My Selves In The Mirror

Cultivating friendships within allows connection with others

One of the articles in Friends & Lovers (IC#10)
Originally published in Summer 1985 on page 27
Copyright (c)1985, 1997 by Context Institute


Carol lives in Seattle with her two sons.

I IMAGINE MYSELF, when I’ve lived out my time on this planet, sorting through my souvenirs. Of the treasures I shall hold in my heart, none will be more precious than the many relationships that have enriched my life. As I lovingly reach out, in my imagination, to touch them once more, my hand closes upon a mirror. My reveries cease with the growing awareness that I am face to face with myself at last. I meet my own eyes with curious diffidence, as if for the first time. Recognition flickers elusively for want of history to sustain it. I wait expectantly for some sign acknowledging my rank among other friends highly valued.

But alas, the image fades, and I am left with my reflections and philosophical musings. Where lies the way to self- esteem, if not through self-awareness? How then does one initiate and maintain the implied relationship with oneself?

To cultivate a friendship with myself I find that I need to take time each day to sit with myself – to quiet the chatter of the mind, to focus my attention inward and to be totally present to whatever is alive for me at the moment. I often confront pain, fear, anger or other uncomfortable emotions. My experience has been that when I can stay with the feeling long enough, my resistance begins to soften and my heart begins to open.

I continue to make new acquaintances of a multitude of subpersonalities residing within me. I recognize myself (in varying shades of embarrassment, amusement, shock and pride) starring in each of their melodramas, as they take center stage in my life: the Unlovable Child, the Valedictorian, the Advocate, the Helper, the Rebel, the New Age Critic . . . and Company. Needless to say, hanging out with this crowd, in the absence of a Director, can prove to be a chaotic adventure! However, the rewards are realized in learning to acknowledge rather than reject, to observe rather than identify with, to understand intention. It is then that subpersonalities can be gently, gradually transformed and integrated into a more spacious awareness that is my true Self.

From this place of pure awareness – this central core of my being – I can observe, direct and harmonize my mental, physical and emotional processes. From this place of pure awareness I can welcome home all the parts of me that I exiled long ago. From this place of pure awareness I can share a vision of perfection – not of form, but of qualities – that connects us all, one with another.

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