How to drain the psyche’s swamp of negativity
“Draining the Swamp” has been in the news a lot the past few years in political rhetoric, but the swamp that needs our attention from a psychological and spiritual perspective is the swamp of negativity that exists mostly in our unconscious.
In October of 1981, A. H. Almaas gave a teaching to students of the Diamond Approach, titled “Essence is the Life.” In this teaching he addressed the swamp that needs our attention the most.
In the beginning of spiritual or psychological work, few realize just how much of their world view, self-image, and behavior is based on the toxic negativity often considered normal in the life of the ego.
Becoming aware of our swamp and how it functions is necessary to develop objectivity needed for real growth, maturation, and spiritual development.
Adapted from the teaching: Essence is the Life
Objectivity: important quality of Essence
One understanding of objectivity is truth as it is, not according to our desires, our opinions, our dreams, or our emotions.
To be objective means not to be swayed, not to be determined by anything else but the way things are. that the perception is totally 100% accurate, is not prejudiced by your emotions, or by your unconscious, or by your knowledge or by your belief, or by anything.
There are many reasons why we don’t have that objectivity, that objective consciousness. It is the existence of the personality as a whole.
Projecting negativity onto the world
When objectivity is not there, what we see is marred, clouded. Sometimes, we see things that are not there at all. In fact, most of the time we see things that don’t exist at all – in ourselves, in other people, and in reality as a whole.
The active agency at the root of this is the psychological phenomenon of projection.
Projection is one of the main psychological defense mechanisms which defends against seeing the truth that lies inside us.
Projection is usually seen in terms of negative emotions like hostility, anger, fear, jealousy, and similar reactions that exist in the swamp we are talking about. For instance, the paranoid person who is scared of other people is really not scared of other people. The whole mechanism is a projection.
The paranoid person is really angry and hostile, but instead of seeing the anger and the hostility in oneself, it is seen outside, in somebody else. So you see other people who want to harm you. You feel scared of them, while you’re the one who wants to harm them. That’s projection. It means displacing what is inside you onto the outside.
Obviously, if you see something outside that doesn’t exist outside, that actually exists in you, it will be hard to be objective with that. Objectivity is out the window the moment that happens.
Projection leads to loss of objectivity
Projection then determines many of our feelings, many of our actions, many of our life plans. Paranoia is one of the most renowned examples of projection.
But projection is much more prevalent than that.
Sometimes you project your fear outside, and sometimes you project your jealousy outside so you don’t have to experience and admit that you are feeling these things.
It’s true, we primarily shift our focus to other people for reasons that are unconscious.
Some will project weakness outside: “Oh, all these weaklings around,” when it is really you unconsciously feeling weak. It’s hard for them to feel that, so they pretend they’re tough or strong, and others may see them that way. Maybe even admire them.
How deep is the swamp?
The roots of projection are so deep that we usually take our projections to be reality, that our projection is actually objective truth.
“Of course, people are angry, out to get me. Can’t you tell? Look at their eyes. Don’t you see the way they move? If they aren’t trying to get me, how come yesterday when I crossed the street, a car almost hit me?”
“How come there is a price adjustment the day I want to buy new clothes? Why didn’t they do it the month before?“
You can always find confirmation, but what we mostly project are our superegos. Instead of seeing that we feel judgmental, critical, disdainful, or punishing toward ourselves, we believe and expect others to do that to us. We see others doing that to us and in that way, we don’t see that really we’re the ones who are doing it. We project our superego outside.
Judging and Taking Action from the Swamp
The roots of projection go deep and so do the roots of the superego, the inner judge.
The foundations of projection happened in early infantile life. It’s one of the first defensive mechanisms that is employed and used.
Projection begins in the reality of what is called the mirrored state. If you’d like to explore the psychological significance of mirroring, here are few links to guide you:
Projection happens mostly with negative affects, negative emotions and attitudes. It’s not like you experience the other as negative or you are negative: the whole collective is negative because there’s no separation between you and the other.
So everything–the whole world–is anger, or frustration, or fear, or full of judgment; everybody’s judging and everybody is being judged. What we call negative merging is misery, it’s truly hell! This is the “toxic negativity” that lies beneath the surface of the ego.
Those negative merged states, negative merged experiences become one big thing, isolated from the positive ones. That forms the basis of the superego and that’s why you project your superego outside–because at the beginning, the outside and the inside were one thing.
Sometimes you may notice that you judging yourself and somebody else judging you seems to be the same thing. You can’t separate them because of the negative merging.
Draining the swamp
So the whole world is anger, or the whole world is frustration, or the whole world is fear, in that merged state. With the superego active, the whole world is full of judgment. Everybody’s judging and everybody is being judged. It’s pure suffering.
And those negative merged states coalesce into become one big thing, isolated from the positive ones which forms the basis of the superego. That’s why you project your superego outside, because at the beginning, the outside and the inside were one thing.
For a person to work through their superego, they need to get all the way down to that preverbal, chaotic, completely hellish, negative merged state. And when you get to it, then you feel lost, you don’t know what to do.
Everywhere you go, swamps. Nowhere to go: wherever you turn, swamps. Up, down, left right – all swamps! That’s how it is seen because everything is negative.
So, the loss of objectivity is mostly due to projection and the roots of projection lie in the merged state and the superego’s basis lies in negative merging.
Learn more about the superego, negative merging, and how to work with projections in Diamond Heart Book 1: Elements of the Real in Man. “Essence is the Life” is included in Chapter 9.