Tag Archives: psychology

Super Fast: Projection is Like Barfing

Standard

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.

30 Days of “A Year of Living Your Yoga” — Day 27: Be Strong: Let Go

Standard

Welcome to Day 27 of my blog series based on Judith Hanson Lasater’s “A Year of Living Your Yoga.”

I try to keep these posts to about 500 words.

Here is the quote:

April 21 — Let go into your strength. We think that strength is about being able to push something away or hold something back. We have great reserves of strength, which can be used in different ways. Inhale, and let go into the strength you already have to do Adho Mukha Vrkasana (handstand) or to create an hour with no commitments.

I’ll take “create an hour with no commitments” for $400, Alex.

I’m not gonna fib here: handstand is not easy. For many reasons, but most of all, it does require a great deal of upper body strength, core awareness and emotional guts. The pose should be started at a wall for best results the first few times. You’re in downward facing dog, getting used to being inverted. Then you tip-toe your feet to be about a foot away from your hands or make it so your hips are almost vertically above your shoulders. Then you play with your balance a little by kicking up (gently) one leg, then the other leg. Doing this helps you understand which leg is your “push off” leg and which leg is your anchor. When you’re familiar with that and feeling safe (next month), then you really push off with the kick-off leg and you aim both feet for the wall.

THUD! THUD! Contact!

Forget about the pressure in the shoulders it will be there the whole time. Instead, do something with them:  “press” them to reach toward the hips (so now that’s “up”) and pull in the belly. Breathe. Sense the blood flooding your body in the opposite direction it’s used to going. If you’re still up, YAY! Come down and fold into child’s pose with your knees wide and your big toes touching, hips sinking toward the floor for a few breaths. Try it again if you’re game. Just remember to go back to child’s pose when you’re finished.

My issue with handstand is that I go too far over. I have the strength to stand on my hands, but I still lack the poise to control my thighs from going all the way over. I need the wall, but I’m getting better at it. I also think it’s a matter of context: when I’m all alone, I have an easier time, but when I’m in class as a student or a teacher, I feel stressed and I goof it.

So the strength in this pose has more to do with initial control and poise than it does staying in it. It’s like that moment when Scarlett O’Hara walked into the party after her scandalous kiss that Rhett saw her give to Ashley Wilkes… she possessed great strength to go in that room (I think she was also a total jerk for doing what she did) after that kiss, dressed like a harlot. Who possessed more strength? Melanie Wilkes. Class act, that Miss Melanie.

this moment. i loved scarlett's moxie, but melanie was really the winner.

this moment. i loved scarlett’s moxie, but melanie was really the winner.

What does any of this have to do with yoga? I guess a lot. If you’re in my head.

The point of it is that we often see Scarlett as this super-strong, super resilient woman; and she was. But she was also a total antisocial, histrionic bitch. She thrusts into situations, being strong, surely, but not at all poised and controlled.

Melanie, who was a calm and controlled person was not a fool, I’m sure she knew what was going on. She just possessed more couth and courage.

So going into handstand or … s I said when I started this post, ‘I’ll take ‘create an hour with no commitments’ for $400, Alex.”

That’s hard too though — to allow an hour with no agenda or no feeling for the need of an agenda or activity. I think that’s the thrust here: to have the strength of self enough to let go of the need to do something of “value.” It’s our egos which tell us we have to be doing something all the time; its our brains and minds who need the rest.

What would you do? Read? Nap?

Zzzzzzngnnnnnzzzz Gnnnzznzznnng.

Thank you.

 

30 Days of Brené Brown — Day 31: The Index

Standard

Happy New Year’s Eve!

I report to you from the snowy shores of Buffalo, NY, where my boys and I are visiting my cousin and her team.

By the time you get this, I’m back on the road to my home with Mr. GrassOil and The Murph. Here is the index for all the quotes and posts in this 30-Day journey of self-awareness, the gifts of imperfection, embracing our vulnerability and learning to trust ourselves and more importantly, our people.

