We are all guilty of reading a post on social media or interacting with an individual and projecting our wounding onto that interaction and interpreting it through our background, own wounding and past painful experiences.
We rarely remember that the person posting or saying something has a different background, their own wounds and past painful experiences.
This is why there is such a backlash from #notallmen when women write about their painful experiences with men. They feel embarrassed, threatened, outraged or hurt by women who are constantly telling their stories about how bad some men are and they feel that they are included in that description.
It is exactly the same with the words ‘white privilege’.
It is, of course, completely irrelevant to them that they are not the target of the story – they are just reacting from their own personal past wounding. It is significantly worse if the man has been wounded by a woman themselves.
Some white people who feel that they have no privilege, only see the word privilege which they may associate with wealth. They do this from their own background, own wounding and past experiences. It is purely reactive and bears no thought for the atrocities that were perpetrated on black people. It is only their denial of privilege based on the fact that they see no privilege for themselves ignoring the fact that purely being white awards them favour – like men – purely by being men they are simply more advantaged.
If the man’s self-esteem is not at optimum levels – he will have a negative reaction.
For example – if I hear someone saying, “He is such a pussy,” – if my self-esteem is good on that particular day, I can simply roll my eyes and let it go. If my self-esteem is not that great, I will react from my female wounding about constantly being made inadequate in that even insults bear the name of my body parts.
In these instances the person who is outraged actually has no empathy for the real situation of the individual who is talking about their own private pain and in their vehement objection of #notallmen or not all white people are privileged, negate everything they actually KNOW to be true and which has been proven by statistics and/or history.
We do this because we want others to know that we are also wounded and the underlying belief is that because we are also wounded THEIR wounds must somehow be diminished or even compared to ours. We simply are not consciously aware that this is what we’re doing. We are also unaware of how our projection of our own stuff onto a situation that another relates, negates their pain and own wounding.
We do this in our everyday lives as well. When our self-esteem is not as good as it should be, another’s story of something that touches our own wounding will seem like a threat or an indictment of ourselves, personally. Our reaction does not come from a space of empathy or even cognition of the other’s story, but from a past experience of our own wounding.
It simply then does not matter how much the other tries to tell us that their story is NOT about us and our wounding and that the other’s story is NOT a personal attack on us. Our OWN wounding and past experience takes precedence in our life and that is all we see in that moment.
This happens with almost every situation we encounter. We are only really able to empathise with another if we have experienced a similar situation. I remember the day after my partner died, a person close to me literally fell to the floor and cried and weepingly said something like, “I don’t know what I would do if something like this should happen to me.” I had to spend time actually comforting this person. I was also told, “I know what you’re going through. I experienced the same thing when I was divorced.” There simply was no cognition of my pain only the projected pain on this person’s own potential or past wounding. There was also no recognition of how this action must have been perceived by me. The fact that I was in such extreme pain of my loss and that I was literally swimming is a sea of despair, was irrelevant – albeit not consciously irrelevant. It took me several years to process this.
There is no right or wrong here – I am simply pointing out how we behave.
The examples that I am using are extreme and I use them because they bring into stark reality the pain we cause another when we do this. Yet, we do this consistently in smaller matters as well.
We defend ourselves and our loved ones from a position of our wounding and experiences. For example, if someone makes a joke about blindness, we may react quite angrily because we have blind person in our family. We all know that story of warning kids not to run with sticks. That story causes my family to react with particular vehemence because we have a brother who, in fact, lost his eye in just such situation. It is our own wounding and pain from which we react – always.
It takes great consciousness and awareness to become cognisant that we do this. We can only change our wounded reactions if we become aware of it.
It is the same with accomplishments. I am a published author. Shortly after my first book was published, I received a message that said, “Don’t think you are God just because you have written a book.” What wounded self-esteem issue did this statement emanate from? That does not mean that I was not initially taken aback by the statement and I fought really hard not to react with sarcasm or defensiveness to the message. I first had to process my own wounding, (I am not good enough) and my own past experience, (being constantly criticised rather than praised, or being told, ‘Who do you think you are?’) before I could let it go. On another occasion, when someone asked with great interest about my book someone in the company said, “We all have talents. Some of us just can’t write…”
If our own self-esteem is wavering and we are not aware of our own wounded reaction, we will continue to do such things and remain totally oblivious of the pain we cause others.
We also use our own wounded reactions if we are in a particularly bad space of lack of self-esteem. We feel so bad about ourselves that we project our bad feelings about ourselves to point out the shortcomings of those whose self-esteem is intact. We do this to bring them down ‘a peg or two’. If our self-esteem is low and we encounter someone whose self-esteem is intact, we may even call them arrogant.
In reality there is a fine line between our perception of confidence or arrogance and we tip those scales based on our own level of self-esteem. When we feel good about ourselves, we admire those who are confident. When we feel inadequate we call the same person arrogant. But it is still OUR projection – either way. Our feelings about another has nothing to do with them, per se. It is always our own wounded past experiences and our own low self-esteem that makes us project our feelings onto the situation of another.
This is a difficult thing to learn to overcome. It can only be overcome when we become aware of our own past experiences and wounding and be completely self-aware all the time. This is what some scholars call living in the moment. Yes, living in the moment is not just about an attitude of gratitude – it is also becoming self-aware – and especially when we negate the feelings of others.
We can only learn this by constant practise. If we continue to become aware of how we react or respond, we can eventually deal with conflict in a much different way. If I am faced with conflict now, and if I am in a state of self-awareness, I can examine the conflict and see where my wounding is and if I am very self-aware – I can become aware of the wounding of the other and address the conflict from their perspective. In that way the conflict is resolved much quicker without any residual resentments. And that, of course, is the goal.
The picture is from ‘Pictures of You’ episode 13 season 4 of One Tree Hill
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