About 20% of what we see or hear is what’s there. The other 80% is the mirror it bounces off, in our own minds. We see ourselves in everything, project ourselves onto everything.
Some people see this as a hurdle to overcome. The standard advice is to try to be more open, to project less, to assume less. That’s all valid in terms of understanding the message, and it’s good advice for what it is.
But you don’t necessarily have to ignore those internal signals. You can harvest them. I’m of the view that any natural byproduct of our brain’s functions should at least try to be recycled since it’s going to happen anyway.
When you take one of those ink-blot tests, the very point is to harvest your projected assumptions and biases. You’re trying to learn something about your own brain by evaluating what you think meaningless random blobs are. And in the same way that what you see in the clouds might reflect what you’re really ruminating on, it can give a lot of insight.
So use it! Someone says something, and you immediately assume a particular meaning. Catch yourself before you respond, yes. But don’t disregard your first instinct. Instead, examine it. Why did I react that way? What would someone else have thought? What is my brain trying to tell me about what I need?
The whole world is your Rorschach test. You might as well take it.