The End of Self-Identified Projection
by Eric Gross
For this article, I asked Eric if he would like to contribute something special for our ever-expanding blog. He said he would be very pleased to make a contribution to the truth of oneness and granted us permission to publish an entire chapter from his book Liberation from the Lie. I thought it would be beneficial for our readers if he would give a short intro and or summarized some of the terminology he uses throughout the book, especially since the chapter we are featuring (chapter 20), is on page 251. In a nut-shell this chapter focuses on ending the burden of psychological projection. Please enjoy the writing – Matthew K.
Beneath our public and apparent selves thrives a lie. This lie is the mark of our invalidation; it is the belief that our authentic being is the invalidated, hurting self. Belief in this lie keeps us locked into self-contempt and it is this belief in our inadequate false self that keeps us locked into the compulsive need for self-improvement, therapy, and addiction to achievement. As long as we buy into this lie, we can never experience or live as our authentic selves.
The Wound spawns our belief that we and our world are inadequate, insufficient, worthless. This belief—which I call the Lie—is very much like an iceberg, with most of its mass invisible, below the level of conscious recognition. The vigor with which we seek to prove our value to ourselves, our friends, our family, or anyone else is equal to the extent to which the mass of our Wound is hidden. It is the engine that produces the fuel of our insecurity and endless and hopeless seeking.
A Fear-Self is a sub-persona that is created by the psychological self as its strategy to protect itself from the trauma of the Wound. We are driven to create an array of fear-selves to deal with the shifting demands for self-protection as we navigate ourselves through life. What we are really doing is playing a very sophisticated game designed to prevent us from re-visiting the vast childhood trauma of the Wound.
The easiest and most direct way to understand a Fear-Self is see it in action. Where the Wound is a generalized belief in our innate inadequacy, a Fear-Self is a personality construct designed to counter one of the many ways a Wound expresses itself. For example, if the Wound is experienced in a belief in our own inadequacy, the countering Fear-Self will compulsively need to achieve to prove and demonstrate her adequacy to herself and others. If the Wound expresses itself in the belief that we are not worthy of love and affection because of our physical appearance, then the countering Fear-Self will compulsively direct itself to the various ways people attempt to make themselves attractive, sexually appealing, and, in general, struggle against the effects of time on the body. If the Wound expresses itself as undeserving of attention from others, the countering Fear-Self will develop to show how important we are. This Fear-Self often takes the form of “the expert” and even “the spiritual person”. When the Wound expresses itself in the form of I am not worthy of love, the countering Fear-Self may assume the form of the compulsive Pleaser; the person that always needs to show the world how wonderful she is through her excessive caring, charity, and sacrifice.
The following excerpt is from the book Liberation from the Lie
Cutting the Roots of Fear Once and For All
The Fear-Self is projection. The vitality of its projection varies from the intense and profoundly unstable to the extremely subtle, where it is all but invisible.
We cannot see how life really is unless we are able to see how we project our psychology onto life. Operating from the perspective of projection, we are ceaselessly reactive. Our sensed world is divided up into discrete categories of what serves our purpose (a very small percentage of what is actually sensed) and what does not serve our purpose (everything else). When we are dominated by projection, we are not open to authentic life. Instead, life is only what we experience through the filter of a Fear-Self.
Projection pulls us away from the now. Living in projection, we are sensitive only to the ceaseless press of a Fear-Self: “I must do this”; “I must do that”; “I must find things wrong”; “I must locate potential dangers.” The now, where everything actually happens, is overlooked. We know ourselves and our world only through projection.
Underneath all projections is the Wound. Projection organizes experience into crude categories of good and bad. Because it is predicated on an iron-hard belief in our own inadequacy, the purpose of projection is to discover opportunities to counter this belief. It is, in fact, projection that creates Fear-Selves and Fear-Selves that maintain the projection that gave them birth.
Let’s see how this operates. A Pleaser fears rejection (her Wound belief that she is worthless). Through projection, she categorizes people into those who help to counter this painful belief and those who do not. The latter group she hates because they threaten to bring attention to her Wound. She works tirelessly to produce opportunities to maintain and improve her standing in the “approved” community of “good” people and thus sustain distance from her Wound.
