(FINE LINE FRIDAY) Guilt, Blame and Projections! (Part 2)

(An excerpt from Walking a Fine Line: Being Professional in the New Age, a book I wrote in the early  90′s that’s been living in my closet.)

Just because a projection is a projection does not mean that it is only a projection. 


Say a woman named Shayna feels uncomfortable speaking in public, so is prone to seeing a similar tendency in others whether the tendency is there or not.


One day, Shayna sees a man speaking in public and observes his unease.  Shayna’s observation could be a total projection, and the man feels completely calm and at ease.  If so, her observation is unfounded in the sense that it reveals more about Shayna’s insecurities than it does about the man’s.


It is also possible, however, that the man is just as nervous as Shayna perceives him to be.  Even if Shayna herself is sweating with overly-empathic worry, even if the emotional charge she experiences reveals an intense projection, and, even if she sees the man as more nervous than he really is, one fact remains unchanged; he does feel nervous.


So the fact that Shayna is making this particular observation (rather than someone who does not fear public speaking) does not negate the truth in what she sees.


Projections frequently combine subjective opinions and objective realities.  Thus in Shayna’s case, the man is  probably nervous, but not quite as nervous as Shayna imagines.  If she totally disregards the potential validity of her observations and only thinks that what she sees pertains to herself, she limits her options.


If, on the other hand, Shayna trusts her sense that the man is indeed feeling insecure, she has more options available to her.  She can give him a bouquet of flowers, congratulate him on a job well done, or she can let him know that he is not alone, that she knows how he feels.


If Shayna acts on her observations, she runs a risk of discovering her hunches are off the mark.  She also risks realizing that her observations are keen, and her supportive actions greatly appreciated.  Ultimately, Shayna will never know if her observations are right or wrong until she dares test them out.


For people who tend to internalize all outer realities, the act of acknowledging, trusting and acting on their observations, opinions and feelings about others not only requires courage, but requires a willingness and ability to experience guilt. 


Just like chronic blamers can feel guilt when they bring their projections home, chronic internalizers can feel guilt when they allow themselves to project.  Suddenly, they realize that the parents they have defended all of these years really did screw up; they understand they have not been the sole creators of the conflicts they have experienced; they see how the thoughts, attitudes and expectations of others have influenced their lives and ability to cope constructively. People on pedestals come crashing down.  Protective illusions are broken, uncomfortable feelings surface, and life-changing decisions demand their attention.  They must ultimately face their power to choose differently and live with the resulting consequences.


This can feel uncomfortable and scary.  Yet the courage to see clearly is the first step towards achieving a more healthy, realistic approach to life and relationships.

Spiritually-oriented students work hard to release themselves from the chains of victim consciousness. 


Therefore, the act of taking “projections” seriously enough to test their potential validity out in the physical world can require courage.  It not only requires dealing with the consequences of clear vision, but with being self-labeled and/or by their communities as “blamers” or “unspiritual.”  Sometimes, however, a willingness to test out projections is the only way for New Age students to learn what is “theirs” and what is not.


When students dare express their observations, then attend to the feedback received, they can gain insight into themselves, their surroundings, and discover ever more appropriate responses.


New Age students who allow themselves to temporarily validate their projections have a better chance of discovering which parts of their responses and observations are personally rooted and need private healing, and which parts contain collective relevance and need constructive and external action.


When New Age students are too busy avoiding the label of “blamer” to check out the potential truth of their projections, they often end up paralyzed, unwilling to act on their observations and unable to create positive external (as well as internal) changes.


New Age professionals can serve clients/students who take too much responsibility for their inner/outer circumstances by making space for projections.  Professionals can also help their exceptionally and spiritually ambitious students by encouraging them to explore the deeper roots of the guilt which often surface with projections.


Just as the “good guilt” of the ex-blamer can lead to a deeper sense of responsibility and a more highly developed conscience, the “good guilt” of the ex-internalizer can lead to the discovery of buried feelings and old patterns of protection, and eventually to greater self-confidence and rightful action.


Anger is one of the most commonly found buried feelings.  Many New Age over-achievers learn to automatically replace feelings like anger with guilt or sadness.  It makes sense that for people who hold “innocence,” personal responsibility and harmony as the highest of goals and who are involved in communities which share the same values, feeling and expressing guilt and sadness can feel more safe and familiar than less “pretty” emotions.


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