I meet new people every day and very easily connect with them because I love people and I am aware enough to put myself aside and allow room for people to express themselves and be seen by me. This is intentional and I’ve refined my understanding of people ever since I can remember. I used to think that everyone did the same thing as I did.
Sadly I came to realize I was very weird, strange even! People often did quite the opposite, they want themselves to be understood, and then decide if they want to know a part of me that is acceptable to them.
“Why don’t you protect yourself from people Tony?”
“You need some healthy boundaries!”
“Yes, you’re well liked but you only want people to like you. Be yourself!”
People suggested that I needed others to feel good about myself, I needed their approval and I needed them to validate me. I can see their point, sometimes when I’m feeling down I do seek others to validate me, and as a child I was definitely taught to seek the approval of others.
So I’ve thought about that a lot.
Was I the person that these people were describing?
Why did I let people in so easily?
Why was I so honest?
Am I needy?
Then, after going through a particularly difficult life experience I ended up living alone for the first time in my life. At first I hated it, I had always had lots of people around me and I wasn’t use to this.
The strangest thing happened, I liked it! I had silence and my own thoughts and ideas could be by themselves without the counter opinions of others.
I finally discovered my “problem”! I took people’s ideas about me too literally and I gave them too much credence. This is why I didn’t like criticism and could get defensive!
Because I don’t wall off discordant feelings and emotions, I was giving people too much influence over my thinking. I was projecting my thinking onto them, by thinking they thought honestly about themselves and that they saw me as I truly was.
Like all blind spots, this revelation was something only I could unearth from living through and experiencing it inside. This cannot be attained through thought or reason alone, it must be felt with intensity to be truly known.
I began to understand that I commonly projected onto others, not by making them responsible for an internal flaw that I could not deal with in myself, but by seeing them as resonating at a higher level then they currently were. By seeing them as they were capable of being.
Strangely while most people like the space to be themselves without constriction, they’re not used to being that free, to be as the truly are. They tend to fall back into comfortable patterns of being, automatic assumptions and programs take over again. When they notice how they were themselves with me, and how they are now, they resent me for seeing them as they yearn to express but have hidden for so long.
So now I choose whom I give my time to more wisely. I have installed “boundaries” of a sort, but not in the sense that most people think of boundaries. I still see everyone as their best self, but if they don’t want to, I let them be.