Here I describe an example of someone confusing their own inner state with the world around them. I call it “emperorial nonsense, where someone suddenly puts themself on a very high moral “throne”, and becomes an ’emperor’ or empress of being an injured party.
A person is convinced someone is angry and hurt because she forgot to invite him to her birthday party. An email is sent asking “Have you disappeared…haven’t heard from you in ages”. She sends a reply saying “I know you must be angry etc…”.
The other person is bemused. “Eh? Did you forget, I now live in Scotland! I was just worried as I haven’t heard from you in a while! Angry? I’m not angry at all! Though I do apologise for forgetting your birthday…”
Here’s the punchline. The person whose birthday it was then turns to me and says: “See, he’s angry with me!”
Some people are convinced they are the centre of everyone else’s attention. And of course, we must all be devastated when the “emperors” and “empresses” do not grace us with their attention.
Making our little disappointments into epics and melodramas usually ends up simply depressing the epic-creators themselves.
Exaggerating out of all proportion (Jewish Grandmother Syndrome – “I could be dead and do you care, you never phone…”) ultimately gives us a self-image of being, not actually downtrodden at all, but high in the clouds, on a throne, passing judgement on our fellows. Even as we cast our spells of accusation, our throne is so aloof from everyone, it actually alienates us ourselves and the price we pay is this: loneliness and separation from others.
The more we exaggerate the crime, the more cut off we become. Everyone around is is simply a source of disappointment and let-down, proving – we believe – how injured we really are.
Of course we should face our friends and associates when we genuinely feel they have let us down as friends or colleagues. Feedback is essential for learning. But the feedback should be in fair measure to the deed. When we turn into emperors and empresses of let-down, we cut ourselves off from our community. And then we do truly become victims – not of the mostly imagined misdeeds of others, but of harm we actually visit upon our own self.