SPIRITUAL TERMINOLOGY AND MEANINGS

Browse spiritual terminology and meanings by letter:

Projection

What is projection?

The term projection comes from psychology and refers to the tendency to unconsciously attribute unacknowledged or unwanted emotions or traits about one’s self to another person. In spirituality, this concept is often spoken of in terms of a “mirror.”

Projecting Negative Traits

Those projected unwanted and unacknowledged traits are known as the shadow or shadow self. When the shadow is projected onto others, there is a tendency to villainize the other and assume the role of the victim or saint, in order to bypass emotional discomfort around assuming responsibility for one’s own character flaws or actions.

This kind of projection plays out not only in one-to-one relationships, but also among social groups, sometimes in the form of political ideologies and other social movements.

Some examples include:

  • accusing someone of being racist against white people for talking about white privilege
  • the men’s rights and incel movements as a response to feminism
  • pro-life proponents condemning women who have abortions while supporting the death penalty

Projecting Positive Traits

Likewise, individuals may also project unacknowledged positive traits and emotions of themselves onto others. This often manifests as idealization and placing others on a pedestal. We often subconsciously seek out in others the positive traits which we cannot see in ourselves.

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