How to Help Minimize Projection and Reactivity

Projection is something we all do and oftentimes it is subconscious.

We may project onto someone a negative feeling or blame someone for a strong emotional reaction because to own it is too painful.

How do we curb this behavior and cultivate more self-awareness? A useful tool is self-reflection. When you feel a strong negative feeling, try to pause and be curious about what you’re noticing. What is the emotion behind that feeling? Emotions and feelings sound like the same thing but the differences are important to note: Emotions originate as sensations in the body. Feelings are influenced by our emotions but are generated from our mental thoughts.

By discovering the meaning behind our feelings we can have greater self awareness which promotes better mental health and better relationships.

According to Dr. Rachel Allyn in Psychology Today, “Emotions are the raw data, a reaction to the present reality, whereas feelings can be diluted by stories we’ve created in our head based on events of the past or fears of the future—not necessarily the truth of the situation. Listening to our bodily emotions, informed by our sense perception, helps us connect to the reality of our present experience rather than to stories made of potentially inaccurate beliefs. From our truth, we can make decisions that are right for us.”

Knowing and remembering this can help us better navigate reactivity, biases, and misconceptions.