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Has anyone here come to realize the moments when you are projecting in a relationship? By Projection, I mean the behavior where you do not accept your own thoughts, motivations, desires, and feelings as your own. These "unwanted" feelings or thoughts are dealt with by being projected / placed outside of yourself or attributed to someone else...

I've noticed (as a chronically depressed, anxious, highly-sensitive person) that I have a habit of often projecting, and misinterpreting other's behavior as critical, unloving, uncaring, angry and disapproving...when in fact, these are the constant ruminations that I have about MYSELF. This is simply how my brain operates in the world. I'm VERY critical of myself (I often see myself as unlovable, unworthy, lazy, too emotional, disorganized, I never do anything right)... Ex: Someone communicates a neutral statement to me, but I over analyze and read into it emotionally, and start feeling and questioning that the person is angry with me or disapproves of me.

Anyone experience this? How do you de-program your automatic projections?

 

Edited by Blahblah
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Yes, I do this a lot. My tdoc thinks my paranoia is partly driven by projected guilt. I dislike myself and feel worthy of punishment, so I believe other people dislike me and are out to punish me somehow. I don't know how to stop doing it, though. Or even why I have so much negativity towards myself.

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I dislike myself, so I don't want anyone else to like me.  I don't love myself, so I don't want anyone else to love me.  If I have a "positive" conversation with someone, I replay it over and over, till it's negative.  If I have a negative conversation with someone.  Game on, I got what I want, i can be assured of no friendship.  

I'm not purposely mean to anyone except myself.  But I will never let anyone get close.  If I get the feeling that they might be, I will push them away.  Or I will just run and cease contact. 

I have enough voices in my head to keep me company as it is.  I've had entire relationships with people, just in my head.  It clearly isn't a good place to be, but it beats trying to explain myself to someone.  This especially happens with women, who, if I functioned properly, would like to get to know.  But I don't, and I don't want to be responsible for ruining anyone else's life.  So, I just keep it in my head.

I was born with poor mental genetics, physically I was gifted, but that's all gone now.  I think it's best to die without spreading my diseased seed. 

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I do this a lot. Part of it is my depressive make up but part of it comes from my childhood.  My relationship with my mother was kind of mixed up. I felt responsible for her anxiety and she wasnt able to help me be strong and stand up for myself. I felt really alone and scared and wanted people yo like me so much that I would tolerate anythingthey threw my way.  Kids sense that right away and I was often a victim of teasing and I was so emotionally vulnerable that it felt like I was just going to die when it happened.  And now, if  I am not doing well I am certain that people hate me and I can interpret  just about any interaction (or lack of interaction) as negative.  And then anxiety jumps right in with all the negative messages.  ???

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I agree. We often automatically interpret neutral interactions as negative (and then ruminate and obsess about it intensely afterwards so that we are exhausted). I try to bring an awareness to these "negative interpretations" and then use CBT or thinking/writing out into "counter statements" but WHY does this NOT work for me? This pattern is so ingrained in my psyche, that no kind of rationalising (or talking back to these thoughts/feelings) makes me FEEL any different! Cue the neurotic pattern...

Has anyone had any success with shifting these negative projections? Because i can easily identify that I do it - I'm probably "catastrophising" a situation or "generalizing", and "future predicting" then I try say all the right "positive" rational things to myself, but these just feel like EMPTY words, I'm not convinced, i do not believe them. Positive rational self-talk, saying these things to myself (or even having a Therapist say them to me) does not make me feel any better!

This leads to another question: Is it your THOUGHTS that always lead to your FEELINGS? I feel like it's the opposite for me:  I get overwhelmed with intense Feelings (first) and then afterwards, come all of the attached Thoughts... (my emotions and feelings in my body are almost always triggered first, perhaps due to a forgotten, primal trauma in early childhood?)

Edited by Blahblah
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DBT poses a world in which thoughts, feelings, and behavior (their addition to the concept) all interact.  One doesn't inherently cause one other (i.e. it's not always that thinking leads to feeling, which is the premise of CBT).  Rather, all three are interrelated.  that approach always made more sense to me.

Per my therapist, the more you correct your thoughts, the easier it becomes for your brain to travel down those pathways in the future.  that means that catching them and identifying them is the important first step.  Doing it repeatedly will create new neural pathways/networks that will start to lead you away from having them to begin with.

It's definitely not for everyone.  I honestly didn't think it would be for me, but then I did cognitive processing therapy (CPT - like CBT for PTSD) and found that I liked the approach.  I'm not sure about straight CBT, but I do know that my therapist does a flavor of it.

Are your intense emotional feelings emotional flashbacks?  That could also explain why they take over so easily.

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3 hours ago, Blahblah said:

Has anyone had any success with shifting these negative projections

I'm not having any success right now but I have had in the past. My therapist can almost always bring me out of it with EMDR so I know it's possible. 

 

16 minutes ago, dancesintherain said:

Doing it repeatedly will create new neural pathways/networks

Brain research supports this.

17 minutes ago, dancesintherain said:

Are your intense emotional feelings emotional flashbacks?  That could also explain why they take over so easily.

This is true for me. I regress very quickly and feel like an abandoned baby which crwates panic and anxiety. That's a hard place to get out of! 

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I do this often, unfortunately. 

However, I recently found an app called "woebot" and it's proving easy and very beneficial.

Pretty much practicing CBT with a robot, teaching examples of mind distortions at play in each circumstance.

I highly recommend. 

Edited by DammitJanet
cause, words.
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21 hours ago, amskray said:

This is true for me. I regress very quickly and feel like an abandoned baby which creates panic and anxiety. That's a hard place to get out of! 

