Community Stories

Matthew: Free from Projecting

Meditation and mindfulness, in general, have done more for me than I probably even realize right now. It’s like a superhero power awakened within me.

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What is freedom?  It’s a pretty large concept when you really stop and think about it. To me, freedom means the absence of oppressive forces. This, of course, implies the ability to behave as one truly desires, free of (often) negative or unfair consequence.


To me, freedom means the absence of oppressive forces.

what does ‘Freedom’ mean to you?

When I’ve been at my most depressed or anxious is when it seems I’m most certain of the delusional thoughts my anxious, mentally ill mind might be feeding me.

These thoughts are usually assumptions about others’ actions. I project my insecurities onto them by assuming their actions are like heat-seeking missiles, aimed directly at my deepest darkest insecurities.


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My mind tells me others are intending to harm me. I find myself misinterpreting or judging others’ behaviors and building scenarios in my head about why I shouldn’t like them before I even get to know them.


My mind tells me others are intending to harm me.


It’s a fact that as the brain practices certain patterns of thinking, it grows more accustomed to them and can perform the patterns or tasks more efficiently.

At a certain point, it may feel impossible to do anything outside of what you’ve always known.

If I’m constantly beating myself up over petty issues in daily life and I’m quick to tell myself that I know what ‘type of person’ whoever I’m talking to might be or if I’m constantly ruminating on the past, worrying about the future, and projecting my fears onto others and closing off the potential of any real relationship, these patterns become second nature.

In the past, I struggled with these patterns and ways of thinking a lot. I thought I was so smart and that I understood people so well. Little did I know, I was mostly projecting my fears onto the people around me and living life with my guard up.


I was projecting my fears onto the people around me and living with my guard up.


Needless to say, I had a hard time really letting others in. I’d be able to fake it decently enough to get by, but I always knew there was something not quite right.

It took several conversations with my therapist to even begin to understand it. She’d question me, asking if someone really didn’t like me, or if it was possible they were just intimidated by me. I hadn’t considered that could be the case before. I never thought my actions or pre-judgements may be intimidating or repelling to others.


I never thought my actions or pre-judgements may be intimidating to others.


I remember describing people and events to her. Even while I was describing them to her, I knew I was unfairly attributing evil motives and projecting personal insecurities. I couldn’t, however, understand why.

The difference between how I knew I should feel, but the inexplicable harsh reality of how I actually felt plagued me.

I think what finally got me over the summit in this particular battle was adopting mindfulness and meditation. These two things worked as a way to quell my anxiety and help me see through my projections and judgements.


What finally got me over the summit of this battle was adopting mindfulness and meditation.


Changing my patterns took time and work. This included conversations and homework with my therapist and opening myself up to guidance from trusted friends. Once the changes clicked, though, I was almost mad at myself for not figuring it out sooner.

Through it all, I am finally beginning to fully understand my personal circumstances, strengths, and weaknesses.  And I’m trying like hell to learn how to behave accordingly and make minor adjustments when necessary without being too hard on myself.


I am finally beginning to fully understand my personal circumstances, strengths, and weaknesses.


At the end of the day, meditation and mindfulness, in general, have done more for me than I probably even realize right now. It’s like a superhero power awakened within me. Despite the hard journey to getting here, I can now catch myself before reacting irrationally and behave more level-headed. I am able to judge less, stay present, and enjoy the moment.


I am able to judge less, stay present, and enjoy the moment.


Share your story

Born and raised in southern California, Matt Olesh is a craft beer pro turned mental health warrior and prospective psychology grad student.  While planning to open his own business in 2016, the depression, anxiety, and suicidal thinking he'd struggled with most of his life reared its ugly head. Now, he's eager to share the details of his struggle and insights he's picked up throughout his time in inpatient care, single and group therapy sessions, reading, classes, and a whole bunch of mindfulness in the hopes ending the stigma surrounding mental health and making the world a better place. When he's not slinging beers to pay the bills, you can find him soaking in the lovely San Diego sun, tending to his garden or bottling some kombucha!

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