Through projection, the unconscious mind expels both positive and negative traits, attributing them to other people, whereby they can become conscious. Because by definition the unconscious is hidden, like the dark side of the moon, we need to discover indirect ways to catch glimpses of it. And projection is a primary way of doing so.
Projection is like shooting an invisible arrow. Each of us carries a kind of archer's quiver strapped onto our backs. Every so often an arrow shoots out unpredictably, and we say something nasty or we fall in love. When we turn around to find out where the arrow came from, the quiver moves out of sight.If the receiver has a soft spot to receive the projection, it sticks. For instance, if we project our anger onto a dissatisfied mate or our seductive charms onto a good- looking stranger, then we hit the target and the projection holds. From then on the sender and receiver are linked in a mysterious alliance, which could feel like erotic passion, intense disgust, or unbearable envy.
When we were very young, we had a 360-degree personality, which radiated energy from all directions. But the adults around us could not tolerate this much exuberance. So, in their own discomfort, they unintentionally but inevitably betrayed us by shaming and humiliating us for certain feelings, such as vulnerability, or behaviors, such as competition, which we then learned to hide. Our teachers may have scolded us for other behaviors, such as daydreaming, or our priests may have imposed terrible guilt for our sexual feelings. These denied, disowned parts of our souls --anger or depression, jealousy or resentment, intellectuality or sensuality, athletic or artistic ability -- get exiled into the dark. As a result, the full circle of energy that was our birthright is sliced away piece by piece, leaving only a thin, proper facade to greet the world. When we begin dating, as a natural part of development the shadow goes in search of its lost traits in others in an effort to recover the full range of our personality -- the gold in the dark side.