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Do You Make People Up?

By Dr. Margaret Paul
September 29, 2014

Do you often see people as you want them to be rather than as they are? Has this caused you problems in your relationships?

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” —Anais Nin

A variation on the above quote might be, "We don't see people as they are - we see them as we want them to be."

I see this over and over with my clients. For example, Jason met a beautiful woman and became infatuated with her. "Pamela is everything I've ever wanted in a woman – intelligent, open and gorgeous."

"Jason, how long have you known Pamela?"

"We've been dating for over a month."

"This isn't enough time to get to know a person."

"I have a good feeling about her. We are on the same wavelength. We really click."

Three months later Jason broke up with Pamela.

"She's crazy. She gets enraged when she doesn't get what she wants. She's very insecure and needy, constantly needing my attention. And she wanted to quit her job, move in with me and be taken care of."

While Pamela was good at appearing open, Jason was good at making people up. He so wanted Pamela to be who he wanted her to be that he completely ignored many red flags in the first month of their relationship.

  • Do you make people up, being overly positive to fit your concept of who you want them to be?
  • Do you project yourself onto them, seeing them as you are rather than as they are?
  • Do you ignore the promptings of your inner knowing because you are so attracted to a person?
  • Do you convince yourself that, because you are so attracted to this person, things will be okay?
  • If you are an empathic person, easily feeling others' feelings, do you assume that others are also empathic?

I struggled with this for years, making up that others felt and cared about my feelings as I felt and cared about theirs - and then I felt very confused and hurt when others seemed to be uncaring and cavalier about my feelings.

Now I know that I had to make up my parents in order to survive. I had to make up that they were capable of empathy, because if I had understood and accepted that they were incapable of feeling my feelings as I felt theirs, I don't think I could have survived. But because I had learned to make them up, I also made up all the other people in my life, and I ended up being a caretaker for everyone.

It was hard to come into reality about many of the people in my life – the reality that I had drawn in people who wanted my empathy, caring and compassion, but who had none for me. It was only when I started to practice Inner Bonding and focused my empathy, caring and compassion on my own feelings that I was able to stop making people up. As I became more aware of and more trusting of my own feelings, I became able to quickly discern who was capable of empathy and who wasn't.

Today, I no longer make people up. If someone lacks empathy and compassion, then I no longer expect them to care about my feelings. Sometimes a person has so many other wonderful qualities that it's okay with me that they lack empathy and compassion. I don't necessarily push them away just because they lack empathy, but I no longer get hurt by them because I no longer expect their caring or compassion.

What do you make up about people?

  • Do you make up that they are givers when they are really takers?
  • Do you make up that they are open when they are closed?
  • Do you make up that they are kind when they are often harsh and sarcastic?
  • Do you make up that they are financially responsible when they are financial flakes or financial users?
  • Do you make up that they will change – stop drinking or taking drugs, get a good job, be caring, become committed to the relationship – and refuse to know that you get what you see?

The more you practice Inner Bonding and learn to give yourself what you need, the easier time you will have being in reality about people.


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