The World is Your Mirror. What do You See?

 You and your partner meet someone at a party. On the way home, you say, “Wasn’t Joe a nice guy? So interesting. Wouldn’t mind getting to know him better.” And your partner replies, “Are you kidding? How could you be taken in by that guy? What a phony.”

Who is right? Bolenses-509386_640th are. Perception is based on subjective reality, not objective. We all look through a unique pair of glasses, so we see people and the world through different filters. What you see is true for you. What your partner sees is true for him or her. Everyone is right from their own perspective.

The world and people reflect back to us what we project on them. First impressions offer an excellent example of projection. Since they are formed in a matter of seconds, they cannot be based on who the person actually is. They are a reaction based primarily on appearance. We project positive feelings on people whose appearance we like, approve of or relate to. Our reaction is negative if we don’t like their appearance. 

Of course, you might not have any opinion of a person you just met. Projection is in effect only when there is an emotional or judgmental reaction.

TRY THIS: Become aware of how quickly you evaluate, judge, label and react to people based strictly on appearance. You are the cause of your emotions and attitude, not the other person.  

Our projections and reactions are affected by a variety of factors…

MEMORIES: I dislike this woman because she reminds me of Aunt Mary and I didn’t like Aunt Mary.

PREJUDICE: We automatically dislike people of a different color or religion or political party etc.

VALUES: S/he’s not of my class, not worth knowing.

EXPECTATIONS: I heard about you and knew I wouldn’t like you.

MOOD: Our judgments are harsher when we are in a bad mood.

We see in others what we don’t want to acknowledge in ourselves.

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding about ourselves. Carl Jung

Projection occurs when we dissociate from something in ourselves and see it externally. We blame people and situations for causing our emotions when, in fact, they resonate what is already within us. Rather than own our negative thoughts and feelings, we project them out. Now we see our repressed anger or guilt or selfishness or weakness out there. We think the fault is external, not internal.  Thus we maintain the illusion of innocence.

Projection is a defense mechanism whereby we disown undesirable aspects of ourselves. It is difficult to grasp this concept if we apply it solely to form. Perhaps you see a story about a church-753812_640murderer on television. You react strongly to the killer, hope he gets the greatest punishment possible. That can’t possibly be a mirror for you; you’ve never murdered anyone.

But wait. Look at the content of murder – destroying, eradicating – can you relate to that? Have you ever wanted to kill someone? Have you ever crushed someone’s spirit or damaged their reputation? Maybe you project your murderous thoughts onto fictional characters in books or movies, or people in the news. Didn’t you just hope that the murderer you saw on television gets put to death?

What we really want to kill is the dark side of ourselves, the part we have repressed and deemed bad, unworthy of love. Rather than confront the negative energy within us, we project hateful thoughts and feelings onto externals. Then we want to reject or attack the object we projected on. Projection would be a nice way to get rid of repressed thoughts and emotions if it worked, but it doesn’t.

THE PROBLEM WITH PROJECTION

1. Projection makes repressed feelings and thoughts appear outside us. It doesn’t get rid of them.

2. Repressed feelings can’t be healed if denied.

3. Projection seems to justify feelings of hate and attack thereby reinforcing our dark side.

4. We think we are condemning another but we are actually condemning ourselves.  

Attacking or changing the external picture will not make our negative feelings go away. We may feel better for the moment but those nasty feelings will just go underground and garner more strength.

The tromirror-983427_640uble with trying to run away is that mirrors are the same everywhere you go.
Author unknown

Projection is a most helpful tool. It shows us what is inside, what we need to acknowledge and heal. If we are honest about what we are feeling and recognize that we are responsible for it, we will not project. 

HONESTY/ACKNOWLEDGEMENT IS THE
OPPOSITE OF DENIAL/REPRESSION

REMEMBER: It is always our interpretation and reaction that upsets us, not another person or event. We should actually be grateful for whatever resonates repressed energy. It opens the door to the unconscious mind so we can see what’s hidden there. Every irritation provides a chance to take back a projection and work on ourselves.

Should you really open your eyes and see, you would behold your image in all images.
And should you open your ears and listen, you would hear your own voice in all voices.
Kahlil Gibran

Adapted from Healing Feelings 

Freud and the Way of the World

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), was the father of psychoanalysis and one of the great minds of the twentieth century. He explored the deep and hidden forces of the unconscious mind.

The mind is like an iceberg, it floats with one-seventh of its bulk above water. Sigmund Freud

His insight into human nature and culture can help us better understand ourselves and the world we live in. 

The following excerpts are from his book, Civilization  and Its Discontents. The words in red are my own.

GREED and HAPPINESS

The force behind all human activities is a striving towards the two convergent aims of profit and pleasure.

It is simply the pleasure-principle which draws up the programme of life’s purpose.

The judgments of value made by mankind are immediately determined by their desires for happiness.

Unbridled gratification of all desires forces itself into the foreground as the most alluring guiding principle in life, but it entails preferring enjoyment to caution and penalizes itself after short indulgence.

The sense of guilt manifests itself as the need for punishment.

INHERENT CONFLICTS

In the development of culture, the most important aim is that of creating a single unity out of individual men and women, while the objective of happiness is pushed into the background.

The great majority work only when forced by necessity, and this natural human aversion to work gives rise to the most difficult social problems.

