Mirrors of the Soul: Relationships as Catalysts for Personal Growth
“mirror my silence, so i know where to put words mirror my illness, so i know where to send healing mirror my darkness, so i know where to shed light”
Relationships are one of the strongest catalysts for personal growth known to humankind. Through them we live the spectrum of experience, ranging from the greatest highs of love to the deepest caverns of grief. It’s a tricky thing to maintain inner awareness while engaged in the dance of life with others. As a teacher once said to me, “we are all in different places in the fog”. If we depend on those around us as channels to clarity (or judge them harshly for being where they are), we are likely to stumble off our soul’s course. In order to mine the greatest value from the confusion inherent in relationships, it is good to stay mindful of how they reflect the relationship we have with our inner world.
Whenever I have difficulty in any relationship (be it a partner, friend, family, colleague or stranger), I have learned to ask myself this before I get lost in fog of misunderstanding:
How does this other person’s irritating / negative / challenging quality reflect something in me that creates stress or inhibits my soul’s expression? How do my judgments about this person’s behavior reflect my judgments toward this part of myself?How does that judgment make me feel, and what do I wish to do about it now that I know?
Once I have discerned these reflections, I am struck by a calming humility first. Whether I feel victimized, over-critical, frustrated, or saddened in reference to the other person’s behavior - I realize that this challenging energy is also circulating within, like a background virus on a computer, disturbing my peace from the inside out. It would not become so inflamed by its own reflection if it were not already festering. Once I realize this, I am able to focus my consciousness towards loving and healing the part of me that has called for my attention through the strange message of a relationship difficulty.
Once the perspective has shifted for us, we allow others to be who they are. We don’t tend to be bothered by what we are not focused on, and through our own clarity we are better equipped to see if any other obstacles remain in the relationship. If we are truly being mistreated or dishonored, that clarity gives us strength to protect ourselves and/or end the situation out of self-love. If we find out in the end it was just our own shadows making trouble, forgiveness and shared love can prevail, helping any worthwhile relationship flourish in the wake of inner obstacles.