Projector: Are you struggling to make friends?

How to make and maintain nurturing friendships as a Human Design Projector

Once upon a time I really struggled to make friends. I did all the things I was taught. I tried everything I could think of. For most of my life, from as early as I could remember until I was nearly 30 years old, I genuinely thought there was something wrong with me.

Little did I realise that as Projector I was doing everything backwards.

Rewind with me and see if you can recognise yourself in this story. Let’s look together and understand what caused this problem in the first place before we look at some practical suggestions that Human Design can teach us about our Projector selves.

I was a young Projector child growing up in a family of Generators, surrounded by school children and teachers, the majority of whom were also Generators. I was being conditioned or imprinted to think and behave like those around me. I was being imprinted to respond to life and operate as one of the group. This imprinting was subtle, discreet and yet pervasive as air; I breathed it into my being without even realising.

If you’re a Projector, you did too.

I was also, like all other children around me, being taught how to do life, work and relationships the way that our past leaders — the Manifestors — naturally did it. They are energetically designed to initiate everywhere they go, and as the leaders of our societies for many thousands of years, their teachings were embedded deeply into our very core for generation after generation. While the role of leading has shifted to another group of humans now (more on that later), the teachings of the Manifestor still very much exist in our day-to-day lives. It’s in our media, our schooling and even our business messaging. If you find yourself thinking I should “just do it”, you know you’re hearing the imprint of many a Manifestor who came before you (and not just a well-known, motivational marketing slogan).

Like many Projectors, I was not raised according to my Human Design Type. Of course, how could I have been? The Human Design system didn’t pop up on Earth until January 1987; I was already in my second year of school by then. So while Ra Uru Hu was receiving this massively useful, huge chunk of information in Spain, I was on the other side of the world wondering why I couldn’t make friends. It took another 27 years before that wisdom found me. It was a long 27 years.

Like any clever, determined kid I could have received credit for trying because I tried everything!

I tried being ridiculously helpful.

I tried pretending to be cool (I really wasn’t).

I tried showing off how much I knew.

I tried giving other people a lot of attention.

I tried lots of different ways to get attention.

I tried being mean and nasty back when kids would tease me.

I tried smoking and drinking and recreational drugs in an attempt to fit in.

I even gave up crying whenever the pain was too much. I grew a “thick skin” and pretended nothing could hurt me.

None of it was me and none of it worked. I was still lonely and alone so very often.

It is true that I had friends from time to time. I had friends who were also somewhat socially dysfunctional. I hung out with the academically clever kids who tolerated me well. I learned how to give people what they wanted so they would like me. All the while there was a lack of deep, nurturing, fulfilling friendships.

I was just playing the role others expected me to play.

I thought when I left school it would get easier, but at university and at the many jobs I had after that I still struggled to connect with people. I was one of the least cool people I knew. I wouldn’t get invited to things and often the only way I’d make new connections or meet people I called “friends” (but in hindsight really weren’t) was to turn up in places where there were groups of people where including everyone was their standard mode of operation.

I travelled extensively in my 20’s and early 30’s. I used each new location I lived or worked in as a new way to get to know myself. And I certainly learned things along the way. But one of the biggest lessons I learned was that we always take ourselves with us; we can’t run away from our problems, because we are the source (and as it turns out the solution) to all our problems.

Thankfully, even before I met Human Design, I had a rather large breakthrough that started to change the trajectory of my life.

I was 28 and I was about to leave the Summer Camp I had been working at in Maine, in the North East of the U.S.A. I had been looking forward to this experience of being in a new country, working in the outdoors, teaching and playing with children and connecting with other like-minded people. It was something of a beautiful living hell; I was in a gorgeous location surrounded by children playing every day and while some people were lovely, I felt misunderstood and lonely multiple times every single day. It was probably the hardest single five weeks of my adult life to date. Why do I think this happened?

I had initiated being there and that set off a row of dominoes that lead to one difficulty after another.

I wasn’t recognised, despite my extensive experience and training in outdoor leadership. I wasn’t appreciated, despite everything I was doing to help, support and guide others. And I definitely wasn’t fitting in.

