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Savannah Hanson: Owning projections

Savannah Hanson
Columnist

Projection is defined as “the unconscious transfer of one’s own desires or emotions to another person.” Learning about projections was basic psychology 101 while in graduate school. Once we become aware of this phenomena, it can be fascinating to witness how powerfully this mechanism operates in our lives.

While I have been aware of and witness to projections for decades, it is only recently that their power to distort and create separation really became clear. I was feeling strong disturbance with someone I am very close to. I sat with the sensations arising and discovered for the umpteenth time that I was projecting qualities of an early childhood relationship on to this one. The exquisite torture of projecting these feeling, judging and blaming another were readily apparent. Normally for some time now, Savannah is able to allow sensations to pass through her without identification. Identification means we see what is happening as both real and as happening to us. Pass through allows the sensation to simply move through the energy field, the body, without claiming them as either real or ours in any way.

Yet this torment had my full attention, so much so that I considered ending the relationship. The trance of projection of either positive or negative emotions can be so powerful that it can feel as though we are forced into unskillful behavior. Witness people running away from their marriage and five children because they are certain this new lover is the answer to their prayers. Yet projections are not easy to locate because by definition they are unconscious.

This one was lost in the fugue, the hypnotic state of projection despite knowing it was happening. It felt impossible to pull away from the conclusions the dazed state induced. Grief arose along with so much more dense energy to be allowed safe passage through the body-mind system. The character Savannah (as seemingly opposed to the True Self of I) even told her loved one she felt she might have to leave. Once she confessed this, the projection finally was exposed for the lie it was. Now it was possible to claim the inner distortion and error that guilt had forced on another.

Becoming aware of how frequently and insidiously this pattern can play out is necessary for anyone who wants to awaken from the dream. Despite a lifelong practice of awareness, this character still got caught in the dream of separation, wanting to blame another for what was unresolved within. Discovering the unhealed place within led to both great relief and a huge shift in the perception of the relationship. The person had been appearing as a boogie man in a nightmare simply became someone with a differing point of view, a view I could choose to accept or not. Ultimately, I was able to “own” the projection and witness how this apparent difference of values had led to me violating my core value of love. The entire experience became an opportunity to claim greater inner awareness within and deeper intimacy in the relationship. Sometimes we discover we need to confess our error, our distorted way of seeing with complete honesty and total transparency so that it can be exposed for the lie it is. I now understand the intended value of the sacrament of confession that is so significantly a part of various religions.

One of the great benefits of being a sensitive is to know immediately when one is out of harmony. After several years practicing Tai Chi, if I make a misstep, the body immediately registers the error. The same can become true for those willing to practice awareness and presence. Anything that is out of integrity immediately becomes a red flag sending warning signals throughout the body. The signal alerts us; danger, turn back, about to enter a region of profound separation, turn back before irrevocable damage is done. Sitting with a core projection for almost a week, letting sensations have there way with me, a profound awareness has dropped in. What has been revealed is the actual knowing that separation is always an inside job. It can take a zillion lifetimes until we can own the truth proclaimed in “A Course of Miracles,” whatever is happening, whatever suffering appears to be unfolding, we are doing it to ourselves. This is one of the most difficult awarenesses to both see and take responsibility for. Yet when we do, the earth seems to shift on it axis. Instead of victims, we become co-creators with the divine, playing with the power of the gods. Yes, it takes incredible discipline to master the mind and drop all projections yet when we do, mama mia, what a ride!

For information on private sessions, classes, or to sign up for the online group Wild Hearts: Co-creating the Joy of Being contact Savannah Hanson, M.A., MFT #40422 at 530-575-5052 or RisingasLove@gmail.com.


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