Recently I noticed that I tend to go around projecting certain negative beliefs about myself and that some people re-enforce them while others don't. With some people it's easy to come away feeling like I need help/to be fixed/made better etc while with others I feel fine the way I am. It can be so subtle, like someone giving unsolicited advice on how I can improve or be better, thereby confirming beliefs that I must be deficient.

So others can either enhance our negative self-beliefs or they can help us see that it's only our thoughts/beliefs that are making us feel deficient. But since most of us believe there's something wrong with us, naturally we'd go around suggesting the same to others, especially when we share supposed defects. Objectively though, everyone just is the way they are. The problem comes in when we start comparing ourselves to an ideal or system or set of norms. In that moment almost everyone becomes deficient and in need of help/improvement/products/services/seminars/surgery/etc.

The truth is it's all relative. What ultimately matters is whether the way we are and realistically can be is in line with the choices we're making. If we're in the wrong environment with the wrong people doing the wrong things for the wrong reasons we will likely feel defective. That is, unless we can come to understand that this feeling is a direct result of internalizing these kinds of notions.

That was a shift I experienced while thinking about it - realizing that I'd projected out these ideas of my own deficiencies based upon negative messaging I'd received growing up and in comparison to ideals, thereby causing "low self esteem". I then accepted other peoples' projections and implicit suggestions that I was indeed deficient. Because they experience the exact same thing in themselves, they directly or indirectly re-enforce these beliefs in me.

There's a person coming to mind that I'd been talking to recently who seemed to be trying to help me out. I wanted to appreciate that he seemed to genuinely care but something about it was rubbing me the wrong way. I realized it's because whenever we spoke, he was indirectly implying that I should be some other way than I am - more like his ideal. And part of me was coming away from the conversations believing him. Why wasn't I more like that (and less like myself)?

This is one of the reasons why people visiting india and meeting a guru who shows them unconditional love can be so transformative. It makes them realize that it was all in their head, all projections. That they are and always have been okay the way they are. It's likely to be the first time in their entire life that they'd have experienced that because their parents bought into the belief that they were deficient so they projected those same beliefs onto them as kids, and the same thing is happening to everyone else so we project them onto each other and the whole thing is re-enforced as real and valid. It's like a massive echo chamber of illusion. We're all caught in its web, it's how the system keeps running. Because if we all accepted ourselves we would stop buying things we didn't need and doing things we didn't need to do in order to feel better about ourselves.

We don't need to buy into the belief that there's something wrong with us. The truth is, there isn't. We're all just different. Just different. We can turn our attention away from endless improvement and towards observing, understanding and accepting ourselves while being aware of the consequences of certain actions without taking judgements on as truth. We can know that they're only relative, and we can move through life resting in that knowing within ourselves.

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