View Full Version : Projecting feelings on others
09-30-2004, 01:50 PM
I have this problem with projecting my feelings on other people.
Last night served as another painful reminder.
Out of respect for the individual, I'm not going into details about what happened. Here is what did happen:
I assumed that the negative, underlying beliefs I had towards myself were also believed by the other person.
When proposing solutions, I'd qualify my suggestion with "...but that's because I'm irresponsible/unreliable/stupid/disappointing/[insert other berating adjectives here]."
Instead of using food, I numbed out on a novel by Gregory Maguire. I read until I could hardly keep my eyes open. The second I put the book down & pulled up the covers, I started to cry.
For about ninety seconds, I cried. Then I bought into the old tapes that crying is for the weak & spineless. Walled up my heart, severed the connection between my feelings & my body, & repeated a childhood prayer that I sometimes use to fall asleep.
Looking back, it's become extremely evident that projecting my feelings on others is a problem. Projection played into the rampant dysfunction in my relationship with my mother. When I curiously examine my past relationships, projection's been there...
I don't want projection to be the poison that maims, disfigures or even kills the relationships I have with people.
How do I stop? [insert desperation smiley here]
:challenge completely welcome & encouraged.
Thanks & take care. :bug
09-30-2004, 03:59 PM
Hi - Thanks for sharing, this was an excellent post, IMO..
In my experience with harmful projected feelings (that is, thinking others are thinking badly of me because I, in fact, am the one thinking badly of me) is combatted best by giving voice to the problem (which you've already made a start on), and simply stating the opposite, (which I didnt' hear in your post).
The next time you get a half-hour to yourself, make a list of people in your life who trigger negative feelings in your head. The next time you sit down with some time to yourself -- next to their names, write briefly what upset you so about them or about your relationship with them. Next to that, write what it is about that specific person/situation that got to you most. Usually it's one of three things: What did this person do that reminds you of you either some way you are now, some way you used to be or some way you'd like to be able to get away with but feel you're better than that?
This is a modified "inventory" and getting it out of your head and on paper will help. Sharing it with someone else, a therapist, or clergy or anybody will help, too.
On a more humorous note: think of all those poor souls who have the opposite problem -- these folks who think the world of themselves, and think everyone else adores them, too, while in reality, others can't stand them!
09-30-2004, 08:58 PM
Wow, you are working hard. That is so wonderful for you. I know you will find a way with this kind of attitude!
Some things I have done is to ask if the other person really does believe ...xyz... I need to find out if it is true and not assume that it is.
I have learned to question that eating disorder voice in my head that is there to get me to turn to food to cope since I need some way of coping. I know that when I learn new ways of coping I no longer have to turn to food to cope! That is so friggin exciting and hopeful! And it is so true in my life! I love it.
But anyway....I have asked many times if they believe what is going through my head. Almost invariably I have been wrong. It is a lie in my head based on false, distorted thinking styles.
I think it is awesome that you cried for a while. Next time you can cry more if you choose to, but it will be your choice. There are no "have to's"
I think it is really fabulous that you read instead of eating food to cope.
In terms of stopping, try visualizing a big red stop sign and then swapping that thought for a more truthful one and then console yourself. Have you seen this on the .org home page.
Look up what some of the coping tools are in the tool kit.
I am thinking of you and wishing you well!
Vision - I am always amazed at how often I think people think negative thoughts about me and then I find that they don't or at least say they don't.
Someone once said to me that at some level, all we ever do is project our thoughts on other people, because what else could we possibly do. Everything we think is our thoughts.
It's really just the negative thought projections that are a problem because they cause us such suffering.
I like Nanzer's stop sign and the idea of substituting a more truthful statement for the negative one.
For me those thoughts are a major signal that I'm feeling bad about myself. If I think X thinks I am fat and ugly, then I stop (and from now on I will use the stop sign) and ask myself first - Can I really know what X thinks? No, of course not. I can't read her mind. Then, I try the turn around - X thinks I am fat and ugly turns around to I think I am fat and ugly. Then I question that statement - Is it true that I am fat and ugly? I can't know that for sure. I thought I was fat and ugly when, looking back now, I think I was thin and beautiful. So I can't really even know whether my judgments on this subject are true. Then I turn that around. I don't think I am fat and ugly. I am not fat and ugly.
Thanks, Vision for this thread. That little exercise was helpful to me.
I think in my story, that you are doing a great job of questioning your thoughts. I love how you are doing this, although I am sorry you are feeling such pain in the process.
10-01-2004, 08:19 AM
Way to go Vision. This is HUGE.
I've worked with this concept in shadow work. There's an exercise that was really eye-opening for me.
Take a sheet of paper and at the top of three columns, label one "dark shadow", the middle one "who I think I am", and the third, "Golden shadow".
In the "dark shadow" column, you write down the qualities you see in others that you despise or trigger you.
In the "who I think I am" column you do that. You write down all the qualities that you acknowledge about yourself.
In the "Golden shadow" column you write the most admirable qualities you've seen in others. Your most revered role models, their occupations, their contributions, etc.
