"Projection always hides a feeling you don't want to look at. If you examine any negative trait you insist is present in another person, you will find that same trait hiding in yourself. The more you deny this trait, the more strongly you will have to project it." ~ Dr. Deepak Chopra
Sometimes I amaze myself with how much more I have to learn about practicing what I have been "teaching and preaching" for more than a quarter of a century. Occasionally I come across an individual with whom I have an instantaneous negative reaction -- something arises within me that wants to get away from that person's energy immediately. This happened at lunch yesterday in a restaurant when I was seated at a table directly next to a person who was talking incessantly in an exceedingly loud, invasive, grating, penetrating voice, that dominated the entire room. I am aware that this disturbed me because my soul is on a perpetual quest for peace and stillness, even when I am dining out.
Now here's the sticky part for me: If Deepak Chopra is correct in the quote at the top of this message (and he is), every person in my life is serving as a mirror that never lies, including the person described in the restaurant scenario. Really? What part of me could possibly be that way? OMG! After some serious self inquiry it became clear that, at times, the exceedingly loud, grating, penetrating voice, that incessantly dominates the conversation while never taking a breath is the internal voice in my head, especially when I am trying to feed myself spiritually by meditating or reading a complex passage in a book. The takeaway for me is to pay more attention to that voice and learn better how to make peace with it rather than react to it with irritation, unsuccessfully trying to push it away or avoid what it is saying. When I do listen to that voice and gently acknowledge it, it quiets down all on its own. Go figure -- what you resist, persists.
The moral of the story is that when I am willing to catch myself red-handed in the judgment of others, realizing that ultimately the person whom I am really judging is myself, the awareness I need most comes flooding in. The lesson is, the more a person offends me, the deeper the trigger point lies within me. If it were not so, that person's presence would have no effect upon me whatsoever. What a great opportunity every person offers me to heal some aspect of my own being when I am open, aware and teachable. Well, now that I have told on myself, how about you; upon whom might you tend to project your less than desirable traits? As an example, maybe your teacher is the person standing on the corner with a sign asking for money, offering you an opportunity to get in touch with how you feel about sharing your good with others, or a perhaps a fear about lack in your own life you don't want to face. The lessons will vary because our teachers are legion; every human being is our potential teacher if we are willing to receive the lesson they bring to us. If we are open and paying attention the right teacher always seems to appear at the right moment.
In those moments of ego projection, if we are willing to take a deep breath and peek into our mind we may be stunned by the findings: Remaining open to being taught by someone who, by our judgment, is offensive, or somehow not behaving in a manner we think they should, is not always easy, but it is possible. When we have the courage to stay the course of conscious self-inquiry with a willingness to learn the lesson at hand, the barriers usually melt away, our judgment dissolves, and we receive the understanding about ourselves our teacher has to offer.
Give thanks for your master teachers each day. You will discover any projection usually centers on a need to love yourself and others more, and judge yourself and others less. As a mindfulness practice today, become the observer of your thoughts and judgments about others. Don't allow any thought, positive or negative, about another to slip by unnoticed. When that person offers you a rare glimpse into yourself, smile and silently say, "Thank you." Take the lesson that is being offered you and see how it applies in your life. Remember, you are also a reflection in their eyes. May they realize that the gentle and loving Spirit they see in you is but a reflection of their own divine nature. The mirror never lies.