One of the gifts of growing, developing and maturing is that what we feel upset about in someone else’s behavior or choice we have done (or can identify with at least in part) ourselves. At a certain point in life we recognize that we have been the patient one and the impatient one, the success and the failure, the honest one and the prevaricator, the rescued and the rescuer, the betrayed and the betrayer. Because we have danced with duality, we have a greater opportunity to move beyond or transcend these temporary identities.
In my life coaching practice, to help people move through duality I will often have them write a “blame letter”. Because life coaching deals with existential issues rather than serious trauma or abuse, the content is of a somewhat benign nature. For example, maybe my client feels angry at a friend for not following through, maybe she had a break-up that ended with frustration and anger or maybe she feels hurt by a betrayal that has come to light. After the emotional and heartfelt letter is written, we will go back and cross out the person’s name and add “I”. The idea is to identify with that which feels unacceptable in order to release it.
Some people may wonder, “Why in the world would I want to own something unpleasant that I didn’t do?” I would offer that in order to overcome duality we need to dance with it. Through embracing paradox we can often transcend it.
Many of us will relate to being on our high horse in opposition to something and then later acting it out. We may even have forgotten that we have done nearly the same thing in the past! Very humbling! As we begin to self actualize, we may choose to “walk the middle way” in life and thoughtfully observe our manifestations and projections rather than react to them or act them out.
It is true that when people have very rigid and judgmental views they tend to act out the very thing they rail against. This is what Dr. Carl Jung would refer to as shadow manifestation. It is almost as if the hypocrite’s psyche is trying to heal itself of the fixation through its acting out. In fact, Jung said, “All neurosis is an attempt to heal the self.”
It is always interesting to see what the popular culture is fixated on and how those topics seem to be our collective culture’s shadow. Whether it is New York governor Elliot Spitzer or pop culture icon Britney Spears, we can see clearly the dance of duality. Rather than be in judgment, we can take a moment to see these instances as magnified or exaggerated examples of dances with our own duality. If we are consciously working through our own duality we might be brave enough to say, “I am that”.
(c) 2008 Jeanine Marie Austin, Ph.D., C.Ht.
Doctor of Life Coaching, Certified Hypnotherapist
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