By choosing not to allow parts of ourselves to exist, we are forced to expend huge amounts of psychic energy to keep them beneath the surface.
~ Debbie Ford
Ever been in a situation where someone is being really negative or difficult to deal with? Something grates within you, your heart pounds and you want to get angry or run away. What is it about them that creates such a powerful reaction?
You think, “If only they would <fill in the blank>, they would be so much more pleasant to be around. Or maybe you’re not even that generous. Either way, you’d like them to change.
What if you changed your perspective here? I mean, what if you accept that they are just being themselves…and you are projecting a label onto them?
Stay with me here…
I can hear the “Yes, but’s” joining the conversation. Kindly take a claim check for these thoughts. You’ll be able to gather them up later.
What if what you are seeing in them—the label—really belongs to you? What if the negative attributes we so readily see in others are hidden parts of ourselves, parts we refuse to acknowledge?
I know. These are radical ideas. You may be thinking that I’m the one who is confused or who is blaming you for your reaction to someone else’s behavior.
But the truth is, we all have a shadow self, that part of us that we believe is somehow not acceptable to others or to ourselves. So we stuff these thoughts deep down inside, and use our energy to keep them out of sight.
Unfortunately, these characteristics refuse to stay tamped down. What we try to ignore in ourselves we readily see in others. After all, our radar is keenly set to “see” these characteristics. And, it’s so much easier to project these characteristics onto others than to own them within us.
We can run but we can’t hide. And these unwanted characteristics are not going away, folks. They are part of us.
So, are we forever stuck here?
Anything that is hidden away, consciously or not, has power over us. By ignoring those parts of ourselves that we find unacceptable, we are refusing to recognize all aspects that make us who we are.
Bottom line: we’re not perfect. Never have been, never will be. It’s called being human. We need to embrace all parts of ourselves, recognize that we are works in progress, and change the things that we can.
Your Call to Action
The next time someone pushes your buttons, stop and label the characteristic that is getting you riled up. What exactly is causing you discomfort? Notice where you feel the unease in your body. Take a deep breath and say quietly to yourself “I am upset because I recognize this characteristic far too well. This is a part of me that I have trouble owning. It’s OK. I’m human.” Breathe a tiny bit of acceptance into the area of unease. What do you notice now?