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  • Jed Murphree, LPC

Projections and Protections

In dealing with a complex world, we all have several "faces" we use when needed. I think you know what I mean. How you come across to your work friends compared to your close social circle, or your partner compared to your parents can be two very different people and still you.

And it's completely appropriate and natural, because we don't all deal or interact with the same people in the same ways. Certain aspects of ourselves (our personality) shine out more brightly or speak more loudly depending on the situation. Who we show or "project" is a reflection of not only how we see ourselves, it's also what we think others need or want to see in us.

Let's be honest, we have all had to act our way through situations and circumstances by basically becoming someone not entirely ourselves. Be it appearing more agreeable or getting down right stubborn and hardheaded - we all possess a range of emotional facets that we show at different times and to very different people.

I sometimes refer to this as "putting on your armor", and we all wear it from time to time. Bear in mind that our armor is neither good nor bad, it's how we use it. Armor is meant to keep us safe, and can mask or hide feelings of self-doubt, insecurity, ignorance, or fear. Our armor lets us pretend to be more than, or unaffected, or cavalier. Our armor can also push others away, prevent others from knowing us, and letting people in when they really ought to. So figuring out how and when you use your armor is important to your personal growth and self awareness.

Personal growth (to me) is about learning to be authentic with yourself. The more comfortable and accepting you are of you, the more authentic your projection. The fact is, the people closest to us are both honored and sometimes punished for seeing all of who we are or can be. The same is true as when someone else shows us what's beneath their projections.

I'll argue that despite the risk of being the messy humans we all are, life is better when at least one person in our lives knows what's beneath the projections and about the protections.

Consider asking yourself:

Who are you "projecting"?

Then try:

Who are you "protecting"?

This can be a challenging notion to grapple with, even on a good day for some of us. Many refuse to take off their armor, while some others don't realize that they need to put theirs a little more often. And that's okay, when you remember that we are all works in progress, and nobody has the market cornered on what is right and best for all people.

So remember, if you've got issues with your armor, and not sure who you are projecting or protecting, consider speaking to a professional about it. If even for a short period of time, counseling can help.

Just remember, mental health matters.

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