When we see through the Wound and the Fear-Selves, the power of our projection diminishes greatly. As it declines, our own authentic power fills the space. The Pleaser can finally take a rest from dividing people into friends and foes and living in terror of failing at her next public exhibition. What a relief that must be!
When the Body Person sees through his Wound and dominant Fear-Self, he can still be active and fit, but he is no longer haunted by his inevitable physical decline or other fears related to his appearance. He is free to be himself. For the first time he can have a good laugh at himself, and those around him can breathe a whole lot easier when his compulsive projections have relaxed their dark grip.
The Loner can begin to re-engage with the raw vitality of life and stop being a slave to her fears. She can recognize and honor the power of her Wound, yet take steps to connect with people. At first, she might be tentative and guarded, but she no longer needs to flee. She may preserve her preference for aloneness, but now this preference is informed by understanding and compassion. It is no longer compulsive and desperate.
The relentless Achiever can stop and ask herself, do I really want to be doing all of this? Is this really me? What sacrifice am I making for my self-interested accomplishments? If I’m telling myself that I must do these things for the sake of my family, am I certain that is true? When the Achiever sees through her projections, she can finally take a long, languorous breath and start regaining her balance. Indeed, she might find that she truly loves what she is doing, but she is no longer driven by fear of failure or by compulsion. People around her can feel her transformation. Suddenly she is warm and vulnerable and capable of deeply connecting with others in her life. Even her dog greets her with more excitement when she returns home after a “not as long” day at the office.
Living life through our projections assures us that our insecurities will be maintained. This is a world of danger, where our survival as a worthy being is always in doubt. In direct contrast with the world of the hunter-gatherer, in the world of projections, trust, if it manifests at all, is a very fragile and tenuous commodity. The mind needs to constantly survey its small world for enemies and threats to its flimsy security. For many of us, this is the only way we know how to live.
Projection is like a fog that surrounds us with its distorted perspective on the world and life. It is the price we pay for our purported psychological protection. The consequence is a life lived with fear. It is toxic not only to ourselves but to everyone else in our life.
Projection is a ceaseless flight from projected fear. As it turns out, passing through our fear—a fear that we now can see to be an insubstantial phantom—is the only journey worth taking.
Key Point: Resistance to Projection
- Projection is part of the interplay of the Wound and the Fear-Selves. It is never advisable to resist it or seek to stop it. Instead, we honor projection by understanding it as a sign of our Life Force. Seeing projection without getting involved in its voice or even allocating too much of our attention to it is the secret to seeing through it. A feeling of relaxation will naturally emerge as its grip on your identity is loosened.
Finding the Place of No Harm
Every Fear-Self is created to provide safety to a wounded image of one’s self. Thought ceaselessly spins stories of
danger, and thus the Fear-Self is sustained throughout our lives.
A young child needs love and care. That is the full expression of their being. But when he is invalidated, a new element of being is created—the unwanted self. Of course, the unwanted self morphs into our more mature sense of inadequacy and insufficiency. The unwanted self is the Wound in the form of the injured personality.
As long as a baby or young child is received for its innate beingness, which is expressed as through unconditional love, support, and care, the “unwanted self” is not formed.
All of our Fear-Selves are adapted to counter identification with the unwanted self and make ourselves safe from harm. Yet here is the irony: We can only be harmed by something with which we identify. Our images of ourselves as an Achiever, a Tough Guy, a Pleaser, an Expert, a Body Person, a Spiritualist can and will be damaged. An image is always tenuous, not fully certain of itself, and often brittle. It is a belief set out into the world, and it will suffer all the wear and tear that the physical universe inflicts.
No matter how great the hurt, no matter how great the tribulation, there is always a part of us remains untouched. That is our authentic being. It needs no image. In fact, if we try to attach an image onto it, it is not possible! Our authentic self is not an image. Yet we seem to “know” only our images of ourselves and others. All Fear-Selves, no matter how refined they might be, are ultimately images.
The final knowing of one’s self is not a knowing at all. We can only trick ourselves into “knowing” something outside of our authentic being. Our authentic self can never be known. It can only be, no matter what else we do or is done to us in our lives.
That is why our authentic selves can never be harmed. We are absolutely 100% safe when all our false images are allowed to disperse and our authentic selves can finally live in the light of day.
