How can I stop others' projections?

15300.jpg (6829 bytes)The paradox of projection is that it is hardest to stop when it is easiest to see.

How do you break up projections when they are detrimental to you without terminating the relationship, or without seeking  a professional counselor?  When you intervene in someone's projection you should first try using the least amount of confrontation possible which reduces the risk of your having to terminate the relationship.

 Leon Festinger's "Law of Cognitive Dissonance" [ class_19.htm]  postulated that when feelings are in contradiction with thoughts, a person attempts to reconcile them, by justifying them. If you can pin point a projection when it is small, you can likely take advantage of Leon Festinger's "Law of Consonance", which states that when a person experiences an unpleasant state, he/she will attempt to introduce new elements in his, or her, cognitive system. [1] How to change someone's projection may be analogous to your visualizing the burst of a star.

Try the star burst technique with a friend, a parent, or other family member when they have projected on you some negative trait that you wish to change! Remember to provide the details of the conversation with your friend and whether the expected results of the technique  worked for you or not.

If you can quickly visualize one bit of the star burst, i.e., a bit of the person's projection, you should  quickly agree with a bit of the star burst, i. .e, the person's projection. The person will likely think that you agreed with the entire star burst and may stop  projecting on  you. If you cannot agree to seeing a bit of the star burst, i.e., a bit of the person's projection, then you should ask the person  to clarify. Apply the star burst technique again and again, until you can agree with even the smallest bit of the person's projection, and you will probably have stopped the star burst's expansion, or, at least,  limited its damage to you.

 Helpful Hint!

Continuing the star burst analogy, if the above did not work, then continue obtaining feedback from the person. Pay particular attention to what you think you can change of the projection and change it. As the person sees a bit of change, it becomes easier for him/ her , " Law of Consonance", to continue seeing you change., In effect, you will have stopped the star burst from continuing its expansion.

You can test the validity of the "Law of Consonance" and the star burst technique with someone who you believe has started projecting on you. Let me suggest you start with these research questions:

1.Can I find some bit of projection that I can agree with?

2.Does the person seem to see me slightly differently after I have agreed with him or her?

3.Does the projection seem to weaken in its rigidity over time?

Remember a projection is just a mind's habit of forming an image of you. Projections must be reinforced to be perpetuated Projections can be broken as you stop certain actions and replace them with others. [2]

1. Rom Harre & Roger Lamb, The Encyclopedic Dictionary of Psychology, Cambridge Massachusetts: MIT, 1983, p.91
2. George: Weinberg and Dianne  Rowe
The Projection Principle, New York, St Martin Press,1988, pp 51-72]

Copyright 1998  [Robert Brehm]. All rights reserved.