Thursday, 20 March 2014

Your life is your responsibility

What matters in life is not what others do but what you do.

To varying degrees we have the free will to decide who and what we will be. If others act unkindly, cruelly or without compassion, courtesy and consideration that is about them, not you. Even if you have been instrumental in triggering those responses in them - it is still about them, not you.

How you act is about you and that is your responsibility. We all make mistakes, we are all at times, instruments of pain for others, mostly unconsciously but perhaps consciously at times and no-one is perfect.

Life is short but it does not have to be brutal. Most of us have a choice as to how we behave and how we react or respond to the pain which comes from others.

People are more damaged than evil and more frightened than cruel and at the end of the day it will not be their behaviour which impacts your life, but your own. And, if there is a world beyond this one and your life to ponder, it will be your life and not the life of someone else which needs to be pondered. It will be your words, actions, thoughts and behaviour which impact how well you have lived your life and not what others have done to you.

One theory of the afterlife is that we experience everything as part of a life review and that means all we have thought, done or felt, but, also how others have felt in relationship with us.

It seems far more just and logical than the religious judgement and damnation we have been taught. And it says that each of us will experience all we have been and that means there is never any need for revenge, satisfaction, apologies or redress, because those who hurt you will feel it all.

So remember to smile, to have compassion, to trust the process, to acknowledge the woundedness of others and yourself and in the words of one of the great mystics, Hildergard of Bingen: All is well and all is well and all manner of things are well.

For 'this too will pass' and pain and suffering are as much a matter of perception as reality.

Getting beyond blame

It is human instinct and possibly need to blame someone or something for our pain and suffering. Families very often have one individual who will play 'coat-hanger' for all the robes of grief, loss, hurt and agony that others do not want to wear.

But projecting out onto others, blaming someone else for what is wrong in your life or in your relationship with them does nothing but feed your shadow. Facing unpleasant realities and retrieving your own shadow from their 'hook' is the only way to maturity, inner growth and peace of mind.

Everything and everyone in our lives is a 'mirror' reflecting what is at work. No-one can 'make' us unhappy in the long-term. Anyone can act in ways which hurt deeply and cause unhappiness in the short-term, but it is up to each of us to work with that pain and bring forth something of value.

Sadly, more often than not, we reach for a scapegoat, someone in our life, our family, our work, our world, who is a convenient object of blame.

We tell ourselves all sorts of stories when we have complex relationships with people or when complex relationships develop with people who have long been a part of our lives and who we love.

 'They don't understand me. They don't appreciate me. They don't value me. They are too outspoken.  They don't share with me. They are too selfish, too generous, too anything.... too useful as someone to blame which means it is not my fault, but their fault, and I need do nothing but suffer.'

Some people, generally the courageously frank and foolishly outspoken, will act as 'mirrors' to more people, more often, which is why, they often become the 'hook' on which many projections will be hung.

It equates with the maxim of 'shooting the messenger.' Whatever is mirrored back to us, reflected against and upon us, is a part of us and something we need to process, but such 'mirrors' are often a source of fear because, in the way of myth and fairy tales, they as often as not 'reflect' our shadow; that which we do not know, do not wish to know and would seek to deny.

And so the  'Cassandra' archetypes of this world, those who can often see deeper, farther, wider, often unconsciously and sometimes consciously, who are prepared to 'speak' of what they see, feel, perceive, sense, know, become objects of fear. As 'mirrors' of what has been denied, of what is fearful, of what is rejected, they are garlanded with the dross and dregs and detritus of other people's pain and deemed to be at fault. The problem is draped around their necks and the mirror is, when possible, shattered.

Such 'mirrors' and archetypes are the origin of the label, 'scapegoat,' that sacrificial and symbolic 'creature' which carries the sins of others and dies to set them free. In ancient times it was often a  literal 'goat' which was literally killed, but variations on the theme, both literal and metaphysical, have been with humanity from the beginning.

And of course, this is the origin of what the Christians call Jesus and all the other saviour/redeemer gods throughout history.

It is not that most 'mirrors' are god-like, but that the same sort of energy is at work ... where truth, honesty, reality are reflected back at people who do not want to see and so, instead of facing the reality, driven by fear, it is the messenger, or the mirror, which is attacked.

One could argue that witches, often the healers, shamans, counsellors, guides of their societies, were killed by the hundreds of thousands because they were uncomfortable mirrors and outspoken 'Cassandras' in society.

Many would argue that people who seek to 'remove rugs' under which much has been swept should expect and accept the consequences of any mess that will be found. And this is valid.

 In truth, we all sweep things under our metaphorical rugs and we all deny, repress and drive into the shadows much we do not like about ourselves - the question is how much and how often it is done and whether or not one has the courage to bring into the light, that which has been hidden.

My sense is that while some people are born to be 'rug-lifters' and 'shadow retrievers,' the fact is that some people don't get a choice for life lifts the rug or releases the shadow and then there is no choice but to deal with it. Actually, there is some choice because there are ways of fighting to keep the mess hidden or the shadow denied: through insanity, dysfunctional denial, addiction of any kind and constant distraction. But generally, what is within will become so powerful that it will find a way out and then everyone will need to clear up the mess whether they like it or not.

So often with such work we 'look at the finger pointing at the moon,' instead of putting our focus where it is needed - on the moon.

If someone is an 'irritation' in your life, remember that this is the path to the formation of a pearl, the symbol of the Great Mother and of the eternal, heart-spoken Moon and great beauty can come from the smallest piece of annoying grit!