Episode 7 Questioning and Projecting 

January 16, 2023

I was just thinking about something I recorded. I was talking about some of my own language and what it means. Two words or phrases I was talking about were the tyranny of choice and filters. Another one popped into my mind and it’s a negative question. Negative questioning is probably just a simpler way of saying projecting.

It’s funny, projecting is a word I learned late in life. I was probably about 40 and I was working in Italy. I was working under Tom Ford and Domenico De Sole at Gucci when I found a loophole in the Italian law that said that you could be granted a leave of absence for up to one year with the guarantee of a job upon your return. I felt like I had won the lottery the second I realized that I could ask for a leave of absence. It would be my way to create a sabbatical and limit the risk. I had been divorced for not even two years and I didn’t have a lot of money, but I was longing to sort of make a change. I had been in Italy for over 15 years but I didn’t have enough money to just walk away from my job. This Italian law that I found was the perfect opportunity.

The whole thing went down in like 48 hours. I went from working myself to the bone and traveling constantly to suddenly being completely free. I can get emotional just thinking about it now. I had been away from my family for so many years and working so, so hard. Then here it was. I had figured it out and I was free.

Anyway, I was shocked and disappointed and upset by all of the negativity I got. When I made this announcement that I was taking a one-year sabbatical, people were like, ‘Where are you going? How can you afford that? What are your goals? What happens if you get to the end of it and you’ve just wasted the whole year?’    It was absolutely astounding to me, especially because in my family we are all always very supportive and excited for one another. I remember I called my sister, and I was like ‘Pam, I’ve got knots in my stomach. I’m kind of losing my confidence. People are like asking me all these things and it’s making me really uncomfortable.’  And she said, ‘Oh Constance, they’re just projecting’. That was the first time I had heard that word. I know that sounds kind of strange right now, but I had never been in therapy. She said ‘they are projecting their fears and doubts with their questions. You just need to have a simple answer. ‘Tell them you’re going to go work in your family business, or go spend time with your family in California or whatever. Just have something very simple to say and it will immediately stop the negativity.’ And she was right.

So today I don’t really use the word projecting as much as negative questioning.  It is really astounding to me how people can formulate negative questions. One of my friends recently moved from New York to California and people were saying things to him like ‘well, isn’t it more expensive to live in California than New York?’ I mean, why would you say to someone something like that. He had obviously thought through this very carefully and he was making a major life move and it would be much more helpful to say something like, Oh, you’re moving towards the sunshine.  What are you going to do with all that outdoor time? Not, isn’t this a bad time to sell your apartment?

People are excited that I’ve launched this show, but I did get quite a few negative questions and there was no malice behind it. It was just people speaking without thinking. Isn’t three times a week too much? How are you going to have so much to say,? Have you mapped out everything you’re going to say? How are you going to get listeners? I don’t know. It would’ve been much more supportive to say something like, oh my gosh, where did you get that idea? Or How did you come up with the name? Dear Constance.  It doesn’t matter, I’m just trying to make the point that it’s helpful if you can stop yourself before you speak. It’s a little bit back to the episode Wait Why am I Talking.

I’m guilty of negative questioning. It’s not like I’m perfect, but I know questions can cast doubt, even when that is not the intention behind them. Tthat’s the point. Questions can make us doubt ourselves. It’s like when you say to your kid over and over ‘Are you sure? Are you sure? A child needs to figure that out.  It’s much better to say something like Have you thought about or considered XX? When you say, are you sure, it can cast doubt it can make someone uncomfortable.

Hey, listen. I’m a huge questioner. I’m super curious. I’ve interviewed hundreds of people and I’m sure I’ve made people uncomfortable with my questions. I’m simply sharing this because I’ve noticed it a lot recently, and I’ve been reflecting on how to catch myself to be sure I’m asking a question that is supportive, especially when somebody is telling me that they’ve made a decision or they’re making a change. That’s all. I think it’s really that you’re asking a question about what you’ve heard and not about what you are actually thinking.

Anyway, I’ll leave it at that. You get the point. That’s all for now, from my heart to yours

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dear Listeners,

Friends say I live my life out loud. That’s because I’m a curious, adventurous person and, as an appreciator, I simply love to share what lights me up. Consider this is your invitation into my fun, multi-faceted world.

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