Dislike Without a Projection

Normally, we enjoy the company of some and choose not to spend time with particular others. Sometimes, such as in work or family situations, we are obligated to socialize with people who would not be personal preferences. Can we legitimately not care for someone’s company ? Is it possible to validly dislike another without it being a projection of a shadow?

More than likely, yes. The key is to be monitor how much energy goes into our reaction to what appears negative to us. If a person elicits a strong reflex of loathing from us then the shadow is at play. It animates the dislike for this person. We can’t help but judge them as less and ourselves as better.

We are often told not to judge lest we be judged. That judgement is left to God. I had asked a priest how it is that I not judge. If I know what is happening is sinful how do I not know it ? It seemed to take away human reasoning. He answered that it is not about pretending that the immorality does not exist but to be aware of it without playing God.

We are free to choose our companions.  We naturally favor being with some people over others. To know if it is shadow work or not, watch for the energy that is stirred by a negative projection. If we are still then we are aware what we simply prefer or not in our lives.

Also, the more we identify, acknowledge, and integrate our shadows the more easy we are with those who use to annoy us so terribly. Without the projection we are no longer connected to them in a false relationship. We are more free to know and love them as they are, knowing better who we ourselves are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Keep Inner Working

To know yourself better is to KNOW God better because each time you become more your Self the closer you are to being who the Creator created. It is not that He is far away when we are largely unconscious but that we live in our own definitions of how reality, including God, is. Take for example the Jews who could not accept Jesus as the expected Messiah because they had already defined the Savior as someone who would lead them in war to overthrow all oppressors and then establish Israel again as a great nation. Others who took the step to come before Jesus without hiding their faults were forgiven and healed. They no longer only believed but KNEW God in a deeper relationship as He wants to define it.

Being perfectly human is to carry the inner capabilities of both “good” and “bad”. That is God’s gift and burden of free will. Jesus as fully human also had choices. If this were not true Satan would not have bothered to tempt Him in the desert.  If Jesus could not have chosen yes to sin there is no credibility to choosing no. It is good to note here that Jesus was fasting and praying for forty days. In other words He was doing His inner work.

So we are not to hide from whom God created us to be. That is the same as hiding from Him just as Adam and Eve did and fear occurred.   Do your inner work and stop hiding and living in fear. Know yourself, Know God.

 

 

 

Relate To; Not Identify With

I first read those words in this title in a book by Marion Woodman,  a Jungian analyst and author. I had been so confused about how to handle a shadow. Historic wisdom, theology, and psychology had always taught that to reach perfection was to rid ourselves of anything deemed negative or undesirable, even those talents mistakenly darkened by social pressure.  It seemed a lifetime of a losing battle.

Wholeness is a human’s holiness. My own personal shadow of superiority is not in all categories but in one small slice of the pie. This is my inner work for now and it is tied to a fear. I had mentioned in an earlier blog that where you are afraid is where lies your inner work.  First, to the extent I am afraid I cannot love or be loved. Therefore I must recognize what is causing separation from my true self, Christ-self, and separation from others. I am aware of its presence as I feel, but I am not “it” and therefore can choose not to react out if it but choose a better response.

Second, what possible value could this shadow have when it is integrated into my life? For now, I think it is a gift of being a standard bearer pointing the way.

Just as fire can be horribly destructive and wonderfully beneficial, our shadows are ruinous and fulfilling.  If God could be fully human so should we.

Be Aware of Opportunity III

Unconscious projection is a clue and sign post.  My emotional annoyance with someone I hardly know, if at all, is like a mysterious map marked with a fancy X revealing where a treasure may be found. Even if the inner find is looked at as a negative quality there is a value to it that has been ignored or misunderstood.

Why did I react with instant dislike for a person because of a fashion statement?  What in me was I placing on her so that I looked so good? I kept thinking back to that moment and some comments she made about herself. I could finally name it as a feeling of superiority coming from her. This is more than an academic analysis . It is personal because my feelings were personal.  It is painful yet hopeful to find my own denied sense of superiority.

Anyone who has  long suffered an illness that eluded diagnosis will tell you that on the day it was finally named they felt some hope and direction even if the news was not good.

Once I can come to terms with the existence in me of a quality I do not like and therefore hide, I must bring it out of the darkness where it had gained power over my reactions and decisions. Then there is some time of regret, sorrow, and contrition. There is no time frame for this, some shadows are easy, some are not.  For Catholics, the Sacrament of Penance, confession, is an invaluable rite at this time.

What is very important to learn is that neither the good or the bad is who you are. Do not identify with the shadow but rather relate to it.  It is similar to when we talk of some illnesses. We have cancer or we  have bronchitis. We do not say we are cancer or bronchitis. However, we often say we are depressed, unifying ourselves with the disease and causing great misunderstanding and unnecessary stigmas.

