Projection as a Defense Mechanism — Talkspace

How to Manage Projection Defense Mechanism

It can be challenging to overcome a reliance on defense mechanisms like projection. Projection is rooted in unconscious painful feelings and beliefs, which can make it hard to recognize that you need to change. If you suspect that you’ve been projecting though, there are some effective ways you begin changing your patterns of behavior.

Practice personal reflection

It isn’t always easy to look inward but reflecting on your unpleasant thoughts and insecurities can help you grow. Instead of hiding from negative feelings, practice conscious awareness by asking yourself tough questions about who you are and what you want out of life. Don’t be afraid to spend time alone and see where your mind wanders.

If you’re not sure how to introduce self-reflection to your life, try analyzing a recent conflict. Put yourself in the shoes of the other person and think about things from their perspective. Looking at issues from a different angle might help you notice things you previously missed.

Pay more attention to your own behaviour

Try to be more aware of how you act when you’re around others. Take a close look at your own behavior and the ways people react to you. If you notice that people are responding to you with surprise or confusion, see if they’re willing to discuss their feelings with you.

Self-awareness is the key to personal growth. Becoming aware of your thoughts, intentions, implicit bias, and feelings when we are engaging with people can be a revealing process.”

Talkspace therapist Dr. Karmen Smith LCSW DD

You can cultivate self-awareness by letting go of judgment and taking a thoughtful look at who and what you really are. Throughout the day, check-in with yourself and ask yourself what you’re feeling and why.

Be quick to listen and slow to speak

Try to go slow in conversations and pay more attention to what other people are telling you. Instead of making assumptions, take the time to understand the person you’re interacting with. By being more intentional in your behavior, you can avoid projection and other unhealthy defense mechanisms such as denial or rationalization.

Mindfulness practices are an effective tool for focusing on the present. Over time, mindfulness can also reduce thought suppression and fear of emotion. Life isn’t a race and slowing down can help you catch things you might have missed.

Try to track patterns

Recording your behavior in a journal for mental health might otherwise help you identify a projection defense mechanism example you may not have noticed. Keeping a journal can also help you spot patterns associated with defensive behaviors. For example, you may notice that you’re more likely to project onto others when you’re anxious in social settings.

Talk to a therapist

Talking about your relationships could give you valuable insights, but it isn’t always easy to have these kinds of conversations with friends and family members. Working with a mental health professional through in-person or online therapy might allow you to recognize thoughts and behaviors that are negatively impacting your life.

“Therapy is one of the best ways to gain a greater understanding of how our inner life shows up in our interactions.”

Talkspace therapist Dr. Karmen Smith LCSW DD

It can be hard to confront the things you dislike about yourself, but a therapist can help you acknowledge and work through these feelings in a safe environment. Adopting healthier defense mechanisms could lead to more satisfying relationships, better career outcomes, and an overall higher quality of life.

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