The Boomerang Effect
Saying Yes and No to life
Some Dutch expressions:
You are what you say
The pot reproaches the kettle that it is black
Biscuits of your own dough
The joke is that we project unto others what we don’t like or what me miss in ourselves and don’t wish to acknowledge which, nevertheless remains a part of our personalities.
Knowing about projection can change your look on life. When I wrote my scripture about this subject thirty years ago I was in awe. Oh, if that is true, if the game of life is like that, I understand why it is so difficult and so funny and so seducing. I found out that one of the misunderstandings of life is that we think we are innocent and beyond reproach. That’s why we play hide and seek and throw at others what we think they throw at us.
But it’s not a matter of either/or, guilty or not guilty, it’s an open and - and. The joke is that we project unto others what we don’t like in ourselves and don’t wish to acknowledge which, nevertheless remains a part of our personalities. The joke is that we project what we do not acknowledge or see in ourselves and therefore deny. To become aware of this phenomenon we need mirrors represented by our environment.
Unto our direct world we project all those hidden parts of our personality. Projecting is always done unconsciously, because we can only project what we do not know or wish to know. In practice this means that if we do not say “no” to others, they say “no” to us and we feel rejected. If we cannot say “yes” we feel unrightfully claimed or abducted by people who do say “yes” to us. If we are not allowed to be angry, we project our anger and will find ourselves confronted with anger in others. If we don’t know that we are afraid, we project our fear and others start fearing us. If we deny our sexual potency, we project our sexual longings and it seems like the whole world is filledwith horny people. If we donot know we are jealous, we will be haunted by jealous colleagues, lovers, siblings, friends.
If we believe we have no power, we will project our power onto others and feel like victims.
And if we do not know we have the talent to draw, sing, dance, write, act, we will remain stuck admiring artists who do express themselves instead of becoming a painter, a singer, a dancer, a writer or an actor ourselves. When we realize that we cannot be operated on our characteristics, traits or instincts, because there are no surgeons who can cut out our jealousy or sexual drive or anger, we will know deeply how important it is to express ourselves. Instincts and conditioned behavior like natural urges cannot be amputated. What is or has become remains a part of us. We can only suppress these undesirable qualities, deciding not to express them. And if it is forbidden to say what we have to say, and do what we have do, we force ourselves to pretend, preach, accuse, manipulate and project.
I am what I am and who I am
Only when we become conscious of what we do, can we change our behavior and say “this is me, I am what and who I am, whether I like it or not”. In order to empower ourselves, we must be prepared to let go of our idealized image as the superman or superwoman we thought we should be. Projection is often seen as a negative factor. That is unfortunate, since projecting can show us what earlier remained unnoticed. I for one, found out that the important men in my life were visually talented: my first great love was a film director, then I met an optician and a painter, I married a photographer and after my divorce fell in love with an art director. Now I am more and more aware of my own visual ability by painting, making photo’s and video’s. It is also exciting to take a closer look at who projects what on us. The photographer I married had crushes on people who were writers.
Projections are not incidental or accidental. They can make us aware of the fact that we have more possibilities than the five to fifteen percent we usually are able to develop.
Someone who is able to use twenty-five percent of his or her capacities, is already seen as a genius.
The art of becoming a complete human being by using our talents and qualities can not only be developed by recognizing them, we also have to express them. Projection starts when as a baby we are lying in our cradle, with our full potential waiting to develop while the family comes to look at us and expresses their hopes and expectations of who we will be. There is no alternative, whatever we do, we have to play the deadly serious game of life. And just like in every other game, certain obstacles need to be taken on. One of the rules we must accept is that we cannot play this game all by ourselves. We do need others. As a baby, we do not have much choice. We do have to put up with our parents, who, however willing they might be, in some way or other, will fall short because they are human beings and not gods. That is also a part of the game. But what do we know, when we are still children. The only thing we do want is that ‘they’ are happy with us and with who we are. And we want to feel and experience it. But even when they are happy with us, they appear to be happy on condition. Even loving moms and dads and other authorities have their ideas and expectations of how or what we should do and will be. We have barely opened our eyes and expectations pop out of every corner. It doesn’t take long to figure out what they do and don’t want from us, since it is evidently connected to being ‘good’ and being ‘bad’. Crying is usually not an okay thing to do; parents don’t like it.
Attention we don't long for?
But even so, crying does get jobs done, it does ensure attention, although the question is if this is the kind of attention we so deeply long for. The choices are limited. We adjust to what is expected and behave as good boys or girls or we resist and revolt and are a nuisance. Both with the same aim: how to get attention. Both ways work only partly and the result is that we develop either a compliant or subversive personality.