Projection (or “2-Way E.S.P.”)

In my 4th Step, I had listed literally hundreds of people I was resentful at because of what they thought of me.  In Step 5, when I started “giving away” my 4th Step to my sponsor, she kept asking me how I “knew” what people were thinking about me.  Did I come out and ask them what they were thinking?  Did they tell me what they were thinking?  Did they tell someone else who told me what they were thinking?  To all these questions my answer was “no.”  But I told her how I could “read” people’s body language and that I was “sensitive” to people’s facial expressions.  “So you think you have e.s.p.?” my sponsor asked.  “No,” I said quickly.  “Then how do you know for sure what they were thinking about you?”

At that very moment, I started down a path of self-discovery that still continues today.  Right up until then, my entire life had been spent changing my behavior depending upon what I believed others were thinking about me.  Now, for the first time, I was questioning my ability to “know” what these thoughts were.  To my utter amazement, I soon found that the stark, cold reality was that I had no idea whatsoEVER what people were really thinking about me…and that I NEVER had!  My entire life had been spent doing all this posturing based upon a complete fabrication!  Or, rather, MILLIONS of complete fabrications, which, ironically, turned out to be the very thoughts I had about MYSELF!  All my life, I had been unconsciously projecting all the harsh and critical thoughts I had about myself onto others, and then blaming everyone around me for the reason why I felt so bad about myself!  WOW!  Did THAT ever blow my mind!!  And to see the actual evidence of all this IN MY OWN HANDWRITING was UNBELIEVABLE!  It’s not like this was something someone else had written.  This was all straight from my own heart and mind, and there it all was in black-and-white, sitting right in front of me in a huge four-inch-thick binder.  I immediately started feeling depressed and overwhelmed by all the wasted years, energy, tears,…

That’s why we do all this with a sponsor.  We talked about all of it.  She told me that none of us will ever know what everyone is thinking about us and that – – get this! – – it is none of our business, anyway!   She said that all I am supposed to be doing is looking at what I am thinking about me.  Suddenly, I felt relieved.  Here was a way out!  For 35 years I had been worrying about what everyone around me thought about me and changing my behavior accordingly, but NOW, all I had to do was look at MY OWN thoughts?  Just the thoughts of ONE person as opposed to the thoughts of HUNDREDS?!  AMAZING!  I immediately realized that this would make my life SO much easier, and it HAS!

About a year later, I had a similar yet not-so-profound revelation while I was sharing at a meeting.  I was sharing about this “e.s.p.” thing when it suddenly dawned on me that this was only half the story.  Not only did I really believe that I “knew” what people thought about me, but I also thought that everyone thinks exactly the same way I do, AND that they therefore “know” exactly what I am thinking and feeling about THEM!    I really thought that everyone always “knew” how their actions would effect my feelings.  In other words, if anyone ever did anything that hurt my feelings, it was done purposely!  No WONDER why I was so pissed-off at everyone!  How crazy is all THAT?!  But at the same time that I recognized all of that, I also understood that all of it was not true!  NO ONE thinks exactly like me, and MOST people think a whole lot DIFFERENTLY than I do, and, as shocking as this may seem…..some people actually say and do things that are NOT IN ANY WAY RELATED TO ME!!  DOUBLE-WOW!!

So ended my theory that I am the center of the universe.  Do I still think I can “read” people?  Sometimes.  But at least now I stop myself and realize that this is an old behavior that I am trying to change, and then I ask my Higher Power to help me to remember that it is none of my concern what people are thinking about me, and that, if someone does hurt my feelings in some way, they probably did not do it intentionally.  All that really matters is how I treat others, what I think about myself, and what my Higher Power thinks about me.  And ya know what?  I am finally starting to believe that He thinks I’m a pretty cool person!  Ya know what else?  He thinks the same about you, too!

March 30, 2012 This post was written by Categories: My Battle With Character Defects Tagged with:
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>