Meeting 5-2
Focus: Projections and Dumping

The basic structure of this meeting is the same as Meeting 1.1 - refer back for more information.

Some issues may have come up during check-in that the group may wish to spend more time on rather than moving straight into the 'focus'; or perhaps some issue is still to be dealt with from the previous week. When it is appropriate the leader moves the group into the main focus for this meeting.

5) The Big Bit in the middle - the leader announces the focus of the meeting

Focus: Projections and Dumping

"In intimate relationships there are some intriguing dynamics at play:-

  • There's what we say to each other; and what we don't say
  • There's what we know about them, and what we guess is going on (ie stuff they haven't yet revealed or don't want to reveal -perhaps we are giving them space until the time is right for them, if ever)
  • Our intuitions may be right in figuring it out (perhaps before they do), but sometimes we're wrong, perhaps our doubts/fears/own issues not yet recognised have misled us
  • we/they may avoid/deny issues -because not ready to deal with them
  • our partners may expect us to be more or less intuitive about their needs, or they may wish us to be more open in our communications
  • some tension arises for them, and in the course of our interactions they become upset and 'dump' a lot of emotional energy on us, which is out of proportion to the issue at hand."

"All of the above describe a situation that leaves lots of scope for problems and difficulties in our relationships as communicating is an inexact art. Perhaps the best way to look at it is as a process of discovering what is really going on for me, and for them. And in this process we are sometimes very good at fooling ourselves (them?); but they may have it all figured out."

"Of course we bring these intuitive skills and learned behaviours to group, but what part do they and should they play?

  • do I share my 'insights' on his problem? - do I insist I am right?
  • do I recognise that I may be wrong?
  • Is there a respectful way of sharing my insights?
  • What would be disrespectful of his needs?
  • How do I avoid projecting my own fears/doubts/issues onto him?
  • How do I recognise when I/he has dumped something on him/me?"

"What needs to be explored once more is 'ownership', acknowledging what really belongs to you and speaking your truth, and allowing another man to speak his truth as he sees it without forcing our perspective onto him."

Exercises

  1. How much do you reveal what is really going on for you to your partner? How much do you conceal? Why?
  2. How much do you reveal what you think is going on for your partner? How much do you conceal? Why?
  3. Do you always know exactly what is going on for you?
    1. How long does it take you to 'clue into' your own experience/feelings? (As in - 'Oh yeah, now I know what that was about…')
    2. When was the last time you were confused emotionally?
      What was that about?
      How long did it take you to figure it out? Why?
      Were you in resistance?
      What were your needs then?
      Where have you moved to?
    3. When you're not sure of yourself, what do you think that is about?
      Are you always/ever in a space to hear what someone else thinks?
      Is your own process important?
      Or would you welcome someone 'telling' you?
  4. How can you respect another man's process?
    1. Respect his wish to 'just be heard'?
    2. Ask if he would like some feedback? Respect his answer?
    3. Consider if the time is right for him to hear your insights? And ask?
    4. Are you really just offering advice? Would you like some back?
    5. Are you trying to 'fix' him? - and avoiding your own parallel situation?
    6. Is your desire to change him causing you to miss an opportunity to support him?
    7. How can you change your judgement of him into support? - without changing him?
    8. What are you really feeling?
      What is that about for you? (- not him)
      His situation might have brought it up, but who does it really belong to?
    9. Are you ready to offer him support?
      Can you say 'Is there anything I/we can do for you?' - and be ready to respond?
    10. If you want to tell him to do something, consider what that would 'fix' for you? - can you own your own situation?
  5. Do you have any new insights/suspicions of when you think/feel someone 'projected' some of their stuff onto you without owning it? Outside? In group?
    1. How did it feel then? Now?
    2. Did you feel supported?
      What would support have looked like for you then?
    3. Are you more able to ask for support now?
  6. Do you have any new insights/suspicions of when you think/feel someone 'dumped' some of their stuff onto you without owning it? Outside? In group?
    1. Describe the interaction and why it was inappropriate for you.
    2. How did it feel then? Now?
      And after you've talked about it?
  7. Does the group need any new rules regarding 'projecting' and 'dumping'?
    1. What would those rules say, for you?
    2. Is the group ready to engage in that process? What are the issues?

Notes for Meeting 5-2

Projections can be a thorny problem for any group; quite often a man is only projecting because he has difficulty seeing what is true for him - so a conflict ensues about who owns what and who is avoiding what. In the same way, 'dumping' is about off-loading some emotional baggage onto someone else because that man doesn't want to/is unable to deal with it, and wants you to 'carry' it.

Often again, the man who is picked as the 'target' may be quite vulnerable (often the reason to be picked!) he's into his own issues and going through his emotional work, when suddenly out of left field comes an altogether inappropriate remark: 'Pull yourself together' - 'Men don't do…' - 'you should…' etc. That man may experience it as an extra burden to carry when he is least able to, and must now consider confronting and being forced to move away from the emotional work he was involved in. If a mature group can intercede to prevent this type of occurrence, and to require ownership, it will be helpful to everyone who needs to get into his stuff - in the moment often the much more pressing need.