Would I rather be tight or right? We found the perfect spot. Only blocks from the apartment where we were staying. Our ideal space was five people in from the street. All of the people in front of us were shorter, and the sidewalk sloped up, allowing us unobstructed views. We agreed it was worth showing up an hour before the big Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to stake our place.
Within minutes of settling in, a woman with a foreign accent pried herself in next to us. She talked loudly into her cell phone while trying to claim more space. I was furious and determined to hold my ground. This proved more difficult than I had thought. The woman was aggressive. I braced myself and didn’t give an inch.
I had forgotten that when I react this strongly to a person, I need to pay attention. The person is most likely displaying a negative characteristic that I also possess but don’t like – or refuse – to admit. The reverse is also true: If I respond favorably to a person, I am reacting to a positive characteristic I also possess but don’t claim as my own. Psychologists call this principle “projection.”
I left the parade angry. Was I angry at the woman or myself? If I am totally honest, I have to admit I am also overly aggressive, to the point of being rude, when I am hyper-focused on a task or goal. Worse, I don’t have a clue that I’m doing it. I have to hear about it from friends, loved ones, or colleagues.
I wish I had stepped aside.