The Challenge of Misplaced Concerns
I want to talk about something that I think is very relevant to our current world.
As young children, we are often confused about what is ACTUALLY going on around us—in our household and the world. In our desire for understanding, we assign meaning to what we are feeling.
In other words, we feel something “off” is happening, but we don’t understand or know what it is, so (for our own coping), we project that feeling onto something that is tangible to us.
Simplistic example: We have an alcoholic parent. We don’t understand why they are acting the way they do, so we assign the behavior to something we understand, like “the weather makes mommy angry.” The weather may, indeed, make mommy angry, but the underlying issue, that the child doesn’t know about, is the substance use. (and the trauma that lies even deeper)
Well, we don’t really grow out of that coping strategy completely.
Right now, collectively, we can FEEL that (for the sake of simplicity here) something is very “off.” I want to honor and validate anyone feeling this way, because as a guide and intuitive, I agree.
And, when we don’t understand or have access to the real or full information, we will assign or project this feeling onto something tangible—whether covid, or politics or all of the above. This can happen with both mainstream and alternative thought (like what we call conspiracy theories). And while some of these “assignments” are accurate, some are only projections.
Let’s just use mask wearing as an example, because it is such a triggering topic.
NOTE: I don’t feel the need to either encourage or discourage mask usage here, because there are enough people in that conversation, including scientists and doctors. Listen to them and not me.
But for our example:
I know some folks feel like masks are oppressive and part of a strategy for compliance and control.
Could mandated mask use be part of an insidious plot to reduce our freedoms? Sure.
I believe that everything, no matter intent, has the potential to be manipulated. Think about how religion or sexuality is used in our world—light and shadow.
Though, from my perspective, the mask is the “projection” and the underlying concern is oppression. So, the concern some have about freedom is valid and should always be considered. But I question the projection onto the masks.
“I feel an oppressive force on the planet coming for my freedom, therefore I won’t wear this mask.” Even if that first part is accurate, is the second part the most potent action?
Personally, I feel like the mask “debate” may be a distraction from bigger matters of oppression. The “hey, look over here!” technique.
Because, when I hear more about “mask oppression” from individuals or various teachers/leaders than I hear about racism, patriarchy, police violence, religious persecution, sexual and domestic violence, access to health care, educational inequality, maternal mortality, food deserts and financial corruption, I question if the real concern is health and oppression.
Masks (and my strong opinions) aside, remember this post is about our tendency to try to figure out the source of the feelings we are experiencing and assign the reasons.
Be careful, right now, with those assignments and projections. Our feelings are real, but our brains are tricky and our coping strategies are strong.