Suppose you are working in a group of people. You have a common project - could be on the job, could be planning a party, could be anything. You start to feel like you are not doing a good job. The group, you imagine, thinks you are not pulling your weight. Thinks you are not skilled at what you are doing. Or not knowledgeable.

Your frustration and upset mounts. This is not an enjoyable experience.

As a result, perhaps you work harder - trying to please - sacrificing your time and effort for the project.

Perhaps you grow resentful and make cranky remarks.

Perhaps you become critical of the group and tell your partner all about how you don’t like what they are doing. While in group meetings you are flat and uninterested.

Then, one day, someone says, “thank-you - that was very helpful when you _____.” And another group member agrees - “yes - that really contributed.”

So now you see that your contribution is valued. That the lack of information about your value left room for you to make up your own story.

So what was happening? Your feeling about the situation was one thing. The reality was another.

And your actions were based on this unreality. You made choices based on something that wasn’t true.

Let’s go one step further.

Why did you think you weren’t valuable to the group? Where did you get that idea?

Well - you came up with it. It was your idea.

Your own view of yourself was projected onto the group.

You believe, at some level, that you are not good at what you do. That you are not valuable as a person.

And so you believe the group feels that way.

Which infuriates, hurts, upsets, agitates you. And you respond.

And what do you think the group does? Get frustrated with you.

And thus your views are confirmed.

But in the scenario above, the group values you and you managed not to let your projection tick them off too badly and then they showed appreciation.

You took your inward views of yourself, your inward experience of yourself and you put it out into the world. (Unconsciously).

We all do this all the time.

We can’t feel directly our feelings about ourselves - it would upset us too much. But we must live in the world ordered as we know it to be ordered, and so we put the feelings out in the world.

If we could feel ourselves - know ourselves as we are - then we would value ourselves. They are the same thing.

Our projection is a leaping away from ourselves.

Self-love is not a nebulous or illusory proposition.

Self-love is the traversing of oneself. It’s the staying with oneself. Just like we do with a loved one who needs us.

Without self-love we traverse the world through the lens of self-hatred.

And then look what happens.

To our planet.

To each other.

To our leaders.

It is so much more complicated than this. I hope you will forgive the generalizations here. I simplified our experiences to make a point that I increasingly think is important for us all to understand.

No matter how egregious the personal or political horror or insult we must do our own work.

We must ground ourselves in ourselves. Be absorbed in ourselves. Work with the projection.

We must struggle with the fact that the conflict might be inside of us. We must struggle with this first. Consider it. Question it.

We must try to clear ourselves from the brambles of ourselves. It is the trying that is important because it sets us in a direction.

So that then we can speak.

So that then we can act.

So that then we can stay the course.