On the other side, to identify with a positive shadow is just as faulty. This happens to people who view their gifts as themselves and not as  contributions to the world. Leaders who become “messiahs” are like this. It is called inflation.

When a shadow perceived as negative is found and brought into consciousness, its unconscious power lessens. It was an energy misplaced and it actually will have positive value to offer when it is integrated into the whole.

Be Aware of the Opportunity II

In order for me to find the inner source of my projection onto the woman mentioned in the previous post, I spend time recalling the meeting and giving serious thought to naming that first impression. Why did her style bother me so? Did it really make a difference in my life? None of it makes sense until you learn about projection and your inner world.

There are moments in the day when you can give yourself over to thinking about a projection. When I had a two hour commute I would allow my mind to wander into my inner journey. Now I can take time over morning coffee or during an afternoon hiatus. You may find that your morning routine in preparing for the day is so automatic that you can bring the situation to mind and not miss a beat.

Allowing a negative projection to exist saps energy and diminishes joy. It is a fly in the ointment of an otherwise good party, family reunion, work site, volunteer group. There are often two reactions to this situation. Some people are good at ignoring and others use venting their dislike to friends, sometimes with a hope of recruiting comrades.

Ignoring may sound like the noble high road but it does not solve the problem. It only performs a temporary fix. Carl Jung warned that what we do not bring to consciousness will come to us as fate. God wants you in relationship with Him and the more you become the YOU He intentionally created the less you are hiding. Jesus is the model for never hiding from the Father. They are one. God longs for each of us to know Him the same way.

We are each on a personal spiritual mission to become whole (holy). This is our first mission and it will drive everything we do, even if it is unconsciously, and what happens to us. If we choose to be aware and do the inner work, our second mission, to make our world better by a very unique and specific calling, will present itself almost daily. By our very nature, we want to live our own purpose. That is the place we find peace and joy living a divine vocation and accepting a divine invitation to know God.

As Mother Theresa said, and I paraphrase, it is never about you and the other person or the situation. It is always about you and God.

Be Aware of Opportunity

I had met a woman whom I instantly disliked yet I didn’t even know her! It was her fashion statement that bothered me. I considered her attire to be exaggerated and in poor taste.This had immediately elicited from me some averse judgement.  Why could I not just observe her style without a reaction? Each time after that first meeting, I still had an unkind assessment of who she is.

This is an example of shadow and projection. I have laid upon this person a quality inside me I do not like. She is a hook for this projection, meaning there is in reality something of her which matches my projection but I would not have such a negative reaction if I had already brought this denied entity into my own consciousness.

This relationship with her is of great value to me because it is a clue to where I need to go on my inner journey. It is not about her but about who I  really am. It takes time and introspection to figure it out. It also takes courage but the reward of “the truth will set you free” is worth it.

Each time we become more of whom God created us to be we simultaneously open wider our acceptance of God’s divine invitation to know Him.  We open more to divine relationship, we open more to grace, we open more to others and life.

Where to Turn

One of the most distinctive times in our lives we are willing to take a peek at the shadow is when our lives are at an impasse. We are frustrated beyond measure, not knowing why things aren’t working nor what to do about it. This includes a tragedy which has suddenly brought us to the end of a road we thought was our way. So we make any outer change possible: a new job, a new hobby,  a new addiction, even a new family. These answers are always a temporary fix. A new religious fervor or spiritual seeking will often be of more help but if we refuse to take a look inside and keep projecting holiness outwardly, we will continue to repeat the lessons which are trying desperately to grow us to our true selves. That is where we will know God beyond believing.

The greater our fear of the shadow the greater the impetus required to jump start us beyond the fear, that is: it becomes more painful to stay than to leap. I think if you begin this inner work sincerely and with even a small amount of dedication the monster under the bed becomes less and less fearsome each time.

The beginning of inner work is with the shadow, both dark and golden.  These entities which are blocked off become more and more powerful in their hiddeness and cause us to expend quite a bit of energy to keep them in place. They cause us to react like an automatic reflex rather than respond to a situation in a manner more appropriate or worthwhile.

The shadow is not an evil force but a misplaced energy or entity of ourselves. When it is recognized and given its place in consciousness, it becomes invaluable. My previous example of laziness is a case in point. Now that I recognize the need for my own downtime of being, my “lazy” side has value. It teaches me a flower bed is not just for weeding.

Knowing God, Knowing You

The fears of who we are or think we are can keep us from accepting the divine invitation from God to know Him. As we KNOW so must we be KNOWN. Of course God does actually know us, but free will allows us to set up limits, deciding how far we want to go. The parts of ourselves we keep in the unconscious, both good and unacceptable, are hidden from others and hinder us from a fuller relationship with God by our own decision. Just like in human relationships, intimacy grows with each revelation to the other.

