Gaining Extraordinary Insight Into Ourselves
(An Excerpt from Joe’s newest book coming out next year )
Go To The Mirror Boy!
I might be dating myself here, and yet I think this analogy is strikingly accurate. Back in the late 1960’s the British Rock Band, The Who, released their 4th album entitled, Tommy. It was billed as a rock opera and it tells the story of a young boy whose mother convinces him that he is deaf, dumb, and blind after seeing his father killed by his mothers’ lover. The mother spends most of the movie taking Tommy to various quacks and characters who promise to return him back to normal.
At one point they take him to a doctor who says, “All of his tests were normal, his eyes can see, his ears can hear, and his lips can speak.” The doctor goes on to say that he can do nothing and that “all hope … lies within him!” There is one point where the doctor shouts (sings), “Go to the Mirror Boy!” The doctor stands him in front of a mirror and a breakthrough ensues. He now see’s, feels, hears and in doing so he unlocks the key to his awakening! How? By seeing his reflection in the mirror!
So what does this have to do with Extraordinary Insight? Everything!
In order for us to truly grow, we have to have the ability to see ourselves as we truly are. However, while most folks love to see our positive traits, most of us do not like seeing the not-so-positive ones. So we created a way to get rid of them!
Defending Our Projections
Projection is a defense mechanism where we take a part of us that we don’t like (i.e. our arrogant-self, selfish-self, or our untrusting-self, etc.) and project it onto someone else.
For example, if we look at someone and say “What a self-centered person!” While there may be a hint of truth in that statement, the real truth is that we ourselves can be self-centered. The fact is most of us don’t like our negative traits and so we disown it. Jung referred to this disowned part of ourselves as ‘the shadow.’ We rid ourselves of our shadow and the negative feelings that come with it by projecting our self-centeredness as far away from ourselves as possible and onto others.
This concept, while shocking for some, just might provide incredible insight into the areas where we need to develop ourselves. If we fail to pay attention to the feedback we receive from our reflections in others, we miss an opportunity to gain extraordinary insight into ourselves.
Living an extraordinary life means we have to be willing to embrace all of us, not just the best parts. How else can we move beyond the self-inflicted obstacles we place in our paths. The willingness to see all of us, is just another key that unlocks the door to a path to living our extraordinary life.
The biggest challenge we face in embracing all of ourselves is that this shift requires a significant change in how we navigate this world. It requires the humility. And as we have said before, there really isn’t a long line of folks waiting to experience humility. This is especially difficult if your sense of self-worth and value is derived externally. Folks who derive their sense of value externally do it by seeking the approval of others, how much money they make, satisfying their need to always be right or win, or their possessions (cars, house, toys, etc.). When you are externally wired for self-worth and value, it creates an identity that is quite fragile. Which means that you may limit your ability to embrace all of you, especially the negative traits.
But wait there’s another side to the story.
Seeing More of You So I Can See More of Me
While all of this talk about projection can be construed as a complete downer. As with all things, there is another side to the coin, that being, the good news about projection..
The good news about projection is that it works for the good parts as well. It is a two-way mirror. Meaning that if we trust the idea that people are mirrors for us, they can also reflect back to us our great traits too! Yes, projection gives us insight into our whole self…the good and the not so good!.
Here’s how it works. Answer the following questions and be sure to take the time to write down your answers:
- Name a person whom you truly admire?
- What is is about this person you admire most?
- List at least 5 characteristics or traits you love about this person.
Here’s the interesting fact about this exercise: Those characteristics you see in them are just a reflection of that characteristic that are within you! In fact the things you wrote down are more about you then they are about the other person.
The question is: Do you believe it? If so, are you truly bringing those characteristics to light and embracing them. Or do you sweep them under the carpet for fear of being arrogant or self-centered?
Yes, what we project on others may just a be a mere image of us that we ignore…or it just might be a mirror image revealing just one more aspect of your path to living an extraordinary life!
Either way…it is definitely something to reflect on.