ADDICTION and ESCAPE

Life is too hard for us. There are perhaps three palliative remedies: powerful diversions of interest, which lead us to care little about our misery; substitute gratification, which lessen it; and intoxicating substances which make us insensitive to it. 

The crudeartist-1055846_640 (1)st method of influencing the body but also the most effective is the chemical one: intoxication. Men know that they can slip away from reality and find a refuge in a world of their own. 

AGGRESSION and VIOLENCE

The tendency to aggression is an innate, independent, instinctual disposition in man.

The bit of truth behind all this – one so eagerly denied – is that men are not gentle, friendly creatures wishing for love, who simply defend themselves if attacked, but that a powerful measure of desire for aggression has to be reckoned as part of their instinctual endowment. The result is that their neighbor is to them not only a possible helper or sexual object, but also a temptation to them to gratify their aggressiveness on him, to exploit his capacity for work without recompense, to use him sexually without his consent, to seize his possessions, to humiliate him, to cause him pain, to torture and kill him.

Anyone who calls to mind the atrocities of earlyrevenge-492560_640 migrations, of the invasion by the Huns, or by the so-called Mongols under Genghis Khan and Tamerlane, of the sack of Jerusalem by the pious crusaders, even indeed the horrors of the last world war, will have to bow his head humbly before the truth of this view of man.

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Culture has to call up every possible reinforcement in order to erect barriers against the aggressive instincts. (Or we promote outlets for it.)

One could assert that conscience is formed in the beginning from the suppression of an aggressive impulse and strengthened by each fresh suppression.

It is always possible to unite considerable numbers of men in love toward one another, so long as there are still some remaining as objects for aggressive manifestations. 

It is not easy to confront the dark side of ourselves and our world. But to transcend it, we must. 

Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise. Sigmund Freud

Be Careful – Anger Can Ruin Your Life

Anger is a toxic emotion that can poison your brain, ruin your health, and destroy relationships. It has many faces – irritation, impatience, road rage, resentment to mention a few. Anger gives us a jolt of energy and it is possible to become addicted to it for that reason. That is the most alive some people ever feel. Like alcohol, however, it makes you feel better for a little while but takes a terrible toll. Anger distorts perception and has harmful biological effects.

We all have hot button issues — issues we hold repressed emotions around. Someone might say something totally innocuous, but the words could be like dynamite to us because of past experiences. Telling people what to do often ignites a lazy-1458443_640hostile response because it arouses rebellious feelings we had as children when we had to do what we were told. Many anger triggers are rooted in childhood; so is the way we express it. We tend to go into a self-protective, non-thinking state and revert to childlike behavior. We may scream, cry, throw things, verbally or physically attack. I’m sure you’ve seen mature adults lose it if someone breaks in line in front of them, or cuts them off on the highway.

The ultimate source of my mental happiness is my peace of mind. Nothing can destroy this except my own anger.  Dalai Lama

THE PURPOSE OF ANGER

people-1316420_640Anger and stress are closely related. They’re primal reactions to harm or deprivation. When a person feels endangered in any way, brain centers go into warfare mode. Feelings of rage and hostility flood the body-mind in preparation for battle. People who are angry all the time are in a constant psychological and physical attack state.

The greatest common universal cause of anger is lack of reciprocation, feeling we have given more than we received. Cooperation and reciprocation are necessary to living harmoniously in a social environment. Being taken advantage of upsets the balance. An angry response is often an attempt to punish or control others. If we can make people feel guilty enough, they’ll conform to our will and give us what we want.

Due to the rush of adrenalin it sparks, some people associate anger with power. It may give the illusion of power but is actually a sign of weakness, losing control. Some may argue that anger can be constructive, but in itself, it is always destructive. However, the energy can be transformed into positive action. It is not the anger but the action generated that is constructive.

explosion-417894_640The purpose of anger is to destroy, and that’s what it does. Attacking never resolves situations. It always makes them worse. Anger weakens the body-mind and ruins relationships. The next time you’re angry, notice what happens to you. You release adrenaline and your heart rate and blood pressure increase. Breathing becomes rapid and shallow. Muscles tense, face flushes. Poisonous chemicals are released in the body and brain and there is an increased risk of heart disease.

When anger rises, think of the consequences. Confucius

Jane hated her ex-husband. Ten years after their divorce, she still blamed him for everything that was wrong in her life. True, he had cheated on her, lied to her, deceived the courts and deprived her of a fair settlement. But to be angry for 10 years? Is anything worth that? It took a while to convince Jane that forgiveness was for her benefit, not his. What she needed to forgive was not his actions, but her hatred and the belief that his actions were the cause of her lack of self-esteem, insecurity, and unhappiness.

Your judgment of a particular situation or person may be absolutely right. The object of your irritation may be abusing, deceiving, depriving or manipulating you. He/she/it may be absolutely wrong and your feelings are justified. What good does that do you? Anger doesn’t solve problems; it makes them worse.

Not many people in this world set out to consciously hurt others. Have you ever been annoyed at someone for a perceived slight only to later discover that they hadn’t said or done what you thought? Most of our conflicts are the result of poor communication, misunderstanding and misperception. Try to see situations from a different angle. Why are people doing what they’re doing? What are their needs? Nothing erases anger faster than compassion.

For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness.  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Excerpt from Make the Best of the Rest of Your Life