When a movie projector passes light through a film, the light takes on the shapes and colors of the characters depicted on that film. The resulting movie projected on the screen may look so realistic that we get entirely caught up in its drama – and forget we are in a theater. But we don’t have to go to the cinema to experience this effect!

Much of daily life is based on a similar process, where we act like a projector, shaping, altering, and coloring what we think we see in others. Our minds are like film, having stored the many characters, dialogues, events, and dramas from our past. These images have become our “inner movies.”

We often see our inner movies in place of what is really happening in the outside world. These movies color how we see a partner, and these movies shape our emotional reactions. Our movies appear so realistic that we get caught up in them, forgetting any positive options we might have.

The card PROJECTION reminds us that we tend to project old movies onto our relationships, especially if we are stressed or upset. The themes of our inner movies are just like those at the cinema: power struggle, betrayal, abandonment, fear, shame, unworthiness, entrapment, and escape. This card puts you on notice to be alert whenever you feel such emotional themes arising within you. It’s possible that you are living out a past drama and limiting your present options.

Remember that in projecting, you are just “spinning your reels.” You confuse an inner movie with reality by believing that it’s real. If you have an upset feeling, a negative thought or expectation, you tend to believe that it is true. You don’t see that a residue from your past may have been stirred up. You then start responding to your inner movies rather than to what is actually happening in the world. In response, the world starts acting more like your movie – and you lose access to many sources of fulfillment!

Whenever you even suspect that you may be projecting a movie onto your relationship, this card suggests pressing the “pause button.” Ask yourself, “How am I involved in creating my experience of this situation?” Then ask, “What from my past does this situation resemble? How is my past involved in how I think or feel – or in what I expect to happen?”

This card asks you to learn to tell the difference between what is happening around you right now and what you are projecting from your past. By distinguishing the past from the present – movies from reality – you remain open to positive options. When you recognize that an old movie is influencing you, resist the urge to see it to the end; you already know how it will turn out. Admit that you may be mistaken in how you see things around you. Then explore all the positive choices you might have. Even the act of naming old movies with a partner can help the two of you to better understand each other and develop new options.

By asking how you are involved in creating situations and your experiences of them, you empower yourself to find the positive options that are available – and put a stop to a lot of needless suffering. Ultimately, you may decide that some movies have had their final run!