Listening is an acquired skill and at best an art form. Our mind usually begins to wander to interpret through our own life experience, so a bit of retraining is needed to actively listen and be fully present. When listening we need to be actively engaged with the person/persons in front of us. Aware of them with our attention on them, and our intent to hear. We need to be focused on the subject at hand, and a lot the time to be fully present, in present time available to hear what is being communicated.
Hearing is our ability to get the words that are being communicated to us with the emotion and feeling of what the person is trying to convey.
Acknowledging is the act of confirming to the other person that we heard what was stated.
Understanding is being able to comprehend, and have empathy for the person and what they just communicated. In the Native American tradition it is to “Stand Under” someone. In the act of standing under someone you are in their space and clearly see and understand how they feel. You are in their shoes for a length of time, to understand what they are thinking and feeling. Understanding does not mean agreement. You can disagree with someone yet understand his or her point of view, or viewpoint. This is the place from which they are standing and viewing the situation.
Our point of view in life is created by our life experiences: Family, Peers, School, Education, Society, Culture, Race, Politics, Groups, Crisis, War, Religion, Beliefs, Poverty, Wealth, Privilege, Responses from others, Authority figures, Biological, Physiology, Physicality, Mental and Emotional acuity. These life experiences and influences create our filters for us. We all have them. The color how we view the world. Our filters create our interpretation of the world around us and how we interact and interpret the world’s interaction with us. This type of viewing is a projection.
This is like the projection of light from a movie projector. Whatever color of light is projected on the screen alters the image on the screen. Project a blue light and there will be a blue hue. Project a red light and there will be a red hue. If two people have two different color lights their perception will be altered by the color of their filter. In this way each person1s perception is “right” per their filter. This does not mean that the perception is accurate to the present moment. Both parties are being affected by their previous experience/s (filters).
We relate to our world, others and ourself through perception and projection. Most of the time it is through projection; which is our own past life experiences. To a certain degree this can not be avoided as we live in a subjective universe. However, if we tend to relate more from projection than perception it means are past is unduly affecting us, and that we are not in present time. When we perceive our world mainly through our filters time and time again, we tend to have more difficulties in our interpersonal relationships.
100% perception is all but impossible. However, there is far less projection in a clear perception. This is a perception from someone who is aware of the process of projection and who has cleared a lot of emotional issues, beliefs,insights, and mental constructs so that they are able to perceive purely what is being enacted and communicated in front of them 9in the present moment.
Projections are present when there is emotional charge, whether perceived positive or negative. The emotional charge signals that there is a trigger in this situation, and that an experience from the past and how we felt about the experience is affecting the present situation. (A trigger is a word, look, or situation that links us up to a past experience. Usually this happens on a subconscious or barely conscious level.
A trigger springs us unconsciously to a state conditioned response pattern. This is a response that is subconscious and made up of unconscious complexes and impulses. This state is our relating pattern. (This pattern can be altered or changed via innerwork.)
In a situation where there is a feeling of numbness, shutting down emotionally/feeling level, or resistance to what is being communicated a projection is taking place. Anytime we react with intense emotion or held back emotion a projection is occurring. The projection is not badS It just is.
However, we as humans tend to like and gravitate toward what we perceive as “happy”/”positive” projections. and repel and contest the “sad”, “angry”/negative projections. Perhaps and rightly so we all prefer to experience “positive” projections. For example the experience of falling in love is preferred as opposed to the experience of ” falling out of love.” As long as we recognize the projection in either situation we retain our self empowerment and self esteem. We then realize the truth that we are responsible for naming our experiences and our feelings.
In owning our projections we are in a position of self-responsibility and take back our power. The feelings and mental constructs of the “other”, whether a person or a situation having all the power is insidiously inherent in the projection. “He or she made me feel this way!” This mental construct and feeling gives all the responsibility to the “other.” The other is seen to have control over your thoughts and feelings. We may not like what is being communicated, how we respond is up to us. If some situation or person is continually not in alignment with our personal perceptions perhaps there are issues of different values, value system, goals and lifestyle.
