Gwen was mad at the Pope. In talking to a friend, she told of her gripes with the Pontiff, his positions on various matters, and how her life was miserable because of him.
The friend was aghast at this revelation. “Goodness,” asked the friend, “that’s terrible! What exactly did the Pope do to you to make you so angry?”
Gwen complained about his positions. The friend again asked what exactly the Pope had done to her to hurt her so much. Finally, she blurted out: “It’s the Church!” The Catholic Church was her problem.
“That’s a shame,” said her friend. “What exactly has the Church done to hurt you so much to make you so angry?”
Again, Gwen mumbled a few things but was not able to specify what actions the Church had taken to make her life so miserable. “It’s the Parish! I’m mad at our Parish!” she finally conceded.
The friend repeated the same question. Gwen was uneasy and unable to state what the Parish administration had done to hurt her so badly. Another question from the friend. Then, finally: “It’s Father Snead! He hates me.”
“What terrible thing did Father Snead do to you that hurt you so?” asked the patient friend.
Gwen abruptly left the room, shouting that “Marie got the job that I wanted.”
Marie was hired because she was proficient with certain technology and applications which Gwen wasn’t. Yet Gwen couldn’t, or wouldn’t, accept that fact. She was hurt when she didn’t get the job and became angry.
But because she wasn’t able to accept that, and didn’t want to be angry with Marie, Gwen launched her anger all the way to the Vatican and His Holiness.
Projecting anger at someone, something, far away is a method many people use to cope with their angry feelings.
Does it work? Not if relieving the anger is the goal. Projected anger masks the more genuine problem—in this case, loss of a desired job. It was simply easier for Gwen to stay angry, than accept the true reason for not being hired. She didn’t have the necessary skills and didn't want to get them.
There’s a strange logic to this technique: “If my anger, or problem, is caused by something SO big”—like the government, all white people, all black people, all men, all women, the system, etc., “then I am a victim of their wickedness.” This is also known as “It’s not my fault.”
Perception = Reality. If a person perceives himself or herself as a victim of some great evil, then the reality of actually being a victim will self-fulfill. The Pope didn’t do anything to Gwen, yet in her mind she made him the cause of her pain and suffering. This is a faulty perception. A faulty perception, given great energy, doesn’t correct anything. It’s just faulty. But you can live a lifetime with it. An irrational idea, passionately held, is still an irrational idea.
...from Habits, Patterns, and Thoughts That Go Bump in the Night