Turning Great Relationships Into Enlightened Partnerships – Part Two
The Other Partner Colludes
OK, what happens when one person is projecting onto their partner and their partner buys into it, even though it isn’t their “stuff”? Well, that’s part of the dance of projection and is just as automatic and unconscious as projecting.
For example, Mary’s father deserted her and her mother when she was eight years old and Mary still has unresolved hurt and anger about being abandoned. She decided at a very deep level that men are not trustworthy.
She is in a relationship with Jerry who has unresolved guilty feelings about hurting the women he loves because his mother used to blame him and his father for her unhappiness.
When Jerry wants to spend a weekend away from Mary with some of his friends, her abandonment feelings get triggered. Unconsciously, she projects them onto Jerry, accusing him of being untrustworthy because he wants to do something without her. Her interpretation, from her unresolved pain, is that Jerry doesn’t love her and is about to leave her.
Jerry’s collusion with her projection occurs when his guilt gets triggered. He doubts himself and believes he is responsible for Mary’s pain. He is unable to see that she is projecting and that he is colluding by “dancing” with her to this tune.
The important thing to understand here is that this is all going on unconsciously. Neither Mary nor Jerry knows what is really going on. To them, all these feelings appear to be occurring in present time, when in fact, what they are feeling are old feelings grounded in decisions they made a very long time ago. They are just being played out again in new circumstances in which they seem new.
The Tendency of Denial
The unresolved issues within you that you cannot confront tend to rob you of the ability to see yourself clearly. If Jerry did not feel guilty and believe that he was responsible for Mary’s (his mother’s or any woman’s) happiness, he would be able to confidently and lovingly reassure Mary that his spending the weekend with his friends did not mean he did not love her or that he was about to leave her. He could act guiltlessly and lovingly, rather than react out of his own unresolved guilt and pain.
Everyone projects to a greater or lesser degree. You will interpret other peoples’ behavior to be that to which you are accustomed, whether it is or not. Your beliefs and expectations determine your perception. You will think others are judging you for what you judge yourself for. You believe it, then you see it – not the other way around.
In order to have successful, enlightened partnerships it is very important to recognize when you are projecting. The easiest way to know if you are projecting is if you are judging! Judgment is thinking that someone is “bad” or undeserving of love or caring. Judgment is perception without compassion. The thing about judging others is that it protects you from your judgments about yourself. So, you will think others are unloving if you feel unlovable – or – you will think others are untrustworthy if you don’t trust yourself.
The more your past is unresolved the more you tend to project. Your unresolved past will cause you to act in defensive ways. And defense is perceived as attack by others! If you are judging another you are only trying to protect yourself from you own guilt or limiting thoughts. Judgment is a form of attack. Whenever you judge or attack another, the result will be a feeling of guilt whether you are aware of it or not.
Judgment reinforces personal guilt, which calls for more projection in the form of judgment, which calls for more guilt – and round and round you go!
The Power of Forgiveness
There are three ways to release yourself from this vicious cycle of guilt, projection, judgment and attack. 1. Forgive yourself 2. Forgive others 3. Neutralize your judgments.
Forgiveness is the fastest and most effective way of experiencing your “essential self” and that of others. Forgiveness is the natural result of healing unresolved hurts. When the hurt is healed, forgiveness happens spontaneously, revealing the unconditional love of your “essential self”. Forgiveness is giving up the claim to punishment.
Another important and usually overlooked step in forgiveness is to neutralize your judgments. So, what does that mean and how do you do it? You neutralize your judgments by realizing they don’t mean anything! Acknowledging that your judgments don’t mean anything helps to release you from the vicious circle of judgment. Rather than judge yourself for having judgments, you simply notice – “Oh, there goes another meaningless judgment!” Watch the judgment pass across the horizon of your awareness and let it go.
Sometimes we want to hold onto our judgments because the “conditioned mind” or “local self” or negative ego thinks it is only through judgment that you can be safe. After all, you have to be able to tell the good guys from the bad guys, right? Be sure not to confuse discernment with judgment. The truth is that some people are not trustworthy; they do lie and can be generally unpleasant to deal with. Judgment happens when you are in denial of a part of you that causes your perception to be distorted.
How to Tell If You Are in Denial
- You will interpret other’s behavior to be that to which you are accustomed, whether it is or not.
- Having a superior attitude.
- Having judgments of others.
- Seeing a need for punishment – feeling justified and even righteous in inflicting harm (psychologically, emotionally, verbally, physically) against another.
- Defensiveness when someone reflects that you may be in denial (reaction rather than curiosity).
- Your unresolved fears from the past appear to be happening again, even when they aren’t. Others can usually see this better than you can.
- You never experience being willing to look at parts of yourself that are difficult to look at.
Enlightened partnerships recognize that projection is a part of human psychology at this point in our evolution. We all do it and we are likely to keep doing it for the foreseeable future. So, being in an enlightened partnership is not about never projecting. It is about being mindful and self-reflective enough to recognizing when you are doing it.
The more you can observe yourself and accept yourself without judgment, the more you are able to relate from your “essential self” and with the “essential self” of others. Enlightened partners recognize that judgment of others is an opportunity for self-reflection and personal growth.
Enlightened partners recognize that whenever they remove judgment from their perception of themselves they lift and expand their consciousness. They know that to see themselves impeccably is to observe, without judgment, the thoughts and feelings that inspired their actions – and they know in their heart that they have always done the best they could with the resources available to them.
Enlightened partners know that a compassionate perception of self determines a compassionate perception of others.