Perception is like a window. We are able to see through clearly to what is actually before us.
Perception is experienced in a neutral state.
This state is not a high or a low. It can be described as a feeling of connectedness, yet with the ability to allow your sense of self to be maintained. One is aware how they are connected, or similar to the person communicating. In this neutral state one is not merging with the other, or taking on their feelings, thoughts or emotions. One is feeling their experience and honoring it.
It is in this neutral and aware state that it is easier to relax and be present to what one has just heard or experienced, and ask: “How can I be there for you?” “How can I help you.” Or, perhaps, “What do you need from me?” In this neutral state we are not imposing what we would need, or assuming what someone else needs. We know to ask; to honor someone1s process by asking what they need; not what we “think” they need. This opens up a shared dialogue process. In this process each communication is seen as a complete cycle having a beginning, middle, and an end. Or, one could say a conclusion or resolution. And if the dialogue is opened up again, the process begins a new.
Projections are like mirrors. They reflect what is inside.
Guideline For Taking Back Projections
1. First recognize and acknowledge that we all project. Projection is an important part of the process of relating. It begins to extend us outside of ourselves.
2. When in a communication dialogue and there your are experiencing an emotional charge state internally “I take back this projection.”
3. Try to discern what is actually being said, what you are feeling , and what you are interpreting . Ask yourself: ” How are you feeling?” The feeling is the primary trigger.
4. If your feelings, and interpretations are getting in the way of really listening and hearing perhaps take a break and sort through your inner reality. You can do this internally, or express what you are interpreting. You can also ask the person you are communicating with if it is possible to stop at this point to gather your composure. Try to reach an emotional flat point (neutral state). A point that is good for both parties. If this is not possible as emotions have escalated enact the 3 min rule with the strict agreement to get back to the communication in 3 min, 3 hours, 3 days; whichever is mutually agreed upon. If the escalation is such that this type of mutual agreement is not possible, one person must pull back and take a break. This will allow neutrality and clarity to come back into the dialogue.
5. If you have taken a break, write or speak into a tape recorder what your past experiences were and how they are affecting you in the present situation. Get yourself in a safe place. Begin to relax the body and mind as much as you can. Calm the body-mind down by doing some 3 count breathing, slowing the breath down, steadying your breath and focus within. Close your eyes if this helps. Locate the feeling . Notice if any part of your body is tense or experiencing discomfort. Ask yourself,” What am I feeling?” Trace back the feeling you are now feeling in the present to the earliest time you felt this same feeling in the past. Clearly look at the past situation. Notice how you felt in the past. Notice how you feel in the present. Give yourself self –empowering responses that you can now use in a similar situation. Think about how you would have liked to respond in the past. If you could change the past how would the situation have been? Note the trigger.
What is the feeling being trigger? What old situation is being triggered? Check in with yourself to see how the past situation is similar and different to the present situation. Mentally note some more empowering responses/choices for you to enact in the present. Feel how you feel enacting these more empowering responses/choices. Write in your journal the feeling/emotional trigger and the situation being triggered. Write down your more empowering responses and choices. This allows you to more easily integrate your new healthier way of responding.
6. Share when you feel safe your findings with the person you were communicating with. Perhaps acknowledge this may be an awkward or tough subject for awhile, and that you are in a state of learning and understanding.
7. If you are doing this work for situations that the sufficient level of trust and safety are not present, or for situations that it is not appropriate to relate in this manner share your findings with yourself first, and foremost, and then a therapist . If you have a friend who you feel is supportive and you trust it can be beneficial to share your process with this person.
8. If you are doing this work with someone you trust you can set up further guidelines and helpful cues for when either one of you is in a state condition response pattern and being triggered by a projection. Or, simply state : “I am being triggered, talk it through, or take a break, regroup, and then come back.