The Nature of Projection, Judgment, and Emotional Reactions

The idea that whatever we see in others and have a strong reaction to is something that we also have in us, can be difficult to understand because of course we don’t see ourselves as being anything like them and may even despise them for being that way. We’re not relating to them, agreeing with them, and don’t have any memory whatsoever of being that way ourselves. Many of the behaviors we react to and judge harshly are the same type of dynamics we grew up with or were subject to at various points in our life, and we actually fashioned ourselves by way of them to be the opposite. We put forth a conscious effort to make sure we were nothing like them and made sure we never behaved that way. So to contemplate the idea that we share the same traits can be confusing in the most basic sense and something that we refute through a form of “knowing ourselves”. Yet this idea comes from the fact that we actually have both a conscious and unconscious “self”, both of which are being projected all the time to make up our perception of others and our environment, and through an understanding of how we are always acting “on ourselves” to “create ourselves”.

Our soul is comprised of both a conscious and unconscious mind, and we are always acting to create ourselves through both aspects of our mind, though we are only fully aware of the conscious aspects which are the ones that we willing choose, give expression to and use to form experiences of ourselves. As we create experiences of ourselves, we accumulate memories of “being that way”, and we begin building an image of ourselves out of only the aspects we’re aware of. This conscious self-image, referred to as the “ego”, or more accurately the “false ego”, is the image that we use as the means of sensing ourselves as a certain type of person based on what we know and accept about ourselves and what attributes, qualities, and traits we accept and freely express “as” our personality and basic ways of being. This idea we create about ourselves is a “false” idea because it’s based only partial information and aspects of ourselves and doesn’t incorporate aspects that we have while refusing to express them.

There are two basic ways that we are always in the process of creating ourselves. We are either creating ourselves to be “like” others, or the “opposite” of others. As we encounter and experience and individual, activity, or idea, we enter into relationship with it and compare, contrast, and relate to it as the means of sensing ourselves by way of it. Energetically, we’re constantly being influenced and stimulated by others and our environment. Whatever qualities are being outwardly expressed in any situation, stimulate those same qualities “in us”, awakening and calling them forth into an active state. All energy has both dominant and passive aspects as inherent parts of it. As we’re being stimulated by something or someone, we realize it, sense ourselves through and “as” that quality of being, and we judge and evaluate it accordingly. If our judgment is favorable, and expressing it “matches” or is congruent with our idea about ourselves, we embrace it, allow it and freely express it, shaping ourselves by way of it to be “like it”. If however our judgment is harsh and negative, and doesn’t comply with what we accustomed to expressing, then we refuse to express it, deny to ourselves that we “have it” (the feeling, tendency, or behavior), and we repress it instead. As we deny feelings that are an active part of our psychological makeup, because we deem them bad or wrong somehow, they remain active in us and we continue projecting them outwardly, just as we do our conscious self-aware aspects, and they become an inherent part of others and our environment.

       As a quality and feeling is activated in us by some kind of stimulus, brought forth into our awareness where we “sense ourselves” as being like that and we judge it to be bad or wrong somehow, and as a result can’t find an appropriate means to express it because the situation that’s acting to stimulate it is also being judged as inappropriate, and so we refuse to, we simultaneously choose how to be instead and in what way we’re going to express ourselves in contrast to it. We develop ourselves to somehow be the opposite of it by what we actively choose instead. This “division of the self”, produced by a form of judgment births contrasting aspects of ourselves as our “shadow” or “hidden aspects” and our “ego” as our accepted and freely expressed aspects. The ego and the shadow are adversaries and mortal enemies, because the dissolution of the shadow through self-awareness and active expression means the “death of the ego” in terms of transformation.

As we “judge” ourselves based on active qualities in us, which are what cause us to refuse and deny them, we then project those same qualities onto others, and as we “see those qualities” in them, we judge them just as harshly, and through the experience it brings us, we shape ourselves once again to somehow be the “opposite of them”. If we deem someone to be an idiot or asshole, we simultaneously produce an opposing image of ourselves as being wise, profound, and kind in contrast to them. If we see someone as being arrogant, selfish, or manipulative, we immediately produce a sense of ourselves as being whatever we consider the opposite to be. In this way, we are literally dependent on them as the means of creating ourselves to be their opposition. We first judge ourselves for having those same feelings, desires, impulses, and traits, which are universal in nature and a part of all humanity, causing us to repress and forget about them, yet we still have a pronounced “reaction to them” in others and all around us.

