When I feel tempted to tell someone what he or she ‘has to do’, or ‘needs to think about’, I stop myself and wonder if I may be projecting my own desire to control the world, control my fears, and insecurities.
Say for example, if I think that YOU should start a practice, then I turn it around and ask where in my life do I need to start a practice?
If I think someone is obnoxious I turn it around and ask where AM I being obnoxious?
If I find my mind criticizing someone I don’t even know I turn it around and ask why do I need to feel superior?
I never let one of these opportunities go without pondering if I am projecting.
100% of the time I AM projecting.
And I need to consider why I have the desire to control.
Why the urge to be right? What is my deepest motivation in acting like this?
I learned that lesson well through my brother, when in the late 1990’s I would go to Buenos Aires and think I could help by giving him money. It didn’t work. He was upset and perceived it as me ‘throwing’ him money.
He asked me to stop trying to ‘save him’. WOW!
He had a point. Who did I think I was thinking that my money would solve all his problems? Or pretending I understood exactly what his nervous system was going through.
Ever since that conversation I think twice before I give advice, money, or my opinion to anyone and never ever give it if unsolicited.
At least I try, I may slip from time to time because I am human and stopping projections is a practice.
Not long ago I did an exercise where I thought of a person I don’t like, then wrote a list of all things I did not like about that person. The punch line of the exercise is, of course, to turn the list around, to see how all those things apply to me.
It does get better when I think of someone I do like or admire, then I list why and those things also apply to me.
I find that projection, insecurity and a desire to control things is very present, is part of a collective pain body.
I see it in comments I have to delete from time to time where someone seems to think they know much better and tell me what is good or not good for me.
We see the world through our own nervous system after all, the trick is not trying to impose our views on others.
We swim in the ocean of our projections, happily believing what we want to believe, then one day we wake up and notice the dry dessert of reality.
It can hurt a bit to recognize that we are not that important.
This is How I Keep a Check on Projections
1. Turning it Around.
When I think someone is silly, obnoxious, or hurtful I turn it around and see if I am being obnoxious, hurtful or silly. Sometimes I am, sometimes I am not. This does not mean I let myself be run over by others.
I need to keep grounded and speak up. I just make sure, whenever possible, to ensure I am not projecting my own whatever.
2. Running it Through Another Mind.
I call this a reality check. And I consult with someone neutral, NOT someone that always agrees with me.
Over the years my group of support has grown. And there are four people I can now email at any time to ask for a reality check.
I highly recommend it, especially with people you can trust, because it can clear muddy waters like nothing else.
3. When I think I KNOW
Notice the emphasis on ‘thinking I know’ what another one needs to do, hear, accept, understand, then I stop.
I remind myself that I know nothing or at most I know very little. I only offer my thoughts when solicited.
4. When I Listen Silence my Mind.
Listening to someone speak is a big challenge for most of us.
I try to stop myself from going to my own experiences and thinking about how it applies to me, or to start building answers in my mind while the other is still speaking.
Because if I do that… If I start thinking… That takes me away from what the person is actually saying. Away from the present moment.
It is a great exercise to remind myself to be open and in the space of ‘not knowing’. Magic happens, new things are co-created when true-listening happens.
Next time you talk to someone challenge yourself to REALLY LISTEN. It’s harder than it sounds
5. I Am Not Here to Save the World.
Whenever I learned a lesson throughout my life, I only learned it in MY own terms, and when I was ready to hear the message, thank you very much.
Many times people have told me things that could have helped me but I did not listen.
We can only do it when ready.
So if someone legitimately asks for advise, then I give it and let it go. They will hear or not hear the message they need. But it is NOT up to me.
I may be able to better help the world by being truly present than by trying to convince others of my ideas.
6. When Angry I Stop.
Keeping anger in check is basic for me.
Warren Buffett says you can always tell someone to f^&k off tomorrow… Meaning, don’t react when you are angry… Nothing will come out of it.
Protect yourself from yourself by putting a buffer of twenty-four hours.
Many times when I am fuming I run it by James and he will say something like ‘you are giving way too much power to this situation’.
He is usually right.
7. I Trust that Everything Is as it Should.
What happens is what IS. No point in resisting.
So now, tell me, how do you do it? How do you keep projections in check?
Claudia Azula Altucher is a teacher of all branches of yoga. She is the author of “Become An Idea Machine,” & Co-Author of “The Power Of No.” You can find her on Twitter, or sign up for her newsletter to stay in touch.