Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mirror, Mirror, Be My Friend

This week I’ve been thinking about the distinction between and underlying unity of self and other. Everything in our reality appears to us in one of two categories. From my perspective, I consider everything I encounter as either 1. myself (or belonging to me) because I have some control over it, or 2. not me or mine, but a part of the external environment. The definition of “relationship” is where the two categories meet. A “relationship” is born when I interact with other people who are part of my external environment, and I have some influence on them, but no real control. That’s what makes the experience interesting and exciting (but also potentially frustrating).

In my relationships, I would like to be accepted by others, just as I am. I also want to achieve full self-acceptance, to totally know and feel “at home” being myself, but I struggle with being able to accept others as they are.

The essential challenge for me is to recognize that being accepted by others, accepting myself, and accepting others are not three different things, they are in reality the same thing. However being accepted by someone else is not something I can control, whereas accepting others and accepting myself are actions I can freely choose.

Anytime I feel like I’m meeting resistance in another person, that is to say, someone is not doing what I want him or her to do, I need to ask myself, “What is it I want from him or her that they can’t give me?” I read the book, Loving What Is (by Byron Katie), a while back, and that helped me develop my thinking about the way relationships function as a mirror. If I feel like I am disappointed in someone, what that really means is that I am actually disappointed in myself, and that feeling will go away if I can face the truth that what I am expecting from that person is unrealistic. It is my expectation of them that creates the disappointment, rather than anything they did or failed to do.

What are some of ways others have disappointed you? How does that relate to your expectations for them and for yourself?

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