Playing the blame game? Here's how to stop it!
If you're at a stage in your relationship where you’re hurting, bored or feel unfulfilled you’re convinced that your partner is to blame, then you’d better make yourself a coffee, open your mind to some constructive reflection and read on … it may just save your relationship.
I apologise in advance #sorrynotsorry for what you’re about to read.
Before you read on … No! I’m not blaming you. No one is to blame here, in fact let’s just relax our fingers and get them out of the pointing position.
Now – here’s a radical thought for you (but you can handle it, after all, if your relationship didn’t matter to you, you wouldn’t have read this far).
It’s highly likely that your partner has nothing to do with the way you’re feeling.
You may think I’m full of crap and you may even want to click that little ‘x’ in the corner – but if you do have one of those reactions, then that just means you need to stay with me, because it’s pretty likely that this article is written just for you.
When you are totally convinced that your partner is the cause of your suffering it’s odds on that you’re projecting your own issues onto them. You may be certain that they’re the cause of the problem, but actually, if you dig a little deeper and have the courage to really reflect, I think you’ll find that the real issue is something else entirely.
This inner dialogue you have about your partner is being triggered by past hurts, some of which may not even be relationship based, they could have even happened when you were a child.
When we have a belief … you’ll immediately start seeing evidence to support it – even if it’s not accurate. Your mind is trained that way. We don’t like to be wrong, so we’ll find whatever way we can to prove the validity of the way we feel. It’s not a conscious thing we do, it just happens.
The whole time you’re in this ‘state’, you’re not giving yourself an opportunity to actually deal with these triggers, so they’ll keep cropping up. You know where I’m going here don’t you? You feel upset, hurt, unfulfilled (or insert your own state here) then you sort of ‘get over it’ things are OK again … but then, out of nowhere, bam you’re back in that state again.
You may even find (if you’re brutally honest with yourself) that the stuff that pisses you off about your partner is the same stuff that has annoyed you with previous partners, possibly even friends, colleagues and family members on occasion too… yeah? Maybe to a lesser or greater degree, but it’ll be there.
So, how about together, we break the cycle and give you the chance to really connect with the people around you and the people you love in a really meaningful way?
But first, before I share with you how to do this, I want to share with you what projection looks like and how to recognise that’s what you’re doing.
Let’s investigate the three signs that you’re projecting your own stuff onto your partner, emotionally and also physically. You don’t need to feel all of these at the same time. You may feel one, maybe two or even all three. (None of which make you a bad person!)
1. You get righteous!
Yep, you know how this goes. You’re totally convinced your partner is to blame and your totally convinced that your right! You may be a bit standoffish, you may distance yourself a bit and even have that classic stony, or blank face when you interact with them. The silent treatment may even be a weapon in your projecting arsenal.
2. You feel wronged!
A minor disagreement with your partner may have far greater ramifications to you. If small things become big things to you, and you experience a deep feeling of sadness, irritation or frustration, then it’s a good chance your projecting a part hurt onto your partner. Gift wrapping this situation in a shroud of the past so to speak. You may not even know you’re doing it – most of us don’t. But if someone from your past, who you cared about, let you down, was chosen over you, or was perceived as getting more favourable treatment, then this could be triggered by (seemingly) small issues today.
3. Flight or fight kicks in
If you find yourself in a situation where you think you need to make a snap decision under pressure, then it’s a good sign that you’re projecting. What do I mean by this? Well, if you get into an argument or uncomfortable discussion with your partner, you may feel the need to instantly ‘brick wall’ them, cut them off, walk out or threaten to end it.
This feeling of panic and pressure is exactly what happens when you’re projecting past hurts onto someone else. How many times have you said (or someone else has said to you) “You know that? I can’t do this anymore” or “I’m not good at relationships, so it’s best that I just leave” or even “I don’t have to deal with this” before storming off … only to return later, apologising and saying, “it’s not you, it’s me”? Yup, that’s classic projection.
By the way, it’s not always a good idea to tell someone they’re projecting, mid argument, it may not end well.
So, what can you do about it?
Well, sometimes, simple awareness is enough. If you take this concept on board and realise that relationship issues are never just one-sided (they may be 60-40, or even 80-20, but one party is never the total cause) you may be able to drop your weapons naturally and explore what previous experience(s) may be coming back to bite you and TALK to your partner about them.
Another way I like to look at this is by assessing your personal (or self-care) needs.
According to legendary family therapist Virginia Satir, (you can read about her here) every human being has 8 self-care needs. When all of these needs are met, we function magnificently, and life is easy and happy. But, when even one of these needs is falling short, it can throw the whole equilibrium out.
That’s why some days, nothing seems to bother you and you cope with everything well, where as on other days, things that normally wouldn’t bother you become bigger than Ben Hur.
Likewise, if your partner is the one doing the projecting, try and identify which of their needs is falling short and find a creative way to meet them. You may be totally amazed with the results.
So, let’s explore what the needs are, and how to meet them.
(Listed below in no particular order.)
Need 1 - Intellectual (engaging your mind and/or stimulating your brain).
You can meet this need by reading, playing games, learning something, having a meaningful discussion etc.
Need 2 – Interactional (socialising with like-minded people).
You can meet this need by planning a dinner party or date night, visiting family, engaging in social networks etc.
Need 3 – Emotional (enhancing and exploring emotions).
You can meet this need by watching a funny or sad movie, going to a comedy show, enjoying a hobby etc.
Need 4 – Nutritional (improving nutritional intake).
You can meet this need by eating something new, watching calories on some meals, reducing sugar etc.
Need 5 – Sensual (getting I touch with your senses and/or sexuality).
You can meet your sensual needs by stimulating your senses. Listen to music, watch the ocean, smell your favourite scents, eat something new or totally delicious, paint or do pottery etc. You can meet your sexuality needs by lighting candles, giving or getting a massage, having an orgasm etc.
Need 6 – Spiritual (feeding your soul – not necessarily via religion).
You can meet this need by meditating, singing, dancing, creating something, walking in nature etc.
Need 7 – Physical (challenging and caring for your body).
You can meet this need by exercising, gardening, sleeping, dancing etc.
Need 8 – Contextual (improving or changing your environment).
You can meet this need by cleaning out a cupboard, repairing something, planting things, renovate, move a room around, hang a picture etc.
View the image below to determine where you’re in regard to meeting your self-care needs. Anything less than a 3 needs your attention. Remember, meeting a need is not a huge undertaking – one simple task, activity or interaction can work wonders.
Ultimately though … if projection is something you feel is an issue for you, the best approach, for your own, and your relationship’s sake, is to clear these unresourceful beliefs that are creating the issue in the first place. Just imagine how life will be for you when you can totally accept your partner and assess each situation on its own merits, rather than through a veil of past hurts.
And to do that … seek out a kickass mindset coach. Like me 😊
Thanks for reading … and hey, it’s not all bad.
I’m a projector from way back. In fact, that’s why I decided to write this article – because I was projecting today!
Sulking, creating mental lists of what my partner needs to do to ‘step up’ and reasons for why it’s his fault that things are off kilter so to speak. In reality – it’s all crap. Yeah sure, we’ve all got room for improvement but the great thing is that, since I saw a mindset coach (ages ago) I may still project, but I snap out of it super quickly (within an hour or so) because I recognise the signs and know what to do. It’s incredibly liberating!
I’m still human … I’ve just become better at being an authentic one.
Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming
Master Practitioner of Time Line Therapy®
Master Practitioner of Clinical Hypnotherapy
Master Practitioner of Life Coaching
Partnering with individuals and organisations wanting the absolute best out of themselves and the people they lead.