If I have judged my lazy self to be a weakness and a bad quality, I cast it down into my unconscious where it still exists as my shadow. I work hard, drive myself, persevere, and negatively judge people I view as lazy. Now, I do not take that lazy part of me to prayer, consciously. I pray out of the image I have myself. God is absolutely there but He will enter only as far as I will give Him room to do so.

How do you know what parts of you are cast into shadow?  A very simple clue is found in paying attention to those people who instantly draw a negative or highly positive reaction from you. This is called projection and is an invaluable tool for inner work. When you automatically dislike a person or she gets on your nerves almost immediately, it is a projection from you onto her from your own shadow the very same negative quality you perceived in her. Now, she may be a “hook” for that disliked quality meaning she is actually like that but the fact that you react strongly to it means that you have denied that in yourself.

When I was finally  honest about the lazy person in me who needed some time to relax and enjoy the world in a better balance from too much endeavor, I was free from spending energy hiding it and more relaxed and open with God and with others. You can observe behavior in another that you do not like but it is your shadow when it elicits an energy that draws you in.

This is the same for the shadow which carries fine and good qualities about yourself that were denied and put away a long time ago. This seems contradictory because it would seem we would all want to have important talents but talents and callings take time, energy, sacrifice, priority, and discipline. These requirements are not always how one may choose to spend his days. Sometimes the gold is commanded to the shadow because it is not something acceptable in the family, the society, or the culture. A dancing career for a son is not welcomed in a family of sports enthusiasts or vice-verse. A mother is afraid for her daughter to be too smart and educated or the mother is too ambitious for the daughter to achieve academically when the girl loves fashion. Those talents are then locked away.

You will come to know the gold in your shadow by the same projection tool. When someone enlivens you, activates you, sparks something in you, you have projected your shadow onto his hook. That person may carry your projection for awhile until you are ready to do so but if you never claim it for yourself, you have missed the chance to know yourself more and move closer to your true self, where God is waiting. What you see in that person who attracts you and you admire so much  is what is also in you.

Awareness and do not be afraid, or be afraid and do it anyway.

The Question of Fear

We have many matters which we fear and these fears can cause retreat, hiding, overreaction, distortion of judgment, lethargy. What we are personally afraid of may compel us to react to a situation in such a way as to give the complete opposite impression we were intending.

I do know my greatest fear but before I write it I will double back to smaller fears which need to be addressed along the way. It can be a progression. Jung believed that if you know the present fear there is your next step. He also taught that what you do not deal with in your inner world will come to you as fate in the outer world. This may seem harsh but God is so deeply longing for your willingness to be approached by Him, He is quite persistent. Do take it personally.

One day my very young daughter asked me what I was afraid of. I answered, “Being a bad mother.”  Quietly but with expression she responded: “Wow, mine is just tornadoes!”

It is a cute story but looking back on it I realize regrettably that I had missed a signal and was traveling on the wrong road to good motherhood. In my fear I had reacted to parenting by erring too far on the side of societal conformity while not enjoying and nurturing individual uniqueness. I could not relax with myself and then consequently not with others either. Because I did not know of the unconscious or inner work at that time I remained unaware until I did have to live the lesson out as fate. It was a painful and anxiety ridden time of family troubles. By God’s grace I met someone who led me to Carl Jung and similar authors. The work to be done was in me. Daunting but more hopeful than waiting for others to change and eventually very freeing. God has told us that the truth will set us free.

My biggest fear stems from the circumstances of my life which caused me to be ashamed of and bury my spiritual gift. This biggest fear is not living out my mission in life. I have a friend whose biggest fear is being homeless and another who is afraid of ending up alone. Once a fear is understood it can actually be of great value because it loses its power to lead you in a stranglehold and becomes a guiding companion.

 

Fear, Risk, And a Question

What could be the risk of Knowing God? What causes our rejection or hesitation?  On the surface it seems knowing God would be like hitting the lottery or winning a gold medal. Who wouldn’t want the Creator on her team. So why the doubt and inaction?

Every negative emotion, if peeled down to the core like onion layers  would reveal fear at the center. Hate is usually cast as the opponent of love but it is really fear. That is why St. John writes: Love has no room for fear….love is not yet perfect in one who is afraid.” 1 John 4:18.  If perfect love defeats fear then fear prevents love.

Oddly enough, it is often not the right answer  but the right question that takes us where we need to be. So the question is: “What is your fear ?” It could range from loss of control, to sacrifice, to admitting being wrong in life choices, to dismantling the guard around your hidden self,  referred to as your shadow by Carl Jung. He also  said that where lies your greatest fear, there lies your life’s work.

This could take some work but it gives us a clue, a map, a tool, an action. If you have been stalemated, stuck , plateaued or knocked for a loop on your life’s journey here is a way to go. The angel Gabriel’s first words to Mary were: “Be not afraid.”  God’s love enters as fear subsides but the fear must be named in order to be dealt with.