Really interesting subject. This is an area of inquiry that's dealt with in great depth by Byron Katie at thework.com -- highly recommend this site for those who find this idea appealing.
Originally Posted by eastcoastgirl
Yeah, I'm a little lost, too. Great idea, though. I can see where it might apply some of the time. I can see where things I find annoying in other people are sometimes things I don’t like in myself. But I just don't see how it works in other situations. I have a friend who is habitually late; I’m habitually on time. How is she a reflection of me? And my being on time has not influenced her to be on time. She's still just as late as ever.
As another poster mentioned, Katie's tool for examining projections is something she calls the "turnaround." A turnaround is simply a parsing of the bothersome thought in various ways to test them for truth.
Sometimes, a very simple turnaround is enough. For example, when I'm irritated by someone cutting in front of me in traffic, if I'm present enough to do a turnaround, a very simple one suffices: They shouldn't drive like that
becomes I shouldn't drive like that
Invariably, I smile at this, because I almost always have done the same traffic move that bugged me in the recent past -- often minutes before.
With your late friend, you really have to stretch to make such a simple turnaround "work." But there are other turnarounds that might explain your disquiet, because there are usually what Katie would call underlying beliefs
under your basic thought of "my friend shouldn't be late
." Katie would further suggest challenging each underlying belief you can find with the simple question, "Is it true?"
Hence, some possible turnarounds and underlying beliefs might be:
My friend shouldn't be late.
Real friends aren't late
She's not a real friend.
When she's late it means she doesn't care about me.
If I were more popular, I'd have better friends.
I don't stand up for myself enough.
I hang out with people who make me crazy.
I'm scared to try to make new friends who might be punctual.
I shouldn't associate with unpunctual people because it bugs me too much.
It's not enough to love her from afar; I should hang out with her even though I believe she'll be late again.
If I can't forgive her for a behavior she always exhibits, am I really a friend to her?
There are infinite turnarounds, just as there are infinite worldviews. (There may be 8 billion people on earth, but there are hundreds
of billions of projections
of those people -- and none of them are right!