The Vicious Cycle of Projecting, Personalizing and Internalizing

Are you someone who personalizes everything? If so, you probably can probably attest to how much head and heart ache this causes you. As someone that does this constantly I have worked hard to overcome this challenge. The stronger I am at fighting off the personalizations the less affected I am by another person’s words, feels and actions. 

Now that I am aware I do this constantly I am more equipped to stop taking things personal. This can be really tough when you are dealing with conflict, especially when it is someone close to you. I have found it is sometimes easier to practice your coping skills on people you don’t know. Like for example, when you go to a store and are treated poorly by a sales clerk. When this happens to me I would instantly let it affect me. I usually would be rude right back and then let it bother me for the rest of the day. Now matter how happy I was prior to meeting that person it would kill my mood.

Now I try hard to kill them with kindness. Not only does it help with my mood but who knows it might have made them perk up or at the very least bug the heck out of them! 🙂

For me, I have learned when I give back to them what was given to me it changes my mood and I struggle with letting it go. When I don’t personalize someones bad mood and say to myself that is their behavior, it really helps to put up this barrier between me and their negativity.  

This example is kind of like taking baby steps. The more you practice this, the better you will get. Before you know it you will be able to take even bigger steps. When you encounter someone like this, think of a metaphorical stop sign and put it up right away. 

In therapy I have questioned why I personalize things in the degree I do. Personally I believe it started with the sexual abuse. At a very early age I tried to cope and rationalize the bad things that were happening to me. I couldn’t come up with a logical explanation why something bad would happen to me, so I therefor concluded it was my fault. As a child I wasn’t aware that sometimes bad things happen to good people, for no apparent reason. When you are a child you view things with a pure filter. You don’t realize that there are real monsters out in this world. What is even more damaging is that you don’t realize that the ones who are suppose to protect and love you, sometimes are the ones who are the monsters. 

As you grow older you carry that into your adulthood. Personalizing becomes apart of your belief system. These monsters do a great job of masking their hurt. They project their bad deeds onto their victim. They give portray this false image of being the good guy to the rest of the world. When that is all you know and are surrounded by it is very easy to believe that is all that is out there in the world. Everything is turned upside down. 

When personalizing turns into internalization, the stronger the hold it has on you. Even when you meet a nice person (especially if they try to help you) in the world if you believe you are a bad person, you most likely will feel you don’t deserve it and run away. 

You can run and even hide but it will always find you. 

You start to believe that the world is out to get you. You question why someone is being nice to someone is bad. You second guess their motives and think they will eventually hurt you. I think for me I used it as a way to protect myself. Those who deeply hurt me weren’t always mean to me, usually at first they were very nice. So how could I trust anyone that was nice to me? How could I know they wouldn’t cut me to the core? 

I have started to learn that I am no longer that boy. I am no longer stuck in that bad situation. I am now an adult and can save myself. All those years I dreamed of someone coming to rescue us but no one ever came. Most of my adult life I still have waited. 

I am not weak. I am strong. 

When someone hurts me, it will not kill me. Most of the time their actions have nothing to do with me. Rather than look inward, I look at the person. I am working on taking that mirror and turn it back at them. I won’t allow their issue to absorb me and take me over. 

Often times it really is the whole scenario of it’s not you, it’s me… Especially if you know you haven’t done anything wrong. When someone says or does something to you, usually it has nothing to do with you. Stop the projection right in it’s track, by doing so you will stop the personalization and ultimately the internalization.

Whether that interaction is big or small, it still is the same… If you could look into the person’s world you would see all their issues pilled up in their mailbox. This is especially tough to do when the person adamantly try’s to pass their issues off onto you but you have the power to send their issue back, return to sender. 

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3 thoughts on “The Vicious Cycle of Projecting, Personalizing and Internalizing

  1. I too still struggle with personalization, still struggle with trust, to the point where the only people I’ve really spent my time and energy on in the past year have been only those that have never hurt or let me down, who love me for who I am – my parents and my two daughters. My dad is my stepdad but to me he is my real dad. I haven’t had anything to do with my biological father for 21 years. He’s never met my younger daughter who is now 19 years old, and will never deserve to. I’ve had therapy too, but find it hard to deal with the strength of emotions the memories bring. So, at nearly 45, I’m still struggling. But I’m getting somewhere. I hope you do too x

  2. I wish I knew how to seperate other peoples words and actions from my view of self. I get so lost in these moments I’m not even aware enough to think about it anymore or have control over it. And it follows me for weeks, months… years. 😦

    • I’m so sorry that I’m just now responding. I just started to blog again. It’s a very tough battle. I’m constantly reminding myself to not engage with others who say and/or do hurtful things. I honestly think it just takes time and practice. If you say things like “that’s them, not me” or “it has nothing to do with me” over and over, eventually it will sink in… Again I’m still practicing this as even recently I found myself feeling less because of others. You’re not alone. Thanks for writing. Huggs

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