How Projecting Feelings Can Harm Mental Health, According to Psychology

How Projecting Feelings Can Harm Mental Health, According to Psychology

projecting feelingsHealth

Do you project your feelings onto others using transference? One of the most iconic ways people use this tactic is when they are caught in wrongdoing and can’t mentally handle the responsibility.

Have you ever caught your child doing something wrong, and they quickly say that their brother or sister is the one that did the deed? They don’t want to face the consequences for their action, so they transfer the guilt to another party.

When someone feels attacked, a coping skill is to blame someone else. It’s a psychological trade-off that allows them to get rid of what they don’t like about themselves by projecting it to another individual.

Another classic example of this behavior is a husband that is caught cheating on his wife. He may feel so much guilt for his actions that he starts accusing her of cheating. She may be as faithful as they come, but he can clear his conscience when he blames her. Why do people do this sort of thing, and what does it say for their psyche?

Transference is a psychologically damaging habit that can harm your mental health, and it must be addressed.



Why Do People Project onto Others?

Your brain is hardwired to protect your psyche from uncomfortable confrontations, which sometimes leads to a false self-perception. If you have faults that make you feel guilty, you may transfer these faults and emotions onto someone else to avoid acknowledging you have a problem. It’s human nature to find fault in others, so when you project those feelings to another, you can feel better about your negative qualities.

Who is More Likely to Transfer Emotions?

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Transference is an unconscious way you defend yourself. It’s a mental ploy to ignore your negative emotions so that you don’t experience self-confrontation discomfort. You may be more apt to project your feelings when you refuse to be honest with your imperfections.

If you have low self-esteem, it may come easy to project your feelings of inadequacy onto others. Projection can be a mechanism that attempts to bring everyone on the same level. It may serve as a veil for prejudice and other intolerances.

Maybe you are a person who can be honest with yourself and can admit to your faults and imperfections. You can deal with all aspects of your life and personality, both the good and the bad. If so, you can recognize and experience your faults without projecting them onto others. However, you should know that some types of projection are normal.



Common Examples of Projecting

Not everyone projects emotions in the same way. For some people, it’s so subtle that it’s almost unrecognizable, while others can do it blatantly. See if any of these situations sound familiar to you.

  • You are having a night on the town with some of your girlfriends, including that one who is a shameless flirt. She makes a flippant comment about how you were trying to seduce the waiter. Shockingly, it was her that was flirting with everyone you saw that night.
  • Perhaps you’ve been in a toxic relationship with a narcissistic personality. If he thought you weren’t paying enough attention to his needs and thoughts, he accused you of being selfish and uncaring. It doesn’t matter what you do with this person. It’s never enough, but they’re the ones guilty of giving you no attention.
  • Have you ever been around someone who was continually faulting people who were having marital problems? Maybe she bragged about her marital bliss in-between time. You knew for a fact that her marriage has been on the rocks for years, but she projected that trouble onto your union.

These are a few of the countless examples of how people can transfer feelings to others. They will speak degradingly of others for the very things they refuse to confront in their own lives. Are there ways to free others or yourself from this vicious vortex of projecting?

How to Stop the Projecting Cycle

Some of those examples may have touched you where you live. Projection is a common tactic, but even ruminating about this habit can make the situation even worse. Consider some of these ways to confront your behavior head-on.

1. Realize Who You Are

In the corners of everyone’s soul is the things you try to hide. These are the things that you don’t want the rest of the world to see. They’re the weaknesses that make you feel inferior to others.



Before you can conquer your transference problems, you need to uncover the difficulties and face them directly. While uncomfortable, it’s a necessary step to stop this pattern of bad behavior.

2. Meditation

One of the best ways to get better acquainted with yourself is through meditation. As you practice mindful breathing, reflect on yourself and what it means to be you: the good and the bad. Become a detached observer and see yourself as you are, with compassion and not judgment.

3. Journaling

Another way to open yourself is through journaling. It’s a valuable tool that you can use to reflect on the events and thoughts of your day. It can be as elaborate or simple as you like, and you can use it to recognize when you may be projecting your feelings onto others.

4. Learn How to Communicate Better

Are you a born conversationalist, or do you have problems communicating with others? Maybe one of the reasons you are transferring your feelings is that it’s easier to express them in words.



There is an art to effective communication, but it can be learned with practice and patience. It’s uncomfortable talking about your frustrations, faults, and failures. However, friends and loved ones will respect you more when you can honestly convey your feelings.

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5. Be an Active Listener

You need to be a good listener if you want to improve your communication skills. Do you truly listen to what the other person is saying, or are you daydreaming or thinking about what you want to say next? A good listener uses open body language, mirrors the other person’s emotions, and summarizes what he says for clarification.

Honestly, look at your actions and notice if you blame others for your faults or are projecting negative qualities onto them unfairly. Recognize your behavior and try to learn from it without being too judgmental of yourself.



6. Stop Being a Martyr

When you are transferring your feelings, you often have a negative view of the world. Maybe you are used to playing the “victim card” and blame everyone else for your problems and shortcomings. You may see others as heartless bullies, and you sit around feeling sorry for yourself.

Instead, learn how to empower yourself and be honest with your feelings. If someone is at fault, have an open conversation with him instead of suppressing your emotions and projecting them onto others.

7. Learn from Past Experiences

As you are journaling, try to reflect on times in the past that you know you’ve transferred your feelings to keep from being honest with yourself. What situations were you in, and who were the people you typically projected these emotions onto? When you notice a pattern from the past, you can use it as a tool to avoid future issues.

8. Bring in an Honest Opinion

A close friend is more valuable than gold. She will have your best interests at heart and will give you an honest opinion when asked, even when it’s something you’d rather not hear.



If you are trying to confront your habit of projecting your feelings, why not get a close friend or trusted loved one to help. It needs to be a person with whom you trust and have confided in the past. Asking for help may seem embarrassing at first, but your friend will understand that you are trying to become a better person.

After you make the initial step to ask for help, realize that your friend or loved one will see things that you may not or have refused to see. Remember that you asked your friend for assistance, so don’t get upset when she honestly points out when you are transferring. It may take a while but be patient during the process.

Put yourself in different settings with various people and ask your friend to be your sounding board. With her feedback, you can learn more about yourself and what negative qualities you want to eliminate in your life. It’s going to take time, but you can do it.

9. Ask for Professional Help

There’s no shame in asking for professional counseling. You recognize that you have a problem with transferring your emotions, and this step shows that you are ready to confront it and change. An experienced counselor can work with you on your self-improvement.

Maybe you’ve lost friends or have damaged a relationship because of your bad habits. These losses may make you feel isolated and bitter, which may exacerbate your behavior. Your counselor can offer you valuable tools to rebuild relationships with others and with yourself.

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Final Thoughts on Projecting Feelings

It’s not easy to admit when you have a fault or failure, and projecting them onto others is a common mistake. When you are honest and recognize your weaknesses, you can find ways to remedy them and be less critical of others.



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