Aug 102010

mirror Steve Pavlina, on his popular blog, is conducting an experiment in which is assumes that ALL aspects of his own reality, including the other people with whom he relates, are actually his own creations. From this perspective, everyone – your friends, your spouse, your boss – are actually aspects of your own being.

On the surface, this may seem like a silly and narcissistic idea. Surely the cosmos doesn’t revolve around me. Surely other people are rich and complex beings with far more to do than simply reflect hidden aspects of my personality back at me. After doing some experimentation, however, I find this perspective uniquely powerful. The thing to remember, however, is that is just that – a perspective. No perspective is absolute Truth. If we stop obsessing about whether the model of a self-created reality is totally true and explains everything – we may find that it is a very helpful perspective indeed.

For one thing, conflicts become meaningless. Normally a disagreement or criticism might put my ego on the defensive. But what the person disagreeing with me or criticizing me is simply an aspect of myself, that I need to listen to and reconcile myself with? It’s pointless to become defensive with yourself. Further, even a chance encounter on the street or in the line at the supermarket now assumes importance and meaning. What is that rude person in line in front of me trying to tell me about myself? What can I learn about myself by engaging a stranger in conversation? What aspect of myself does each person represent?

And, of course, the reason this perspective works well is that there IS a lot of truth in it. Spiritually, we all share one highest Self. We are all aspects of one consciousness, which is God. And it is also true that each of us represses aspects of ourselves (the Jungian “shadow”) that we can only see by projecting them outward onto others. Whenever we become angry or impatient with someone else or annoyed with their personality – it’s always useful to fully discover what hidden aspects of ourselves this personality may represent. At first it seems completely impossible to us that the violent person or the timid person or the intolerant person who annoys us represents ourselves. We feel no sense of identification with these qualities. But that’s the point. As we do more and more work the shadow aspects of our personality, we will recognize our hidden qualities to an increasing degree.

One way to work with these aspects  is using what Joe Vitale describes as the Hawaiian kahuna  technique called “ho ‘oponopono”. In brief this consists of mentally saying, to the people or situations that trouble us (including aspects of ourselves) “I’m sorry” and “I love you”. Over and over. I can vouch that this method has literally miraculous powers. Joe describes a psychologist who used this method to heal an entire group of criminally insane patients – without ever actually SEEING them! All by assuming that they were actually expressions of his own inner nature in need of healing.

Try your own experiment and approach some of your more difficult relationships with this perspective. I believe you’ll find it very helpful.

Dec 272009

Over the holidays I finished The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman. I had previously read his Love as a Way of Life. Like the previous book, The Five Love Languages started in a rather quiet, understated way and gradually grew on me.

As with many of the books I review, I was listening to this one in audio format, and Chapman’s Midwestern accent initially got on my nerves. But his gentle sincerity began to come through as he got down to business and the book turned out to be very readable (or listenable as the case may be).

The thesis of the book is simple: Each of us has a preferred “love language” – something that most clearly says “I love you” to us. Chapman identifies five of these primary languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. Each of these can have various “sub-dialects”. The problem comes when partners don’t know the other’s primary love language.

For example, if you show your love to your wife by giving her thoughtful gifts, but her primary love language is actually quality time – she will come to feel unloved, in spite of your attempt to communicate love to her using a different language. If she gives you words of affirmation, but your primary language is physical touch, or acts of service, you will tend to feel emotionally empty.

Often we try to communicate our love to our partners in our OWN preferred love-language, or in the languages our parents used with each other. But these may not be our partner’s love languages at all. Chapman leads you through questions and exercises to figure out what your primary love language is, and what your partner’s primary love language is. Few people, once they KNOW their partner’s love language, fail to speak it.

Chapman also emphasizes that once the brief period of intense attraction (usually lasting about two years) is over – love is a conscious choice. You can choose to speak love in your partner’s language – even if you don’t particularly LIKE your partner at this stage of your relationship. And these conscious choices WILL fill up your emotional bank as a couple and make your life much happier.

This is a deservedly popular book, and I would highly recommend it for anyone who feels their relationship is less than it could be (which includes most of us).

Below is a short intro to the book by Dr. Chapman.

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