“If you want to shrink something, you must first allow it to expand. If you want to get rid of something, you must first allow it to flourish. If you want to take something, you must first allow it to be given. This is called the subtle perception, of the way things are.” —Tao Te Ching
The first step to changing anything in your life is awareness and the second is acceptance. I think acceptance is the major stumbling block for many of us. But, you can’t get on the road to change without turning onto the road to acceptance first. Carl Jung said, “What you resist persists.” So, when we are aware of something, but we resist it, we are telling it to stick around instead of healing it.
When I was younger, we had books like, “The Magic Eye“, and “Where’s Waldo?“. They were full of visionary puzzles. Each puzzle required you to stare at it until you were able to show the focus of the picture. In, “Where’s Waldo”, you were searching a broader picture of people to find one man. You could search a scene for hours before that little man was revealed in his striped shirt. The “Magic Eye” was an optical illusion which if you stared at the same picture, suddenly a hidden object would jump out.
The funny thing with both was that there was a time when you could not see the object you were trying to find. You simply couldn’t see it, no matter how hard you tried. It felt frustrating. I can remember yelling, “It’s not here. They lied. It’s not here.” And then suddenly, a switch would happen and suddenly you could see something you never saw before. With those books, once you saw the object, you couldn’t un-see it. Every time I picked up a Waldo puzzle that I had already looked at, my eye went straight to where Waldo was. If I looked at the Magic Eye, the hidden object jumped out at me. I would say that is an example of awareness. You can suddenly see what was hidden before. You are aware that it exists.
I think we are constantly given information that helps us become aware of who we are and how we are affecting our relationships. Sometimes, it is our partners in the relationships who show the parts of ourselves that we are unable to see. If we try to avoid seeing it by ignoring it, it jumps into other situations and tries to show itself in those instances. There is no way to un-see it. It’s ever-present and begging for your attention.
Let me give you an example: Let’s say your partner says to you, “Instead of telling me you don’t want to do something, you procrastinate until I get annoyed and do it myself.” You tell yourself that he’s wrong. He’s just being impatient. You do it in your time and who is he to tell you when it needs to be done? If he would just wait, you would get it done.
You go about your day and you tackle some things that you’ve been asked to do by several different people in your life. You quickly get the things that you like out-of-the-way, but you find yourself putting off the things that you don’t really want to do. Suddenly, you start to think that maybe your partner is right. In that moment you have a choice, you can tell yourself that it’s nothing wrong with it and continue to frustrate others. The other option is to acknowledge it and recognize why it could be an issue or a source for frustration.
When we realize that someone has a negative view of us, our instinct is to shun it or shame it. If it’s something we don’t like about ourselves, we can project it on to the other person so we can reject it. As long as we do any of these things, we can’t change. Instead, we are in denial. But, we are constantly presented with opportunities to heal it by sending it love. You can accept that it is apart of yourself that is getting in the way of the experience of love you want for your life. You can embrace it. Once you accept it and how it affects others, you can start to change it. You can start to find ways to find a balance that can benefit your relationships. In a relationship, there is no room for neither self-sacrifice nor selfishness. We are constantly seeking a balance that allows us to love ourselves and love others. Once you are aware and you acknowledge your challenges, you are halfway there.