I’ve written about projection, which is where we attribute or ‘project’ our own character defects onto others. It’s true that we tend to be the most annoyed by those who simply reflect the most annoying parts of ourselves. They are mirroring the negative, unattractive stuff that we loath about ourselves.
I know this person who is constantly annoyed and resentful of this other person who is lazy, unmotivated, unemployed, broke, depressed, insecure, afraid, unskilled, says inappropriate things and can’t ever seem to rise to the occasion. What’s so funny is that all of those qualities are present in the first person! In fact, the first person is a spitting image of the second person. And not only are those qualities present, they are very much alive and well. When we sink to our lowest selves, we project the most. We avoid the truth about who and what we are by just getting annoyed and judging everybody else.
Addict/alcoholic or not, we often resent in others what we are and what we do. It’s much easier to resent those things in others that we dislike and seek to avoid in ourselves, because in doing so, we can avoid total responsibility. Sometimes we begin to project so much, we enter a state of constant denial, eventually believing that the stuff that annoys us isn’t part of us at all, that our annoyance has nothing to do with us and who we are.
If this continues, we lose our capacity to be honest with ourselves, and when we begin to lie to ourselves, we turn into a phony. This is one of the things we learn by writing inventory. We learn about all of the shit we are ‘projecting’ onto others. It’s like holding up a mirror and looking at ourselves instead of seeing others as the problem.
Many critics of the 12 Steps bash this stuff as beating ourselves up, when in reality this process of truth and insight brings us relief and strength. To remain irritated and in judgement of everybody is living in a state of misery, so any tool which frees us from this nonsense is a good thing, not a bad thing. The problem is that today it has become mainstream to coddle addicts so they never feel one ounce of discomfort. The truth, however, is that this approach cripples us and promotes the very thing that got us into trouble to begin with: self-comfort and entitlement. This is the failure of the nanny state.
So go write some inventory. I have to do the same myself (about person number one and person number two 😉