Projecting your issues

Ah, a family wedding.

We haven’t had one in some years and I was very excited about this one.

You see, hubby’s cousin is getting married. She was the flower girl in our wedding, and now our son will serve as the ring bearer. What a beautiful tradition and circle of growth being witnessed this weekend.

My mother-in-law created a beautiful pillow for my son to carry. When I was married, my mother-in-law made my wedding dress, her own dress, and the flower girl’s dress (the cousin getting married today). Again, I’m filled with warmth, love, and overwhelm as I am a member of this amazing family and feel honored to witness this blessed union.

Weddings are like that. They call to mind what binds us and makes us a family. It makes us reflect on love, falling in love, and self-love. It brings out the best of us as we rally around the happy couple…but then there are the moments of projection when family members come together – and things start to swirl.

Projection comes up a lot at major family events because people are not always self-aware. They deny what is living and breathing on the inside of them and they do not take responsibility for their behavior or feelings. Unresolved feelings, hurt, and pain can lie dormant inside of us. Even though it is dormant, it is still dormant and festering.

When a major family event comes up, someone can consciously or unconsciously trigger an unresolved issue and before a person even realizes it, a fast moving lava flow of negative energy, barbed words, hurtful attacks, and downright meanness can erupt.

I have not seen any of this unfold at this family wedding, but I have heard the initial volcanic seeds being planted. A comment about someone’s weight. A side remark about physical fitness. The refusal to acknowledge a current accomplishment. A moment of antisocial behavior to put others in their place.

This is how it can all start, fester, and then erupt.

If you have a family event coming up and you know (but may not willingly want to acknowledge) you have some unresolved family issues – use the following steps to take care of yourself and to avoid projection:

Make a list of things that may be bothering you about going to the family event. Be clear, detailed and specific. This list is for your own eyes only.

Think about words, interactions, or triggers that might set you off. Examine your thoughts here and find out where the hurt lies.

Stop judging yourself and start to heal. We cannot change the past but we can craft the future. Treat yourself with kindness and move toward healing and transformation because you want and deserve it. You’re not trying to please others.

Practice having a conversation with a family member who pushes your buttons. You can do this alone or with a person you trust. When you feel yourself getting heated, during this practice session, breathe. Stop and think if the conversation is really about you – or if the other person/family member is projecting.

Practice kindness. Search your heart and think about how you like to receive kindness. Practice giving that kindness to yourself. This will help you be ready, with an open heart, to give this kindness to your family members – even if they are projecting.

What other tips do you have to avoid projecting unresolved issues on others? How do you handle family events that may have a toxic undertone?


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