GrasshopperNotes.com - Thoughts for inspired living


May 21, 2008

Projection

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:25 am

I witnessed projection first hand this morning. I was out walking my dog and a neighbor was walking her dog. The dogs noticed each other as they usually do. Both were leashed. As we were passing and I said “hello,” this woman says to me, “I don’t appreciate you saying that you don’t want my dog to get hit by a car every time you pass by.” Perhaps a story would be helpful . . .

One morning her dog ran into the street and a passing car screeched and swerved and almost hit the dog. I said to her, “Your dog almost got hit by a car. I wouldn’t want to see her get run over.” She went into a guilt laden speech about how she should have had her tied up, so on and so forth. Her dog has since run into the street a few times on subsequent occasions and comes over and sniffs with my dog. The owner calls her dog over or comes and collects her. I have petted the dog on these occasions because it’s a cute, friendly dog and have never mentioned the car incident again.

Fast forward to this morning . . . In addition to her “every time” comment, she tells me that her daughter saw me kicking her dog. That never happened. Then she tells me, “You have been stalking my neighbor and are a pervert. I should call the police.” This got my attention. I said “excuse me” and then she launches into a tirade that I should be ashamed of myself and keeps walking away. I said, “You’ve just made some pretty outlandish statements and you are offering me no opportunity to respond.” Her response was, “That’s all I have to say and I don’t want to hear anything you have to say.” At that point, I said “that goes both ways” and wished her a nice day.

Two years ago, I dated her neighbor for a period of about 3 months. Since then we remain quite friendly and wave or have brief chats when we see each other. Her house is on the route I walk our dog.

This woman has taken her embarrassment about not tending to her dog and putting it in harm’s way and projected it on to me with a bevy of statements that just won’t stand up to scrutiny. “You’re never upset for the reason you think” was the operative phrase that jumped into my mind. You can always tell you are dealing with projection, when a person throws up on you and walks away.

It’s really none of your business what other people think about you until they offer it up for your consumption. If people have legitimate gripes with each other, it’s productive to address them with the goal of there being some sort of resolution. This can only happen when there is a 2 way flow of information.

I once got a 5 page email filled with the same type of projection. They didn’t want a response because they said everything they wanted to say. I was confused how to respond and a wise friend said there is only one way to respond to a “telling you how it is” communication. The response he recommended was 5 words, “You sure got that right.” I chose no response.

There is no win when you are dealing with projection. You can only lose by responding. What this person is projecting from themselves to you is real for them, even though there is no evidence to support it. I’m not telling you I walked away happy today. I’m just suggesting that the most productive strategy is to just walk away.

The descriptive statement that illustrates projection best is this: A person could not possibly feel this bad on their own, so it must be someone else’s fault.

My mantra for dealing with someone’s projection is: “This too shall pass.”

All the best,

John

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