I have come to realize lately how much we project our feelings and thoughts onto other people.
I already knew that I do this when I’m mad at someone. I generally approach life blaming myself when things aren’t right, so if I’m mad at you, I project onto you that you’re actually mad at me because I was the one who did something wrong. It takes no time at all for my anger to morph into anxiety over how to attain forgiveness.
But lately I’ve noticed myself projecting in other situations, and I’ve noticed people doing it to me. We don’t stop to think about the possibility that the other person feels differently than we do until a conflict brings it to light.
In any kind of relationship, we believe that the relationship is regarded in the same way by both parties, and it’s probably healthiest when this is the case. You’re my best friend and I’m you’re best friend. We both know that you are in a socially-recognized position of power and I am your subordinate. You rank roughly 3rd in my life and I rank roughly 3rd in yours.
It’s just too unmanageable to think about the possibility that you’re wrong. That the other person actually ranks you 8th. And if we sense that this is the case, we either respond by fighting for 3rd or demoting the other person to 8th. Of course, if you happen to be the higher-ranked party, the inequality is much more manageable (psychologically), but still ends up rearing it’s annoying, ugly head when your counterpart protests the injustice. Inequality is no fun for anyone, that is if you have at least some amount of sensitivity.
It just fascinates me how 2 people can perceive the same situation so differently. And we can be so sure that our perception is correct…where does this sureness come from?