Throughout my life I’ve had the habit of anticipating or believing that I can tell what others are thinking. “They said this, but what they really meant was this.” Though that can be the case at times, it is most healthy to take people at face value, especially the people we love.
I can remember during my depression when my paranoia was heightened, I tried to overhear my boss’s conversation on the phone in his office next door to mine. Despite the fact that he gave no signs or implications of dissatisfaction with my work, I was convinced that he was talking about me. Projection can make you do crazy things including putting your ear against a wall.
During that time I had the privilege and gift of being part of a ladies group. We met weekly and shared our journey through life together; giving comfort, insight, encouragement and advice. Another woman in the group was also struggling with depression and projecting feelings about herself onto others. One of the other ladies encouraged her to look outside of herself more by getting involved in an activity which gave more social interaction.
At first I thought that was bad advice as I had come from a background which taught women to always put everyone else before themselves and what partly contributed to my depression in the first place. But that was not what this suggestion intended. She wanted her to stop seeing herself from her own unhealthy perspective and look through the lens of others in order to see the truth about herself.
It was this advice that I came to my mind yesterday evening after we had picked up Sam’s ashes. Grief can be so consuming that you project your feelings on others, even those you love. I found myself getting defensive with my husband when he was trying to understand my feelings. Once again, I assumed that he felt a certain way about me which was wrong and incorrect. Too many times I make wrong assumptions or interpret things that are not based on the truth.
Projection is dangerous. I’m discovering that my pattern with it is a result of looking too much inside myself that I can’t see from another’s perspective and completely miss the truth. It’s all about balance. I can look outside myself without feeling obligated to put everyone before myself. This change in view is a process; a project in ending projection.