This was first published on ksl.com
The French-born author Anais Nin, wrote about an old Talmudic philosophy that says we can only dream about things we have previously encountered or thought. So, "We don’t see things as they are, we see the world as we are," Nin says.
The way this works is that if you grew up in a stable, emotionally and mentally healthy family, you probably see the world as stable and safe. If you grew up in a violent, abusive, or unhealthy family, you will be more likely to view the world as an unsafe, violent place. You will always subconsciously project your world onto the world you see.
This also applies to the way you see other people. You subconsciously project your experience of what you are like onto others and assume they are just like you, or they should be. When they don’t act like you, you are often shocked.
According to an article from the American Psychological Association, neuroscientist Vittorio Gallese said, "It seems we’re wired to see other people as similar to us, rather than different. At the root, as humans we identify the person we’re facing as someone just like ourselves."
You see other people as you are, and you subconsciously expect them to behave as you would. The problem is that other people are just not wired like you are. They have had very different life experiences, so they cannot possibly see the world (or behave) the same way you do.
Some inaccurate projections
Here are some other ways this tendency to project yourself onto others shows up:
Consequences of inaccurate projections
All of these perceptions, or mind tricks, can create fallout in your relationships. Here are some common ways they might affect your life:
Obviously, the problem is that we are (for the most part) blind to our subconscious projections. We cannot tell that we aren’t seeing accurately, so awareness is the most important thing if we are going to change our projections. Start noticing your thoughts and assumptions about other people and question them.
As a coach, I use personality tests to show my clients the ways they are different and similar to the other important people in their lives. These tests help them to understand why other people see the world in a different way, which creates compassion. Hope this helps you.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.