Tag Archives: projection

Super Fast: Projection is Like Barfing

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My youngest son came to me this morning, complaining about a disagreement he had with his older brother. He was upset about it because the things his older brother said to him about him were mean and hurtful.

It bothered me also to hear that one son could be like that toward another son, but I also know that in my household that my boys hold this mentality about their siblings, regardless of birth order or pecking order: “No one kicks my brother but me.” I smile at that sentiment a little because it’s funny and it’s true.

Nevertheless, my youngest was injured emotionally and I have to agree that the things his brother said were ugly.

So I set my youngest down and talked to him about projection.

“I have said some really unkind things about other people. I have believed them. I have even said those things to the people. Sometimes, I’ve hid behind a symbol or an event to say those things and yet try to blame it on the context, the ‘where I was’ or the ‘what I was doing’ or my state of mind. Like if I had a headache or was busy, but the reality is that I was like a stereo speaker, or a movie projector of that thought, image, opinion, sentiment or belief that I HAD ABOUT MYSELF that I hurled on to that other person, my target.” I said to my youngest, who was doing his best to pay attention. It was a lot of words.

He rubbed his eyes and sighed.

“Because I felt that way about myself first.” I added.

Then it started to make sense.

“You know when I say, ‘you can’t give what you don’t have?'” I asked.

He nodded.

“It’s the same with projection. If you don’t have love or kindness, then you can’t project, like a speaker projects sound, that love or kindness.”

I started to lose him again.

“How’s this? When you feel good about yourself or what you’re experiencing, you share nice thoughts. You share thoughts or behaviors that are like copies, or the song in the speaker with a person…”

He brightened.

“So, when you feel bad about yourself or what you’re experiencing, you share not-nice thoughts. You share the copies of your bad feelings in the form of bad behaviors or a bad song coming out of the speakers, or bad pictures coming out of the movie projector. It’s like you blame your bad behavior on that person when you’re the one with the bad mood… the bad feelings are inside to begin with…”

He nodded and stared a little blankly and said, “So when you’re tired and you say mean things or are super fast and not nice about things, it’s not at me, even though it feels like it, but it’s because you don’t feel nice inside?”

“YES!” I shouted and surprised him. “Yes. Let’s stay on the idea that it’s me, because sometimes it is. It’s because I don’t feel nice inside. Sometimes you can be with me and I’m tired, or stressed, or sick, or that I feel really angry about something else … What I sometimes don’t do, when I project, is separate my feelings inside — whatever they are — from the person I project onto, in this example, you.”

“So projecting is like vomiting. That’s where ‘projectile vomiting’ comes from?”

“Yes. Projecting is like vomiting. Great analogy. It’s like the feelings are so bad inside that person, your brother in this case, that he vomited his emotions all over you.”

“Yup. It is. So … then what?”

I liked where this was going.

“Well, if you’re a target of projection, like if you were barfed on, you can stay there and get stinky, cold and crusty and feel bad, probably worse that the person who barfed on you, because …”

“Because when you barf, you always feel better…” he said. “But it can get other people sick, because it’s contagious… and I usually feel really empty inside after I barf, like I hurt in a different way…”

My son’s a genius.

“Right! You likely feel worse than the barfer, and are stinky. You can stay there and be angry at the person who barfed on you, and like you said, spread the barf and be mean to another person, or… you can get up and change your clothes and feel a bit sorry for the person who’s feeling so bad, they had to project their bad feelings on to you. Or you don’t have to feel sorry. And that new pain? That’s because after barfing, or projecting, that person is still sick or weak. The “yuck” is still there. But, if you feel sorry for them, chances are you might end up feeling bad with them, which is their point usually. It’s like they feel so ugly, they want you to feel ugly too, so they’re not alone…”

I started to lose him again.

“But they don’t want you around … why would they want you around? You said ‘so they’re not alone?‘ So when my brother does this to me again, I can get up and walk away…”

“That ‘so they’re not alone’ is a figure of speech and it’s confusing. Yes. You can get up and walk away. But will you? Sometimes people want to get back and do something nasty to the person who made them feel bad. That’s a natural feeling, revenge, and it reminds me of the different pain we have after we barf, but … one of the things I like to say to myself, when I’m feeling very vengeful, is that I’m lucky I’m not her… the person who barfed on me…”

And that’s the truth.

He didn’t answer me, about whether he’d get back at his brother, or take the high road. He’s eleven. I don’t have huge aspirations for him in that vein, but I hope to plant a seed.

