Perception and Projection – What’s Inside You?

Perception is Projection
Do you see the proverbial glass as being half empty or half full when faced with judging a troubling situation or person? Some psychologists believe that your take may actually have less to do with the actual circumstances and more to do with your own internal world.  

Making One’s Internal World External

This concept, called “Perception is Projection,” suggests that people project their own deeply-held values, feelings, thoughts, beliefs and past experiences onto the external world, thus coloring their view of a situation, issue or person. Often when we make this type of judgment about something or someone, the assessment actually serves as a mirror to reflect our internal landscape instead of the situation or person that we believe we are judging.

This approach can have far-reaching implications since we often see what we expect to see when we scrutinize a person or situation; thus, that perception can become our reality. For instance, if we don’t believe in the power of the medical profession or a specific doctor, we might not believe in and thus become invested in a prescribed treatment. Dr. Matt James notes that studies have shown that one’s perception in these cases can have an effect on the efficacy of the prescribed treatment in successfully dealing with a health issue.

Learning to Widen Our Perspective

“Perception is projection” isn’t an absolute tenet; instead, it falls along a spectrum based on the situation that is happening. Still, coming to the realization that one is actively projecting a perception on a situation or person can open an important window, allowing for the recalibration of one’s internal landscape. Linda Cattelan, a certified trainer and master practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming, suggests taking five steps to refine one’s perception:

– Evaluate what current perspective you’re bringing to a specific situation.

– Consider other perspectives that may be possible in that situation.

– Identify the perspective that offers the highest potential for an optimal outcome to emerge.

– Using the perspective with the highest potential as a framework, identify specific actions that can be taken in the situation.

– Start taking positive actions.

Additionally, Dr. James recommends trying to see daily issues and situations from different perspectives. He also encourages individuals to mindfully focus on one thing at a time and consider underlying beliefs or thoughts that might influence one’s perception.

Written by Dorian Martin for Jennyoga

Assignment Editor,  Jennifer Buergermeister

Primary Sources for This Post:

Cattelan, L. (2011). Perception is Projection. The Mindful Network.

Gatehouse, J. (2011). Perception is Projection – Who Creates Your World. Gatehouse Thirteen.

James, M. (2012). Five Basic Assumptions: Perception is Projection. Empowerment with Dr. Matt.