When one take under serious consideration the examination of the consequences of unresolved conflict is to enter into a seemingly bottomless dark pit one that had rarely been explored.
I will approach the subject by discussing the symptomatic psychological disorder called “projection.” My hope is to bring into the bright light this particular psychological ddefense and its influences on individual’s relationship.
Relationships are often much more complex than we think they are; especially intimate relationships which bring to the surface our unmet needs, anxieties, and unresolved conflicts with individuals from our past; parents, caretakers, friends, and, yes,former intimate relationships.
The relationship we share with our partners are influenced, to a great extent, by our own personal histories. In which case, we sometime react to our partners “as if” they were someone else, and this can cause conflicts in our relationships.
For example, In highly-charged intimate relationships we may expect love, nurturance, and validation for who we are.In intimate relationship we assume that it should provide a safe environment in which we are cherish by our partners by expressing our own unique qualities. Why is this simple expectation so difficult to achieve?
The reason may be how we perceive our partners are colored by how we learned to interact with other people in the past. This learning process begin in early childhood, as early as infancy. In fact, our earliest attachment to our mothers, fathers, caretakers, and another adult can influence how we interact with others for our entire lifetime.
For example, if our earliest experience taught us to have a healthy and positive trust in the world around us we are more likely to take a trusting attitude to other people throughout our lives. If a child was never shown love and trust during the early stage of life it would be a great challenge, as an adult, to learn how to experience love; this may also include loving ones self.
As we travel the path of individual development we are exposed to both positive and negative experiences. The positive experience may produce feelings of love, trust, and a secure self-image; including a positive way to define ourselves as we enter into adulthood. On the other hand, negative experiences produce feelings of conflicts and frustrations.
These negative experiences are an element of self-definition which is also a part of the individual’s personality. However, these negative emotions are incompatible with the positive emotions. Therefore, according to psycho-dynamic theory, the individual tends to project the negative feelings into another person.
For example, you accused your partner of being controlling when in fact you are the one who have the need to be in control. This mental process is called projection.
According to psycho-dynamic approach, projection is the unconscious mechanism where one’s own faults are seen in another person rather than in one’s own personality.
In other words, projection is the act of objectifying what is actually a subjective or internal experience. It is important to keep in mind that we have the tendency to project our own negative feelings into others. This mental process of projection is especially true in intimate relationships where significant personal energy is attached.
If, for instance, one partner have an issue with jealousy that individual may project these emotions into the other partner and accuse that individual of being jealous. If we are unable to correct the problem in ourselves, we may focus on the problem in the other person. The solution to the tendency project your emotion is to become aware of the process of projection and understand how it may affect you personally.
Often couples who are experiencing conflicts in their relationship projection could be the root-cause of their problem. For example, if we are living with our own unresolved conflicts and unable to make any advance in understanding them; we may be psychologically-motivated to look for the problem in the other person.
In fact, unconsciously, we may actually seek out partners who have the qualities that we find problematic within ourselves.
The dynamic involved goes like this, if we are unable or unwilling to assert ourselves we will get angry and frustrated with other people for taking advantage of us, yet we may select partners who do treat us in just that manner, partners who dominate and abuse us.
But our partners may not see themselves as domineering or abusive, however, because we need to work out our own problem with these issues we may unconsciously search for these qualities in the other person.
Psychologically, the partners are bound to each other by a mutual agreement an unconscious acceptance of each other. Sharing the same images and unconscious fantasies create as much an emotional need for mutual attraction and passionate attachment as it does for conflict within the relationship.
Therefore, the mutual unconscious agreement is at the core of the couple’s relationship may become an infrastructure for mutual resistance. These common unconscious biases are easily detectable through all quarrels and arguments. The latent conjunction and agreement between partners often becomes obvious only after an extended therapeutic intervention.
In the absence of therapeutic intervention the healthier option when projection is the cause of conflicts in relationship is to increase your awareness of your own internal conflicts, and how you may be projecting your unresolved conflicts into your partner.
When we become aware of the problem we can understand the many ways it may influence our behavior, awareness gives us some control over the problem. As a result, we can experiment with new ways to interact with other people, especially those we love.
Finally, it is important to understand that projections are not at the root of every problem that couples may experience. In the real world, sometimes the other person, does indeed, have a real problem that can lead to an abusive situation.
In such case, it is not advisable to focus solely on understanding the interactions as projection, but to see it for what it really is and take appropriate action to change the situation.