When I was given the option to exit my contract early, I took it and looked forward to the freedom and autonomy I knew I had ahead of me with 10 whole weeks to travel across the continent. On my last day in camp, I passed through the staff room where there was a tiny library of books. One of them jumped out at me that I had seen once before as a teenager and dismissed. It was called, “How to win friends and influence people” by Dale Carnegie.

While this is a far cry from a Human Design informed book on friendships and it’s not a book I would choose to read today, it was helpful at the time. But even more than that, my picking up this book and reading it as I crossed the U.S.A. signified something important; I was willing to learn something new and try something different.

I was finally sick of my problem and willing to make a change.

In hindsight, I realise this was a turning point. It was the start of my willingness to open my eyes to the world of personal development and entrepreneurship. These led me to coaching, which in turn led me to Human Design as it was one of my own clients — an intuitive bodyworker — who first told me about this system and encouraged me to get my own chart.

If you’ve been aware of Human Design for any length of time you probably don’t need me to tell you how utterly life-changing this tool can be.

Yet, on that day in March back in 2014 I really didn’t get the significance of what I was looking at. I could see I was a “Projector” and that I was supposed to “wait for the invitation” but the whole thing looked so freakin’ weird and complicated that I nearly dismissed it on the spot.

Yet, from the moment I saw it, it just wouldn’t leave me alone. And I’ve spent the last 7+ years learning ever deeper layers of my own design as well as the designs of every family member I have, client I’ve served and friend I’ve made. While it was definitely a process, I now have friends who adore me, relationships that nourish me and I get as much alone time as I want to recuperate from my time with other humans.

And it took time. It took time to understand what the heck it means to be a Projector and just how gobsmackingly different we are from all the other Types. It took time to learn how to operate correctly as a Projector, and as myself, in all relationships, including friendships. It took time to really get what it means to ‘wait for the invitation’ and to learn what it feels like to be truly recognised and valued, and heck, what it feels like to be wanted!

Apart from the practical things about what to do and not do as a Projector, I also had to reconsider some of the things I believed.

I had to shift what I believed about my worth as a friend.

I had to shift what I thought friendships had to look like.

I had to shift what I thought it meant to be a ‘good friend’.

All of this was a process, and if you’re willing to give it a bit of time and a bit of practise and keep course-correcting as you step forward with your eyes wide open, I’m confident that you can shift your life to one with more nurturing friendships too.

So let’s look now at some of those practical things that I’ve learned over the last 7+ years of studying, applying and tweaking, so you can walk away with some things to try out for yourself.

Do’s and Don’ts for a Projector who wants more wonderful friendships or close friends

DO:

  1. Know that every Projector has a posse of people on the planet who will love and adore you.

Waiting for the really good feeling invitations — that come with recognition of your awesome self — is what will tell you exactly who those people are. Invitations with recognition are like a huge, flashing, bright yellow arrow pointing directly to someone who is one of your people.

If they’re one of your people you can’t really get it wrong; be yourself and they’ll love you for it. If they’re not one of your people (i.e. if there’s no obvious invitation or recognition or genuine interest in you as a person) then no matter what you do you’ll never have a good friendship or relationship with them. They’re just not one of your people, let them go.

2. Actively practise waiting for someone to ask you about you whenever you’re in a group or even one to one with people in any kind of social context.

If they ask you about you, say a little bit, then see if they seem interested and want more. If they’re interested, they’ll ask you questions and they’ll be deeply engaged in the conversation as if you’re the most fascinating creature ever. That’s what you’re looking for. That’s when you know you’ve found a potential friend (or business partner, or lover, or human who wants to hang out with you). If they don’t seem interested, stop talking; it’s not worth wasting your breath if they aren’t really listening. And if they don’t ask you about you at all, don’t bother sharing any of your precious self; they’re not one of your people. Move on.

3. Spend time doing things you enjoy.

From going to a yoga class to singing in a choir, or learning how to paint, or taking a live training to learn how to code, it doesn’t matter what the thing is, notice what you would love to do and go do it. Doing something you love that you are naturally inspired to do doesn’t require you to have an invite.

