Thursday, August 28, 2008

more to consider...

My recent post "consider this" was one that addressed the issue of projection (i.e. placing what we think someone else is thinking onto them). Not surprisingly, many of the comments turned to how we relate to families and projection quickly (and i believe appropriately here) became labeled "mind reading."

Also, the next day one of my morning reflections was titled "Realistic Expectations" and contained many lines which as stuck with me for several days:

"Families can become ghettos of unfulfilled expectations."

Whew...how often do we get caught up in that? The reading went on to say: (In our relationships), "we can expect something that others may not be able to give." (especially if we fail to communicate clearly what it is we expect them to give). My readers had some very insightful comments, so I am bringing a few of them out of the closet...oops...the comment box.

  • "I do, and I have been that person. The words speak again to me. Every now and then one needs to be reminded by these very precious reality checks."
  • "Yesterday i had some one get offended because my 15 year old walked up to me after working on painting the house for 3 hours and said "Mom, I need some stroking!" and i of course proceeded to OOOO and AHHHH over the great job he had done." (I, lucy, love that this 15 year old feels safe enough to tell his mom just what he needs! No mind reading necessary here! Bravo!!)
  • "I don't know where we all got the notion that we could read minds because none of us ever COULD!!! Walking into a situation when one believes they are telling the truth in love might be tested on a mirror or wall prior to presenting one's thoughts that, oh by the way, carry years of pent up anger, regret, and resentment to an unsuspecting scapegoat - a friend, a parent, a sib, a spouse.

    Lord, help us to measure our own inner selves, our motives, our real expectations before we unleash what is hard to take back just because our lives have become unmanageable in living with all of our disappointments and/or bad mindreading habits."
  • "In my own life (and really, from what other place can I write), I'm most guilty of this with the people closest to me--and that's where it can be so especially damaging. After years of togetherness, it's easy to take for granted that we know, or they know, when in reality, we're all changing every day...this makes me realize that I should be checking in every day--questioning, listening, learning..."
Thank you readers for this conversation! So what happens when we play the mind reading game? When we expect others to behave or respond in a certain way? When we rely on people to give us something (comfort, care, attention) that they may be incapable of giving or not "know" they are supposed to give? When we rely on man rather than God for our comfort and care?

In closing here is the rest of "Realistic Expectations":

"Nouwen warns us against "expecting from a friend what only Christ can give."

A second issue is to look at our motives for service. All too frequently we give in order to get.

Finally, we need to realize that one of the greatest gifts we can give to others is the gift of freedom, where we allow the other person to take the responsibility for his or her own responses, choices and future." from Dare to Journey with Henri Nouwen

I would love to hear more of what you have to say!

Please note: the accompanying cartoon was lovingly sent to me by a dear family member ☺. Click on the image for a closer view.

8 comments:

Tess said...

Love the Peanuts strip!

Thank you for this post, something struck me when reading it that I think may be important and I'm going to have to ponder on:

I don't think my problem is relying on others to give me something, I think my problem is being too self-reliant, and not allowing others (probably including God) the opportunity.

Hmmm...

Laure said...

the word for me this week ... "expectations." no fool'n ... everywhere i turn i encounter it ... it's message and imagery. and what i'm finding out is that i have a whole lotta expectations that i put on myself. as i've been thinking on what i've laid on people, i keep coming back to the genesis of it all ... what i lay on me. even this morning i was digging into some art therapy on this very word ... yikes!!!!

lucy said...

tess--i look forward to hearing more of what you discover re: that old self-reliance thing :-) it's really hard to get the porridge just right, isn't it?

laure--oh, the serendipitous nature of the blogosphere :-) a great mantra for me is definitely "accept don't expect!" with expectations, it seems like more often than not we/i end up disappointed.

journey on, sisters!

Patty said...

Checking my motives. I can never forget to do that. I have really enjoyed the dialoge you have opened up here, Lucy. It's really about "accepting the things I cannot change,(other people) the courage to change the things I can,(me and my attitude) and the wisdom to know the difference."(honestly checking my motives) Why do I need YOU to say and do such and such to make ME OK?

lucy said...

patty--thanks for that great reminder about the serenity prayer! funny how so many people think it just applies to "addicts", but it really is valuable for everyone...i believe we are each addicts in our own ways...looking for solace outside of ourselves & getting stuck in addictive behaviors (poor styles of relating, for example).

btw--it's delightful to see you sign off as patty!

Abbey of the Arts said...

Great conversation lucy, I tend to think of projection as placing our own stuff on another person which feels slightly different than your definition which also has great value. I like Patty's phrase of "checking my motives." What needs do I have that are so strong and largely unconscious in me that the only way I can try to meet them is to project them onto another person. Just like that shadow stuff, then I see how icky it is and can't claim it. Not that I ever do this personally! ;-)

SUNRISE SISTER said...

Lucy, thanks for the post. As I reflected in a comment on your last post, "mind-reading expectations" were firmly implanted in me as a young child. I found them easy to adapt but seldom comforting in my own disappointment that others DID not, COULD not, WOULD NOT/WERE UNABLE to read my mind.

xoxo

lucy said...

C--my "normal" definition of projection is more similar to the one you describe. however, as blogging and conversation tend to do, a slightly different twist appeared which has been quite helpful and interesting to consider.

"icky" is a great word...in fact, it is one i used VERY recently...more details later :-)

SS--i agree that "mind-reading" seldom provides comfort even though we convince ourselves that it does, because as you can see in my next post, the truth can hurt. yikes!


xoxoxooxox to you both!