Projection and Misdirected Helpfulness

Thomas is a young man who wants to change the world, wants to make it a better place. He can’t understand why there is so much violence, cruelty and war. Why so much hate between people and nations? “I’m thinking of going into the Peace Corps when I get out of college,” he said. “I want to fight poverty and help build understanding between people.”

Thomas’s heart is in a good place. He genuinely cares about other people and the state of the world. But is Thomas called to join the Peace Corps? Probably not. What Thomas doesn’t realize is that his fervent desire for peace has more to do with his own peace than world peace. Thomas is unhappy, conflicted, and confused. His soul, like the world he sees on television, is in turmoil. There are some important issues he needs to address within his life. Thomas’s future is a blank screen and onto this screen he projects the work he intuitively knows he must do. Unfortunately, he projects the work onto the outer world rather than his inner world. He needs to heal himself, but is trying to heal the world instead.

In a dormitory across the campus a bright young woman carefully reviews her marine biology notes. Sarah wants to save the whales. She hopes to one day work for Greenpeace. “Whales are such amazing, magnificent creatures,” she exclaims. “But we are destroying the oceans and destroying the whales. I want to study and help protect them!” Mysterious, powerful and wise, the whales are symbols of Sarah’s soul. Is she meant to become a marine biologist and work with whales? Perhaps. But she may never know the correct answer to that question until she does something else first. Sarah needs to deal with the attitudes that harm the waters of her own soul. Sarah needs to study and protect the whale within her.

Ideals and a desire to help are not bad things. But misdirected ideals and misdirected helpfulness can be. If you really want to help the world, live the life you are called to live. One person following their destiny does far more for the world than 100 people trying to heal the world of ills they have not healed in themselves.

Copyright © Andy Drymalski, Ed.D.
Excerpts may be used provided full and clear credit is given author with link to original article.

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