There is a phenomenon in Jungian psychology called projection. The idea is that we project onto others that which we can’t/don’t want to see in ourselves. We see qualities in someone else that we ourselves possess. And, therapy being therapy, the emphasis is primarily on unacceptable or threatening feelings.
I have found the idea to be helpful at times. I’ve noticed that whenever I have a strong emotional reaction to what someone else says or does and I look at my own thoughts/ behaviour I can usually find examples of where I have behaved in a similar way. Not a particularly pleasant realisation. But one that helps me be less judgemental and to learn to take responsibility for my own experience rather than blaming others.
But what’s less talked about is the positive side of the equation. If we are projecting the things we don’t like about ourselves then maybe we are projecting the things we do like too and are equally unaware of them. This got me thinking and I invented a game I called ‘Mrs Projection Head’ (pun intended). To play you need to be willing to suspend judgement and assume that projection, as I’ve described it, is what is actually happening when we look at others.
Then, have a trawl through your mind and think about what it is you like/admire in others. Take a “walk” through your day and think about your friends, family, and people at work. You don’t even have to know them personally. Consider also celebrities, historical figures and characters in books. Which of all the hundreds of thoughts/stories you tell yourself about what they are like would you most like to be true of you? Which would you choose to focus on and strengthen? Which would you choose to develop? Who would you BE in other words?
Can you find examples of these qualities in your life already? By looking for them you will help to reinforce them in yourself. Even if you can’t see them chances are those around you can. Ask those closest to you if they can you give you examples.
Take that picture of all that is best in others with you as you go about your day today, knowing that in order for you to see that particular picture you must have those qualities within you first.
You are already that which you admire in others. You just haven’t seen it yet!