Today’s post is Chapter 20 from my book Liberation from the Lie.
The End of Self-Identified Projection
Chapter 20 of Liberation from the Lie by Eric Gross
The Fear-Self is projection. The vitality of its projection varies from the intense and profoundly unstable to the extremely subtle, where it is all but invisible.
We cannot see how life really is unless we are able to see how we project our psychology onto life. Operating from the perspective of projection, we are ceaselessly reactive. Our sensed world is divided up into discrete categories of what serves our purpose (a very small percentage of what is actually sensed) and what does not serve our purpose (everything else). When we are dominated by projection, we are not open to authentic life. Instead, life is only what we experience through the filter of a Fear-Self.
Projection pulls us away from the now. Living in projection, we are sensitive only to the ceaseless press of a Fear-Self: “I must do this”; “I must do that”; “I must find things wrong”; “I must locate potential dangers.” The now, where everything actually happens, is overlooked. We know ourselves and our world only through projection.
Underneath all projections is the Wound. Projection organizes experience into crude categories of good and bad. Because it is predicated on an iron-hard belief in our own inadequacy, the purpose of projection is to discover opportunities to counter this belief. It is, in fact, projection that creates Fear-Selves and Fear-Selves that maintain the projection that gave them birth.
Let’s see how this operates. A Pleaser fears rejection (her Wound belief that she is worthless). Through projection, she categorizes people into those who help to counter this painful belief and those who do not. The latter group she hates because they threaten to bring attention to her Wound. She works tirelessly to produce opportunities to maintain and improve her standing in the “approved” community of “good” people and thus sustain distance from her Wound.
When we see through the Wound and the Fear-Selves, the power of our projection diminishes greatly. As it declines, our own authentic power fills the space. The Pleaser can finally take a rest from dividing people into friends and foes and living in terror of failing at her next public exhibition. What a relief that must be!
When the Body Person sees through his Wound and dominant Fear-Self, he can still be active and fit, but he is no longer haunted by his inevitable physical decline or other fears related to his appearance. He is free to be himself. For the first time he can have a good laugh at himself, and those around him can breathe a whole lot easier when his compulsive projections have relaxed their dark grip
The Loner can begin to re-engage with the raw vitality of life and stop being a slave to her fears. She can recognize and honor the power of her Wound, yet take steps to connect with people. At first, she might be tentative and guarded, but she no longer needs to flee. She may preserve her preference for aloneness, but now this preference is informed by understanding and compassion. It is no longer compulsive and desperate.
The relentless Achiever can stop and ask herself, do I really want to be doing all of this? Is this really me? What sacrifice am I making for my self-interested accomplishments? If I’m telling myself that I must do these things for the sake of my family, am I certain that is true? When the Achiever sees through her projections, she can finally take a long, languorous breath and start regaining her balance. Indeed, she might find that she truly loves what she is doing, but she is no longer driven by fear of failure or by compulsion. People around her can feel her transformation. Suddenly she is warm and vulnerable and capable of deeply connecting with others in her life. Even her dog greets her with more excitement when she returns home after a “not as long” day at the office.
Living life through our projections assures us that our insecurities will be maintained. This is a world of danger, where our survival as a worthy being is always in doubt. In direct contrast with the world of the hunter-gatherer, in the world of projections, trust, if it manifests at all, is a very fragile and tenuous commodity. The mind needs to constantly survey its small world for enemies and threats to its flimsy security. For many of us, this is the only way we know how to live.
Projection is like a fog that surrounds us with its distorted perspective on the world and life. It is the price we pay for our purported psychological protection. The consequence is a life lived with fear. It is toxic not only to ourselves but to everyone else in our life.
Projection is a ceaseless flight from projected fear. As it turns out, passing through our fear—a fear that we now can see to be an insubstantial phantom—is the only journey worth taking.
Key Point: Resistance to Projection
Projection is part of the interplay of the Wound and the Fear-Selves. It is never advisable to resist it or seek to stop it. Instead, we honor projection by understanding it as a sign of our Life Force. Seeing projection without getting involved in its voice or even allocating too much of our attention to it is the secret to seeing through it. A feeling of relaxation will naturally emerge as its grip on your identity is loosened.
Finding the Place of No Harm
Every Fear-Self is created to provide safety to a wounded image of one’s self. Thought ceaselessly spins stories of danger, and thus the Fear-Self is sustained throughout our lives.
A young child needs love and care. That is the full expression of their being. But when he is invalidated, a new element of being is created—the unwanted self. Of course, the unwanted self morphs into our more mature sense of inadequacy and insufficiency. The unwanted self is the Wound in the form of the injured personality.
As long as a baby or young child is received for its innate beingness, which is expressed as through unconditional love, support, and care, the “unwanted self” is not formed.
All of our Fear-Selves are adapted to counter identification with the unwanted self and make ourselves safe from harm. Yet here is the irony: We can only be harmed by something with which we identify. Our images of ourselves as an Achiever, a Tough Guy, a Pleaser, an Expert, a Body Person, a Spiritualist can and will be damaged. An image is always tenuous, not fully certain of itself, and often brittle. It is a belief set out into the world, and it will suffer all the wear and tear that the physical universe inflicts.
No matter how great the hurt, no matter how great the tribulation, there is always a part of us remains untouched. That is our authentic being. It needs no image. In fact, if we try to attach an image onto it, it is not possible! Our authentic self is not an image. Yet we seem to “know” only our images of ourselves and others. All Fear-Selves, no matter how refined they might be, are ultimately images.
The final knowing of one’s self is not a knowing at all. We can only trick ourselves into “knowing” something outside of our authentic being. Our authentic self can never be known. It can only be, no matter what else we do or is done to us in our lives.
That is why our authentic selves can never be harmed. We are absolutely 100% safe when all our false images are allowed to disperse and our authentic selves can finally live in the light of day.
When that happens, we are nothing and everything at the same moment, for no dividing line can be drawn between the authentic self and anything the mind labels as “other.”
Anything you are defensive about is an image! Observing your defenses is a great way to discover your false self-images. Nearly all of us are defensive about our bodies, our feelings, and our thoughts. They are, therefore, not our authentic selves. They are fake. The instant we identify with any image, thought, or feeling, we indulge in the fantasy of the falsely known self. We are not our bodies; we are not our thoughts; we are not our feelings. But while the body, thought, and feeling are not who you are, they are a part of you! It is a paradox.
The intensity of our defensiveness is also a mark of how identified we are with a particular image. That image is a marker of our dominant Fear-Self. Conversely, we most intensely engage with those invalidators who remind us of our original invalidators, especially our parents. If we are still seeking approval, we will find merit in their invalidation. If we are still hurting from our invalidation (and most of us are), we will very deeply resent them. These intense feelings sustain our identification with the Fear-Self. We are most ready to take offense with those we need most. Children need their parents, and often it is the parents who receive back the lovelessness they displayed many years ago.
The liberated person is all but indifferent from any form of attack on her image. She has discovered her true self and identifies with no image. This is the only place of sustainable and tangible safety. She is always safe and secure.
Terms like the “Fear-Self” and the “Wound”, as well as Fear-Self Types, like the Pleaser, the Loner, the Body Person, and the Achiever are described in detail in the full text. To find out more, please Liberation from the Lie at amazon.com.