I hear this a lot, both from myself and from other people. “The problem is Other People”.
“The problem is that Other People always treat me badly.” “Take advantage of me”. “Leave messes for me to clean up”. “Other People hurt my feelings”. “Other People aren’t in love with me.” “Other People won’t have sex with me.” “Other People are projecting an oppressive reality on me.” “Other people are hurting me.”
We all want to control Other People’s behaviour. On a macro scale, it looks like politics, war, religion, media, and culture. This is where systemic oppression lives. On a micro scale, it looks like individual personal relationships. It looks like our dating lives. It looks like parents raising their children. It looks like rebellious teenagers. This is where systemic oppression gets expressed.
And our desire to control Other People’s behaviour permeates through all of our personal relationships. Coming back to the Law of Attraction… if you find yourself saying “the problem is the way that Other People treat me”… the problem might actually be you. The problem is probably you. Now, this is a tricky idea because reality is complex and more-dimensional. It’s a paradox. Like the “You have to give in order to receive” paradox. It’s a feedback loop. Getting out of a negative feedback loop and into a positive feedback loop is tricky business indeed.
For a person experiencing systemic oppression, the problem really is Other People in a very visceral way. The problem really is that Other People are systemically dis-empowering and undercutting that person. In such a case, Other People’s behaviour really does need to change. But that change is macro-scale. And blaming and focusing on Other People’s behaviour isn’t going to get us where we want to be. Focusing on Other People’s behaviour almost never gets us where we want to be. Because it’s not personal. Other People’s behaviour is not about you, it’s about them.
A person who is abused as a child is more likely to be abused as an adult. But a person who is abused as a child is also more likely to grow up to be an abuser. Hurt and scared children grow up to be hurt and scared adults. Hurt and scared adults are dangerous. They may lash out erratically. They may become hyper protective. They may become violent. Inside every villain there is a victim mentality. Inside every villain there is a traumatized child. “You hurt me and it hurts really bad and you keep doing it, and now I am ANGRY!” “You made me do this.” Villain and Victim are two sides of the same coin… unhealed and repressed trauma.
People treat us the way we tell them to treat us. It doesn’t matter how we learned the pattern of telling Other People to treat us badly. It doesn’t matter that it was unjust, unfair, evil, oppressive structures that may still still need to change. What matters is us. You. Me. What matters is that we learn to love ourselves inside. That’s the true revolution. When we learn to love ourselves, the message we send to Other People about how to treat us changes too. The way Other People treat us is a reflection of how we treat ourselves.
This is big magic. It’s also very fundamental. It’s basic glamorie magic. Every single one of us is doing it all the time. We are all projecting an image of who we think we are into the world, into the people around us. Sometimes Other People’s projections about who they think we are is stronger than our own projections about who we think we are. Most of the time, we have deep conflicts between who we truly believe we are, who we think we “should be,” and who we actually want to be.
And most of us don’t know we’re doing it. Most of us aren’t aware that it’s even happening at all. And so we are slaves to our own power, and the power of Other People’s projections. We are force-fed images of the person we “should be”… we should be skinnier, we should be more tan, we should be more white, we should be prettier, we should be more muscular, we should be less weak, we should be more masculine, we should be more feminine… We project those shoulds onto ourselves and on Other People.
Other People should look different, eat different food, Other People should treat me differently. Never once analysing the fact that Other People treat us exactly the way that we tell them to treat us, through all of the volumes of non-verbal communication we are projecting every moment of every minute.
This is simple, but it is not easy. It requires us to confront ourselves. It requires us to look at our monsters and our demons and our trauma. It requires us to take responsibility for our lives. This is a huge undertaking. It is complex and multidimensional, as is the nature of people’s trauma. Every snowflake is different. As soon as you think you’ve figured it out, you are presented with another angle of yourself.
As I meet the the dragon of desire,
That lives deep down within,
I take it on as my new job,
To see that all sides win.
–Tom Lescher, Astrology For the Soul, Nov 4, 2014
But it does get easier each time. Like learning to play a new instrument. Practice, practice, practice. Like learning to ride a bike. You’ll probably fall over and skin your knee in the learning process. But once you get it, it’s hard to loose.