Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Angry, Victimised, Judgmental, Taking things Personal? Know About Suppression, Repression and Projection

Why do we suddenly flare up with some people? Why do we take certain things personally and lose our cool and perspective? Why do we get irritated by certain things, words, mannerisms, people? These triggers cause us distress, cloud our judgment and affect our peaceful lives (and heart rates). A nice perspective to this is given by Colin Tipping in his book 'Radical Forgiveness'. Much of this article is from that book. I think it may be of some benefit to understand certain behaviors and patterns of ours.

Tipping says that all of us carry the twin psychological mechanisms of repression and projection. They are what he calls the ego-defence mechanisms. Together these two - repression and projection - create and maintain the victim archetype in us. (The victim archetype has no power over events and is at someone else's mercy to be happy, to stand up for oneself, to do anything in his or her life. The victim is obviously angry and resentful at the world which has done all these things to him or her.)

Let's understand these terms - repression, suppression and projection.

Repression is when certain feelings (terror, guilt and rage for starters) are blocked out by the mind from conscious awareness totally. These emotions are so intense that they can mess up your mind (its best they are repressed and kept out. Full marks to the mind.)

Suppression is a less severe form of this hide-these-dangerous-emotions-mechanism. Here we consciously refuse to acknowledge our emotions. We know they are there somewhere and try to push them away because we don't want to deal with them.

It would appear that our triggers to feeling the emotions of anger, being judgmental etc come from repressed guilt and shame. (Guilt is universal. It is the feeling of having done wrong. Shame goes  a step further in that it is a feeling of actually being wrong. Shame blocks energy in the sense repressed shame creates an energy block. Its like sitting on a volcano says Colin Tipping.)

Projection is an outlet (and as such our clue to figure this thing out). When we attempt to rid ourselves of the pain of suppressing and repressing stuff, we take it out and transfer it on to someone else. It allows us to forget that we even possessed such feelings. We can accuse them of all the things we would be accused of ourselves. We make them somehow responsible for all the things that are wrong. (Who are you projecting on? Who are you judging, angry with?)

When we project, we manifest these behaviors - 1) anger 2) judging someone

When we are angry we are projecting our own guilt over the other person who has kindly touched a raw chord about something we do not want to accept in ourselves yet. Anger is a sure sign of projection. In fact what we attack and condemn in others, is really what we condemn in ourselves.

When we take things personally we feel that someone is attacking us, our core. That's not really true. If we knew our core, we would know that it is more about the other person than about yourself. (If someone calls you a purple pig would you get offended? Or would you think that the other chap is nuts? More likely the latter I'd guess.)  However if we take something they said or did as a personal attack, and get angry, they are touching a chord in us which we do not want to accept. If we accept that whatever they are showing is also within us, much of this emotional upheaval can end.

When we feel victimised we take no responsibility. They are doing it to us is the feeling. When we own up, we stop being victims. You are in charge of your emotions, so don't blame others.

What it means is that every person offers us an opportunity to project or to forgive, to unite or to separate. Your choice can determine your path, your energy.

In intimacy, we use this projection more violently because the possibilities of being discovered are greater. So we create disturbances to avoid being discovered.

To know what you dislike about yourself and have likely disowned, look at what annoys you about people who come into your life. They provide a mirror to your triggers. Accept whatever that they bring to you that is irritating you. That is the part you are not accepting as being a part of you. In fact the world is a hall of mirrors, each reflecting us back to ourselves.


Rajendra said...


Harimohan said...

Very freeing. It's amazing how quickly we let ourselves off the hook (i.e. not be angry with ourselves) when we realise that we are the ones who are responsible and not the others as we thought. It gives us the liberty to be happy again because there is no point being angry with yourself.