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This Post Is Not for You

 

It’s for me.

 

Mainly. It is a little for you. After all, the title is a gimmick so you would want to read it. And I am making it public here. But having said that, I want to reiterate, mainly for myself, that this post is mainly for me, not you.

 

At this point it would probably be best for both of us if I went ahead and presented the post. I seem to be hesitating to do that. I think it’s because I’m saying so clearly to you that this post is so much for me. And maybe because, as you’ll see, I make a bold statement that I’m not sure I can live up to, but that I want to.

 

OK. Here goes.

 

Well, first, let me say that I started writing this post thinking it was for you—or, rather, some vague non-existent “you” that I imagined I was talking to. So, you’ll see that that’s how the post starts.

 

OK. For real. Here’s the post. (But don’t get your expectations too high.)

 

 

The Post

 

If I could pick one cause of the social and political conflict we are all so painfully aware of these days, it would be the one Carl Jung highlighted a hundred years ago—the same one I think Jesus pointed to a couple of millennia before that: projection.[1]

 

Projection, as many of you know, is seeing our hopes, fears, desires, and hatreds in other people, while refusing to acknowledge their source in us.

 

Left or right, homophobe or woke crusader, I don’t think anyone is immune. I think all conflicts between people result from conflicts within people.

 

I think these inner conflicts arise from our premises of conflict. Premises like, “There’s not enough to go around,” “Someone has to lose when someone else gains,” or “I can’t have what I desire.” I’ve found that changing my premises to ones of harmony and abundance has had a profound effect on my relationships and life in general. I think Jesus taught this same idea.[2]

  

I think projection happens not just with our negative qualities, but with our positive ones as well. Depending on the individual, I think we largely project our strength, love, authority, creativity, and courage onto others and deny them to ourselves.

 

If we turned inward for these resources, I think the energy we could access would dwarf coal, oil, solar, wind, and nuclear combined.[3] We would stop wasting time both condemning others and looking to them for our fulfillment. We would claim our greatest power. Certainly Jung, and Jesus too I think, pointed to this ultimate source of energy inside us.[4]

 

It seems to me that few people want to recognize this. And many fewer want to remember it every day in how they encounter the world.

 

But if what I’m saying about projection is true, then what other people recognize, remember—or think in general—is not so much my business. What I need most is not for you to agree with me or change. What I need most is to recognize my own projections.

 

Take, for example, this “you” I’m so often addressing when I write. It’s strikes me lately that it’s an interesting “you.” It’s simultaneously an intimidating authority figure and a little lost sheep—someone I’ve wanted to somehow both impress and save. That would seem to be, at best, a tall order. It appears I’ve been shadowboxing a vague, self-contradictory ghost that I’ve concocted in my mind. I’ve been projecting this impossible phantom onto the flesh-and-blood individual “you” that is actually reading this right now. (Hi, by the way.)

 

Shadowboxing with an impossible ghost is unfulfilling and exhausting. I believe it ties me in knots and blocks the flow of vital energy through me. And for a long time now, I’ve imagined that allowing some vital energy to flow through me is central for a good-feeling life.

 

I want to let more of that energy flow.

 

I’ve probably written down that intention hundreds of times in the privacy of my journals. This post, I suppose, is an experiment[5] to see if a public statement of the intention does anything more for me—makes me more accountable, and better, to myself.

 

And what can you do? If you meet me, you could remind me not to project onto you. Besides that, I’ll just have to trust you to decide.

 

 


 

  Footnotes

 

[1] What else could Jesus have meant when he said, “First remove the beam from your own eye and then you can see clearly enough to remove the splinter from someone else’s,” not to mention, “Judge not, lest you be judged,”

[2] “Ask and it will be given.” “Your faith has healed you.” “Do not worry about your life.”

[3] If you’re thinking of making a joke here about our inner “natural gas” resources, I’m way ahead of you.

[4] “The kingdom of Heaven is within you.”

[5] Though, really, isn’t everything we do an experiment?

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