Psychological projection of self-identity

We all want to project ourselves – our identity to the outside world in the way we want.

In classical psychology projection is always seen as a defense mechanism that occurs when a person’s own unacceptable or threatening feelings are repressed and then attributed to someone else. But I am using the term ‘projection’ here in modern sense – projection as in expressing or showing our [feelings/emotions/thoughts which forms the identity].

We choose our dress, manners, habits, etc. just to aid the process of our identity projection. We do things, speak stuff, choose friends, office etc. based on our identity. And these choices again help in reinforcing the ‘projection’ of our identity to outside world.

And when we find that our choices have not helped in reinforcing our identity projection, then we undo the choices made and try to correct our choices. Like if we make bad friends (There is nothing like good or bad friends. By saying bad friends, I mean the friends don’t suit your identity-your taste, etc) and when we realize they don’t suit us, we say good bye to them and try to find people with whom we feel comfortable. We tend to mingle with those like-minded people so that we can reinforce our identity to ourselves and also to others.

We all do this and more to evolve our identity, make it stronger and project it to outside world and also to our own self. We do need to satisfy our-self first and then only can we project it out confidently. When you yourself are in confusion about your identity, then of course your projection is blurred and can be easily misinterpreted. Because, when you yourself are not clear about ‘what you are’ or ‘what you want to be’, then how can a third person say that to you. Actually, even if a third person instructs us to ‘be’ something or ‘do’ something, we can’t do it unless we ‘feel’ like doing it. That ‘feeling’ is basically what is ‘you’. Its the integral part of your identity.

Some do this ‘identity projection’  consciously and I guess many do it subconsciously. I wonder how many people actually think about their identity or how many are able to define their identity as they would like it to be! It is indeed a bit difficult to define your own identity  – your identity as you would like to have it. Because, there will be lot of conflicts with the personal interest and the social acceptance and approval of right and wrong.

If you do care a lot about what others think is right or what others like, then your identity will be more of a reflection of others approval. If you give more importance to satisfying yourself and your interests, then your identity is truly YOURS. And in that case maybe you wouldn’t PROJECT anything consciously at all. Thinking from the perspective of such a self-content person, the definition of ‘projection’  used in classical psychology makes more sense – its just a defense mechanism! Though you project your true identity (unlike what the definition says: super-imposing some other thing/person on yours), you do it because you do not want others to perceive you as something/some one else. You want to defend yourself or safe-guard your-self: safe-guard your identity.

It would at least take some years of life time on earth to understand all these and frame your identity at least for your own self: getting clear about what you actually want, how you want yourself to be, etc.. And then whats more important is being clear and strong in that. When that stage is reached where in we are clear about what we actually want from our self and how we want to be, it will definitely be reflected in our actions and behaviors. The projection of identity becomes more clear then and the perception becomes easy – The ‘Perception’ by one’s own self and by others.



  1. ….”I wonder how many people actually think about their identity or how many are able to define their identity as they would like it to be!”….

    Around 20 % are able to define their own identity. 80 % just live their lifes, undefined.

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