Brain Dump: Projection, honesty and understanding that no one is a mind reader.
We all do it; we all project what we want, what we desire, what we hope, sending it out into the ether, the universe, or Twitter. Usually, and less obvious to our best selves, we project it upon others. I am guilty of it as well – though I am still struggling with the word “guilty” as the best description. Guilty makes it sound like it all needs to go away… and I am not so sure that’s the case.
This is a post, an admission, a missive long in the making. I have concentrated many experiences and conversations into this blog. Mostly based on my need to understand where I was both coming from and wanted to go. I have had the pleasure and privilege to meet some amazing people lately and I was running into similar conversations about relationships, connections, and idealized, fantastic expectations. They had to be based in something, so I started looking at how I talked to or about people in my life.
In addition to considering this, I felt like I connected (or started to connect) with one of those amazing people; he tickles my fancy, intrigues my brain, and stimulates my whole person like someone had not been able to do in… well, a very, very long time. It was in the admission of all this to this person that made me sit back and take stock. In part because I was accused of projecting (in a bad way) and I didn’t agree with it. But we communicate so well (most of the time), it was easy to talk about things and try and share perspective. It was in these conversations that I learned the most, that something deeper was triggered. That type of inspiration is important to me. I wanted to be aware, I wanted to be fair, so I started paying closer attention. For all the stock I had to take and admissions I had to make, I was grateful that I had good examples to base this on.
I tend to be honest. So much so, in fact, that I put myself out there more than I realize. If I like you, I say so. If I want to spend time with you, I say so. I don’t do subliminal messages or assume you can read my mind… I haven’t yet learned that trick so I just assume no one else can, either. Ergo, I tell you. I open my mouth and use my words. I share. I make it pretty fucking clear that I feel a certain way (good or bad). (And, sometimes, someone takes it upon themselves to do it for me which is fodder for a whole other blog post.) I have done this knowing that I may not always get the answer I want in the moment, but I somehow always end up with the answers I need and, therefore, fantastic connections to fantastic people.
Now, clarification and back to the point: Projection pisses me off. Even using it myself, I try to be aware that I am doing so and then, when that awareness is present, I try to back off. But add the honesty thing and people assume that you are speaking in subtexts. This is a bad projection of others’ experiences that I prefer not to have put on me. When did honesty become so passe that it is always assumed to be a lie? Why can’t the words just be what they are?
I don’t say, “Hey, I really like you and want to spend time with you.” as a euphemism. It does not mean “I want you all to myself and no one else can talk to you and we will be together FOR-EVAH!” Nor am I saying, “Marriage. Kids. Marriage. Kids. Picket Fence.” It also does not translate into, “Let’s fuck like rabbits and then one or the other dumps someone when something shinier comes along because I don’t want more than that.”
It really does mean, simply, “Hey, I really like you and want to spend time with you.” Similarly, if I say I understand, I understand. If I say I get it, I get it. I use phrases such as “I have no agenda” to mean my calendar is clear. Yes, I know that there are other ways to interpret it, and I have used it as such. But when the conversation is about schedules, it means schedule. “I miss you,” means just that. It is not a guilt-ridden embodiment of Jiminy Cricket. It means I miss you in my life, my presence, my bed, my being – whichever is appropriate for us.
Where my [perceived positive] projections come in is where my honesty feels like a failure. When I say “be well,” at the end of a text conversation, that actually means “be well.” I usually see it as the perfect conversation-ender and – to be absolutely honest – it is used in situations in which I feel like I can’t say anything more because I am (a) unhappy with the outcome or tone of the conversation and/or (b) I feel like my texts are being misinterpreted (which, usually, brings us back to (a)).
That said… there is no subtext there. It truly means, “be well.” I am projecting onto you an honest and fair way to wish you the best and be done with a situation – not a whole person, just a moment – in which there really is no forward movement. That is all I am trying to send to you, project on to you, and hope you understand. Just because I don’t find a happy place in every conversation doesn’t mean that I don’t wish you well and that this moment, this conversation needs to end with us going and doing what we need to do.
I have my negative projection moments, for sure. I am self-deprecating far more than I realize. I am more and more aware that my projections are usually along the lines of, “well, my friend is far more pretty/alluring/sexy/funny/insert positive (usually physical) attribute here…” because I need to both keep my ego in check and to ask you for reassurance that I am all those wonderful things. I am projecting my hiccups regarding self-esteem.
Still, they are borne from honesty, there is no subtext. My need to hear nice things and put that out there is honest and clear. We all need it.I know that I have come so far and I am beautiful and amazing… but we all compare so we all stumble. Someone pretty awesome said to me the other day – after making a head-spin-ingly amazing comment that led to a pretty fantastic sexual fantasy – to stop selling myself short. I all but ruined a fun, flirty, connective communication with my negative projection of “oh, well, her but not me” type of response. Again, honest, yes, but definitely something that needed an extra minute or two of thought. In “researching” (read: overthinking? LOL) this writing, it is something about which I have become more aware, so I endeavor to support my honesty with confidence and not project.
Re-reading this, I feel a bit like I am suggesting that projection based on honesty is always okay. I don’t actually feel that way, though. Not at all, and I have tried to note positives and negatives where I recognize them. Here’s why: all projection is, I believe, based on something honest in someone’s past. While the interpretations may not make sense to them or the outside world, people experience things that subconsciously or otherwise will color their behavior and their responses to behavior.
In the not-too-distant past I watched an important relationship spontaneously combust because ego and projection of someone else’s needs, desires, and past relationship rules were put on me. My rules were simple: I don’t care what you do as long as we talk about it. Paraphrased, it really was that easy and open. And yet he lied to me. Then lied about lying. There was no earthly reason to lie about any of it. None. But because he has had to deal with others in the past who made that a bad thing, it was projected onto me, onto our relationship, and it all came crumbling down.
My mother projected a “black sheep, bad person” idea about my life to me and my siblings… in large part because I was doing all the things she couldn’t do. She often talked about how she could have been XYZ or gone to 123 or accomplished this or that. Her guilt trip and projection lay in her being a stay-at-home mom. Don’t get me wrong, she did all the stuff like PTA and band and sports with me… but I was never not fully aware of what she could have done had she not been a wife and mother. There was never a question as I grew up that I was going to do what I wanted, where, and with whom I chose. I went to school, I like to travel, and I live out loud. I am the designated asshole for LIVING MY LIFE in the most honest way I know how… based on her need to project. (More for later, but still applicable: add to this list that I did something about my weight and my health, and all hell broke loose!)
I could go on and on (some of you probably think I already have), but the point is that the ideas are there to think about.
People project for a lot of different reasons: fear, jealousy, control (or a lack thereof), ego. People falter, people hiccup, people come crashing down. What we do with that and how we move on is partially based on how we process and project. Because we are not mind readers and because we fear honesty (yet another blog in the making), we have to find a way to deal with it… so we project that which we interpret and for that moment makes it more palatable. It’s not, however, more palatable. It isn’t any easier to chew and swallow than the truth if it’s wrapped up in some sort of layered version of what it is supposed to be.
The truth about the cold, hard truth, however, is that it isn’t always cold or hard. Sometimes it is just the truth and nothing needs to be projected or interpreted or translated into sub-text.
Posted on April 29, 2013, in A Day In The Life, A Life Worth Living, Education, Family: The Ties That Bind and Gag, Love, Relationships, Sex and Dating and tagged accountability, balance, breakthrough, choices, connection, Deviant, emotional, family, honesty, journey, knowing, learning, love, mind fuck, pain, relationships, responsibility, self, sharing, specificity, stress, support. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.