One-up me

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?

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One response to “One-up me

  1. Sarah

    Sometimes, the only way to be sure is to ask in just the right kind of way. I remember years ago I was sitting in the car with my best friend and in the middle of the conversation I said something like, “Well, I know it sounds so cheesy but you’re my best friend.” And she gave a little laugh and said, “It’s okay, you’re my best friend, too.”

    It seems that as we get older, it gets more and more difficult to profess most feelings to another adult. Now that I’ve moved 2200 miles though, do I still rank at that #1 friend spot? I don’t completely know, but it’s certainly awkward to ask and childishly fearing that I’m not makes it scary. However, she still names me as the Godmother to her children, and hanging out with her years later is still like old times. So the question is… Does it really matter where precisely I rank? (But for what it’s worth, I am still pretty confident that I’m still her best friend as well.)

    It’s true though, it is very interesting how 2 people can perceive something so differently, but that’s part of what makes this world great– Being able to be an individual and feel the way you want to feel.

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