The act of “judging” or discriminating is a natural part of the minds ability to reason, choose and willfully act out choices as the means of creating itself through its experiences. Most of what we refer to as being “judgmental” or as “judging others” is due to an incorrect use of judgment that’s a form of “value judgment”. The criteria that we use for judging ourselves is usually taught to us as a part of our conditioning through the group mind or mass consciousness, and is one of the most basic ways they or it plants the seeds that we use throughout our life to create ourselves and others to “conform” to the general consensus. We’re “taught” what good and bad are as values and beliefs of some kind, and we use this first to create ourselves initially, and then continue to create ourselves by way of it in relationship with everyone and everything else. It’s one of the most primary forms of mind control and brainwashing that’s conducted for the most part in a completely unconscious and automatic manner.

       It’s easy to realize that we only have strong emotional reactions to some people, ideas, and activities, while others we relate to, acknowledge as being good and right and feel at one with. All reaction comes from encountering outside of us what’s the complementary opposite of what’s inside of us. If it’s the same we barely notice it, it blends congruently with our experiences, and we don’t challenge it in any way. When it opposes us (or our self-made image of ourselves), it elicits an immediate and often intense emotional charge, and our thoughts about it that create how we experience it are highly judgmental in the sense of seeing them as bad, repulsive, and despicable somehow. As we judge them, it reinforces our judgment of ourselves, and we repress that idea even further, while still creating ourselves by way of it, as its opposition.

All ideas of a moral nature have a very strong emotional component connected to them, just as all actual memories of any kind are formed into memories because of the strong emotions being experienced at the time they were created. An idea or actual memory is activated in us through an emotional charge that’s transmitted from one person to the other, or that we produce inside of us through our natural reaction to it. Our thoughts about things produce our own emotional reaction, and emotions being transmitted by others and received by us control our thoughts through the memories they elicit. All value judgments (right and wrong) have a strong emotional component to them that not only arouse us and drive our thoughts in a compulsive way, but are also the foundation out of which we created ourselves. So to “give up” our judgments, is to transform our ego and our “sense of self”, requiring us to acknowledge and bring into awareness aspects of ourselves that we’ve never outwardly expressed before. When this happens, we don’t know how to be and can feel torn with deep feelings of insecurity and the lingering residue of harsh judgments that we’ve used to shape every aspect of ourselves and our life.

In the same manner, we form what we can call actual and objective judgments that are a form of accurate evaluation using “good judgment” and discretion that we have no problem not expressing because it’s honestly not “in us” to be that way. As we come across ideas through an experience of some kind, we’re always defining ourselves through contemplating them, trying them on, running scenarios of what they’d be like if we played them out as a reality, then, sensing ourselves in that situation as a way of realizing what’s actually in us as a part of our character and what’s not. We don’t necessarily judge them as right or wrong, but simply not who we are and not the reality we want to produce and play a part in. For example, sexual promiscuity or adultery may be an idea that’s playing out around us or is a part of our immediate environment, which, as we view it in terms of the reality and what it means about us as a result, what it would cause in other areas of our life, we may realize without doubt that there’s no part of us that’s like that. We’re not inclined to engage in those types of activities. Though we may find ourselves sexually attracted to others occasionally and the opportunities arise in which we could easily participate, or we feel “tempted” somehow, when thinking about the reality of it and how we’d feel being in it doing it, we realize we don’t want it, and so we decide not to. This is different than deciding not to because we feel like it would make us out to be a liar, cheat, deceptive, raunchy and bad person as what forms our decision not to. It’s all about what our “reason is” for making the decision.

       To encounter and become aware of our shadow, embracing it instead of denying it, brings us face to face with who we really are and why we became the way we did. If we admit to ourselves having a feeling and desire towards something that we judge harshly as being bad and wrong to do, and that we also have those same urges and impulses sometimes, it can cause us to go into a bit of an identity crisis. If we realize however that all qualities and traits have their appropriate expression under the right circumstances, and we realize that part of our judgment came from the situation or activity implied by them through association that was inappropriate for expressing that idea, and we look instead for how we could express it in a way that would enhance our current experience and expand our ego’s ability to create unique and diverse experiences of ourselves, we can find the means of expression that will create in a productive and conscious manner while bringing us some level of gratification and satisfaction. Even what seems like the worse traits and activity can be exactly what’s called for under the right circumstances and within the appropriate situation, and as a result, will be the best and most appropriate response.

While most believe that the shadow is comprised of our “worst traits” or ones that are easily seen as bad, the fact is it’s comprised of any trait that we deem bad, wrong, weak, or that would somehow mean something bad about us if we were that way. For example, if someone has been led to believe that being “nice” is a form of weakness, perhaps because they were taken advantage of by someone whenever they were nice, they judge themselves as being weak for being that way, and will refuse to be that way and choose to act mean, harsh, or uncaring instead, perceiving that to mean that they’re strong and in control. Someone who’s very compassionate and caring may have ended up feeling like a doormat or as though they’re always being manipulated by those only looking to take, and will consider it a bad trait to openly express, and will become hardened in whatever way they feel they need to in order to suppress that tendency. So judgment isn’t just in regards to what could clearly be seen as a destructive way of being, but it’s formed by whatever we used as the means of creating ourselves by how we interpreted it and experienced it through our formative conditioning. Some people who are in reality exceedingly gentle and kind can put on the appearance of being rude, obtrusive, or tough, and ridicule those who are gentle and kind, as a means of protecting and shielding themselves from what they have experienced as being very negative consequences to being the way they “really are”.

