*smash* Taking a Sledgehammer to Self-Projection.
My aunt made a very telling comment today. In some sense she´s the most astute person in my family. She noticed that I´d always been a projector. Let me explain. Not the kind of projector who imprints her own insecurities unto how others behave. Or the kind that intentionally pretends to be something that she is not.
Rather – I´m the kind of projector that is so focused upon presenting a particular image of herself to the exclusion of other parts – more so to keep functional. In some sense we all do this.
I had to struggle with some ridiculous levels of shite, racism, institutional abuse – and other things as a kid – it was my coping mechanism. Didn´t stop there – one of my parents got terribly ill in my late teens and I became the primary caregiver for a few years, and that aged me quite a bit. Things like that, and a lot more. So, ample need to revert back to my coping mechanism. Work.
I´ve reached a point where that strategy has become a hurdle in itself. The projected image, as successful or highly functional as it is seen to be, has become a crutch in my own growth process. I´m grateful to see it now, rather than later – so maybe there´s hope for me yet 😉
Though, should I not want to deal with it – I´m sure it would be all too easy for me to keep going with that strategy… build an even more awesome looking image .. identify with it more … and cast a reality-bubble that suits it more and more. And to draw people into that bubble.
Which is also why, very often, the most popular or well known facilitators – have some of the most dense baggage to sort through. And you see that their followers have a similar coping mechanism.
All projectors work through the power of the image and what it can represent. I´d say my issue is self-projection. Probably why so much of the work I do is focused upon cutting through such dynamics, in a bid to exorcise it from myself. I suspect you can tell a lot about the type of baggage a facilitator him/herself carries when you look at the areas of life or experience they specialize in.
I´ve always been the kind of person who was academically and intellectually advanced (head-smart), but for whom the other aspects of self (emotional, interpersonal, spiritual, etc.) took longer to develop. Given the insane number of obstacles I had to push through, I can see why expressing my emotions was not a safe thing for me in the context I grew up in. Old habits die hard – it´s certainly still a work in progress.
I´m too good, in some sense, at whatever work I choose to do – as that tends to become the image others see me as – and what I see myself as. Work often becomes my escape route as I just become what I do. And if all I wanted to be was a priestess, academic, facilitator, public figure, etc. – that would be alright (in the short run). Though it would be limiting, in many ways.
( Though – my brother says I´d make an excellent cult leader should that life path appeal – thankfully, it doesn´t! )
Which is why taking a holiday is such a difficult thing for me. And I don´t mean pilgrimaging, I mean a real holiday. It´s a very humbling thing to walk away from the image you cast to the world, in my case, my work self and to just be, in the ´real´ world. Where people interact with you in flesh and blood, and most of them simply pass you by. I´m not ´The Sky Priestess´, just a random person walking down the street.
When I sit with myself, I see a messy, weepy, grief-struck human being. With all of the fragility of chinaware. My first impulse was to run a million miles instead of being with that person, but I´m sticking the course.
It amazes me how many people assume that I´ve never seen conflict or trouble in my life. But I can understand why – as I don´t often talk about the crap I have to deal with. And given my physical age, there´s probably been too much of it.
On top of all of that, the past few years have been… utterly brutal in many, many ways. I´ve had to say goodbye to many people I loved, trusted and respected. And have had to reinvent myself in the process. I´m sure that´s a narrative that many can relate to. I suspect many of us have learnt simply how to cope with these changes, one after another – and possibly not taken the time to grieve what has been let go of. Or maybe you have, but I see that I need a little more time with that.
Just to be clear – Whilst I appreciate well wishes, I do not want any prayers sent up / holding space / spiritual work on my behalf (thank you) – just a personal preference. Human empathy is more than enough. I´d rather sit with my own energy myself as I haven´t done that enough recently.
I´m taking a sledgehammer (as best I can) to those aspects of my projected self-image I hide in, through my public work. Which is difficult for me – as I´m fairly reserved about my deepest emotions and personal wounds.
I tend to hide in my areas of competence because of that reservation, rather than wanting people to be impressed with what I do, or devaluing the simple basic day to day stuff etc. It just doesn´t come easy for me. ( Black Moon Lilith in Cancer on the Ascendant, Capricorn Sun on the Descendant – put the two together and Viola! )
It is genuinely inspiring to me – when someone can just say – I feel like shit. X, Y, Z, happened today and so on and so forth. It takes me ages to be able to say that for myself at a personal level. Especially in relationships. Because I have excellent tools to help the other person, I often fail to see what I should be doing for myself from the get go. (Something which I know a lot of you fellow facilitators go through as well)
Maybe this is happening now as I´ve finally got to a place where I´m confident in the mirror I can hold up for others – it´s gotten so sparkly and clean with all the grit that has been thrown at it and ground down into it – so now I get to turn it inwards.
There´s always been that introspective push in me, but the better I get as a facilitator, the deeper my own work goes. It´s always a multidirectional process of growth.
Although I believe in the principle of – being willing to handle what you dish out –
Jeeze, that´s a tough mirror to look into 😛 – I admire my clients …..
It´s not an unwelcome reflection as – after looking at the ´Glastonbury Bubble´ over the past few days – I´d already been thinking along the same lines and trying to apply my questions to myself. Having that external voice put it into words helped tremendously.
Too often do spiritualists (clearly, myself included) fall into the projection game.
We often over-identify with the roles we play and forget we´re people.
Sometimes that creates the wounded-healer style of facilitator who is excellent at helping others process the wounds they still struggle with. I see that a lot in my self, and especially, in older facilitators who have been doing the work for a while and wonder why their clients have made the shift that they so deeply seek.
And sometimes that creates a more dangerous kind of facilitator – the one who cannot see themselves as having any flaws, and so transfer the perception of their wounds and vulnerabilities unto others. Everyone else must be wrong, as they cannot be anything short of divine and perfect. Everything they say, think, or feel must be right. And if you challenge them, it is you who are misguided, imperfect, etc.
But whichever type of projection game it is, it still comes down to the issue not acknowledging your fullest humanity. And realizing that … well .. maybe you need to sit down with your own stuff first. I think that´s a back and forth for everyone in this line of work.
You´ve got to get back to yourself and get real with you before you get back out there. There´s no shame in that. And I wish it got talked more about.
We (as a collective) are so fixated on the title / role / establishing a ´presence´, image, label or role – one that doesn´t shift. Reaching a type of spiritual level of attainment that you don´t climb down from.
It goes back to older cultural norms of pedestalizing the teacher. But as I´ve said before, teachers become students – students become teachers – cycle keeps going. That´s how we grow, or rather, the model we may want to adopt.
Which is probably why I got the signal to cancel my workshop in London as well. As much as I wanted to – there´s so much that I want to share – my Spirit kept saying to rest, observe and watch.
There is very little point trying to teach a lesson you are still in the middle of learning yourself. And Goddess knows there is still a hell of a lot for me to learn.
What an intense Mercury Retrograde 😀
Post © Bairavee Balasubramaniam, 2016.
Image: Vincent van Gogh – Irises (1889), Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons