Saturday, June 02, 2012

Every Annoyance, A Button & A Projection (And Every Pleasure also)

Recently, at Coaching School, I learned a powerful mind trick which  (figuratively) changed the color of the sky for me! The trick is around the idea of perceptual projections and taking responsibility. I will not explain this perfectly but let's give it a go. 

We all have our buttons. Our ways of believing, assuming and interpreting which cause us to be annoyed or pleased by things which happen in life. So much of life's angst and compulsion, whether over things we avoid for annoyance or pursue for pleasure, is exasperated by our lack of consciousness around how, when & why our buttons are pushed. With consciousness, we can reduce the dominance of our buttons so that we can recover more astutely, proact (versus react) more wisely and generally improve our quality of relationships (with ourselves and others), work and life. 

We all have our projections. Our life experiences, and habits of perceiving and thinking cause us to see what we are looking for rather than what is there. We get emails and hear emotions in words, that are not there. We see body language and jump to defensive conclusions about what people are meaning, thinking, feeling, which may not be true. Requests are made of us and we hear and see threats that on further reflection do not exist at the level of threat we originally perceived. Situations occur which are different than our plans and we assume malice in the forces of change which is often not really there. Pleasurable & satisfying experiences are experienced and we too mindlessly and habitually pursue them as comfort & soothing mechanisms when it might be better to address sources of our discomfort in more sustainable and productive ways. So much of life's angst and compulsion is fueled by our projections on situations and people, which if seen as projections (not necessarily reality) would free us to be more positive, resilient, energized and influential.

What I learned was that the vast majority (I am not ready to admit to all) of my annoyances (and pleasures) are my projections, and that because they are my own creations, I can take responsibility for what I create and how I respond to those creations. I can take responsibility rather than blaming, being angry with or annoyed by with others, or on the other hand, being co-dependent and addicted to the liking and approval of others. 

As I increase my "projection consciousness" and my willingness to take responsibility for them, the complexion of the world truly changes. I can then see that my annoyance at unreasonable requests is a projection of my fear of failure when put in a time or resource bind. I can see that my anger over others disagreeing with me, either in word or body language, is a projection of my insecurity over being liked and approved of. I can see that when someone does not keep their promise to me and I become aggressive and interrogative, this is a projection of my need for control and my tendency to distrust those things that threaten my sense of control. I can see that when I elect to socialize on FaceBook for an hour too long rather than work on my book manuscript, this is a projection of my desire for comfort against my fear of being rejected as an author. 

With these and myriad other "projection realizations", I overreact less, approach myself, others and situations with more composure and compassion, and engage more mindfully to enable more productive process and outcomes in every area of my life, as well as the lives of those I interact with. These realizations also challenge me to ponder what my projections say about me. They also call me to take responsibility for my being, believing, feeling, thinking and doing at an entirely higher level. I am convinced this is an essence of maturity.

I have to tell you that this has been such a magnificent breakthrough for me, but challenging also as taking responsibility for my own projections is so much more difficult than situational mindlessness or blaming others for pushing my buttons & projections. The fact is that no one or situation can push a button that is not available to be pushed. Another fact is that our projections, left in the field of unconsciousness, are ruthless masters that drive us in ways we know not but they can, with consciousness, be converted to productive servants. 

May we all increase our "projection consciousness" and reduce our "buttons" so we can be more productive and response-able in how we go about our work and lives. 

1 comment:

Knowledgable 1 said...

We're finding out so much about our brains and how it processes everything in these predictable patterns that are trained for survival. It's biological. At the same time, we live in a much different world than that biology developed for--our interdependence with larger and larger sets of people, and much larger sets of inputs in terms of information--we need to work through the buttons, projections, reactions--whatever we call them--and work to be civilized.
I think being civilized is a high-enough calling.