You can project yourself or extend yourself. Self-projection is based on how you want others to see you and self-extension is based on how you see yourself.
Self-projecting has been a regular pattern in my life. I am aware of when I am doing it and often it goes on for years. I can also tell when it has taken its toll – depression sets in, I lose interest in whatever it is I’ve been projecting, stop caring what others think or how my actions may affect them and eventually just shut down.
A deep part of me views this as a sign of progress. A sign that I am finally willing to put myself first.
My recent projections are about myself as a self-employed house painter. These projections involve:
- having 5-star reviews
- being #1 in search results for my area on Houzz.com
- having a work truck
- having a logo on my truck
- having a unique business name
- being self-employed
- telling people I’ve worked in certain locations, done “X” project
These are the main projections of how I think I need to be perceived by others. These feel fake to me and after two years, have begun to wear me out.
Having a career always seemed foreign to me. It has been one of the biggest struggles in my life…this making a living or earning a living. Having a pension and benefits and all that, to me, showed the cruelty of how the world is set up. You either have or you don’t – it’s either do or die. But that’s another topic.
I want to learn more and be more of an extension of myself. An example of an extension as a painter is how I use my brushes and trowels. I don’t tell people or care if they see what brands I use – I don’t feel a need to project that. The brushes are directly related to the work, process, and results.
While I see these as an extension of myself, I am also aware that my interest in using them has faded. The enjoyment of looking back on a job well done is no longer important. (Some of that was dipped in projection, as well.) More precisely, I don’t care about what the homeowner wants – what they want is not my problem. I no longer am interested in solving their problems. The world is full of peoples problems to solve. Time to move on.
I like this thought of self-extension and self-projection. They are important identities and indicators of how we are being. What I don’t like is the life-long pattern I have put myself in. That is, I’d rather avoid the pain and discomfort from my projections in the first place. I need to learn how to be more of an extension of myself and live that way.