Have you ever met someone who automatically assumed everyone else in the world was ‘up to something?’
Chances are, you met a bad person, or an evil person. These types of people aren’t necessarily “broken,” but their self-image certainly is.
The way we treat ourselves is also the way in which we treat everyone else.” -Miguel Ruiz
Sure, they walk around, judging everyone else, but what’s really going on is projection. They’re projecting something about themselves or their self-image. In other words, they see others as if they were looking into a mirror. They notice things in other people that are actually in themselves. They attribute their strengths or weaknesses to others.
Projection is a subconscious defense mechanism which appears in several personality disorders, such as narcissism. It consists of seeing in others precisely what we don’t want to admit about ourselves.
When a narcissist, for example, sees someone who is in a failing relationship (meanwhile they themselves are heading for divorce) they might poke fun at the person and try to make them feel like an inadequate person.
It’s all a ploy to make the narcissist feel better, but deep down they are projecting their own failures and insecurities onto someone else. Who knows? Maybe the other person is happy to end their relationship- maybe it ended on good terms. But to the evil person, it’s always going to be about them, not you.
Defense mechanisms are mostly subconscious strategies. Their purpose is to protect the conscience from thoughts or emotions deemed unpleasant or unbearable.
We do have a choice whether or not we will employ these defense mechanisms, we just have to be willing to look beyond the veil and search inward. That soul-searching, that “is it me that is the problem” type of questioning doesn’t come easy to evil people. In fact, most of them will never once ask themselves if they are the ones causing the issues in their lives.
So, if you happen to ask yourself if there is something wrong you might be doing, or if your words were too harsh the other day, you have nothing to worry about. your compassion and empathy exist, and the world needs more of that.