadness, shame — onto others. So, it’s natural that we resist owning up to our feelings and the role we are playing in a difficult relationship. “We’re not particularly interested in taking back the projections because they’re painful,” he says.

• Habit. If we’ve been projecting for years onto a person or group, the pattern may be so ingrained that it operates like a “built-in defense,” says Burgo.

• Exhaustion. We’re more likely to project our feelings onto others when we’re tired, tense, stressed, or feeling rundown.

• Our real shortcomings. “There are always ways in which we fall short,” Burgo notes, “so trying to maintain a sense of self-worth can be challenging. It’s much easier to blame other people than to struggle with our own feelings of shame or disappointment.”

• The real shortcomings of others. The people who bug us are not perfect either; they may well be displaying antisocial or inappropriate behavior. Distinguishing the difference between our “stuff” and theirs isn’t easy.

• Dehumanization. When we project, says Burgo, we turn the other person into a symbol: the Bossy Jerk or the Needy Wreck. “They become a personification of the thing you’re getting rid of. Rather than being a whole person with whom you might be able to empathize, they become a kind of caricature.”

Strategies for Success
• Notice preoccupation. Projection has characteristics that distinguish it from mere irritation, says Burgo, and chief among these is an “inability to let go of our focus on the other person.” This comes with intense feelings and a conviction that you are not like that person or group at all. “It’s a kind of mental blaming and self-justification that can go on and on and on.”

• Look inward. Projection is, by definition, a turning outward. The first step in overcoming it, he says, is to make the shift to self-awareness. Take stock of how you’re feeling, how you’re breathing, and so on. This will help interrupt your obsessive focus on the “problem” person and redirect your attention to where it can do some good.

• Calm yourself. “Focus on your breathing to stop the word-chatter in your head that’s justifying the projections,” Burgo advises. Take a few breaths in on a count of four, and exhale on a count of eight. This is a simple and effective way to settle yourself down.

• Notice your body. When he senses he may be projecting, Burgo does a body scan, checking “my back and shoulders where I carry tension, around my eyes where I register fatigue and sadness, in my belly where I feel hunger and other kinds of longing.” He suggests noticing these sensations without trying to explain them in relation to someone else — which can be challenging.

• Get real. Burgo acknowledges that difficult people may well possess the same negative traits you disavow in yourself. “We often project into reality, meaning that if we’re a very critical person, we’ll project it onto someone who actually is critical,” he explains. “But they’re not only critical, and you need to try to see them in their full humanity. And if they are truly toxic, you need to shield yourself from them rather than making use of them to disown parts of yourself you don’t like.”

• Trade places with the other. Burgo suggests asking yourself, “How would I feel if I knew somebody else was thinking about me the way I’m thinking about X or Y?” This can help convert the other person from a symbol of what you don’t like (in yourself!) into a human being who, like you, is probably just doing the best he or she can.

This originally appeared as “Own Up” in the September 2017 print issue of Experience Life.

Jon Spayde is an Experience Life contributing editor.



8 Signs Your Ego Is Trying To Sabotage You

The ego can most easily be described as the mask you wear in daily life. The real you, hidden beneath all the layers you have put on, wants to reveal itself, but the ego likes to maintain control at all times. It can’t stand to give up its power over you, and sadly, many people never move beyond the ego’s domain in their lifetime. If you have felt like you’re in a constant war with your own mind, your ego might feel threatened by your higher self.

Here are 8 signs to look out for if you think your ego is trying to sabotage you:

1. You have become very self-destructive.

Thoughts of self-hate regularly enter your brain, and you have turned to compulsive habits such as drinking or smoking. The ego comes from a place of darkness, and to tame it is one of the most difficult tasks a human will face in his or her lifetime. It fears giving up control, so it wants to keep you in a low vibrational state at all times to avoid transparency. So, if you have picked up on destructive habits and demeaning thought patterns about yourself, you can almost be sure the ego is the mastermind behind it all.

2. You feel overly self-conscious around others.

The ego doesn’t always make a grand entrance; sometimes, it likes to take a more subtle approach. Self-destructive habits can also include feeling a lack of self-confidence, but this doesn’t seem as apparent as the former. However, the ego is still likely to blame, because it always wants you to second-guess yourself and rely on things outside your consciousness for contentment. However, once you move into your heart and act on love rather than fear, you will slowly see this behavior dissipate.