Once we realize what’s really happening whenever we are reacting and judging someone, and we choose instead to refrain from acting and turn inwards to see what it is in us that feels such a strong need to judge them, what is the reaction about, and we let a free-flow association of ideas take place where we recall memories that were of a similar nature, and times in our life when we had the same feelings and inclinations towards being that way, we can begin realizing a part of our nature that we convinced ourselves we didn’t have and as a result, forgot about having. We can come to realize that as children in our formative years we didn’t have the ability to reason, judge and choose for ourselves, and so we we’re told how to judge people and in what way to judge them. We we’re taught to be judgmental based on someone else’s opinions, values and beliefs, and criteria for using to shape ourselves and everyone else to be the same way.

As children we don’t know who we are and we begin creating ourselves by default through the ideas and opinions of others that we’re taught and come to accept as our own. Once our “core beliefs” are established and our paradigm precisely structured, we continue creating out of it unconsciously, often throughout our lifetime, and as a result, create a false image in place of who we really are as an individual. We only break away from the group mind of the collective unconscious and begin truly creating ourselves by way of our own capacities when we begin gaining self-realization of our dual nature and we take the necessary action to integrate opposing aspects into a “whole being” that’s unified and coherent in all that we do. Through true self-awareness we can begin fashioning ourselves to be the unique individuals we are. We can break away from the mind training of the masses and become a self-referencing source of creative power.

Projection and Judgment as the Tools for Self-Realization

Once we realize what’s really going on anytime we have an adverse reaction to someone or something where we’re judging them according to our own criterion and value system, we can see it as the tool it really is. All unknown content of our subconscious mind is constantly being projected and makes up a substantial part of our outer awareness. Anything we’re “reacting to” is because we have the same quality, trait, and tendency in us that we judged just as harshly as we’re judging them. We were conditioned somehow to the same dynamic as an interactive pattern where we took on the opposing role. All reactions form the basis for self-creation through the nature of the reaction and what we tell ourselves about them while contrasting and opposing them and shaping ourselves to be the opposite. We’re always shaping ourselves to either be just like others, or the exact opposite of them. But either way, we are dependent on the active expression of our shared traits as the basis for creating ourselves no matter what role we play in acting it out together.

Because our perception of the outer environment is formed from the mental paradigm of the inner environment as a projection, we can come to realize hidden aspects of ourselves and the nature of our conditioning and why we believe what we do, and how we’re always using that to tell a story about things that shapes us simultaneously by way of playing different roles in the same story. We can realize that anytime we’re reacting and judging that we’re looking in a mirror and seeing the reverse image of the same thing. We can turn inwards, and through introspection, begin realizing our connection to the same idea and how it was that we formed our judgments that caused us to deny expressing certain parts of ourselves. We can gain insight into our early conditioning and how we were trained to the mindset that we used to create ourselves and others out of. As adults reviewing a process that was formed and set into motion as a child, we can reevaluate the same ideas with a renewed sense of clarity and see how they can be incorporated into our “known self” as the means to expand, enhance, and invigorate or ego, rather than shattering it.

All transformation comes by way of incorporating new aspects into an existing model. By blending with and taking on new and diverse qualities, we can grow ourselves in new ways and expand our range of self-expression and what’s possible, creating a new array of novel experiences. We can learn and experiment with new ways of being. We can try on new ideas to see how we feel, and decide whether or not we want to continue into it, change and alter it somehow, or ignore it in favor of something else. We can come to know what’s truly “in us as us” and what has simply been taught and acquired along the way that we accepted in place of our true self. We can begin using our true ability to intuitively reason, decide and willfully act out our decisions as the means of true independent self-creation. As we come across traits that we definitely have that we associate with very distinct ideas that we honestly can’t see ourselves doing, we can ask ourselves how we can we express this same quality in another way that will be congruent with everything else and produce a desired overall result. We can begin challenging ourselves and developing our creative abilities to self-actualize in new ways. We can break patterns and conventional mindsets in favor of individuality and freedom of self-expression because we realize that as adults we have the discretion and reasoning powers to become self-directed and therefore self-determined.

Dr. Linda Gadbois 

Integrative Mind-Body Health Consultant and Spiritual Mentor

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