Posts Tagged psyche
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.
Every object is vulnerable.
A flower is easily hurt and even a great oak can be cut down and killed.
Even the great galaxies that fill the night sky
They too eventually die and fade away.
So easily we forget this truth
and filled with our sense of right and our sense of needing to make a point
We strike out at others with hard words and hard actions.
We so easily forget that every object is vulnerable.
Every time we hurt another, a wall is built
The more hurt we have experienced
The taller and thicker will be our walls.
And when a threat is sensed,
We will either flee to the safety of our cold inner retreat
We will attack first and there is no end to the cycle of violence.
This is the way of the world.
We forget the truth of vulnerability
with our own children.
We scare them into their own walled domains.
And the sad days comes
When even they can no longer touch who they are!
For they have become prisoners of their own prison.
This is the Way when we forget the truth of vulnerability.
By understanding vulnerability,
we learn the path of compassion
We know that every body is vulnerable
Every body is fragile.
So now kindness lights our way.
Where there was judgment and righteousness
Now there is care and connection.
Be kind to yourself and unmake your walls of disconnection.
Reach out and touch yourself
and admit your own fragility.
Only by being willing to be hurt
Can we be open to something even deeper.
For the body we hurt
is our own.
As you are well aware from all of your reading and experience with eastern teachings, we are not any thought. Rather, we are like light that shines on everything alike. However, this shining becomes obscured through its replacement by thoughts regarding our personal identity.
Thus, we are born as this light. However, shortly after birth, often in the very first days of our life, we experience a separation trauma. The effects of this trauma are extensively documented within modern anthropological observation and you can read about this documentation first-hand in Morris Berman’s outstanding book Wandering God (http://goo.gl/L89W).
While a very young baby cannot speak, he can feel and the feeling he will experience will be one with of intense, uncontrollable pain, as an inevitable result of his separation trauma. At first, the pain is incidental to the separation, but over time it becomes more constant and then generalized. With the development of language it assumes form as one of several different thoughts. They fall into such categories as I am inadequate/unlovable/insufficient. How we personally experience our inadequacy (unlovability, etc) becomes increasingly specific over time. So, it might take the form of “I am not good looking enough to be liked”, or “I am not smart enough” or “I am a slob” – it really can take any negative form – but the generalized underlying pain and suffering remains.
So the psychological self adapts to the pain by creating compensating selves. I call these selves “fear-selves” in my book, Liberation from the Lie. They are designed to negate the underlying identity. So, if you have the belief that I am ugly, you might becoming compulsively addicted to working out, cosmetics, etc. If the belief assume the form of stupidity or irrelevance, it will assume the form of becoming an expert/someone who needs to be heard. It often assumes the form of becoming “holy” and superior to those others who are consumed by the material (inferior) world. Because the main purpose of the Fear-Self is to obtain love and appreciation, it often takes the form of the persistent pleaser. It can take as many forms as there are underlying self-hating ideations.
Secondly, the underlying self-hating ideations mirror the very invalidation that we experienced so vividly in our primal separation trauma, as well as the countless experiences of hearing, first-hand how stupid and annoying we were from our otherwise, well intended parents. We learn that love is not a birth-right, instead it is earned. So we adopt behavioral modes craftily designed to obtain brownie points and the admiration of significant others. Most people live the whole of their lives this way. Often when we desperately seek to please those whose love we need the most, and when that love and appreciation is not returned in a way we want or expect, our love can turn to contempt and even hate.
Depression occurs anytime the over-lying fear-selves experience failure. Failure causes their facade to crumble and the moment that happens, we are pushed face-to-face with the fear-selves underlying construct, i.e., I am unlovable/inadequate/insufficient. I call this underlying “KING” belief, the Wound. The Wound is our principle governing principle operating in our psychological universe. So when a fear-self experiences its inevitable failure in the real world, we are thrust back into our primal world, in direct contact with our Wound. And this is extremely painful. This is the very source of suffering that drives all of our “positive” love seeking ambitions. It’s like a yo-yo where the Fear-Selves are like the spinning wheel, but the governing hand and arm are the Wound. We also realize that the Fear-Selves are inverse representations of their source Wound. In other words, it’s the self-negating belief that always wins in the long run. We have much more belief in our inadequacy that in any opposing and compensating form our psychological self may assume.
Only a fear-self would compulsively seek a “solution” to this dilemma. The search for a solution reifies the reality and truth of the underlying self-hating belief. So the search for a formula that will make it all better merely sustains the process. The ego hates hearing that, but such is life.
So the process I discuss and advocate in my book recommends that we explore an accomodation with the Wound. Instead of fleeing it in sophisticated and subtle ways via a Fear-Self, we take the brave act to just turn around and take a very careful look at the source of our suffering. I think it might be helpful to have a friend or therapist help with this part of the journey. We really need to get to know this King belief which enslaves the personality in all of its forms. We must re-visit the time and place where we first made sure agreement with our invalidators and gave birth to this vast pool of suffering which has directed our psychological lives ever since. By loving our Wound, we begin to Love our invalidated childhood self. We are acting to REVERSE the underlying process of invalidation. This is direct healing.
We also get to understand that the way we suffer as an individual, is the way everyone suffers, so we know that we are never alone with our suffering, although it might feel that way. This forms the basis for authentic compassion with everyone else and everything in our world. We begin to really appreciate this Wound and the desperate and compulsive life of fleeing it by doing ever more elaborate and sophisticated coping strategies can finally come to an end.
There is more to it than this, but that’s why I wrote the book. I hope this was helpful. This is not a simple topic and I have summarized a lot of complexity into a handful of paragraphs. If you are dealing with persistent unhappiness or depression in your life, then I really urge to take a detailed look at my book. I think you will find a new way to deal with this often overwhelming challenge. I also hope that you don’t read these words as just crass marketing on my part. I make almost no income on my book. I wrote it out of love.
I wish you the very best.
Tomorrow I’m going to talk about a pretty subtle part of this problem. Stay tuned.