When someone is not happy with themselves, they can be very hard to be around. It’s challenging to be their friend, coworker, and especially to be in a relationship with them. Often those who are unhappy with who they tend to project these feelings and emotions onto others. Thankfully, projection can be overcome and we can all learn to love ourselves more. (1)
People Who Are Not Happy With Themselves Project These Feelings Onto Others
We all know someone who balks at criticism and gets defensive whenever you suggest anything that goes against what they think or believe. Maybe you even find yourself doing this – called projection – sometimes. Usually, we do this because we are insecure. People who are not happy with themselves tend to project those feelings of inadequacy onto those around them. (1)
Projection can look like many things. Often the person takes any criticism, no matter how tiny or humorously intended, to the extreme. This is because accepting that criticism means acknowledging the parts about themselves that they don’t like. (2) For example:
- Someone who is highly self-conscious about their intelligence will take a playfully intended joke about a minor mistake they made as a major criticism.
- In a relationship, they may feel like they are unworthy of their partner’s love, and therefore any minor conflict will result in a major fight.
- They assume any praise is insincere and criticism is understated and well-deserved.
- A cheating spouse who expects that their partner is also cheating will project their emotions of this onto their partner rather than assuming their own responsibility.
Essentially, someone who is not happy with themselves projects these unwanted feelings or traits onto other people instead of working through these problems themselves. Why? Because it is easier and more comfortable to see negative qualities in other people than in ourselves. (1)
The Lower The Self-Esteem, The More We Project
Projection is something we all do from time to time. However, people who are not happy with themselves in nearly every aspect of their lives do this constantly. This is more than just being self-conscious; this is self-loathing. This means that even the tiniest things will garner a big reaction. For example, when they have been talking forever and finally someone interrupts them to get a point in, they are highly offended and say the other person is a bad listener. In reality, they think that they are the one who is a terrible listener, but rather than accepting and working on that flaw, they blame the other person. (2)
How To Stop Projecting
If you are reading this and realize that you sometimes (or frequently) project your negative emotions or traits onto others, congratulations! You’ve already completed step one. Recognizing and admitting this to yourself is the first thing you need to do before you can overcome this. (2)
Second, you now have to figure out why you do this. This can be uncomfortable because it will force you to look at the parts of yourself that you don’t like. To do this, think about a time where you have now recognized that you projected on someone. Now, try and figure out why. For example, Someone offers up an idea at work, and your first instinct is to shut them down or point out all of the idea’s flaws. Perhaps this isn’t about their idea, but instead because them having a good idea makes you feel inadequate at your job. (1)
As already mentioned, projection usually comes from a place of not liking something about yourself. Learning how to love ourselves – including our flaws or the things we aren’t as good at – is one of the hardest things humans have to do. However, when you do, you will stop seeing other people as a threat or criticism as offensive and rather as inspirational, motivational, and a space to learn and improve. (1)
This is where talking to someone – in particular, a professional therapist can be beneficial. Speaking to a friend or someone that you trust and can be completely transparent with is beneficial. They can not only help you to see that you are much better than you think you are, but also they won’t be afraid to gently point out times where you’ve projected and help you figure out why. A licensed therapist will also help you pick out these situations and give you the tools you need to recognize it at the moment and stop yourself from doing it again. They will also help to get to the bottom of why you dislike yourself so much and help you improve in this area. (1)
Let’s All Give Ourselves A Little Bit Of Slack
As humans, we all tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be perfect all the time. When we receive negative feedback, it can really shake our confidence. It means that what we did wasn’t perfect and wonderful – which depending on how confident of a person you are, can be really tough. All of us need to recognize that small criticisms and feedback don’t mean that what we did was terrible or that we, ourselves, are terrible. When you learn to be happier with who you are, you open up opportunities to grow, learn, and become better.