Thanks @dancesintherain The CPT sounds interesting. Never done EDMR.  It seems with that, you need to be able to pinpoint the specific trauma in order to talk about and process it? I've worked through a specific past trauma, but I can't pinpoint others from early childhood (pre-age 15) or anything "abnormal" about my childhood or parental relationship. I've always been hypersensitive and melancholic with anxiety (I don't know if there is a diagnosis for this other than depression?)

I very much relate @amskray to the childlike regression. It's very distressing. I would also describe it as a sort of helpless, abandoned baby-type feeling. NO idea where it comes from - it's automatic, no visual flashbacks/thoughts really, just intense traumatic emotions that overtake me. There is no rationalising I can do, all i can do is cry uncontrollably into a pillow shaking, until the "episode" stops (usually within 1-2 hours). I try to use DBT skills, but often they are not enough bc this "regression" keeps happening! Is this some sort of complex-PTSD?

I mean, what can you do if you have some far back trauma that you don't even remember? These "episodes" have always been part of me.... I'm quite afraid to get into hypnosis as I don't want people messing with my subconscious mind...I hear stories about people dissociating and having "fake memories" implanting themselves when people do hypnosis. I don't want this to become worse.

Edited by Blahblah

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Yes, that is what an emotional flashback is, it is when you get drowned in emotions from the past trauma. These types of flashbacks are very common in complex PTSD and it doesn't matter if you remember the trauma itself or not, it still happens. That is just another way you remember, there are several besides retaining physical and visual memory. 

How you deal with them depends on various factors, I won't bother going into them because you have to be in tune with your survival mode etc first, which takes a lot of time and skill. 

I will say that doing more research on it will likely be able to give you some insight. 

Edited by Hopelessly Broken
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22 minutes ago, Hopelessly Broken said:

Yes, that is what an emotional flashback is, it is when you get drowned in emotions from the past trauma. These types of flashbacks are very common in complex PTSD and it doesn't matter if you remember the trauma itself or not, it still happens. 

How you deal with them depends on various factors, I won't bother going into them because you have to be in tune with your survival mode etc first, which takes a lot of time and skill. 

I will say that doing more research on it will likely be able to give you some insight. 

Thank you for your input, HB. I have always been treated for depression, mainly. None of my therapists or pdocs can figure out how to treat this symptom (emotional flashbacks) because I am not consciously aware of the trauma that it comes from. I feel like it is indeed a sort of mode... part of my personality, or way of being in the world. It is something very primal and I feel very sad and vulnerable with this - like these flashback episodes are something very deep, complex and scary. 

I don't know if they will ever resolve? I worry that my ego will become fragmented if I try to "open up the box" again... It's important to have a strong, well-integrated ego in order to interact and function daily with others in the world (your "barrier" or "mask" if you will) I do not want that to be destroyed or feel more crazy than I already do :-( .

I will try to research this more, if anyone here has any websites or books they recommend? I think I'd like to find a therapist that is savvy in this area....but would I need to specifically look for a trauma therapist? I have been stable for the last year, but I know this kind of work is extremely de-stablizing and exhausting.

Edited by Blahblah
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Book wise, Peter Walker's book Surviving To Thriving is probably the best, and he has a website. He is both a trauma therapist and a complex trauma survivor himself, so you get the level of understanding and personal insight you can't get from a therapist with no lived experience. 

There is also a website for complex trauma survivors, it is called Out Of The Storm, just Google it. Unfortunately there isn't much info or resources about complex PTSD yet, so a lot you have to find by reflecting on yourself and information from other survivors. 

I have the same issue, always been treated for double depression but nothing has changed, and it is very difficult to treat me in a way that benefits me at all. But if the option is available to you, yes, go with a trauma therapist because there is more chance they have actual experience with that. 

Don't want to hijack your thread, so I'll be quiet, mostly because my depression is part of my complex PTSD and my personality has been/is fragmented by my trauma, and I don't have a strong ego either, never have, and yes it does impact those things, so I don't want to scare you. My symptoms are very disturbing to most people. 

Edited by Hopelessly Broken

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I also get the emotional flashbacks. Early in therapy my tdoc would ask what I was thinking and I would truthfully say "my mind is completely blank". I'd have overwhelming emotions with no thoughts at all - like I couldn't even access the thinking part of my brain.

Recently I did find out where some of them come from, as it came up unexpectedly in therapy (which did destabilize me for a little while, and then I sort of moved on ... not sure if I actually processed it or not). I remembered some things and also found out some stuff from my mom that I didn't (and still don't) remember.

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I don't want this to scare anyone or diminish anyone's legitimate experience  but I  am one of those people who was caught up in the wave of  sexual abuse repressed memories  in the 1980's. I had two harmful therapist experiences where it was assumed by the therapists that I had been sexually abused. Fast forward to maany years later and several legitimate therapy experiences and I 've come to accept that what went on in my formative years was not abuse (and definitely not sexual in nature) but rather a situation where I was expected to parent my mother.

I was a depressed child. I think I developed the depression as a coping mechanism but there is definitely a genetic component.  Mental illness and addiction run rampant on both sides of my family.

Anyway,  the trauma in my childhood was not really "hidden" but it took me a long time and many detours to understand what happened.  I am still discovering new aspects.  And I  suppose that there could be some sort of buried trauma but I really don't think so. What went on with me doesn't seem that "bad" and maybe someone who was not prone to depression might not have  been affected as extremely as I was. But it was enough to cause me MAJOR problems.

Edited by amskray
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