Projection is how our beliefs and thoughts color what we perceive.
Perception drives everything. It defines our reality and determines how we will experience life. If we perceive the world as a scary place, it will be. If we perceive relationships with our self and others as difficult and painful, they will be. It doesn’t matter what is really happening, how we perceive it is how it is for the individual.
Underlying the perception is judgment. We decide and choose how we are going to perceive the world. This is the basis of the conclusion that we create our own reality. We perceive what we want to perceive. This all may be happening subconsciously, and to the ordinary citizen life may seem to be random and chaotic.
Life is neither; it is determined by how we perceive it.
We are making choices and judgments all the time, either consciously or subconsciously, that determine what we experience. We are much more powerful than we believe, because we can control our perception if we chose to. For example, we can let our past control our perception, or we can decide to overcome our past and see the truth. If all we have to do is change our perception to overcome our past, then we are truly powerful. We can see the pile of garbage or the flower growing out of it. Or even both, perhaps. We can see the good in people or the evil, or both. We can see the events in our lives that we liked, or we can be consumed by the events that we didn’t like.
The switch that determines whether we like what is happening or we don’t like what is happening is called judgment. When we can eliminate judgment from our lives, we start to see life as it truly is from a detached and totally conscious viewpoint. We stop wanting things to be different, because what is the point? Without judgment, nothing is better than anything else. We stop reacting to life; we simply witness life. We cease experiencing anger, fear, rejection, and the host of other negative emotions that cause suffering. Everything simply is.
So how do we stop projecting and judging? Here are some suggestions:
- It takes radical and rigorous honesty to be free of judgment. We have to admit to ourselves when we are being judgmental, and stop it. Judgment is so deeply ingrained in our mental processes that it’s like dandelion roots that keep growing back in the lawn of our thoughts. When we rid ourselves of judgment, all prejudices disappear and we can start to see people for who they truly are. We start to see how others suffer because their judgments color their perception, and we can have compassion because we personally know their suffering. Judgment affects everything, creating the dichotomies of good/bad, right/wrong, beautiful/ugly and love/hate. When judgment is removed, all of those polar opposites disappear. This is the consciousness that will bring about huge change in the world, and will allow groups to see other groups as they really are, not how prejudice and the resulting emotions color their perception.
- We can choose the lens through which we see the world. We can have hope, or we can have fear. We can have faith or we can have doubt. We can have trust or we can have guilt. We all tend to believe in something. The alcoholic believes he will have another drink. When we choose a lens of positive belief, the world looks far different than though the lens of despair.
- Take a break from projecting. Be still, focus on a candle flame or your breathing. Imagine that you are a movie projector projecting your life, and you get to choose the lens on the projector. Put on the lens of hope and see what you see. Put on the lens of faith and see what you see. Put on the lens of trust and see what you see. When life gets to be traumatic and overwhelming, we are looking through the wrong lens. Remember, you have an arsenal of lenses to choose from right in that very moment, at your disposal.
- Projection is a mirror of unwanted thoughts and feelings. When you assume or suspect someone of inappropriate thoughts or behavior, it is likely that you are projecting your inadequacies on them to suppress your own inadequacies. You suspect your spouse of cheating because you have feelings of infidelity. You accuse someone of sexual advances when you are attracted to them. You feel other people don’t like you when it is you who doesn’t like yourself. However, just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you. Sometimes they are. We have to take responsibility for our thoughts and feelings when we judge and stop blaming other people for our own issues.
- Empathy and compassion are the opposite of projection. When we seek to understand what someone else is feeling and thinking, we reverse the psychic energy of projection. When we can identify and understand people who we feel don’t like us, we stop our projection of our own issues into someone else, and begin to really understand who they are. We don’t necessarily have to love anyone, but the beginning of love is understanding.
The bottom line is we have to examine what judgments we are casting that cause us to limit ourselves and prevent us from being happy. We have to dig deep under all of the rationalizations our psyches have built around our judgments that color our perception and create our reality.
For example, if we believe that events happen “to” us, we are in victim mode and we will be constantly afraid of what will happen next. We will be stressed and anxious. We call that “waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
However, if we were to eliminate that judgment, or at least change the judgment to life happens “for” us, then we can relax, enjoy our lives and be happy. This is what we do to ourselves, and we can easily change it to what we can do for ourselves.
We are that powerful.
Author: James Robinson
Image: Dmitry Ratushny/Unsplash
Editor: Emily Bartran