I am with a man and a woman. They are cooking something in a frying pan. I don’t like them because I don’t like the way they make me feel. Although they don’t say anything to me they seem mean and I can tell that they don’t think very highly of me. They think I’m a bad cook. Now they leave and I want to try some of what they have cooked. It looks and smells delicious. I take a little taste of it and I want more. I go to pick up another piece of the food and I realize that it’s chicken. Oh no! I recently stopped eating meat. I can’t have this but I already had a piece. I feel confused. I put the piece of chicken down even though I want to eat it.
The first part of this dream is all about projection. In college I minored in psychology, but somehow I must have been sleeping in class when they taught us what projection was. In my first dreamwork session, Rodger said that I was projecting onto the man in the dream. I had no idea what he was talking about. Although I still don’t completely understand what projection is, it is starting to make more sense.
The word projection is related to the latin projectum – something thrown forth.
In a way, psychological projection is also about “something thrown forth.” We “throw forth” onto others, issues that we need to address, feelings that we need to feel. We push shame, hurt, and anger underneath, to a point where we don’t even know they exist. But they are still there. Sometimes they “project” out of us onto others. It’s like they have a mind of their own and they just pop out of us. Perhaps it’s because they have an energy to them that can’t stay totally buried.
It’s hard for us to see projection in ourselves. It can be seen much more easily in others. Think about people you know. Do you know people who tend to be jealous and you hear them speak of others’ jealousy, greedy people who point out others’ greed, boastful people who notice that others boast a lot? Once you start noticing, you see it everywhere. But what you don’t want to do is to point it out to them! Unless they are in the process of looking at this in themselves, they will flatly deny it, probably projecting some aspect of themselves on to you!
Seeing projection in ourselves is hard but we can get help from our dreams. If we are ready to listen, they offer us a chance to see where we project. This dream is a good example. The dream starts out with a man and a woman cooking. I project feelings related to me onto them. There is nothing in the dream that indicates that they don’t like me or that they are mean. These are feelings that I am “throwing forth” onto them. Maybe there is a place in me that feels “unlikable” and that assumes that others are “mean.” Or could it be that there is part of me that is mean!? That is a hard one to take. I think of myself as a “nice” person. I would never be mean. But I do know that I have a mean streak inside of me. I once was a “mean” big sister. Although I don’t usually act on them, mean thoughts do pop into my mind at times. I hate to admit that. I hate to think of myself that way. The dream is brutally honest. It helps me see where and what I project.
The man and woman leave and I taste the food. They are there as the anima and animus wanting to nourish me. I taste the chicken and I like it. But then I get confused. Recently I stopped eating meat (this lasted about a month) and so I am in this push – pull place. I want to but I don’t. Being picky about what they serve keeps me in control and keeps me apart from them. I don’t know what I want. I eat it and I like it but then my head gets in the way, keeping me in this place of limbo.
This dream is showing me what is keeping me apart from the anima and animus. I push them away by projecting onto them, undesirable feelings about myself. I also stay confused as I struggle to stay in control, trying to decide whether to accept the nourishment they have to offer.