I want to thank everyone for joining this adventure. Not just of the blog series, which brought in some readers who are new to me, but also to everyone who has supported me on this entire blog adventure. Also, if this post is all wonky, it’s because I’m trying to do it on a tablet using the web-based thingamabob and the paragraph spacing is a nightmare. If a quote is in red, that’s the link.

. . . .

The internet is a silly thing. We take a risk by sharing our photos, our thoughts, our dreams and our goals. People think I am brave. I suppose I am. But I am chicken guano compared to some people our there who really take chances and reveal themselves to the work on this most unpredictable of mediums. While I believe in bravery, I also believe in caution.

Getting me to THIS POINT, “publicly” is big for me. But I also stand by everything I present, at least at the time I’m presenting it.

Right?!

I just returned from seeing “The Life of Walter Mitty” and I loved it although I will say that my cousin and I agreed that it fell short in some places. No pun against Ben Stiller who isn’t very tall. The takeaway is that we are here to live. No matter how shitty we think life is, we’re here to live it and take risks and jump. Seems trite, but it’s a nice message. A great quote in it from the storied face of Sean Penn is, “Beautiful things don’t ask for our attention.” Or something like that. I liked that line.

I’m going to try to keep things active here. This trip without my husband, has created appreciation for my own parents and the act, feat, and gamble of parenting itself. It’s a lot of work and we make mistakes all the time. Maybe I will write 30 days of parenting. Maybe I will post photos. Maybe I will share a video I like. I don’t know, but I do know that being active helps me get to know me.

ok. if there are errors in the formatting, it means i’ve allowed myself some imperfection here and i’m not going to sweat it, despite the fact that it really bugs me.

if i can’t let this slide, then all my embracing of this Brené Brown stuff is smoke and mirrors. if you think my pressing on is taking the easy way out by not correcting the formatting. you’re quite wrong. it’s not easier. not by a long shot.

So thanks, I really mean it. It’s been a very huge year for me personally.

Let’s do this.

468 likes

398 likes

268 likes

212 likes

tags: faith

61 likes

12/27: my title: “I feel like a football player on a hockey rink” for the quote: “Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.” ― Brené Brown

59 likes

12/28: I skipped a quote entirely from #27 (because it was department of redundancy department and my being off by one day was giving me a tic) and went straight to: “We’re a nation hungry for more joy: Because we’re starving from a lack of gratitude.” ― Brené BrownThe Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

57 likes

12/30: “To love someone fiercely, to believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in time, to fully engage in a life that doesn’t come with guarantees – these are risks that involve vulnerability and often pain. But, I’m learning that recognizing and leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability teaches us how to live with joy, gratitude and grace.” ― Brené BrownThe Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
55 likes

. . . .

Thanks, everyone!

30 Days of Brené Brown — Day 18: #shame #empathy #memoir #writing #mycatsadick

Standard

I really should’ve thought this out better.

I was in a slump, losing a parent will do that to you, but I didn’t plan this out. Christmas is in a week. I’m officially behind, the cleaning ladies come tomorrow and my living room looks like this:

don't let my son happen to you.

this is an improvement. we’ve taken away a few boxes. don’t let my son happen to you. is it snowing in my living room? it may as well be.

Welcome to Day 18 of “30 Days of Brené Brown.”

Here is today’s quote: 

If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.
― Brené BrownDaring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

I love how that picture of Mom has her looking at this quote. She tried for years to share her story with me, but I was not that empathetic listener. I was not a kind responder. I didn’t want to hear her story. I didn’t give a shit about it, I just wanted her to fix her situation. But I shouldn’t have been even one of the people to whom she chose to lament. I was a kid.

Moving on.

The way I’d manage this quote is a bit too close to the post I recently wrote with Biff Tanner in it, so I will try not to repeat much of that. The point is to me, quite simple: share your story or let the shame build up.

When shame builds up, we risk spiritual immolation. Not inflammation, although that might happen too because of all the stress hormones we don’t release when we feel like crap about our story.

Brown says, ‘someone who responds with empathy and understanding.’

