Posts Tagged ‘projection’

The presence of disguise

April 18, 2011

I’ve been hidden from view for most of my life. Nobody really knows who I am. I am so good at disguise that I often do not know who I am.

In my childhood world, revealing one’s true self brought about punishment and familial exile. It is not surprising that I chose to live in disguise. I made that decision over 45 years ago and I don’t remember the incident that crystallized my reality. I do remember being 5 or 6 years old, sitting outside on the sidewalk in front of my family’s house, knowing with full recognition and ancient wisdom, that my life was crappy and it was going to be a long, long time before I could do anything about it. In that crystalline moment, I saw the years ahead of me before I would reach adulthood. To survive my childhood and become an adult, I knew I would have to hide who I truly was, not only from my parents, but from everyone else, including myself.

I don’t remember anyone ever asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I know my answer would have been “alive.”

Years of disguise become tiresome and genuine disclosure of self (even if only to myself) brings relief and the realization that I can choose to reveal or not reveal. I learned that I had to reveal something or else unconscious people (which is pretty much everybody not reading this blog) would project whatever they were feeling at the moment on to me. They would declare me as being a certain way and then act shocked, surprised, and deceived when I would resist their label and often prove them wrong.

Such a way of being in the world did not bring about lasting and supportive relationships.

I learned to extend my boundary and to reel it in depending upon my safety within any specific relationship. I learned to wear the persona of “what would work best here?” In my employment, I have had numerous supervisors who I thought were complete idiots, yet they never knew (and probably still do not know . . . again, they are not reading this blog!). Such people have often written me glowing letters of recommendation.

But there comes a time when the disguises need to be put away and brought out only upon specific special occasions. I am learning to live from my truest presence, trusting my wisdom to be wholly who I am, choicefully revealing my thoughts and feelings when appropriate. And, my true presence would always choose honesty dressed in a way so as not to bring harm to another.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

©2011 by Barbara L. Kass

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The presence of shadow

October 7, 2010

Now that I know, what shall I do?

I’ve discovered the nature that lurks in me – a shadow self – one that is starkly present when I shine an inner light on myself. I can tease it out from all angles. Even if the light is directly overhead, the shadow is still there beneath my feet. This shadow side of me is an aspect of self theorized by psychologist Carl Jung and it sleeps, feeds, and grows within my unconscious.

My whole life has been about waking up and becoming fully conscious. I prefer to be consciously wonderful brimming with goodness, salvation, sanity, charity, understanding, and forgiveness.

According to Jung, once I discover the shadow side, I also discover my dark side.

Within my dark side are my monsters, and if I do not acknowledge them as being mine, if I do not discover their nature and the validity of that nature, I will project them out into the world and suddenly the world is a monstrous place. If I keep my shadow in the dark, it hides until the moment is right to burst forth and suddenly what might come from me is a reaction that speaks of fear, uncertainty, anger, and desperation, and I would not have a clue where it truly came from. Instead, I would blame others for evoking that reaction in me.

I play victim to my own beliefs, and am held prisoner by my ideal projection of how the world should be, constantly locking myself away as the world reveals that it is the projection of billions of other souls who have a different agenda. And, I battle with everything that does not meet my ideal. What I do to others, others are doing to me. Thus, the world becomes what Jung called the “collective unconscious.”

The cure, of course, is sociological critical mass consisting of enough souls who have encountered and accepted their shadows. I need to become aware of the root of my reactions and whether those reactions are feeding the monster or if I am truly responding to others as they are.

Now that I know, this is what I shall do: live by the intent of creating a world where life recognizes and promotes itself as One.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

The presence of projection

October 2, 2010

To love something or someone makes us see the beauty of it, not the wrong. (Unknown Chief, Science of Mind, September 2010, p. 61)

There is a saying in the Talmud that we see things as we are rather than as the way they are. In psychological speak, we call this projection. We project on to others what we imagine we see in them and the only qualities we can project is that which we know. In other words, we must have that quality in ourselves in order to see it in another person.

I can’t name it if I don’t know it.

If I see a quality in another person, I must first assume that it is me, my quality that I am projecting on to them. I can also check with the other person by asking them. For example, I can say, “I see you are displaying (behavior) and for me, that behavior means (happy, depressed, angry, sad, joyful, irritated, annoyed, content, connected, bored . . . you get the picture).” Note: good judgment is required here and if someone is acting out their anger by threatening to shoot someone, run first, and ask questions later.

I need to always be ready for the person who is so out of touch with their feelings that they cannot identify or associate their behavior with their feelings. And there are people who are in denial that they feel anything at all.

As I live my intent every day to bring my true presence to life I am working to recognize the universal consciousness in me (God, the divine presence, higher power) and I am doing that by seeking the universal consciousness in others. If I can see divinity in another person, then I can find it in myself. As I am seeking to love someone even when that person is being everything but lovable, then I rely on the quote above – I look to find one beautiful thing about that person and focus on that. It is not easy because this method goes against the programming of my childhood but it feels more real.

The amazing thing about recognizing myself in others is that once I see the quality in me, then I can own it. Once I own it, I am in charge of that feeling or quality and, therefore, in charge of my behavior.

I look around at the beautiful people in my life, their generosity, their loving and giving natures, and I find that I love me a whole lot.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

homeless presence

September 21, 2010

“Sha’up.”

She says this several times, to other children, to adults to might stop to talk with her.

“Sha’up.”

She is all of two years old. I know this because I have overheard the conversation her mother is having with one of the staff of the homeless shelter. I am at this homeless shelter as a part of my service learning commitment for my degree in pastoral counseling and spiritual care at Loyola University.

Service learning is not just volunteering to “do good” for others so that we feel good about ourselves. Service learning is just that: learning about service to others. These families who are homeless are going to teach me an awful lot over the next 10 to 12 weeks about my limits and boundaries, my capacities and abilities.

Meanwhile, I am listening to this child and realizing that she says “Sha’up” when anyone begins telling her something she does not want to hear or if she wants to be talking.

Shut up.

This is a homeless shelter for families. It is just a temporary place with a strictly ruled game-plan to get these people self-sufficient and into housing of their own. This two-year-old little darling of a girl who has learned to say “shut up” hasn’t a clue that there might be a different way to live. It is the hope of the staff who work at the shelter that she will learn.

It is not for me to question why any of these families became homeless, but I want to hear their stories. How I respond to this environment and the people who live here is going to introduce me to my prejudices, my projections, my illusions, and my realities . . . but only if I pay close attention and am willing to learn.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass