“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves. There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate.”
~ Carl Gustav Jung
In recent months, since the election, we have been witnessing immense discord, dissent, and division regarding government and political matters. Friends are divided, families are divided, the media is divided, even the people within the same political parties are divided. Values are being challenged. People who had shared values, common ground, and could relate to each other prior, are suddenly finding themselves on opposite sides when it comes to Donald Trump who just assumed office as the President of the United States. Reactive projections are being made, some people are looking to him with hope, while others are organizing protests and looking for a different leader to follow. Indeed a lot of buttons are getting pushed resulting in angst, outrage, fear, intolerance and grief.
When I was in homeopathy school, there were two books that were mandated reading for us as part of the self-development portion of the curriculum in prepping and polishing us to become well-rounded homeopaths. They were “Thank you for being such a pain”, by Mark I. Rosen, Ph.d., and “No Enemies Within: What’s right about what’s wrong” by Dawna Markova. The first had to do with understanding and healing relationships with difficult people; the person generating conflict in our lives is the ideal foe delivered by the Universe unto us, a person whose characteristics exactly correspond to the places within us that need learning and healing. The theme of the second book is making friends with one’s problems and providing a process to learn new ways to relate compassionately to the things inside and out that people oppose. Both books are wonderful with exercises and practices to accomplish the goals of self-healing and navigating better and more successfully the world that we come in contact with daily. For me, it wasn’t enough to just accept that these practices would transform me and help me to become the person I was destined to become. Indeed, they didn’t. I needed to understand the concepts, the underlying mechanisms of human psychology, it all needed to click in my head and heart and soul and then I could figure out my own practices and exercises from there. The books helped me some, but, I kept on seeking to understand the human psychology through personal observation, as well as observing others in the context of relating to one another.
It was not until my discovery of Jung (through Edward Whitmont), that I really started putting two and two together about the mental emotional and behavioral patterns of my own as well as people around me. It became a very useful tool for me to get to the core of a client’s case in a constitutional homeopathic consultation. My then mentor and now colleague Jerry Kantor had already taught me to ask the existential ” what’s your hot button” question. Teasing out and exploring the answer almost always gives away the key to the case.
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” Now, most of the time we can easily and objectively perceive others’ faults and even accept them unconditionally, until they trigger us. Then invariably and infallibly we react with irritation, conflict and intolerance of those faults and the people exhibiting those faults. That’s because there are shadows of those very same faults within us. On social media these days, people are quite forthcoming in sharing what bothers them; pet peeves, things that they can not stand, people that they can not stand. Through the expressions of grief, anger, irritability, joy, celebration, complaints, one seeks justification and validation, not resolution and transformation. It is hard to shine the light on ourselves, when we are ranting about another person or a situation. We are always looking outward at the other person, expecting the other person to change and address their faults to make for a better world, not ourselves when we are thus irritated. Unfortunately, the answer to the conflict and irritation actually lies within ourselves. It is really all about one’s SELF, nothing else, and no one else.
Furthermore, everyday I come across many kindred spirits as myself seeking to lead a happier life, making the appropriate choices for reduced stress, better emotional and physical health, and improving the overall quality of life. I see an abundance of writings and memes instructing and empowering everyone to avoid negativity like the plague; keep negative people away, do not entertain negative thoughts, condemn negative acts, etc.; with a push for positive inspiration, thoughts and activities; the hope is that if these practices are incorporated consistently, the goal of a happy healthy life will be achieved. But, will it? Is avoidance and ritualistic keeping at arm’s length of all undesirable and negative things the real solution to finding everlasting happiness? Some might indeed argue that it is so. But, think about it, that only creates a greater divide between perceived “positives” (light) and “negatives” (shadow), a greater split in people’s minds, in people’s selves, and thereby in the world order. It generates intolerance, hatred and eventually fear. Through denying and rejecting and beating down the negativity, we trap and push it into the dark corners of the consciousness, deep into the shadow. The duality and split within oneself as well as within the greater collective universe only increases as a result. As above, so below. As within, so without. And, then whatever undesirable and terrible happens to us becomes FATE. That can not be the solution to everlasting happiness, healing or even self-fulfillment.
Instead, what if we are willing to consider that a situation or a person who is so overwhelmingly bothersome to us is actually a mirror of something within one’s own self? Indeed, that is one’s hot button. Then, if we simply just rant and reject them, or worse still decide to cut them off from our lives, we would be missing the biggest opportunity that life is giving us to delve and learn about one’s own inner self; and delve deep into the complexity we must. The shocker is that these “negative” circumstances are our teachers, for they create friction, they agitate, because they represent everything that is already in one’s self that exists in the shadow. They offer the potential to wake one up from an esoteric perspective. That’s what Jung essentially means. It is only when you allow the unconscious to become conscious, that personal growth happens, and when you face and reconcile that truth within your own self that bothers you so much in others, that you will find that it does not bother you any more in the same helpless way. You don’t have to waste time and energy hiding from them, dodging them, keeping them away, shunning them, shutting them out and putting someone else in their place you can pin your hopes on. You are able to accept them as they are, project love, and find creative solutions to affect positive change at all levels… your own self, the other person, the world.
In conclusion, any negative reactive emotion we have towards the negative person in our life (or larger than life if it is for someone in power) is a sign of literally giving away our power and life energy. It shows us where our work is when it comes to basic Jungian psychology of shadow work until we can come to a place of non-reactive zero-point consciousness. That’s when one becomes tuned into one’s true inner power and guidance, and becomes a sovereign embodied individual. Anything else is just going in circles, within the confines of one’s own habitual patterns, unaware, instead of breaking out of them. Both good and bad, although subjective notions, get an equal opportunity to manifest themselves. You can make a difference in the quality of your own life by examining yourself whenever you encounter a hot button issue. Otherwise, you can count on other people and situations to be triggering you and creating conflict over and over again to your utter and unending disbelief and bafflement, no matter how much you want to simply lead a positive life.
Homeopathy can be a great tool in this work of self-awareness, self-attunement, and self-enlightenment. I recommend working with a professional homeopathic consultant for that. Well-chosen remedies can connect one with their inner voice, shift those inner shadows and bring them to light, and thereby change the way one experiences, interacts, and is effective in the world.