Eleven?! It can be hard to practice this level of self-awareness at 47!

So much of our pain and its projections comes from a place very deep inside, very old, very real so much so that one confrontation with Truth (a rejection, a situation where you perceive a comment as a threat because maybe it’s close to Truth…?) can feel like an actual threat; as though everything is riding on our survival (read: fight to the death) of that moment.

Viktor Frankl said,

Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
Man’s Search for Meaning

I like to call that space, a breath. A breath that slows things down and lets us come to a place of calm and acceptance that things ARE NOT life and death. Rather that breath can mean the difference between having a life and living a life.

I’ve used my blog as a platform to have my say about things that bug me, and I will absolutely submit that I’ve projected my pain on it. It’s my catharsis. In those instances, my use of my blog is emblematic of the fact that I feel I’ve run into a brick wall, that I’m just at a point where I feel as though my message has run into a cognitive dissonance machine and that I need to process it. The funny part (to me) is that there is SO MUCH I don’t share here. However, I will also submit that I can meditate more on the point of my blog, that it needn’t be a platform because I feel unheard or worse, voiceless. If people think what I write is about them, or they don’t like what I’ve shared, that’s … well, their ego; it’s tickled a notion in them and…that’s not my problem. My dad has a saying, “If people react to what you’ve said, that means you got to them. Either way, it’s about them.” My distant relative, a priest, had a saying for that, “You’re not mad at what you’re mad at.” 

So my son turned to me and he said, “You’re a great mom. I think I get it. It’s like now, I feel good inside for talking about this and I want to share it with you. Will you be my date to Starbucks today? I would like to buy you a coffee and a scone with my birthday money.”

How to refuse that?!

So we went. Here’s our “us-ie” from the date:

one of the best dates i've ever had.

one of the best dates i’ve ever had. we talked about minecraft and Christmas and legos and Little Big Planet and sugar cookies.

So try to not see your moments of hurt and frustrations as things or places where you have no choice but to fire an invective at someone OR a thing where you have to wear the stinky wet barfy clothes.

Try to see them as lessons, teachers, messengers from your deeper, inner self to address a feeling of __________ from long ago. And then, try to “listen” to it; try to hear its lesson. Try to be OK with it. Feelings are just sensations. There is no threat.

Thank you.

Are You Responsible? Or Are You a Jerk?

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Years ago, I caught up with a friend who was evolving after a personal crisis and decided to join a 12-step program. He had been in the program for about six months and was sharing with me, as we walked off a soccer field, his journey toward self-discovery, self-confidence and self-pride.

We talked about “responsibility” and how when he was abusing his vice, he’d also abused the notion, and how he’d cast off and cut loose his accountability for most of what a conscientious person does not slough off.

I said, “You mean, like picking up your kids from camp on time? You mean, like not littering? You mean, like … ”

He said, “Ha. That’s stuff that I always do because people are watching: external gratification, ego-based living — doing the right thing not because it was right, but because I wanted to be seen doing it: I was all about appearances, having all the answers, being considered one of the reliable people; people considered me a common ‘go to’ person. Top seller in my company! Scratch golfer. The stuff I’m talking about now, is about internal gratification, conscience-based living: being responsible when no one else is looking. When no one cares. I didn’t have a conscience before. That’s why I thought I was above it all … that’s why I had to get help.”

We walked some more. He talked some more. I was curious to know, however, how fine is the line between “conscience-based” living and flat-out martyrdom. “It is a fine line,” he said. “I see martyrdom as making sure everyone knows you suffered while doing the right thing… doing the right thing should never make you feel bad; you feel good when you do the right thing… martyrdom can be a close ego trap.”

That made sense to me.

He continued, “Shopping carts. I never used to put them back. Sure, one was available whenever I needed it and it was in the corral when I went to get one, but I never put one back. I deluded myself into believing that what I was doing: leaving a cart in the middle of the parking lot or on a grassy median, was creating a job for some poor schmuck who needed a work-incentive program. That’s how arrogant and disconnected I was.”

The sun was high above us after the game, his kids and mine were sighing, moaning and hissing from their seats in the cars because they wanted to get their rightful post-game Slurpees. I was engrossed though.

“I’ll get you a donut too!” I promised them, “Just a few more minutes!” I begged.

My friend elaborated, sweat running down his temple. I used to think, “Where would the prison work programs be without me and my cigarette butts on the curbside? That was how I rationalized it. Other people in the program would say, ‘I left the dog poop there, the grass will grow better…’ we knew deep down we were full of crap. But I can’t tell you … I feel so much better now, just for taking back my shopping cart, it’s hard to explain. It’s like I have credibility now, real credibility. I don’t need to rationalize anymore,” he said.

