Anyone that loves you deeply and who you open your heart to, will shine a light so strong into the very essence of who you are, that everything that is not in alignment with this light will come up to the surface to be healed. – Cissi Williams
By Judith E. Lipson, M.A., LPC
All people with whom you come in contact are mirrors for your own ‘stuff’, but the people with whom you form partner relationships provide an exquisite opportunity to know yourself better, and to address your Shadows.
A quick glossary of terms:
PARTNER RELATIONSHIPS – For this article it refers to your romantic partner whether you are married or single, and regardless of their gender.
MIRROR – The opportunity to see your own issues because your partner either reflects them back to you (verbally or indirectly), or because you project these issues on your partner so that YOU can see the issues, although it’s common to assume that your partner is the problem.
THE SHADOW – Those parts of yourself that you would prefer to keep hidden because you have either been taught that they should not be allowed to be visible (and these may even be valuable traits like speaking up for yourself) or because they embarrass you and you wish they didn’t exist.
TRIGGERS – Things that occur around you which set off strong emotions or create judgmental thoughts about yourself or others.
YOUR ‘STUFF’ – This refers to your shadows and triggers (see above) that can increase your emotionality, affect your perceptions of situations and people, and generally interfere with and complicate your relationships.
SOUL MATE – The impression that you are with a person that you are supposed to be with. There’s a deep sense of knowing this person and often a deep attraction as well. It’s interesting to note that not all soul mates are destined to be your romantic partner, but all soul mates provide an opportunity to be your mirror. So one question to ask yourself is whether this person who feels like your soul mate should also be your romantic partner.
INNER CHILD – The little boy or girl that resides within you who recalls the fears and challenges that you experienced in childhood. When familiar events or emotions re-trigger the inner child, s/he alerts you to the danger, but does so from the perspective of the child-victim instead of from the empowered adult that you are now.
INTER-GENERATIONAL PATTERNS – Students of metaphysics believe that individuals carry patterns established by our ancestors whether or not it is carried in our DNA. As you do your own work, you heal inter-generationally as well. Native Americans believe that this extends seven generations forward and seven generations back. (But why limit to seven?)
It’s no surprise that couples experience so many challenges in committed relationships. According to Harville Hendrix and his Imago theory, there’s a tendency to choose partners who unconsciously remind you of key people in your life. They are usually from your childhood, and usually represent your primary caregivers. Imago theory explains that by replicating these earlier people into your current relationships, you are trying to heal that former unsatisfactory association by selecting someone who is familiar, but with the hope and expectation that this time it will be different! Unfortunately, since this is typically all occurring at a subconscious level, you don’t realize the meaningfulness of who you have chosen, why you have chosen this person, and therefore you often miss the opportunity to actually heal your inner child wound. In his book, Getting the Love You Want, Dr. Hendrix recommends bringing all of this to the conscious awareness of you both so that it can be discussed openly as triggers occur to provide the opportunity for you both to achieve healing.
There is a difference between “being triggered” by your partner who acts as your mirror, and manipulation or abuse by your partner. If there is any question, please seek learned counsel to determine the difference and respond appropriately. Just because you are drawn to the person, and feel that they are your soul mate, doesn’t mean that you are to be romantic partners. Maybe the lesson in the attraction is to help you to recognize the need to walk away.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO TAKE YOUR RELATIONSHIP TO ANOTHER LEVEL? What if you are already practicing introspection and relationship healing and can recognize your partner’s gift of providing you the mirror to address your own Shadows, yet still find yourself playing the blame-game? And what if you would actually like to try experiencing the peace-filled love that you know is available to you with your soul mate?
First, make the commitment to continue your personal growth for yourself. You can’t cheat on this process of healing your Inner Child, and of releasing years, generations, or lifetimes of ineffective patterns. If you still have Shadows to be revealed, they will do so! So make the commitment to continue this work to reclaim your Self. Making this commitment will minimize your resistance, and ease the process, but that doesn’t guarantee that you will find it easy or comfortable.
Next, discuss these concepts with your partner to bring the subconscious or unconscious, to consciousness. The Imago process can provide a structure for this, as can other forms of therapy that help you practice open and honest communication. Acknowledge and accept that the trigger that your romantic partner provides is your mirror. Acceptance is not equal to allowing. Respond respectfully and confidently with appropriate boundaries as needed. End the blame-game with awareness of the process and your own role in it.
Just as self-improvement can move you from seeing your self (with a small s) to an awareness of Self (with the capital S), you can now interact with your partner as a Partner and take on the responsibility of Shadow work for yourself without requiring your partner to take on that role and receive your resentment. Now you can interact in a more aware, intentional and loving way, with deeper appreciation for each other, even during the occasional trigger!
Judy Lipson is a Licensed Professional Counselor and educational strategist in West Bloomfield, MI. She helps clients of all ages who have learning difficulties, work or school related anxiety, ADHD, Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorders, and those who wish to Remember and Become ‘Who You Really Are’. Contact Judy at 248.568.8665 and firstname.lastname@example.org, and visit www.SpiralWisdom.net for more information.
This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to replace medical care.