Overcome the most common way women sabotage a potential friendship.

I caught myself, in a strangely unguarded moment, doing the very thing that had sabotaged my friendships for years.    Why I saw it then is anybody’s guess.  


The revelation I stumbled upon is a woman’s most common mistake in relationships.  I realize that now.   At the time, I thought it was my unique flaw.


Here’s the scene.   This happened twenty years ago, but it’s stamped in my memory like yesterday.  


The setting was a small women’s gathering up in the valley of Virginia.  I didn’t know a soul there.   All we had in common was a mutual interest in counseling and spiritual direction.  It was like someone had scooped us up out of the pile of general humanity with the hope of getting as much variety in the bucket as possible.


I looked around the room and for the first time, I caught myself in the act of thinking a crazy, crazy thought.   I don’t expect that any of these women would want a friendship with me.   I probably seem so “different.”


Maybe someone knocked me upside the head in that exact moment, or something, because I saw it.   With a blaze of insight I got it.   Paula, you crazy woman, you have been projecting your stuff onto to other people—passing your thoughts off as their thoughts—since you were waist high.   Stop it.   Stop climbing inside someone else’s head.


As in, maybe these women have their crazy little insecurities, too.   Maybe you are not the only person who feels like the odd woman out.


This little internal maneuver, where you stop pasting your insecurities onto someone else, is known by a fancy and very helpful phrase.  It’s called taking back your projections. 


If you want to make a new friend…. or improve the friendships you’ve already got, this is holy grail.   I’m not kidding.


Projecting your stuff onto others can be a way of life.  You may be so accomplished at this “talent” you’ve got it down to an art form.   Without realizing it.


It’s a talent you want to lose if you possibly can, though.  When you staple your thoughts and feelings inside another person’s head you form the wrong conclusion.  It doesn’t fit.  


It just means that you will back up five feet and probably, stiff-arm the relationship.    The weirdest dances between people happen when one party thinks the other party thinks what they aren’t thinking to start with.


The safest and truest place to begin with anyone you might hope could be your good friend is the Beatle’s old song.   All The Lonely People….where do they all come from?  


Sometimes I think we have never lived in a lonelier period of time.  Stressed, fragmented, weighted down, sheep without a shepherd—the famous words of Jesus so describe us.  


Every week I hear someone say, I don’t have any really good friends.   It’s like we are dying for someone to ask us to just hang out—or get a cup of coffee.  Or something. 


Of course, to see that clearly (how lonely most of us actually are)…you have to take back your projections.