When we look at reality, we think that what we see out there is what’s really there. But have you ever considered otherwise? What if most of the things you ascribe to other people are coming from you? What if you are the one doing the actual work of giving negative or positive meanings and values to outer objects? If that is true, do you realize the implications that entails?
Imagine that you are watching a movie in a cinema and you notice a huge black stain on the screen. You’ll probably realize that the screen itself is not faulty, but the projector needs to be cleaned. But consider the scenario when you don’t have a mental capacity to realize that. You go near the screen with a cleaning brush and you struggle to get that big stain out of there. But it doesn’t move. You are confused and you blame the screen manufacturers for the product that you think is no good. Or even worse, you think that it’s a movie that has the problem and you blame its director for producing a movie with a huge black stain in the middle of it.
It’s simple right? Those last two guys are idiots and the first one is the reasonable one. Well, I have news for you…
Every time you perceive someone or something as evil or bad, every time you judge someone or something, every time you naively try to fix something in the outer world and not realize that you are the projector with stains on it, you are acting like those ignorant people trying to improve their experience of watching a movie with blaming a director or cleaning the screen.
Projection is a psychological phenomenon when people project their ego’s limitations onto the world and the people around them. To put it more simply, it’s your tendency to see the fault in others, when the fault is in yourself, but you are blind to it.
Even Yeshua, a mystic who lived 2000 years ago (you may know him by the name of Jesus) supposedly said: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”
You might be asking: But why is that we are blind to some aspects of ourselves? Am I not supposed to know myself fully? Why should I be hiding something from myself and what does it have to do to with all the stuff I don’t like in the world and I know are inherently bad or negative?
If you look closely, there is no such thing as inherently bad or negative if you don’t tell yourself that there is. But the process by which we create an illusion of that is so complex that we get lost in it all the time. The complexity and trickery of that mechanism are just mind-boggling. It’s like a prison where you don’t know you are in a prison, but you think you are living a full life. It’s called the prison of the mind.
“This thing of darkness I Acknowledge mine.” ― William Shakespeare
Imagine having a friend who is with you all the time and constantly talks about stuff. When you go out, he makes comments about everything you see, how fat is that girl over there, what a bad day it is, how you should be dressing better or whatever. Just consider for a moment if someone talked nonstop beside you so much that your only hope for silence was sleep, until the next morning when he would start commenting your life all over again.
Well, guess what. You’ve been already living with him (or her) your whole life. I’m talking about that voice in your head that’s constantly talking nonstop. But when I frame it like something outside of you, it seems like you are in control of it. But as it turns out, it’s in control of you. If you don’t believe me, just try to make it silent. That doesn’t work, right?
But what exactly is the role of that voice in shaping our reality? And how do I perceive a thing as a negative?
We think that our psychology isn’t that important in our everyday life. Some of us probably don’t consider looking into their own psychology too much, because we think that it’s a waste of time. But when was the last time you got emotionally triggered by your friends when they did something you don’t like. When was the last time you had a problem in your relationship, or with your parents? When was the last time that you got annoyed by standing in line waiting or by sitting in a car in a traffic jam? Or what was the reason you didn’t feel motivated on that day at your job, or why did your moods change so often. Why is it that one day you feel beautiful inside, and dead the other day.
Don’t you feel like all your life is like that? Doesn’t it bug you that you are not in control of any of that?
What if you live your life with muddy glasses on. You would see that everything is dirty outside right? Would it be reasonable if you went outside and judged everything and blamed all sorts of things for the dirt that is all around you? Wouldn’t it be wiser if you just realized your situation and cleaned the lens on your glasses little by little every day? Yeah, it would probably be, right?
Look at your life the same way. The stain on the projector, mud on the glasses, and all the other metaphors that we can come up with are pointers to the situation we all find ourselves in. Some of us sometimes see the mud on our lenses, but most of the time we get sucked into the illusion that the mud is out there. It needs lots of training to differentiate reality from the illusions of your mind because that’s what you are doing your whole life. Imagine doing something each minute of your life for multiple decades and then deciding that you’ve had enough. That won’t work as expected. You won’t be able to stop those tendencies that easily. That’s why I stress the point of training. You need to train your mind to see the world around you as it is for itself, not as your conditioned mind tells you.
The voice in your head muddies the reality around you. It is the filter through which all the reality gets filtered each second of our lives. We might have not even seen the world without those filters. Wouldn’t it be the shame if you lived your whole life with mud on your glasses? How many wonderful things would you miss?
Your shadow is also a huge factor in that process.
So, what is a shadow?
We’ve already talked about the tendency of our minds to hide some aspects of ourselves from us. Those are the unconscious thought and emotional patterns that we have but don’t realize that we do. Those are aspects of yourself that you fear and don’t want to call “you”. So, you’ve split yourself as “me” and “not me”. We call the second one a shadow (from Jungian psychology). And when you see the features and behaviors of your denied self out there in the world, you get triggered, angry and fearful. But the source is in you. Therefore, the solution doesn’t lie in fixing everything out there. It lies in making yourself whole again.
“What is dissolved when one descends from the persona level to the ego level is not the shadow or the persona, but the boundary and the battle between them.” — Ken Wilber
But you might wonder: But how? How did we split ourselves into “me” and “not me”? It doesn’t feel that way.
Yeah, but you don’t know how to notice the result of that. Most of your problems stem from divisions of reality. When your mind denies something in you, the denied quality gets projected outside and is demonized. Then you subconsciously tell yourself that you have nothing to do with that, thus creating an illusion that you find yourself stuck in.
Division is the result of fear. Acceptance should be the basis of uniting your splitted parts of yourself into a healthy ego.
“We cannot change anything until we accept it.” — Carl Jung
So, the solution seems to be in finding ways to make ourselves whole again.
Before that, you need to observe everything that you read here in your life. Just make it a habit and starting today, just observe yourself. Try to wonder why you get upset about certain things and not on others. Try to notice what is your thought stream during a fight with your loved ones. Notice why you don’t want to get up early in the morning to do things you planned the evening before. Just observe and notice without judgment or any action. Continue what you are doing. Even if you are shouting or screaming, continue to do so, but observe yourself while you are in the midst of it. And just notice the difference. Before, you were 100% sucked in the process, but right now, a little part of you is aware of the whole thing as it’s happening. Appreciate the difference and try to make it more often.
Also, start a meditation habit. Meditation is just a deliberate process of observing. Some kind of practice like meditation is essential if you like the idea of becoming whole again. You can find instructions on how to meditate on YouTube.
And just sit in silence and contemplate all that you’ve read here. What does it mean for you if it’s true that you don’t see life around you as it is? What do those metaphors mean for you? If you really have a muddy glasses your entire life, what would it take to clean the glasses? Or what would it be like to take the glasses off entirely? And if you project all the stuff you don’t like out there yourself, how or why do you do that?
Well, nobody but yourself can answer those questions for you.
Keep practicing, keep observing.
You can research more on the Shadow Work, it’s the entire process of integrating your unconscious psyche into your conscious experience, in other words, cleaning your stains more and more on your projector.