Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

July 27, 2012

Summer Voices | Andrea Scher | What Do You Project Into The Silence?

I’m on vacation this week and have invited some friends to share their voice here during my time away. Say hello to Andrea Scher:

The email that goes unanswered for several days. The phone call that doesn’t get returned. What do you project into the silence? They don’t love me. They hate me. They’re mad at me. They think my idea is stupid. I’m bugging them. Maybe they didn’t get it? No, they got it, they just don’t like my idea. I asked too much.

Does any of this sound familiar?

It is so tempting to project our own story into the silence. Isn’t it interesting that we often project the most painful scenario? The one that hurts us and diminishes us the most?

I recently had an awkward conversation with a friend and became convinced later that day that she was mad at me. I texted her an apology, a general one since I wasn’t quite sure what to apologize for, and then felt really vulnerable. I checked my phone obsessively for the next hour. Nothing. The silence became incredibly agitating. I decided to call her and got her voicemail. Crap. Then I left another message on her voicemail, telling her I was worried that she was upset with me.

Nothing. No call back.

I spent the rest of the day distracted, not able to work, sobbing intermittently. I was convinced, not only that she hated me, but that I was a horrible person. That whatever I did or however I was being was totally unacceptable to other humans. I wondered if anyone would ever love me considering I was such a horrible and unlovable person. I was in a total shame spiral!

But this time I did something new. I called a really wise friend, right in the white hot heat of that fire. I sobbed like a crazy person, intermittently choking things out like, “I think she’s mad at me but I don’t know what I did. I’m afraid everyone is going to go away…” She listened and then asked me something with so much compassion. “Can you simply be with the possibility that she is upset with you? Just sit with it?”

I considered it for a moment, and then responded through more tears, “No… I don’t think I can! Not even for five minutes. I think it’s one of the hardest possible things for me to be with.”

Then she said, “So that’s your work then! You’re being with it now though. You’re doing it. It’s painful but you’re being with it in this moment. You’re growing your capacity…”

The friend called the next day and it turns out she wasn’t mad at me at all. She had been having a rough and busy day and just wasn’t able to call back. It wasn’t personal and I hadn’t done anything wrong. I had worked myself up into a froth for nothing!

Do you ever do this?

Our woundedness can creep up at unlikely moments. For me, something as minor as someone being irritated with me can send me into a really dark place, and fast. I am so grateful I was able to reach out this time, right in the thick of it, and get support.

This is what wisdom is — creating even the smallest bit of consciousness around our responses so that we have some room to breathe, to choose, to see things for what they are. And if we can’t do it ourselves, the most loving choice is to reach out to a friend. Someone who can nod their head and say, “Oh honey, I’ve been right where you are… It’s so painful.”

Is there anywhere in your life you are projecting into the silence? Are you making up a story about the person who hasn’t called? the friend who hasn’t emailed back? Did you go out on a limb and got left hanging? What story are you telling yourself?

ABOUT ANDREA | Andrea Scher is an artist, photographer and life coach. Through her award-winning blog Superhero Journal and e-courses, Mondo Beyondo and Superhero Photo, Andrea will inspire you to find your passions, dream big and say YES to the life you’ve always wanted.

Andrea is also a supermom (no capes, just courage) to two adorable boys named Ben and Nico. You can often find her on her kitchen floor trying to get them to do superhero leaps for the camera. She is the co-author of wonderful book called Expressive Photography: The Shutter Sisters Guide to Shooting from the Heart.

P.S. Registration is open for the fall session of Mondo Beyondo now!


  • 1.
    Amber said…

    Wow. Thank you for this. I do this A LOT and this post comes at the end of a week where I have been projecting lots of negativity out into the silence for (what i know) nothing. I have a hard time turning off my brain and being OK with it and I will make-up things in my head and beat myself up by running the scenario/response thru my head over and over. Thank you for the thoughts on this very real life topic.

  • 2.
    laura g. said…

    part of the problem is technology…we expect instant communication and results with the use of email, texting, etc. we are out of touch with the art of communicating…face to face talks and phone conversations. it is hard to tell what a person is saying sometimes in a text…are they kidding? or are they mad?

  • 3.
    RobinD said…

    I am the guilty part of the other side of this. I usually have my smartphone glued to my hand, ready to answer any incoming call/text/email and everyone knows it. I have found that there are times when I am just on overload and I put my phone on silent and stow it in my purse. I have also had super busy times(those crazy weeks where you can’t even sit down) where I have un-intentially used talking to my friends as a reward for getting x,y,z done… leaving time catching up with a friend on the back burner.

  • 4.
    Kimberlee said…

    OMG… this is perfect for me today. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. I totally needed it. :)

  • 5.
    Jo said…

    Thank you for this post. I’m actually going through this at this very moment. I sent an email to my BFF YESTERDAY and she’s not responded. While I know that she’s overwhelmingly busy at her job right now, I’ve felt blown off. Ignored. Like maybe I overstepped something, even though that’s absurd. Insecurity can tear a person up. I project way too much into the silence.

  • 6.
    Melinda said…

    I needed to hear this today as I have had such a day and have been so tired. Blessings to you dear lady for sharing your life with us!!

  • 7.
    Jen said…

    I had a friend say once don’t measure your insides by someone elses outsides. It so true how we project, usually the most negative of things, when we have no idea what is really going on. Thanks for the awesome reminder.

  • 8.
    Els said…

    Oh, Andrea, that sounds very familiar to me. Thank you for sharing. And I’ll know that you’ll be that wise friend one day.

  • 9.
    Thinkie said…

    This sounds familiar, thanks for having the courage to publish this! I have had this really badly for many years, partly due to the circumstances in which I grew up. The last couple of years I’m getting a lot better at ignoring that little voice telling me those thoughts, but I still suffer from this sometimes. It also helps that I have made a few new friends over the past year who understand these things so I can talk to them about it when it does occur and dare to be vulnerable with them. Yay for wise and understanding friends!

  • 10.
    Mary Sara P. said…

    Wow, I can so relate to this. I do this to myself all the time and wonder what did I do, when maybe I did nothing? I’m trying to get better at it, but it can be easy to slip into it. Why didn’t she call me back? Why didn’t she anser that text. What did I do? Thanks for the connection and wonderful way to paint that picture and sharing and reminder that I’m not the only one that does this to herself.

  • 11.
    Nathalie Hardy said…

    Love this … totally resonates. I am working on cultivating a habit of jumping to POSITIVE conclusions … work in progress. But, can I just say … another lesson here, is no matter how busy you are, a quick text to say you got the message, all is well, talk soon … or something can save someone we love a lot of angst. Your friend is a mentor to me as well, except I access her only through books and “what would SARK do” conversations in my head – looking forward to reading more of your work – love your tag that says “no capes, just courage” best, Nathalie

  • 12.
    Diana said…

    I do that so often! When I confronted with silence at the other end, I create a horror story in my mind. Thank you for this post.

  • 13.
    Sandy said…

    Wow! Have you been hanging around in my head. Or did we live a moment together and just didn’t know it…Your story can’t be any more similar to mine. I do this to myself all the time. With my husband, my friends, everybody. Your story not only brought me comfort in knowing that I am not the only one who does this, but more important, you gave me a way to look at the other side of it and how to deal or “be with it” for a minute before I go off my rocker. That is a gift! And I Thank you!! Thank you Ali for sharing Andrea with us too!!! <3

  • 14.
    jane said…

    i do this so much it is my first response… oh lord the trials of being a human

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