“Behold the Great Projection, but look on it with the decision that it must be healed, and not with fear. There is no death. The Son of God lives in freedom from what His Father created not.”
Those words are adapted from A Course in Miracles, a delightful little book that expresses a wealth of refreshing ideas regarding our existence as human beings. The words that follow are my own interpretation of this powerful message.
If we live our lives believing that everything that happens to us is the result of some vast conspiracy against us, the world will never disappoint us. If we wake up each morning telling ourselves that, somewhere throughout the course of our day, someone is going to hurt our feelings or step on our toes, we will never go to bed disappointed.
Perceive the world as being out to get us and VOILA! That’s what we get. Perceive others as being cruel and selfish, interested only in exploiting us for whatever they can, and Poof! Magically, this is what appears before our eyes. Tell ourselves that people are bound to say malicious and spiteful comments which might appear innocent enough on the surface but are really intended to get under our skin, next thing you know we’re breaking out into a rash.
All this hocus pocus can be explained by familiarizing ourselves with the phenomenon of self-fulfilling prophecies. These prophecies allow us to see whatever it is we are expecting to see. Say and believe that something is going to happen, and more times than not, it actually will happen. In other words, if we really want something to happen, all we have to do is use our imaginations. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself!
The next time you have some free time, try performing the following mental gymnastics exercise. Imagine all the bad things that could possibly happen to you. Then sit back and watch them happen. Sure, they may not happen exactly the way you had envisioned them, but the outcome will be the same.
For example, imagine one of your so-called “friends” or colleagues nonchalantly dropping one of his trademark little jabs into one of your everyday conversations. Then imagine his acerbic little remark escalating into a full-blown argument when it becomes clear what the person really meant by their innocent-sounding words. Dwell a while on how everyone around you secretly hates your guts and would like nothing more than to see you paralyzed and living the rest of your life in a wheelchair because of a freak accident. We might as well face it. Nobody cares about us. Nobody. All they want to do is exploit and humiliate us.
The only thing required of us to make these self-fulfilling prophecies come true is for us to project our darkest, most sinister thoughts onto others. See ourselves in a world populated with nothing but greedy, self-centered little brats like us. Imagine these people who wish us harm all sitting around fantasizing they are crushing us like little mosquitoes, or literally stabbing us in the back, as they no doubt would love to do if they had the chance.
If, by some remote chance, we notice someone attempting to do something nice for us, or going out of their way to befriend us, we will not be “taken in” by their insincere connivances. We know all too well from our past experiences with human nature that people are inherently bad. We’ve all been burned more times than we care to remember by someone pretending to really care about us, only to cheat or rob us in the end.
While it is true we could all be dead tomorrow, that doesn’t mean that we were born yesterday. [Okay, no one suggested that the second half of the previous sentence was true, but I’ve mentioned it here just for argument sake.] We’ve seen those tired old rerun movies way too many times before to fall for someone’s thinly-veiled attempt to gain our confidence so they can sabotage us.
We know that in order to survive we must maintain eternal vigilance and never let our guards down. Too many past experiences have taught us that when someone offers to do something “nice” for us, this is the time to step back and try to analyze the situation. We are always careful not to let our feelings guide our actions, for we have seen the disastrous results that can ensue when we do this. We know better than to ever make the mistake of letting our feelings enter into the picture.
Without exception, when we carefully analyze the situation objectively, we discover that the person is operating with some type of hidden agenda or ulterior motive. Beneath their outward attempts to convince you they could actually give a rat’s ass about us, we discover their true motivation, which is to harm us. Usually it doesn’t take long to uncover the true motivations behind their pretentious efforts to help us. More times than not it turns out the only thing they really wanted to “help” us do was get rid of our money or something else they wanted from us. We’ve got bad news for anyone thinking about trying to pull a fast one over on us – they’re gonna have to wake up a little earlier in the morning!
I believe it was one of our recent presidents who rhetorically summed this sentiment up best with his famous: “Fool me once. Fool me once?........” speech. Okay, maybe that is not the most quotable quote in the world, but you get the point.
Fortunately, there is another vision through which we can see the world. Instead of assuming that the rest of the world is like us – foaming at the mouth with suspicion and hatred, we can envision a world with people in it who are stunningly different both from ourselves and how we imagined them to be. Perhaps we have not been seeing the true picture of the world or the people around us. Maybe there could actually be people out there who genuinely do care about us. Maybe everyone really isn’t conspiring against us? What if the people we thought we knew turned out to be nothing like what we imagined them to be?
What if, instead of trying to constantly convince ourselves that everyone is wishing for our demise, we consider the possibility that there might actually be some people in this world who genuinely enjoy helping others? Could it possibly be that we were wrong in presuming that everyone harbored the same evil thoughts that we do?
The encouraging news is that self-fulfilling prophecies can work both ways. Outcomes are determined by the thought processes we choose to employ. Imagine a world of endless bitterness, hostility, and selfishness, and this is the world we will see. Imagine a world of peace, harmony, and cooperation and it will be this world we see. It is a matter of seeing what we believe in and seeing the world we want to see.