“To light a candle is to cast a shadow.” – Ursula K. Le Guin
What you are is what you judge. Take a moment and allow those words to settle in. Your immediate response is most likely listening to the words in your head frantically attempting to discredit that statement. However, before you decide if your opinion is right or wrong ask yourself, why does something bother you and not another? Why is it that two people presented with the exact same circumstances can have two completely different responses?
The reason is all based on perception and life experience. As humans, we are born whole. As we grow, we are trained to fit into a world that is not fully evolved. Cultural norms and societal rules dictate what parts of ourselves we are going to nourish and grow and what parts we are going hide or ignore. These hidden pieces are thought to be our “shadow side” or areas of our subconscious that we bury and are ashamed exist within us. As we move through life, the more we conform to society’s norms, the more we shove down this hidden part of ourselves. When those around us mirror the pieces we have trapped within, it brings up emotions of rejection, judgement, dislike and lack of love. We then project these feelings on others as a way of releasing or justifying our own emptiness.
Carl Jung, a swiss psychiatrist, was one of the first to recognize this hidden part in his patients. During his studies he found that helping his clients to resurrect these parts of their psyche was imperative to their growth and healing process. In a spiritual sense, being able to accept and love all parts of yourself is key to finding wholeness and balance. This balancing act between the perceived dark and light, good and evil, or right and wrong is where peace exists. For there cannot be good without the existence of bad. There is simply no gauge to understand the difference without the existence of the opposite.
Throughout life there are many opportunities to make peace with our shadow side. The universe provides us with constant reminders that we have parts within us in need of further attention and healing. Anxiety, depression and most mental/emotional illnesses can be attributed to emotions trapped within the shadow side that need to be addressed and healed. One way of identifying these parts is to observe what we judge in others because what we judge is what we are. For example, if you judge people who seem wild and free spirited (ex: wild hair colors, tattoos, piercings, etc.,) as needing to find direction and behave more appropriately, chances are, somewhere within your soul is a beautiful wild spirit that has been muted as an effort to be more accepted or loved. If you throw judgements at people who behave differently from you and say they are “ignorant” or “lazy”, chances are you feel constant pressure to always make the right choice and often feel stressed due to these expectations when you would actually like to just let go and relax. If you comment negatively on how others raise their children, identify what you feel is incorrect about their behavior and it will most likely point to pieces within your own parenting you feel inferior about. You can easily see how these thoughts flow both ways.
In the world we live in, everyone judges everything. It takes a very emotionally intelligent person to understand someone else’s perspective or to view themselves from another’s eyes. However, opening your mind and becoming more self-aware is a soul changing experience. A great way to do this is to start a journal and write each time you find yourself judging another. Then look for the hidden reason you are judging the perceived action or appearance of another. What does this bring out in you? Anger? Frustration? Fear? Feeling threatened? Once you find that feeling, investigate more. When did you first feel this way in your life? Who does this remind you of? This form of healing is profound and deep but each time you uncover another piece of yourself that has been hiding, you will slowly be working your way back to the inner child who has been lost, alone and hiding within you. Piece by piece you will discover the soul you truly are instead of the human that has been falsely leading you all this time.
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