Just blame someone else.

Anyone can rationalize anything. “Look what you made me do!” Have you ever heard that one?

Anyone can choose to look the other way. “Anyone can choose to do nothing, because even doing nothing, even not choosing is a choice,” said my sagacious 10-year-old the other day.

 

fhotd64476.yuku.com

do you do this? are you one of those assholes? source: fhotd64476.yuku.com

What about when you do the wrong thing? And you KNOW it’s wrong! And you KNOW it’s indecent and unethical and completely unacceptable — for example taking or sanctioning a photograph of a unique-looking person, or of a minor, without their knowledge just because the technology exists. Do you rationalize it? Do you say you have a good reason? What could possibly BE that reason?!

At a local elementary school, there’s a upper-grader who goes into the restroom at school and snaps photos of classmates and then extorts the kids into doing whatever this person asks under threat of sharing the image on social media.

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL! Where are these kids learning this stuff? Where are the parents?! Since when is it OK to EVER record an full-on image of another person without their awareness or permission?

What about when you practice “Do as I say, not as I do?” Do you think that’s ok too? Do you run red lights or roll through stop signs but expect your spouse or kid to do the right thing?

When you point at other people, three fingers are pointing back at you.

What about when you know something is amiss, but you lie to yourself and you project your inability to sit with the discomfort of the truth, on to innocent people? That’s how many addictions and aberrant anti-social and sociopathic behaviors can begin: people rationalize and believe, with all their might (even though at first they say they don’t) that they are above the law or the code of moral correctness. That they are separate. They they are special.

“She looked at me wrong.”

And it morphs tragically into a drive-by or school shooting. No communication is necessary for these folks; they just go ahead and do what they want because they have just cause: “work incentive program”; “she’s mean to me”; “no one saw me…”; “I saw my mom do it once … “; or my personal favorite: “it’s always been that way, it’s tradition…”

Are you one of those people? Are children around when you do this crap?

Can you even admit it? And if you do, can you sit with the uncomfortable truth, the yucky, sticky and gross feelings that I would hope would come up (because that means you do have a conscience) with the choices you make and the swath of destruction, confusion, embarrassment and woe in your wake?

I’ve met people like this. I’ve bobbed in their seas of denial, half-disgusted with myself for continuing to hang on to them, despite my Spirit telling me to get away, to seek the light, to do the right thing — for myself — and to evolve.

I’ve held on because I put them first. I’ve held on because I feared that my life would somehow be less-than without them. I’ve held on because they made me feel like I needed them and that they needed me … I will never know. I’ve moved on. Their antics of delusion and harsh, foul projection of blame and accountability onto other people have finally snapped me to my senses; as though I’ve been t-boned or rear-ended.

My friend and that conversation flew into my head last week as I was walking back to my car from returning my shopping cart. Actually, I think of that conversation every time I put away my cart. “Even if you’re in a rush — ya gotta put the cart away,” I remember him saying.

How’s he doing? I don’t know if he’s still in the 12-step program; I sure hope he’s OK. He never contacted me to atone for any of his failings while I was involved in his life and was hurt by his abuse and witnessed his faults. I wish him the best. I hope he does this from now on:

clean up your conscience. put your cart away.  www.ripoffreport.com

clean up your conscience. put your cart away.
source: http://www.ripoffreport.com

Do you put your “cart” (read: do the right thing) away or are you one of those people who thinks you don’t need to?

Right your ship.

Thank you.

30 Days of Brené Brown — Day 7: #authenticity #projection #honesty #relationships

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D’oh. Good lord, today’s quote … it may as well just be a smack in the face, a push off the edge and how Divinely Timed for me, who is (and I kid you not) literally struggling with ‘being seen.’

Gah. Here:

Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.(page 49)”
― Brené BrownThe Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Deep breath.

Ok. 1,200 words. I could just do one: “No.”

That’s chickening out.

I have been to psychics, I have been with mediums, I have friends who see things and with others who are clairaudient, I have friends who are Reiki masters, I have friends who are non-predictive palmists, others who read tarot cards. I also have friends who are Christian and who think that all the aforementioned people are nuts and charlatans, but of the aforementioned friends, not one of them thinks the Christians are uncool. We all see the irony don’t we?

