The Consequences of Projection

photo of Seattle yoga instructors and teacher trainer Sarah Gobel

photo of Seattle yoga instructors and teacher trainer Sarah Gobel

Have you ever had someone accuse you of being something you’re not?

One of the most profound teachings of yoga is not about what we see, but rather, *how* we see. What we look for, we WILL see, 100% of the time.

This is because your worldview is shaped by your unique experiences, and no one, ever, can see the world exactly as YOU do. But, sometimes (most times?), our world-views are skewed from past traumas, desires, or repression of our shadows. Humans are defensive creatures by nature, and we work hard to hide from the truth of who we are from ourselves— especially because we don't want to contain dark, socially rejected selves. But alas, we do.

One tactic we use to distract ourselves from our repressed shadow is called:


Projection is when we righteously impose judgment on others as an unseen, or blind, response to our rejected selves. For example, if I've rejected my expressive and flamboyant sexuality, I may judge another woman as being "slutty" or a "whore" when she posts a seductive photo of herself. This is harmful because whatever we judge in others, we judge in ourselves. When we love and accept our supposed flaws, and a wide range of self-expression within ourselves, we are much more willing to accept and tolerate similar expressions in other humans.

So the next time someone is irking you, take a pause and reflect on why. What part of yourself have you rejected that elicits your irritation and judgment?