Then you consider that all that you've written in the dark shadow column are parts of yourself that you deny exist in you and hence project onto others.
The who I think I am column are the qualities that you are willing to accept about yourself.
The Golden shadow column details again, all the best qualities about yourself that you cannot accept and thereby project onto others.
This was really powerful for me because I saw in my Golden shadow the unlived life I long for. It was the catalyst for me to make huge strides because I was able to own those qualities. After all, it takes one to know one, right?
This is a great train of thought Vision. I believe this is the best road to taking responsibility and credit for all that we effect in the world.
10-01-2004, 09:57 AM
I'm teaching myself to stop - and ask. I usually say, "is this what you really meant? Because it's what I heard" and give them the chance to clarify.
I'm finding it really works. And, to date, not one person has taken offense that I've asked for clarification of a statement.
What I find is that no one wants to be misinterpreted, and no one wants you to think something that isn't true. And, if you ask, they'll explain.
Kudos to you for reading instead of turning to food! Hug yourself! That's a HUGE step!
Cry when you want....I hate hate that stupid mean voice that tells me that I'm weak when I cry.....
Wow. This was a very powerful post for me because I often think that I do the same thing. I try really hard to stop myself when I find myself assuming I know what others are thinking, but it's really hard. Good for you, Zorahgail.
I love that description of the shadow work, Laney. I've never done anything like that - do you do a specific kind of therapy? Stuff like this is so eye-opening.
10-04-2004, 07:29 AM
The shadow work has been SO instrumental in my growth.
I guess you'd say I do eclectic Jungian-type work. It came out of my study of the Kabbalah. I go where my inner growth leads me. It takes me to some surprising methods I can tell you that! I don't have a counselor per se. He's more of a spiritual mentor.
10-04-2004, 10:48 AM
Kabbalah and therapy? I'm intrigued ... could you tell me a bit about it/ gimme a link or whatever?
i'm gonna do the shadow thing. are there any more similar exercises that you can suggest?
10-04-2004, 11:47 AM
I didn't get any of this stuff off of a website, but I'd bet money there are resources out there.
One thing that helped me understand the shadow business was thus:
Suppose you live in this glorious house. It is decorated and appointed just the way you want it. When people see it, they see just exactly what it is you want them to see. And suppose there is a basement to this wonderful house - only you don't know about it. There are no doors or windows that you've seen, even though there is a window facing the front of the house. You have no clue that it exists. In that basement there is an exact clone of you. Looks like you, sounds like you, is just exactly like you in all ways. Except that it holds the opposite opinions that you do. When people walk by your beautiful residence, this dweller in the basement sails slips of paper with awful comments to the passersby. It shouts obscenities, it says all types of things that you find abhorrent. It makes racist comments, it teases people about their weaknesses. All the things that you see in humanity and despise, it says these things.
People walking by come to your door and respond to these messages that are being delivered and you are completely at a loss as to what they are talking about - about how they could possibly come to your door and act like that.
This is how I understand the dark shadow. It's this sneaky, mischevious, saboteur that lurks just beyond our sight.
The goal is to own it, to let it be okay inside yourself that you really do hold all these myriad thoughts and impressions. When you bring it up into the light of day, it can't effectively mess up your life. It's like knowing you're triggered about something, but rather than sublimating it and having it come out sideways, you take ownership of it and watch yourself that you don't do or say anything that you'll regret later. You recognize you are biased and filter your actions through that information about yourself. You can then dig around and see if there's some nugget of healing for yourself. I find over and over again, that when I follow my shit trail, I end up at a pot of gold. Go figure.
10-06-2004, 06:23 AM
I wasn't suggesting you'd got your stuff off a website, sorry if it came across like that.
Thankyou so much for your reply. I am very receptive to things like this at the moment. Recently my mantra is 'Be honest' i.e. to myself. It's such a huge and scary project and your basement analogy is both horrible and encouraging. It is horrible because it is so true! There ARE parts of me that I don't want to believe I have, and yet they DO influence my behaviour and how I appear to others.
How terrifying! But at the same time it is encouraging because it makes it clear that these things are there anyway and are showing themselves anyway so what could I possibly lose by admitting they exist? And exploring them, as you say: I find over and over again, that when I follow my shit trail, I end up at a pot of gold. That is AMAZING.
Also I did the three-columns shadow exercise and it made me think about how I am very hard on other people. I am unforgiving and unaccpeting of their 'faults'. The exercise gave me the very strong impression that the faults I hate in them and can't accept are the ones I can't accept in me.
And from there to: Accepting others and accepting myself are one and the same thing!
10-06-2004, 02:02 PM
Tons of good advice/encouragement/challenges here. Thank you so much.
This coming weekend is a "me" weekend, where I'm going to do many of the things I haven't felt I deserved to do (i.e. getting a much-needed haircut, hangout w/ my best girlfriend). Shadow work & journaling will definitely be on the list.
Down & out w/ a flu-bug so I'm not up for long responses, but I'm glad I'm not alone on this projecting stuff.
Here's to making some headway & digging deeper! :yay
Thanks & take care. :bug
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