A course in learning how to see ourselves with greater clarity, via reflections from the world around us.
Organizational behaviorist Gemmill and psychologist Kraus ask what we conceal from our awareness–what underdeveloped talent or overexercised weakness? In a word, plenty, and they contend that we can detect these qualities in our experiences with other people in our lives–that our concealed parts are reflected right back at us in these associations as a mirror might, though we’re frequently oblivious to this. Since these unseen behavioral traits influence our life choices, the authors write, ignorance is hardly bliss. Like skating backwards, learning to decipher ourselves in others–and in some cases, our reactions to things–is difficult to teach, but Gemmill and Kraus provide plainspoken examples and exercises to mark the path. They recommend starting with projection, in which we unconsciously place onto others our positive and negative attributes. They take a simple but highly illustrative tack–to ask oneself the question, â€œWhat do I like best about this person? What do I like least?” Then apply the answer to yourself and be open to resonances, the radiation of disowned parts. They explore the shadows of negativity, desirable auras, the ambiguities of magical thinking, scapegoating and the power of authority. Readers on a self-guided quest may be disappointed in the chapter on emotions–a profoundly difficult voyage of self-discovery. The process of â€œlooking at our emotions without looking away or trying to rationalize them” is complex, and not accompanied by much guidance. This part of the journey, the authors note, especially requires us to seek others’ help. Still, Gemmill and Kraus introduce a gratifyingly wide sampling of good literature to get readers started–from the Oracle at Delphi to Carlos Castaneda, and Jungian psychoanalysts to the Appalachian Expressive Arts Collective.
A worthy primer in turning perception on its head to see ourselves afresh.