Sometimes invites will come for these kinds of opportunities and that’s great. But if you feel moved to do something that you believe will bring you joy or excitement or aliveness then go pursue that activity. There’s a good chance that one or more people in the room with you will want to hang out with you because you share a common interest. Just make sure the activity you’re showing up for interests you so much that if you didn’t make any friends during the process, you wouldn’t mind because the activity itself is so much fun.

4. Trust your Inner Authority and your intuition when you receive invitations.

If you’re really new to HD then it’s a good idea to start by really learning how your unique Inner Authority (decision-making process) works. There are five major different ways that Projectors can be designed to make decisions; your Inner Authority will be listed as Emotional, Splenic, Ego-Projected, Self-Projected or Mental and they’re all a little bit different. It’s incredibly helpful to understand how you’re inherently designed as this will help you accept the right invitations.

I personally found that once I really understood how to follow my Inner Authority then my intuition would naturally support that. It has a role to play for all Projectors, though (with perhaps the exception of the Splenic Authority peeps) it’s not the whole picture when it comes to making decisions. Just because you receive an invite to hang out with someone doesn’t mean you automatically say “yes”. This is why you’ll want to learn how to listen to and trust your Inner Authority so you say “yes” when it’s the right opportunity for you and “no” when you’re supposed to be somewhere else that day. (To learn more about your Inner Authority check out this video playlist.)

5. Decondition, clean and clear out all those pesky old beliefs and stories that are keeping you stuck where you are.

No matter how you want to do it, it’s essential that you peel back and let go of the things you’ve learned in your life so far that are not helping you to experience loving, nurturing, wonder-filled friendships. Maybe they’re old stories about how you got left out all the time. Maybe it’s memories of times you were betrayed or abandoned or neglected by people you considered friends. Maybe it’s an unconscious belief that you think you’re just not good at making friends.

Whatever pain you’re carrying, stories you’re holding, beliefs you’re still treating like they’re true, you need to let them go in whatever way you can. I have made incredible progress in my own journey with friendships through using EFT, aka “tapping” (I loved it so much I became a Certified Practitioner so I could teach others how to do it really easily and effectively). There are a wide variety of transformational tools from intentional movement, to journalling, to parts work, to energy medicine that can work for letting old patterns go. Find one that you enjoy doing, that you find effective and apply it generously and consistently!

DON’T:

  1. Try and get everyone to like you.

It’s not going to work. For every person who totally adores you, there are probably a handful of people who are going to think you’re as annoying as f*ck, boring as hell, or totally weird. Let them. Ignore them. Don’t try to get them onside. Don’t try to prove that you’re totally awesome or wise or funny or wonderful; it’s a lost cause. Let them go and move on. Your time is waaaaay better spent laughing and playing with one of your people who think you’re the coolest person they’ve ever met.

2. Speak to get attention when no-one has asked you to speak.

I know it’s hard when no one asks. I know you feel like you’re being ignored. I know you have the wisest, most helpful, clever thing to say that might really help the other person. But unless they ask you, they don’t want to hear it. Nay, they can’t hear it. That is to say, they can’t hear you. If you speak without some kind of invitation or in a space where you’re not recognised, it is extremely likely you’ll get ignored, talked over, dismissed, misunderstood or someone will take your brilliant idea and claim it as their own. Don’t waste your precious energy speaking when no one wants to hear from you.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with you if no one wants to listen to you. Let me say that again: There is absolutely nothing wrong with you if no one wants to listen to you. Or speak to you. Or asks you about you. They’re just not your people. If you were supposed to speak, someone would say, “Hey (insert your name here), what do you think?”. So until you hear some version of that, it’s best to keep your mouth shut and when the conversation ends leave that group or person and see who shows up next instead.

3. Deliberately go to groups and network with the intention of making friends.

The number of times I’ve heard unhelpful advice about how to make friends still makes my mind spin. So many of the well-meaning suggestions from family members, coaches and mentors revolve around this idea of “going out and making friends” as if you can just use your will to find people who will like you.

