That damn shadow came out again this week. I hate it when that happens. I work on it and work on it and still it raises its ugly head when I least expect it.
Oh, it started innocently enough. I commented on a friend’ s Facebook posting. My simple intent was to remark on what I saw as a greater good that was potentially coming out of some news event. You know, that “Pollyanna” kind of stuff that I’m prone towards.
So far, so good. But then, someone had to go and comment upon my comment — questioning something I said. So I replied. They replied… back and forth. A healthy discussion…. I thought.
I told my wife, Mary, about the dialogue and she asked me if I felt I had to reply to every comment that I got on Conscious Bridge, Facebook or Twitter. Of course, I said no — thinking immediately of several complements I had received to which I had not actually replied (although to even most of these I usually post a thank you).
But immediately I realized she was right. Any time anyone questioned me, I felt compelled to reply. In most cases, answering a question posed is appropriate. Yet, I knew there were a few times that it probably would’ve been better just to let the other person state their opinion without replying. I don’t always have to come back and justify my “correctness”.
When I am acting from a place of conscious awareness, I know that your disagreeing with me does not diminish me in anyway. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I know at some level that if I had lived your life and had your experiences, I would probably hold the opinion that you do.
Ah, but when I’m not being conscious and I let old subconscious patterns takeover, then that pesky shadow can come out and play. Somewhere in my distant past I suspect my ego appropriately developed a protective mechanism to ward off real challenges that got generalized into protecting me from imagined ones. Your questioning me coupled with my allowing these subjective patterns to take over appears to lead me into defensive postures that I label as “simply answering your question”.
The key is to recognize when this happens and to learn from it. That’s easier said than done.
This reminds me of many years ago when I was counseling a manager who worked for me. I had received complaints that he was arrogant and not open to suggestions. From my interactions with him, I knew he had a very strong ego and was quite opinionated. In his mind, he could do no wrong.
I still remember clearly one session where I asked him to identify one performance area in which he might need to improve. He thought for a long moment and said he couldn’t come up with one. When I pushed a little more saying that no one is totally perfect and everyone has at least something they can improve upon, he had to agree. Finally, he suggested that he could do a better job of reaching out and mentoring the other managers. In other words, he was so locked in his perception of being perfect that the only thing he thought he could improve upon was in sharing his vast knowledge with others.
His shadow side was a bit extreme, in my opinion. Psychologists would probably call him narcissistic. We probably all have a bit of narcissism in us.
So, the point here is that although we are already perfect on a spiritual level, at a human level we are continuously in a state of moving towards that perfection. None of us are perfect in our current human expression. Hence, there is always room for each of us to grow and expand and improve. So we should all do our best to allow everyone to be “perfect in their imperfection”. To be clear, this is not a call to condone inappropriate or harmful behavior. But it is a call to seek understanding of one another, to allow each other to believe as they do, and when necessary “agree to disagree”. To let others to have the last word. Ultimately, it truly is more important to focus on the commonality of our humanness than it is to focus on the differences of our beliefs.
And, if you think your current human expression is already perfect, then may I suggest that maybe there is an opportunity for growth at least in your state of humbleness?
What you think? You can disagree with me. I’ll let you have the last word. Really.
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Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!