The Hidden Treasure

Where Ancient Wisdom Meets Contemporary Psychology

The Greatest Obstacle To Personal Growth

Written By: Vic Rebman Ph.D - Jul• 02•15
Contemplation #15

Why do you look at the speck in your brothers eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

Matthew 7:3

Freud called it projection; the tendency to see in others what we cannot tolerate in ourselves. Through the unconscious practice of projection we see our flaws in the behaviors of others.  Unfortunately, projection only strengthens the unhealthy patterns within us and over time our frustration and criticisms of others deepens and intensifies.

In A Course In Miracles, we are taught that “what you see in others you strengthen in yourself.” It is for this very reason Jesus challenged those who would listen to take their focus off their neighbor and put it on themselves. Through a willingness to attend to what it is about others that irritates us the most, and then question how we reflected that very pattern within ourselves, we remove our blinders and facilitate our own personal growth.

Carl Jung once wrote:

Everything that irritates us about others can lead to a better understanding of ourselves.”

It is incredibly amusing to observe the degree of self-deception we are all capable of. Every day, without exception, you can log on to Facebook or any social media tool of our choosing and read the angry rants and ravings of “progressive minded”  individuals who have lost all tolerance for the “bigotry” and “intolerance” of all the “narrow minded” who cannot see the world in the same way they do. If all the close minded out there were just intelligent enough to see the world as they do then we could all get along and put an end to all this interpersonal strife!

While amusing on the one hand, it’s incredibly unfortunate on the other. After all, it’s the failure to see our own faults and foibles that keep us stuck and derailed in our ability to grow personally, interpersonally, emotionally, culturally, and spiritually. Before positive change can occur, we have to recognize that change is necessary, and that is impossible as long as we are continually seeing in others those issues we need to address within ourselves.

One of the most powerful strategies we can employ for facilitating personal growth and positive change is to utilize projection to our benefit. We can make it a regular practice to examine what it is in others that trip our triggers, and then look inward to see what our reactions teach us about ourselves.

If we truly want to grow and evolve as healthy loving beings, we must be willing to allow the speck in our brother’s eye to be the lens through which we examine ourselves. We must be willing to focus our energies not on trying to change others, but on allowing others to show us what we need to change within ourselves. This is a proper and healthy use of projection.

With the awareness that the greatest insight into ourselves comes through those who frustrate us the most, we can gain a whole new perspective on the difficult people in our lives! Perhaps they are our greatest teachers.  Perhaps they really are a blessing in disguise.

Now please understand I’m not saying this makes it any easier to deal with the difficult people in our lives.  I’m just saying it’s worthy of contemplation!!

mind #11

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *