Distance Projection and how to stop doing it.

The Problem

I recently posted on Facebook about the level of food waste caused by hoarding fresh food and someone commented:

“Did no one’s parents tell them about the starving children around the world when they were kids?!”

I thought to myself “Yes they probably did;” but maybe if they had been told about the starving children in their street or in their class it would have had a bigger impact.

We love to create distance in our truths because it makes them easier to deal with. The problem is always somewhere else, some other town or some other country. ‘Distance Projection’ – yes I totally made up the term and I want credit for it – my ego needs something to chew on!

Let me give you another example of how ‘Distance Projection’ is happening during this Coronavirus epidemic:  How many posts have you seen, blaming the Chinese livestock markets and all the strange animals being eaten. As if it’s more acceptable to eat one animal over another. It’s so easy to create a “they” isn’t it?

Don’t get me wrong, I hate seeing those photos of animals being treated like that but I also acknowledge that this is not exclusively a Chinese problem. How can we judge another country’s behaviour and fail to acknowledge and address the horror of our own slaughterhouse and farms?  Remember Mad Cow Disease in the UK? Oh shit yeah – we ate cows and got sick because of unsanitary farming and slaughter practices.

“Let him without sin cast the first stone.”

If you think farms and slaughterhouses are much better today, then watch a video from one. Western governments are so worried about you seeing them that they passed “Ag-gag laws” to prevent filming in slaughterhouses all together. God forbid we reduce our meat consumption and damage the economy!

The Solution

The first step is awareness. I am lucky because my life has allowed me to meet people from all social backgrounds and given me perspective. Almost all of us live a life that is someone else’s dream. We are all rich in someone’s viewpoint and always poor in our own. When I order a de-caff oat milk flat white, I am well aware that I am a London wanker as I also know that the £3.50 it costs may be more than someone’s entire food budget that day. I acknowledge this truth and find gratitude in my own position of privilege and awareness. But how do you make a difference when there are so many problems in the world?

My breakthrough came a few years ago after reading a very intriguing Reddit post:

“Help! I smoked a lot of weed and now I can’t get the idea out of my head that I’m the only one in the world, everything and everyone is just a figure of my imagination”.

I cruelly laughed, very hard. But then I did a dangerous thing and started thinking about it.

What if I was the only person in the world? What if I was responsible for everything and the world was just a reflection of all the energy that I was putting in? What would be important to me? How would I change my behaviour? What would I do to make this the best version of the world possible?

This mitigates the trap of projection. Through projection, we fail to acknowledge our own impact and power on the world. We actually invalidate ourselves! The situation is too big, something “they” are doing, or something that someone else should be fixing.  But if you were the only one in the world, your own God (which we all are by the way), you would have to accept control of all things, right here, right now.

(Don’t feel bad by the way. Projection is totally human and we are only human and beautifully imperfect. Our job on earth is not to be perfect but to learn and grow.)

Anyway, on the premise that I was the only one in the world, I made a commitment that every time something made me sad or angry I would make the smallest gesture possible to be part of the solution.

“Right here, right now and fully in the knowledge that I am empowered to make a difference.”

The reason I make the smallest gesture possible is that we are both human and spirit. Our spirit loves to rally us into big gestures but then the human part of us loses heart and momentum when it all feels too much. How many times have you had full intention of doing something huge and amazing only to do nothing? When your train for a marathon you don’t try and run 20 miles on the first day, you start small.

Here are a few examples from my own life:

  • I’m sad that people are homeless. I give a homeless person £5.
  • I’m sad that children are starving in Africa. I donate £10 to UNICEF or food to a local food bank.
  • I feel bad about animal cruelty. I switch to oat milk to reduce my dairy consumption.
  • I feel emotionally unsupported. I do something to support myself like take a relaxing bath or reach out to someone who I know needs support.

Seriously try it for a week. Don’t go too big and put pressure on yourself. Make the smallest possible gesture to fix the problem, you can always do more the next week.

How You Will Benefit

It might not feel like you are doing much, but to that one person you help, you may be the best thing that happens to them that day, week or even year. And you will feel good, empowered and no longer a victim of all the bad stuff in the world.

You will also start noticing the positives in life. Remember reality is a choice, by being positive you will start noticing positive things all around you. It’s the law of attraction; like attracts like. You reap what you sow.

You will develop greater empathy and will be less upset by other peoples actions.

You will be setting a positive intention in your life and will develop a sense of purpose.

You will inspire others to do the same. Your actions become a catalyst for more good in the world.

Now imagine if we all thought we were the only person in the world.

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