The other thing is this: not everyone makes you feel safe. Sometimes we think our story is SO shameful that no one will respect us after we tell it. Or worse: that people will think we’re lying just to get attention. Or worse still: that your kid will feel a need to fix you. Bad move.

If that’s the case, this is where therapy, writing, journaling, singing, playing an instrument, volunteering with kids, the homeless, for literacy guilds or art galleries or prisons or doing your own creating comes in. The point is for you to get with others and read some books. Don’t watch Maury Povich. Don’t watch Judge Judy.

Talk to your dog. Dogs are great listeners, they don’t judge and they just want to help. Don’t bother with cats. They’re dicks. They’re not even sympathetic, but they may as well be.

Empathy is something altogether different from sympathy. Brown recently shared a video on her homepage that has solved the mystery for me. It has also created a confusion in me as well, but that’s for another post.

Here’s the video:

Didn’t that just clear everything up for you? It did for me.

So that brings us back to finding a safe place when you’re ready to let your freak flag fly. For years, I just spewed it out of myself. I wasn’t like a person at a bus stop telling random strangers my story, but I’d say that once I picked up on a person’s willingness to Be With Themselves, I felt I could share eventually and get to know them better.

My mistake? I confused that with a relationship. I confused it with emotional intimacy. I confused it all. It’s not that people are ill-equipped (some are, that’s just the way it is) it’s that I was hemorraging and I had no idea. I couldn’t sustain a “normal” relationship with anyone other than to pick up people who were hemorrhaging too. That was not a good environment. While we could hold each other up, we also got sick of each others’ stories and all that verbal vomiting starts to really stink up our hair after a while. That kind of vapidity can NOT survive in normal oxygen.

That’s where therapy is great. But finding a group of empathetic people helps too. How do you do that? You read. You google your situation. Mine: “survivors of dick cats.” Turns out there isn’t one. So I started writing about my dick cat and awesome people like my blogger friend Mary chimes in to let me know her cat’s a dick too. And my other blogger-artist friend Lillian has a cat who looks just like my dick cat (I’m not sure her cat’s a dick like mine). So while we’ve never had a meeting or written any bylaws, we have found community.

The next point is this: you have to be willing to risk your pride. You have to be willing to say: “This ____ story sucks; about ___% of it is actually my doing and the other ___% is because of circumstances that are beyond my control, yet I feel shame for 100% of it.”

What happens next is … what happens next.

You either encounter people who nod silently and truly get it (that’s an empathic response) or you get people who look at you like this:

she can't help you.

she can’t help you.

Like I said… Cats …

When you find that person, group, thing, try to do this: try to come up with solutions to help yourself not feel shame. Make lists of the amazing things you do which discount the shame. Find the source of the shame and dissect the hell out of it to make sure it goes where it belongs: not you. Remember the post I did about holding that bag of someone else’s shit? That. Make sure you put it where it belongs. Most likely the shame is out of proportion and completely not yours.

That’s what comes though of sitting with this stuff and really examining your story. What else comes of it? You start to see patterns, you start to see humanity in the story, you start to see that even though what happened to you sucks or whatever, it’s not personal. That event… it’s part of your path. And then… only then, when you can accept it all as part of your path which makes you who you are and helps you live a better, smarter life… THEN you are on your way.

That’s where I am in my thinking about my memoir (which is a lot of Freaking Work). It’s coming along well enough the stories are flowing and they’re not all sad and that helps me remember that my story isn’t all sad. It’s good. I love to write so much that I find even telling a less-than-happy story can be enjoyable just by going with the energy that helps me tell the story.

But what about your group? What about the empathizers? What if you can move on before they can? Or what if they can move on before you can?

It’s all part of the plan too. Here’s what IS personal: the timing of your recovery. If you get healthier first: you HAVE to pull chocks and create some distance but stay empathetic. It’s part of your survival. The other people are no less important, but remember that old adage about throwing the lifesaver: make sure it’s anchored to something that ISN’T you, lest you drown too.

Shame: it’s not helpful; picking it apart is. You can do this. 

Thank you.