One truth that is supported by experience around the world is that no human being is ever seen as who they are by anyone but themselves.
No matter how much we know about someone, how much time we’ve spent getting to know them, we don’t see who they really are. We each have our own ideal projected upon who they are.
And just because it is a projected ideal does not mean that it is a positive one.
Even if you, as a human being, do your best to not judge someone until you have been able to assess them for yourself, the projections that others have do have an influence upon your decision-making process. How much that it influences you is based on how much you trust the person(s) who have talked to you about someone.
Even if you are a family member (parent, sibling, etc.), you still only see the projection of your own opinions and feelings rather than the real person.
It is extremely difficult to choose to put that cherished projection aside, to learn to see someone for who they are right now, right in this particular moment. Because no matter what you think, no one is the same person that they used to be, nor are they the person they will become in the future.
So, we learn to deal with the projections that others place on us. We create our own projections of those people based on their interactions with us, turning it often into some vicious circle of pain, fear, stress and frustration. Why? Because we want to be seen for ourselves, for who we really are. We struggle with what they think about us and even sometimes we struggle with what WE THINK they think about us.
It’s a huge part of what I am learning to deal with. I’ve lived so much of my life with the voices of my parents, my grandmother, my ex-husband rebounding in my brain. Internalizing a momentary opinion or comment, and turning it into that evil, little demon critic in my head. Fighting against the very projection I have placed on those family members. And it isn’t even always a negative criticism.
For example, my elder sister has been – for most of my life – a role model for me. For many years, that meant that I chose to see her as this perfect ideal that I somehow needed to match. Knowing that one can never become perfect, for a number of years I did my best to match the exact opposite of who I projected upon her. That meant I focused on becoming the demon to her angel.
I don’t mean to imply that this was a conscious decision. It was not. As we grew up, my sister was everything I wanted to be, but could not be. She was the thin girl, I was always plump (until puberty made everything go boom, and turned me into someone morbidly obese). She was the one that attracted the romantic attention (boys I crushed on inevitably crushed on her), while I was ignored. While my parents never made the comment of “why can’t you be more like your sister?” I unfortunately made those kinds of comments to myself.
While I rarely have compared myself to other random women or girls (celebrities or not), my sister has sadly been that ideal I used. Even though she gained weight after her second son was born, I still see her as the beauty in the family. I have learned to accept myself as pretty, but I still seem to consider myself a poor second in the looks department. Hell, there are times I actually expect someone who is romantically attracted to me to drop me like a hot potato when/if they meet her. I am, of course, working very hard to erase that particular little piece of mental programming.
At one point over the past two years, we were talking about this particular little illusion I have had about her. She made a comment that frankly, floored me. She said that in her eyes, I am the one who can have “any man that I want.”
Think about that. Someone who you have looked at as the embodiment of perfection, particularly when it comes to romantic relationships, sees you as better than themselves.
See what projection of image does to people?