Mirrors show us a lot about ourselves when we use them. They show us what we want to see and they show us what we wish we didn’t have to see.
In a mirror, we find out if we’re ready to go out and meet the world or if we need to break the mirror and curl up in our sweats with a good book, a bag of chocolates and close out the world. We can admire what we see at times or we can both find and fix the flaws with a mirror. A mirror shows us our physical selves, projected.
Many enlightened thinkers and some religions teach that the world in which we live is our personal mirror to help us heal emotionally, spiritually and mentally. Byron Katie says, “Everyone is a mirror image of yourself – your own thinking coming back at you.”
Understanding projection, the idea that we see outside of us that which is going on inside of us, has been my most powerful healing tool. It’s helped me to identify insecurity when I found myself jealous of someone else, recognize a need to responsibly manage an area in my own life when I was angry with someone important, and realize that I have empathy and love for humankind when I’ve admired others for their charity and kindness. These are a few of the many healing messages that using projection has brought me.
Initially, projection was a hard concept to grasp and even harder to practice because of the fear of admitting I was wrong or that something was too big for me to face. Kellen Von Houser states in her online article, “What You Hate Most in Others is the Shadow Within Yourself” that “humans are only complete when we embrace our darkness and our light.”
One of my shadows appeared in my aversion to hypocrisy in society — whether in religion, politics or the corporate world. This giant shadow was evidenced by my oversized reaction whenever I saw what I perceived to be hypocrisy. It became so bad that it drove me to finally look inside to see what was really going on. I discovered that I’ve always had deep faith in God and conviction for His love for mankind, but I kept giving it up for anxious and unhealthy living that led to life-changing illnesses.
Becoming conscious of that hypocrisy has made it easier to shift my focus from observing something “out there” to looking inwardly to see how well I am living authentically with my true faith and conviction. Even though I still feel inadequate when I am conscious of how easily I sometimes react to external events, I am assured when I remember to stay aware and trust the process of this awakening path I’ve chosen for myself.
A Course In Miracles (ACIM) also teaches the projection concept. During an ACIM book group meeting, a lady asked about Hitler. How could any of us be like Hitler on the inside? No one attending our book group had committed inhumane atrocities — and we didn’t want to — yet, we could easily see how horrific it was. After a quiet moment of reflection, someone said that mankind is born with the capacity for the unthinkable deep within. It was a hard message, but no one objected.
Understanding projection is a beautiful gift when we can get past the idea that the harshness we feel toward others really does reflect something going on inside of us. Once we accept this premise, the effort to try it softens us – our hard notion becomes a mere inquisition within and our world has changed. It provides a new horizon, possibly a path requiring a little more effort as we navigate the healing of our newfound ideas about ourselves. But it’s a positive, more worthwhile path leading to the very wholeness we are seeking, where unwelcome reactions to what is “out there” are a thing of the past.