All of these sensitive friends, all of them, have told me in no uncertain terms: WRITE THE BOOK. If for no other reason, than to simply get it out of my system. I am leaking this story, my story. I have been explicitly asked to not publish or publicize my story because it would hurt the requestor.

In my at-times black-and-white mind (funny, I can be beige or gray with others but not always with myself) I get caught up (it’s a distraction tactic) in the logistics: Where do I start? How would I publish it? How would I market it? What about the cover art? What genre?

Really??

Really. Yeah. I know.

Do you do this to yourself? Do you have a Big Thing you want to do and then sort of sabotage it by thinking about stuff that’s sooooo far into the future that it becomes overwhelming and you give up before you even start?

Me neither. It’s so nice being perfect.

Anyway, this story is leaking out of me. In dribs and drabs. In tendonitis and in sciatica. In back twinges and in ankle pricks. I suspect it’s leaking out of me because it doesn’t belong there in the first place. While it’s “mine” because it has happened to me, it’s not mine to own or take care of or… hide / protect.

Ripping off a band-aid, right here:

Being the (adult) child of alcoholics does shit to you.

When you are young, and things happen right in front of your face, you’re told it’s something else. When you hear something happen, an exchange, say, of valium being called ‘candy’ and then you find one on the floor, that little yellow pill with the “V” stamped out of it and you pick it up and try to put it in your mouth but your mother slaps it out of your hand because it’s dangerous, but you think it’s ‘candy’ um… yeah.

It’s times like that when 2+2=46,896,sock,424,spatula,090,843,banana,324.0111 repeating.

Your surfaces are spongy. Nothing feels firm. Predictability? Only thing that’s predictable is the unpredictability. Rage? Predictable.

Back to Brown. This resonates with me so soundly because I do a lot of this: I show up, I am vulnerable, but even here, I do tend to be careful because I don’t want … basically, I fear and feel for my father. I fear his anger, his rage and his penchant for withholding and I feel for his attachment to my mother. But when that is the outcome, that someone can be so angry with you for being honest and for not holding the toxic and steaming bag of shit anymore, which is clearly theirs, is it better to keep holding it (in)? Even at 46? Is it better to suffer, more, because they can’t be vulnerable, because you feel pity for their sadness or avoidance? It’s a behavior classically aligned with Stockholm Syndrome.

mine. no, not mine. theirs. my art. their shit. check.

mine. no, not mine. theirs. my art. their shit. check.

My gut tells me to give back the bag of steaming shit. My friends say to give back the bag of steaming shit, or at least don’t hold it anymore. Drop it off, so to speak, where it belongs. All the books (oy! ALL THE BOOKS!) I’ve read say to give it back, don’t just let it go, but give it back.

And I’ve done that, from time to time. As a Troubadour of Truth, I’ve sung said, “This shit is not mine! You take it!” but inevitably, it gets stepped on and then eventually tracked back into my life. These days I just do my best to not let it soil others or project it on to others, innocents. It’s hard and I don’t really have a handbook, so I’m winging it.

As children of those worlds, we work hard to keep the illusion alive, that all is well, because to allow for the truth would absolutely be too much, it wouldn’t add up because to a child there are no “bad ideas” until they are stated as such. Children have a fantastic capacity for … a fantastic capacity. Their ability to believe and honor an unstated code in order to win or curry favor for safety and survival is unmatched by any other being on this planet, in my opinion.

I have considered emotional divorce. It works sometimes. I have had the long talks, the patient couching of content to paint an alternative picture the truth. It’s exhausting and tiresome. There’s pride too, a part of me that doesn’t want to come from a sad story, that wants to (as I said) keep the illusion alive because it looks nicer and prettier from the outside. No one wants to see the bag of shit. But it’s there, stinking up my self-image at times, stinking up the reality. You can’t ignore a bag of shit.

So it’s this authenticity Brown is speaking of, in my parlance: to see the bag of shit. In her more eloquent parlance, to show others ourselves in order to be seen and then (as far as I’m concerned) a help or advocate for those who might not be ready to be seen. To tear off the band-aid, to show others that not only can it be done, but also that it is eminently survivable. But in my limited framework and penchant for rueful revenge, how do I show up? How do I be my ‘person’ and tell my truth without blaming others and without going Stockholm? How is this done?

Bluntly: if you have a truth to tell, an authenticity to show, if you can’t become brave, then you remain a coward. That stinks and so does the shit. 

I have cut out a lot of cowards. Life is too short to hold a steamy bag of someone else’s shit.

For reals.

Thank you.