Other people can be seen as a screen for your own story
'That which you can not manage to have a relationship with inside yourself,
you need to have a relationship with on the outside '
There is an old wisdom from the American Indians that says that when you sit in a circle with other people, you should note what irritates you about the person sitting opposite you in the circle. That which irritates you represents something that you need to work on in yourself.
Seeing it in others first
It is often that we are unable to see in ourselves that which we need to develop to grow as people and get healthier, more fun and more intimate relationships. Rather we enlist the help of others by seeing it in them first. It seems that it is safer to place it in others than in myself.
It can be for example, that I get irritated about to my life companion's inability to manage time in a good way, my co-worker's difficulty in expressing his och her feelings in a clear way or my tennis partner's terse replies.
Everything that we see in others is obviously not something we need to work on in ourselves. However if there is a certain something about another person that raises a particularly strong signal in yourself, then it is worth asking yourself if this has anything to do with yourself.
Projections is the word
That which we are talking about here is known by the fancy word projections. Just like a movie projector, we are projecting a drama, a story on something else. Just like with a screen, it's not where the actual movie is, the actual movie is in the camera. Similarly the real story, the real drama, is not in the other person that you are projecting on, but in yourself.
A common form of projection is that we project our parents on our significant other or partner. If I had a mother who was overly caring and wanted to control everything I did so, chances are good that if I had not worked on developing my reaction to this, that I will see the same features in the woman I live with in adulthood.
Maybe I even look for an appropriate woman, an appropriate screen, for displaying my inner drama on.
Benefits and problems
The advantage of playing it on a screen is that everything becomes so much larger and clearer. What is inside myself can be hard to catch. Then it's great to have other people to project on. We can also call it to mirror yourself in others. I reflect myself onto other people through relationships and then the picture of myself becomes clearer.
Problems can occur if you are unable to "take home" your projection. Because you can never solve your own internal drama, your own story, simply by transferring it to others. The real change happens only when you are able to see it in yourself and act upon that.