A re-post and new intro today, since this topic has been floating around in my own personal life, as well as in many sessions about relationships — romantic, friendship, family, or otherwise.
As realities shift, many lifelong over-givers have been feeling a call to pull back some of their energy, to offer less imbalanced support to people with whom there’s not an equivalent exchange. This shift, though actually healthier and more in balance for an over-giver, often triggers surprise, and sometimes condescension, judgment or other reaction from those accustomed to being on the receiving end of the extra giving. It also seems counter-intuitive in this time of becoming less selfish and more aware of all of our deep interconnections, and as a result, many of these people, myself included sometimes, dip into feeling bad about doing what they know they need to do. Such knowledge may arrive as a result of the consistent physical, emotional, mental and/or spiritual relief that the pull-backs provide, or due to the overwhelming backlash that codependent old ways now generate.
This creates an interesting dynamic, because for the most part, humanity is being asked to step more into a giving mode — more into actually using our gifts for the benefit of others. It’s kind of like that little Sunday School song, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine… Hide it under a bushel, no! I’m gonna let it shine.” When the people who’ve been shining for a long time — even sometimes “over” shining to make up for others who are less sure of themselves or for whatever other reason not shining their own gifts out into the world — feel called to pull back, it’s not about those over-shiners suddenly becoming selfish. It’s about a return to balance so that the ones hiding under a bushel have more incentive to tap into their own courage (perhaps through necessity, perhaps through compassion realizing that they are the ones with the power to change what they want changed). The new dynamic potentially offers a trigger for the less sure to shine brighter.
Where you sit on this continuum depends on how much you’ve already been shining your light. “From those to whom much has been given, much will be required.” Sometimes it seems we are already giving “enough,” but in these times it helps to make an honest assessment of just how much we’ve been offering and in what ways. Exploring ripple effects of perceived service can help to determine whether we’re being asked to give more, take less, or to reinvest our energies in different ways. The people I know who’ve felt called to pull back from imbalanced relationships aren’t sitting on their butts doing nothing with that reclaimed energy! On the contrary, many of us have felt called to become more involved in local, community building or in offering support to newly encountered people we sense are truly on the brink of change. Some of us are on a massive creative kick, writing books, painting, healing the Earth … and sharing those creations with others.
“Sharing those creations with others.” That last part also provides a clue, because if you’ve reclaimed energy in one area only to reinvest it strongly in other areas, then there’s no reason for you to you to feel guilty about being “selfish,” “superficial,” “unevolved,” or for “denying help” to the planet. You’ve simply changed the energy exchange to one that feels more compatible, satisfying or useful.
This article isn’t about judgment; it’s just an article to help shine light on some of the trickier emotions these changing relationship dynamics can bring up. For that purpose, I’m re-posting an earlier article called, “Rejection, Projection, and Reflection,” which offers some mirrors and guidance on how to wade through potentially murky areas looking for clarity and balance. It also goes along with Tania Marie’s post yesterday about Raw Honesty. These times require such honesty, but they also require a willingness to live and let live. Sometimes people are simply “not a match,” and that doesn’t mean one needs to be wrong and the other right. Sometimes you just don’t mesh, and separation comes easily. For stickier, trickier encounters, there’s this:
Rejection, Projection and Reflection
Ah, rejection! No one likes it, but everyone has felt it at one time or another. Rejection comes in many forms: romantic relationships, contests, writer’s group critiques, friendships, job interviews or credit applications. Some people feel depressed about it, while others grow angry or challenge themselve to rise above the snub. Besides sadness, by far the most common companion of rejection is projection. Although the “p” word can initially offset your hurt, it doesn’t help you move forward.
This article explores projection and helps you to recognize it in your life. For the projectee (anyone unlucky enough to stand in line of the projector’s fire), I also discuss the concept of reflection. Many projectors mistakenly assume they are, in fact, reflectors. The distinction becomes especially confusing for people who do reflect most of the time, yet still have a tendency to project when they feel challenged or rejected. This article gives tips to help you tell the difference.
You might be projecting if:
1) You assume someone must have massive issues, complete ignorance, a guru complex, psychosis, arrogance or hubris, control issues, or a secret evil agenda if s/he has gently or firmly declined your advances. If you feel these things about people in your field who have experienced greater attention or success than you have, it’s also time to look at your own tendency to project.
2) You consistently encounter people who (you think) get a sick pleasure out of devaluing your gifts. These people initially seem like helpers, supporters and encouragers. S/he may be a counselor, coach, minister, or yoga teacher, perhaps just an acquaintance whom you very much admire. All seems well when you ask them for advice, which they give freely. But then they inexplicably “turn on you and devalue you” by not buying your book, linking to you on their website, or otherwise returning the favor of asking you for advice and guidance. How dare they think they’re better than you! They must not want you to succeed because they couldn’t handle your competition! They’re not evolved, and they don’t want anyone else to evolve either. In fact, they want to suppress and enslave, feeding off the energy of their unwilling and deluded fans. OMG! You have just narrowly escaped from one of the most controlling and insidious creatures on the planet! …
If this scenario has happened to you to some degree even once, then you may have a tendency to project in two ways. First, you’re likely giving someone higher status as a guru than s/he wants. You give away your power to your own idea, rather than to the person. This is your responsibility, not theirs. No one can take your power.
