I love words that really capture the essence of their meaning. I love the word projecting because I think of a movie camera projecting images on a screen…. The projector is separate from the screen and the reel or “movie” is also it’s own entity. Three separate things working together to create the experience.
While necessary for film- projecting can be a real issue when it’s done socially- between people.
Projecting can be tricky- because many people do not even know they are doing it, and so once it becomes habitual – it’s a habit that needs to be broken or you’ll be sure to suffer un-necessarily, not to mention those around you who will also surely suffer from being projected upon…
So how do you know you are doing it?
First lets start by recognizing how it takes shape:
We all experience life through our senses ( sight, sound, touch, taste, …. ) which we then translate to our brain through our “emotions.”
Something in life happens… and then we add meaning to that something and it translates in as an emotion- good or bad.
The tricky part is separating fact from fiction…. in order to do that, one first needs to know where fact ends and fiction begins….
A Scenario: I’ve been waiting all day for my husband to come home so I can show him the new couch that got delivered. When he gets home he looks at the couch and say’s “it’s great” and walks to the mail table and sighs loudly. Now I’m upset- he’s not giving me the reaction I want, and his sigh is a sure sign that once again, I’ve disappointed him in some way ( just as I used to experience my father as a young girl…) and it means he does not like the couch and now I’m in a foul mood and I continue to weave my “story” of meaning around his actions…….
Fact: My husband came home and said the couch looked nice, and then walked to the mail table and sighed.
Fiction: everything else.
I’ve just “projected” my INTERPRETATION of his actions on him and we are surely in for a fight night.
His experience: He had just come in from a long day and had forgotten that the couch was being delivered. He likes it and strongly feels that as long as his wife likes it- he’s happy with whatever she gets. He walks to the mail table and see’s that there is mail from his former company and sighs loudly in relief… thank god he’s not working there any longer!
I have projected my fears and thoughts on him as if they are true. My actions are now aligned with my story as if what I am “projecting” and I am living it like it’s “real.”
The HEALTHY thing to do in this case is to *recognize* what’s happening as it’s happening…. and to “check in” with the person you are in the dialog with so one way to deal with it is to say to your spouse….
“Honey, I’m making that sigh mean that you don’t like it… are you unhappy with my choice or are you sighing about something else?”
“Your reaction to the couch makes me realize how many “expectations” I was attaching to your arrival home. I choose hunter green because I knew it was your favorite color and I really want you to love the couch as much as I do….”
Taking a moment to actually explain to your partner ( or anyone you might be talking to) that it’s “triggered” you in some way is a great way to work through fact vs. fiction. It takes the drama out of the dialog and separates what’s real from what’s been manufactured.
A great clue is that any time you start a sentence with “YOU…” chances are you are going to add your INTERPRETATION to the action and create a Big ol’ story.
Keep the Movie on the REEL and turn that YOU into an “I” …. try beginning your sentence with “I” and own what’s really bugging you… without making the person’s actions responsible for your feelings… YOUR feelings are what create the story to begin with…
I’d love to hear your additional thoughts or examples of how projecting impacts your life….