What You See in Others Tells You What is Going on Inside Yourself

Self Talk Concept. Young Woman Talking To Herself In Mirror Reflection. Double Portrait From Two Different Side Views.

… OR Perception is Projection

Have you ever found life confusing and wished that you understood yourself better?

I find this NLP principle very helpful when it comes to untangling my emotions and responses to life and discovering a more empowering perspective. It’s very powerful in both your personal and professional life, especially if you are feeling threatened by unfolding circumstances or challenged by your performance targets.

So, what is it about and how can I apply it?

Perception is Projection: The NLP Principle

Essentially, this NLP principle describes the fact that what we see in others (especially the things that provoke our emotional responses) are inside ourselves. That is, we see and respond to the faults and failings of others with judgement and criticism based on their existence within ourselves. If we had no inner leaning towards that behaviour we would not see it in others.

This explains why parents are so quick to see and get upset about their children’s failures and flaws… a dispassionate observer would probably say, “Like mother, like daughter;” or “Like father, like son;” on most of them.

When I teach this principle someone in the group will invariably say, “But I can judge a murderer and I would never kill anyone myself.”

Really? When we explore possible scenarios eventually everyone acknowledges that while that would never be their preferred solution they could envisage a situation in which murder could be a justifiable response. In any case, that’s an extreme case, so let’s look at how you can apply this principle every day.

Where are Those Three Fingers Pointing?

When you physically point out a fault in someone else, there are still three fingers pointing back at yourself. This is not a reason to lower the standards of behaviour you expect from others, but it is a reason to examine your own behaviour and allow that sometimes people disappoint themselves as well as others.

In pursuit of quick solutions to self-esteem modern education and society encourages us to blame others for our failings (as if we need much encouragement to do this anyway). It may be comforting to think that we are ‘under-appreciated’, victimised, overlooked, etc. but that is an extremely disempowering way to live.

Perception is projection allows me to ‘feel’ that inferiority, insignificance, anger, resentment, and then look inside and ask, “Is there something inside myself that I need to deal with so that I can be happier, more productive, and more fun?” It’s not about feeling guilty, it’s about acknowledging my need to grow.

Using ‘Perception is Projection’

So, what can I do with this new way of looking at my responses?

Let’s look at a couple of scenarios to start you thinking:

  • Criticism/Feedback: Many people respond to feedback by getting angry or rejecting it completely. They simply have not mechanism for learning and growing from it. Next time someone criticises you or a job you have done, look at the emotions that well up. Are you defensive? Angry? Or…? Ask yourself where that emotion comes from and why you react that way. It is rarely an appropriate level of response to what actually was said or done. It may take a few tries to get a genuine answer, but the insight will help you grow and move forward.
  • Failure: Which takes you longer to move past: the realisation that you have not met your own standards, or the awareness that you didn’t meet someone else’s standards? The degree to which you hold on to your own failures is often a measure of how severely you judge others for their failures. A client who was almost viciously judgemental of others unpunctuality realised that this sprang from insecurity and a desire to control others. Once he recognised that, he was able to let go of intense anger in many areas and find physical and emotional healing.

A negative, defensive response to unwanted criticism or unpleasant circumstances and people is both natural and healthy. The question is what we do with that response and how we let it shape our future. When a bear is chasing you, running away is an appropriate response. Once you’ve outrun the bear, it’s a good time to stop and evaluate where you are before you run into something worse.

Use the ‘perception is projection’ principle to help you gain empowering insight into what you need to do.

Do You Need Some Help

We all get caught up in our heads. Sometimes we need some help from an objective ‘unreasonable friend’ to help us find a more empowering way of seeing our life and relationships. A H.O.W.T.O. Session help you do this, and much more. If you can invest 90 minutes and a small fee I can work with you to set your free from negative viewing patterns and set you on the path to the success that you deserve.

Book Your H.O.W.T.O. Session – Link to https://lifepuzzle.com.au/book-your-h-o-w-t-o-session/

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