When that happens, we are nothing and everything at the same moment, for no dividing line can be drawn between the authentic self and anything the mind labels as “other.”
Anything you are defensive about is an image! Observing your defenses is a great way to discover your false self-images. Nearly all of us are defensive about our bodies, our feelings, and our thoughts. They are, therefore, not our authentic selves. They are fake. The instant we identify with any image, thought, or feeling, we indulge in the fantasy of the falsely known self. We are not our bodies; we are not our thoughts; we are not our feelings. But while the body, thought, and feeling are not who you are, they are a part of you! It is a paradox.
The intensity of our defensiveness is also a mark of how identified we are with a particular image. That image is a marker of our dominant Fear-Self. Conversely, we most intensely engage with those invalidators who remind us of our original invalidators, especially our parents. If we are still seeking approval, we will find merit in their invalidation. If we are still hurting from our invalidation (and most of us are), we will very deeply resent them. These intense feelings sustain our identification with the Fear-Self. We are most ready to take offense with those we need most. Children need their parents, and often it is the parents who receive back the lovelessness they displayed many years ago.
The liberated person is all but indifferent from any form of attack on her image. She has discovered her true self and identifies with no image. This is the only place of sustainable and tangible safety. She is always safe and secure.
Each Fear-Self has a world view. This construct experiences the world as good, bad, or irrelevant depending upon how its needs are being met. Thus, when we are identified as a particular Fear-Self, our mood and the way we experience the world around us is mediated through its relationship with the dominant Fear-Self. A Fear-Self dominated by the compulsive need to be the “Expert” will experience elation when its persona appears receives recognition for its brilliance, but will fall into despair when it has no outlets to show its expertise or its voice is ignored. The failed Fear-Self is experienced as despair and depression and the world is the place where it can express its hatred and contempt. Anytime a Fear-Self fails to achieve what it compulsively needs to achieve, we come into direct contract with the underlying Wound.
“The goals of Liberation are those of healing the wounded spirit, re-connecting with the life source, seeing through our identities with inadequacy, and finding the love and passion that we are here to express” – Eric Gross
A Fear-Self locks us into its self-constructed projections. Freedom from the persistent highs and lows of the Fear-Self world requires us to simply see the process in its wholeness. We see both the manifestation of the compulsive Fear-Self drive happen in the world and we see its corresponding Wound. Seeing their interplay directly begins to untie the knot of the false-self which is essential if we ever to experience our Authentic Being. Until we see the whole play of the Wound/Fear-Self dance our desire for liberation from the profoundly subtle and paralyzing effects of the larger Wound will continue in our lives. What happens for most of us is that we simply morph into a more “evolved” Fear-Selves. We are fooled into the belief of self-improvement by Fear-Selves that give the appearance of spiritual evolution. But we are neither the Wound nor any of its corresponding Fear-Selves. This is why Authentic Liberation means seeing the falseness of the whole array of Fear-Selves. It is a process of bringing that which has been unseen and invisible to the light of clear understanding as a consequence of awareness.
Eric Gross was the recipient of the coveted National Institute of Justice Fellowship Grant to evaluate the efficacy of Navajo Peacemaking in reducing interpersonal conflict. This began a 10-year affiliation with Navajo traditional healers, and Mr. Gross is now a national leader in this field. The U.S. Department of Justice hailed Mr. Gross’ work as a milestone in the community justice movement. He has spoken to audiences throughout the United States on this topic and was a featured interview of Philadelphia public television’s “PhillyLive.” Mr. Gross’ research has been published by the University of Arizona Press, Sage Publications and the U.S. Department of Justice.
The vision of Liberation, as described and taught in this book, is based on many years studying and practicing Zen Buddhism with an Asian master, many years working with Navajo (Dinè) traditional healers, and real-world application of these ideas from an awakened perspective. All of the principles of Liberation from the Lie have been rigorously tested and you are invited to test them in your own life.
Eric is currently writing the follow-up book of Liberation from the Lie. It is The Liberation Way: At Home on Planet Earth. To find out more information, please visit Eric’s website and remember to check out his book on Amazon.
*Special thanks to Kim Schrag and Fernando Llosa for allowing their artwork and paintings to grace our articles. Check out their Unbound Art website to see more magnificent works.