This is full of force. There’s no flow. There’s no ease. Please know, this is allowed to be easy. This can be easy. It’s designed to be easy. But you won’t receive new friends easily into your life if you’re going around trying to force the issue. So drop it; anytime you notice that you’re trying to make a new friend, or trying to make a new connection, or trying to get someone to like you, drop it. Focus on having fun doing something you enjoy instead.

4. Accept any invite that comes your way just because you’re desperate for an invitation.

While you are designed to “wait for the invitation” that doesn’t mean you should accept every single one that comes your way. In fact, as you deepen into really getting how amazing and precious your time is you’ll probably get more invitations than you could possibly accept anyway. But if you’re getting almost no invites now I get that this idea seems ridiculous to you. Just know that this is what happens for a truly empowered Projector; you’ll get more invites than you will know what to do with.

That’s why it’s important to practise the word “no” now. When you get an invite that feels anything less than delightful, expansive, wonderful then find a way to say “no”. The invites that will help you to expand your life and put you into relationships that truly nurture you are the ones that make you feel precious, valued, seen, loved or appreciated. Wait for those invites, say “no” to everything else if you can possibly manage it.

5. Whinge, whine or complain about how hard it is.

I get that it’s hard. I really, really do. Choosing not to complain, choosing not to tell the same story about how you’re bad at making friends doesn’t mean that you don’t honour how you’re feeling. But don’t get trapped in telling the same sob story again and again. Feel what you’re feeling. Express how you’re feeling to yourself (or to someone else who will simply listen and hold space for you if you’ve never spoken about how hard it’s been) and then, as soon as you can, shift your attention to something that feels better.

{If it’s feeling like, in this moment, it’s all just too hard for you to make friends, then try this exercise before you keep reading. Imagine I am sitting across from you and I am witnessing your pain. Put your hand on your heart and feel whatever you’re feeling, and allow it to be there. Take a deep breath, and let it out. And realise that — even though you’re in pain — right here, right now, you are okay. Repeat this process for as long as you need to. Cry if you need to. Express to yourself — out loud, or on paper, or in your head— how you’re feeling. And then, as soon as you feel able, shift your attention to something that feels better. Let that lighter, brighter feeling grow and expand and fill your body until you feel much better. Then keep reading.}

Ultimately you want one or more close friends (or friendships that feel deeper than your current ones) because of how you think it’s going to make you feel.

So ask yourself, “How will I feel when I have the kind of friend/s I desire?”

Maybe you’ll feel connected, or joyful, or seen, or nurtured. Or maybe it’s something else you imagine that you’ll feel. When you identify the one main emotion you think you’ll feel then think — right now — about a different area of your life where you already experience that emotion.

What triggers you to feel that way? Find the trigger, focus on it in your mind’s eye until you feel the emotion you wish to feel and let it fill your heart, your chest, your torso and your whole body if you can.

If you practise feeling this emotion more often and you’re clear about what you want in your friendships then you’ll be making tangible progress towards the thing you want. Combine this with the Projector “do’s and don’ts” so you’re not wasting precious energy each time you take tangible action in the 3D physical world ;)

Now you practise what I’ve shared here and you find you’re getting stuck with some part of it, read on:

*** If you find that your beliefs, stories or painful memories about friendships or making friends are too strong for you to tackle alone,

or you find that no matter how hard you try you’re still not making progress,

then you may find EFT (tapping) a helpful tool to get yourself unstuck.

It is, by far, the most helpful tool I’ve found to date for helping me to shift my patterns and pain. You can learn how to do really effective EFT (tapping) with me on a private 1:1 video call. Book in here.

*** If you have questions or breakthroughs to share with me as you implement these tips, please email me at caroline@carolinesouthwell.com

*** To get semi-regular emails about Human Design, EFT tapping and other things to help you transform your life and relationships click here.

*** To see and read short, helpful Human Design teachings go to Instagram.

*** To watch and listen to quick tips and full-length videos about Human Design (and EFT tapping) check out the content on YouTube.

Transformational Specialist serving practitioners, therapists and coaches to know themselves, be themselves & love themselves to make the world better for all.