Again, a topic I am revisiting from a long time ago (my teens).
Does projections have a function? Yes, they help us make assumptions about others and navigate in the world. And they help us, eventually and if we are open to it, to find in ourselves what we see in others.
We cannot see something in others if it’s not first in ourselves, at least at a very low level. So we have a quality or characteristic in ourselves. We use our familiarity with it – even if that familiarity is not acknowledged – to see it in others. That helps us make assumptions about others and navigate in the world. (This is imperfect but works sufficiently well in general.) And if we are open to it, we can use that to find it in ourselves.
So we have something in ourselves and are familiar with it here. We then see it in someone else or anything “out there” in the world. We use that to navigate and function in the world. And we can then use that projection to refind it in ourselves.
For instance, I have a bully dynamic in myself (as we all do) I am mostly unaware of or don’t acknowledge. I think Trump acts like a bully. I see the bully in him. And if I am open to it, I can use that to find how I act as a bully – perhaps in how I see him and in other situations in life. For instance:
In my mind, I call him names. (Idiot. Bully. Imbecile. Infantile. Egomaniac.) That’s a form of bullying.
I do that with others as well. If I go into reactivity, I sometimes put people down, make them into cardboard cutouts, and call them names in my mind. I bully them in my mind. (At least until I catch on and get on another track.)
I sometimes cut off people close to me if I don’t want to listen or engage in conversation or dialog about something. Instead, I could say “can we talk about this later” and mean it.
So projections have very important functions. And they make life more interesting.
Note: Our minds project whether it’s conscious or unconscious. Sometimes, what we project is something we are well aware of in ourselves. And sometimes not. And the former is usually more comfortable and allows us to function better in the world.
Making projections conscious and “owning” what’s projected in ourselves helps us heal and mature as human beings, and it also helps with embodiment of whatever awakening is here.
I should also mention that what’s projected is universal. It’s not really a question of whether something is here in us or not, but how and when it’s surfacing and expressed – even if at a very low level.