3. You find yourself complaining often.

The ego loves to find everything wrong with a situation or person, so it harps on all the atrocities and misfortunes in life on a daily basis. Complaining every once in a while is a part of life, but if you catch yourself seeing the glass half-empty more than you normally would, try to look inside and tell your ego that all is well, and it doesn’t have to worry.



4. You point out the negatives in your life before the positives.

Becoming a Negative Nancy can happen without you ever noticing this shift in consciousness, because the ego moves very slyly. It likes to go undetected and work in the background so as not to draw too much attention to itself. Looking at the world negatively reflects your vibration, so if you want to start noticing the positive aspects of life, work on taming the ego and feeding your soul instead.

5. Fights and arguments happen frequently between yourself and others.

Like we’ve said before, the ego doesn’t enjoy being wrong, and gets wounded easily if it doesn’t get its way. If you constantly have to get the last word in and can’t stand for others to be right, your ego is definitely trying to interfere with your life.

6. You judge others harshly.

This sort of goes along with seeing the negative in the world, but judging others is actually just a reflection of yourself. How you see yourself, you will see others, so if you want to start noticing the good in people, you must first realize the positive things about yourself.

7. You find it hard to listen to others without wanting to interrupt.

When the ego rules, it doesn’t know how to meet others halfway. It works using a “my way, or the highway” approach, so allowing others to speak and have the attention on them really scares the ego. It doesn’t take well to giving others the time of day, so if you find it difficult to let other people speak without wanting to interject, your ego is clearly dominating your energy.

8. You seek revenge when others hurt you.

The ego needs to get even when it feels pain, so what does it do? Try to destroy others, of course. It survives by tearing you down and tearing others down, so to stay alive, it must always hurt others. The Ego feeds off pain and destruction, but that doesn’t mean it is necessarily bad. You must learn to use it for good and not evil, just like a superhero would do. They all have incredible powers, but must use them wisely for the benefit of themselves and humanity as a whole.


9 Practical Ideas To Live More Spiritually In The Modern World

Have you ever felt like booking a one-way ticket to Tibet or the Himalayas, never to return? Wouldn’t it be nice to live with friendly nuns and peaceful monks — to let the walls of a monastery protect you, instead of dealing with all the challenges we go through on a daily basis?

But before you book your ticket or quit your job, you should ask yourself whether or not a monastery will solve all your life’s problems, or just make them go away temporarily.

What if you didn’t have to travel very far to change your life?

Can you live like the spiritual masters of the East without getting rid of your worldly possessions and booking a one-way ticket overseas?

Here are nine practical ways to live like a wise soul in today’s world.

1. Accept change and fear less.

You likely hate flight changes, weather changes and life changes. But try to learn to accept changes, large and small, that come your way. Change isn’t entirely a bad thing — change happens to help you grow and become stronger and more resilient in the face of what life brings your way.

Your resistance to change makes you fearful, but what if it was a good thing? Change can bring different, better experiences into your life. Also, knowing that things will always change reminds you to appreciate what you have right in front of you.

2. Work without an agenda.

Are you doing your job so that you can get more money, move up the corporate ladder and have more responsibility? Well, a spiritual master would tell you to practice “karma yoga” or, working without attachment.

Do work not for any outward gain, but for the pleasure and joy that the work itself brings. Try to release your attachment to compensation or reward. Enjoy the work you’re doing for the pure pleasure of that work itself. You don’t need to do anything or achieve anything. Simply be who you are and show up to do that work in the world — that is your purpose.

3. Complain less.

You can’t change a lot of things in life, but you can change how you react to them. Embrace the changes with open arms and show gratitude for what you have in your life. Or, complain and scream at everything that doesn’t go your way.

Acceptance leads to joy and happiness. Complaints lead to bitterness and resentment. Choose wisely.

4. Live in the moment.

Emails, texts, instant messages, Twitter and Instagram … how do we keep up?

You can keep up with it all and drive yourself crazy. Or, you could choose to remove these things from your phone and live a more focused life.

Multitasking means reduced-focus tasking. Take on one thing at a time and put all your energy into it. Limit yourself in terms of your data and online world. Turn off your phone at night, or at least leave it in a different room.

When the past comes up in your life, let it go like clouds passing in the sky. Build up a mindfulness practice so that you can continue staying present and being here now.


5. Fewer expectations, more contentment.

Instead of expecting certain results, focus on the process. Let the results come as they do. Don’t be attached to results that only lead to disappointment and misery.

