The way we project our limitations onto others is a subject I found was highlighted this month by the story of brave Stephen Sutton. As many know, the cancer sufferer’s post on Facebook to raise £10,000 turned into a heart-warming story before his sad death. In fact, it raised over £4 million… and counting.
But when he reported to have unexpectedly ‘coughed up a tumour’ a few weeks ago and was allowed to go home, some public and celebrity comments started suggesting that his entire campaign was a publicity stunt and that he may not have been as ill as they were led to believe in the first place.
My feeling is that when we’re presented with something that seems outside of our understanding, something ‘too good to be true’, we have a tendency to project that disbelief onto others, believing their actions to be ‘impossible’ or ‘unbelievable’. But surely that’s only a projection of our own limitations?
What I believe we’re actually saying is not ‘Someone wouldn’t do that…’ but ‘I wouldn’t do that…’. We project our own limitations onto the subject so as not to bruise our egos and seem gullible for believing it
How humbling it must have been, then, when Stephen did go on to die from his terminal cancer, as predicted. And, more importantly, we now know that all those who protested would probably never in their wildest dreams have done anything as charitable themselves.
It’s why I’d rather believe that someone would do something I couldn’t foresee doing myself, and be wrong, rather than project my limitations onto them and see the world be as limited as my own humble beliefs. Long may these extraordinary people show us how limited our beliefs truly all are… they restore our faith in humanity and give us hope for the future.