When things shift and s/he rejects you, you may suddenly “recognize what’s happening.” This recognition often involves controlling you or using power to manipulate you and hold you down. Although cults and narcissists do exist, if the initial description sounds valid, then it’s more likely that you’re superimposing a plot on a simple yet hard to swallow fact: as the movie says, “He’s Just Not that Into You.” Or s/he’s busy. Or s/he has other things going on. Or s/he feels compassion rather than passion.
Ego will go to great lengths to find any other explanation. If the reasons for negative things occurring in your life routinely involve a conspiracy theory or the hubris or complete ignorance and depravity of those from whom you have received help or sought favor or if the reasons allow you to feel condescending to someone whose approval and recognition you still secretly desire, then it’s time to explore your own patterns and projections.
3 ) Someone else is always responsible for your failed intentions.
4 ) You believe busy people spend their free time exploring ways to sabotage your business, personal growth or reputation.
5 ) When giving “constructive criticism” or “enlightenment,” you feel the need to hide behind your degree, your diet, your religion, your bank balance, or “Anonymous.”
6 ) When you try to reveal this “insider information” to the public, no one you admire has any interest in spreading your gossip, but they do offer you “lots of love and healing.” If compassionate people sense you are projecting, they may not always come right out and say so. They may instead try to offer you support for what they see as the root cause of your behavior: grief, frustration, insecurity, envy.
Of course, they then run the risk of revealing their own “evil, controlling guru complexes” by devaluing your insider information. Some people are willing to run that risk, though, if they sense you’re really struggling or have temporarily lost touch with reality.
7 ) If you have ever had or suspected you currently have B-12 deficiency, you really might want to get that checked or start taking a sublingual or spray B-12. “B-12 madness” has been linked to cases of acute psychosis and paranoid delusions. Slightly low levels can also cause general, unwarranted suspicion.
8 ) You view the world as a constant battle between good and evil.
9 ) You feel the need to launch personal attacks in areas that have nothing to do with the situation at hand. Examples include: suggesting someone’s a bad spouse in order to bolster your argument that they’re unqualified to teach seventh grade or drive a truck; calling someone arrogant for buying organic food; extracting tidbits from people’s blogs or websites and assuming you know their entire life and motivations; refusing to consider context as a factor when assessing character or causation; citing gossip magazines as a way to judge acting ability.
10 ) If your primary emotions are anger, rage, disgust, fear, judgment or hatred, you are not “reflecting so brightly that no one can handle your radiance and truth.” You are almost certainly projecting, at least in some areas.
You might be reflecting if:
1 ) Despite someone accusing you of horrible character and actions, you primarily feel love, compassion and understanding for them. If you can recognize the hurt beneath their anger and send love to it, then you are likely reflecting.
2 ) You do not feel afraid to look at the criticism and use it as a means to explore your own character, skills, talent and motivations. Are there areas where the comments ring true? Can you learn something even from mean-spirited feedback? Might there be a tiny bit of truth to the accusations and if so, how can you improve your technique, delivery or presentation in the future? What blind spots does this encounter reveal? Bright, shiny people are not afraid to look inside themselves or to ask for honest feedback from people they respect and admire.
3 ) Before anyone asked you this, have you already explored ways in which you might be projecting? Hint: reflectors ponder the possibility. Projectors rarely go there first, if at all.
4 ) Have you recently received recognition for long, hard effort on your part? Has your visibility ramped up? When reflectors suddenly become brighter reflectors on a bigger stage, they often experience a backlash from those who feel left behind.
5 ) Do the accusations seem 180 degrees away from truth? Examples may include: someone calling you “fame hungry” when you’ve always tried to stay in the background; people saying you took away their power after you showed them their own responsibility in their lives; friends assuming you’re “too good for them” or “too high and mighty” now that you’ve “made it big,” when you just want to share your joy and tell them you believe in them.
6 ) You’ve worked through a lifetime (or many lifetimes) of issues and finally accept your calling/mission/dream/bliss, only to have people attack your character for doing so. They tell you, “you’re not so special,” and you agree. You tell them they could live their dreams, too, but this inexplicably fans the fire of their rage.
7 ) None of your other clients/friends/lovers/colleagues can fathom the accusations.
8 ) You had a funny feeling about getting involved with someone, but compassion led you to help them anyway. When you created and maintained boundaries, the person freaked out.
9 ) You harbor no ill will to the person(s), but you do hope they get the help, support and love they need.
10 ) You choose to defend yourself without attacking the other person.
11 ) You can recognize this experience in a larger context, perhaps as an indirect answer to your own prayers and intentions to leave a relationship, move, change careers, or make some other shift. Reflectors understand that the universe always responds to their own energy and intentions. They accept appropriate responsibility and know when to stand firm and when to go with the flow. They choose to embrace, while projectors react. Reflectors rejoice in a chance to polish themselves and shine even brighter.
Many Blessings on your Journey!