To be clear, have goals and dreams, but don’t attach yourself to them. Enjoy and master the journey to that destination — let the destination unfold as it does. Be content wherever you are and find contentment in the small things.

View the world through a lens of sufficiency, abundance and gratitude. You are enough. What you have is enough. This moment is enough.

6. See how you’re connected, not divided.

You’re part of one human family and one universal spirit.

As much as your ego wants to separate and divide you, the ancient master would remind you to seek understanding, compassion and love for others. Even more so with people who hurt you and harm you.

Your enemies are your spiritual teachers — forgive them and learn from them. Fewer grudges, more compassion. Less taking, more giving.

7. Accumulate less, simplify more.

Stop piling up your life with too many commitments or things. If you have too many relationships in your life and no time for yourself, cut down on your number of commitments. If you have too many activities and a hectic schedule, prioritize and drop the things that don’t matter.

When it comes to material things, remember that the more stuff that occupies your life, the less you can focus on what truly matters. Simplify your spending, your purchases, your closets and your life.

8. See suffering as growth.

You may view hardships as painful life struggles. That view is causing you mental and physical suffering, but can you learn to see suffering as growth? Can you see suffering, including the people who cause it, as spiritual lessons?

Are you suffering needlessly?Learn to accept what comes your way with love and compassion. Sit with your feelings and thoughts instead of resisting your experiences or the pain that comes with it.

Unlike what modern society tells you, you don’t need anything more to be happy. No one or nothing can come into your life and improve it. You cease to suffer when you realize that you’re not lacking anything, or that you don’t need anything more.

9. More truth. Less hiding.

The ancient spiritual masters would encourage you to show up in the world as you are. Yet you might feel like you’re not likable enough and try to put up a front. Or perhaps you might try to please way too many people.

Instead of putting on a façade or being a people-pleaser, be true to yourself. Get clear on your values and priorities, and live according to them. You don’t have to change your personality or put on an act to have someone love you.

Find the courage to be yourself, to say what you believe in and to do what you were afraid of.

“You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.” -Swami Vivekananda

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10 Powerful Insights from Eckhart Tolle

 23 Mar 2015          By : Tanaaz Chubb     

Reading Eckhart Tolle’s book “A New Earth” was simply a life changing moment for me and since then I have followed and resonated with his teachings.

Here are 10 valuable and powerful insights taken from his teachings:

1.) Happiness: Seeking happiness is futile. If you seek happiness you will never find it. Happiness is created in the present moment by finding the joy in everything you do.

2.) Unhappiness: Situations don’t bring unhappiness, your thoughts about the situation do. Be aware of your thinking and aim to bring facts so situations rather than emotional “stories”. One example Tolle gives is this- “I am ruined”- this is an emotional story whereas, “I have 50 cents left in my bank account” is fact. Sticking to the facts will help bring you clarity to move forward.

3.) The Ego: The main voice in our head is the voice of the ego. You are not this voice, you are simply observing what this voice says. By observing this voice, instead of reacting with it, you create awareness and through this awareness you can free yourself from the limiting talk of the ego.

4.) Present: The present moment is the only moment that is real. The past is already gone and the future is not yet here, so the only way you can live with truth is to live in the present. Living in the present moment and focusing your attention to the here and the now is the first step to achieving higher consciousness.



“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have.”

5.) I Am: Who are you? You are not your physical body but rather you are the essence that runs through it. While your body is your temple, identifying yourself with the physical can lead to suffering. Appreciate your body, but understand that you are so much more than it.

6.) Doing Good: Being a good person has nothing to do with “trying” to be good, being a good person starts with finding the goodness that is already present inside of you and then allowing it to emerge.

7.) Peace: If peace is what you really want, then you will always choose peace. If you would rather sit and suffer in the validation of the ego, you will go after the drama. Instead of trying to change your life in order to achieve peace, consider realizing instead who you are on the deepest level.

8.) Stress: The main cause of stress and anxiety is wanting things to be different than they currently are. When you bring acceptance to all situations, despite your expectations, you instantly remove the need for stress and worry.

“Stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there.’

9.) Love: Looking outside yourself for fulfilment is the work of the ego. Instead, bring your awareness to the treasures that you have within and know that to love another, is to recognize yourself in the other.

10.) Life: Whatever events life brings, know that they are here with the ultimate purpose of helping you to raise and expand your consciousness.