Breaking the Chains: Letting Go of Resentment and Taking Back Control
I’ve been writing about forgiveness recently, and there’s one glaring obstacle that stands in the way of that happening.
I interact with dozens of people each day and in recent days I’ve observed several incidences of people blatantly blaming others for their own shortcomings.
This is projection - the psychological defense mechanism where an individual attributes their own thoughts, feelings, and characteristics onto someone else. It's just a destructive attempt to conceal a person's own wounds, insecurities and hurts.
Instead of acknowledging and accepting their own feelings or behaviours, they unconsciously attribute them to their partner, friend, family member or workmate. As you would expect, this leads to misunderstandings, conflict, and barriers in effective communication within relationships.
Why do people do this? I can understand non-Christians not taking responsibility and letting their sinful natures determine their behaviour, but Christians?
It's obviously important to know your own heart because it comes up repeatedly in the Bible. We are asked to examine ourselves, to be introspective and practise self-reflection so that we gain truth and understanding.
The apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 13:5 (CSB), "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realise that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?"
Projection often stems from a lack of self-awareness and an unwillingness to confront our own wounds and insecurities. In Proverbs 4:23, we are reminded to guard our hearts, recognising that our emotions and thoughts shape our actions. By projecting our pain onto someone else, we ignore our responsibility to address the deeper issues within ourselves.
Projection acts to stop us experiencing true love and forgiveness which is why in Matthew 7:3-5, Jesus speaks about the importance of removing the log from our own eye before attempting to remove the speck from our brother's eye. Jesus wants us to self-reflect so that we can become more like him.
It's hard to be honest with ourselves but we need to start today. Ask yourself - am I being fair in my judgment here or am I projecting my own thoughts and feelings?
It all starts with examining ourselves. Paul reminds us to do that in the light of taking communion and he warns us that our healing (physical, mental and spiritual) depends on it.
28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. (1 Cor.11:28-30 NIV).