I have lived most of my life believing that love is always positive, that love only speaks the kindest truth… that love sees with the heart. And I still believe this but as a new way of discerning kindness has been shown to me. It has become very clear to me that a very effective way to see ourselves is to use love, friendship or intimacy as a mirror and allow the love to open us more fully to ourselves and also to see the places we may not see clearly ourselves. Only in a trusted connection of friendship and real love can this function in the highest way.
There is a necessity to be able to face all of ourselves, the light and the dark to continue growing and expanding in higher consciousness. Our shadow side is sneaky, when we look there, our shadow diappears! It can only be seen by looking behind and those who have the best view are often outside ourselves. Our friends and family can help us to become the people we want to be with loving feedback and observation.
This is tricky turf, though. In many relationships and families most of us have witnessed this process being subverted through criticism and verbal abuse. The eyes of love do not see in a judgmental way. Love is patient, love is kind… love especially is kind.
Cultivating relationships and intimacies with others can help us see where we are on the path – “as within, so without”. What kinds of friends do you have? How are they reflecting your shadow side back to you? Awareness is the first big step towards change and healing.
There is another sneaky way the human mind can cloud the mirror, and it is fairly common and very hard to detect from the inside. It is called “projection” where we imagine others to be making us our victims when we are also enacting the behavior we judge in others. By listening to our own judgements of others we can learn to perceive ourselves more clearly, clean our mirrors and heal the ways we judge ourselves and project that outward into the world.
Our shadows want to be seen, to be acknowledged and respected. When that doesn’t happen there are some interesting ways the shadow demands attention. For one there can be a tendency for those with troubled feelings to find someone to whom they can “confess” their darker thoughts and tendencies. It is a cry for help, and a cry for loving attention. The shadow part of our unconscious has a talent and desire to cause trouble for us. So it becomes of paramount important to find a way to prevent the meddlesome troublemaking of our shadow sides. This really is BIG work. Therapists are one powerful avenue towards self -love, and it is important to feel support and respect in that relationship. Close friends can also help us, as can intimate partners. The enmeshment of intimacy does seem to cloud things though and it may not be best to depend on your partner for this support. Sometimes it works to engage in “co-counseling” with a friend where you share time, each giving and receiving emotional support and loving feedback.
I love to contemplate the story of the Chinese Goddess of Compassion – Kwan Yin. She is so filled with love and compassion that she actually rides a dragon to her destination. I understand this to be the illustration of the truth that only love, more love and more compassion can fully integrate the powerful, fiery, potentially destructive parts of our psyche into balance to serve the highest good.
How have you tamed your dragons today? Let’s talk!