I love it when seemingly unrelated sources come together to drive home a point.
"Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her," said Jesus to those who came to stone the woman who was caught in adultery. John 8:7 NIV. Not a one could cast a stone.
I’ve observed a lot of stone throwing lately. You are probably thinking, well, of course you have, you listen to people vent for a living. Listening to people vent is a part of my job but only for the purpose of seeking understanding. There is treasure hidden in the venting. Venting is like throwing stones. You can proverbially throw stones for the purpose of condemning someone or to break down an illusion of separation. It's a choice.
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”- Carl Jung
To follow is a powerful exercise that leads to this understanding:
Vent by writing down what drives you nuts about someone and then rewrite it with you being the one doing the thing that drives you nuts. If you are really honest with yourself and you are willing to do some soul searching you will likely find how you are similar. I've never known it to fail while it's not always obvious.
Here’s a quasi-fictitious scenario to show you how it works:
John: “Mary makes me feel guilty for every dollar I spend. She’s even been demanding that I show her my bank statements lately. She’s intimidating. I feel micromanaged by my own spouse.”
Dr. Trish: Please write down what you just said.
John: Mary makes me feel guilty for every dollar I spend. She’s even been demanding that I show her my bank statements lately. She’s intimidating. I feel micromanaged by my own spouse.
Dr. Trish: Now re-write it with you being the perpetrator.
John: I make Mary feel guilty for every dollar she spends. I’ve even been demanding that she show me her bank statements lately. I’m intimidating. She feels micromanaged by me.
Dr. Trish: Is there anything that Mary does that you make her feel guilty for?
John: No. I can’t think of anything?
Dr. Trish: How about her socializing?
Dr. Trish: Do you or have you been intimidating in your approach to this subject? Have you tried to micromanage her in any way?
John: Well, yes.
Dr. Trish: Has she ever been less than forthright with her socializing?
John: Why yes!
Dr. Trish: Have you ever been less than forthright with your finances?
John: Well, yes.
Now we have plenty of material to work with prior to John’s confronting Mary. Jesus asked the group to look for their own reflection in the woman caught in adultery. Jung suggests we explore our irritation toward others for information about ourselves. Who knows what will happen as John matures through all of this. Growth is the best way to change the reflection because if John is different his outer world will have to somehow shift to reflect it.
If you look in the mirror and you are not smiling, would you grab onto your lips in the mirror and turn the corners of your mouth up to see yourself smile? Of course not. It's just information. You would either take that information and go inside yourself to see why you aren’t smiling and make the changes there or go inside to muster up a memory that brings a smile to your face if you wanted to see one in the mirror. But you would never think to change the reflection in the mirror. Same goes for what’s going on outside of you in your life.
Mary has her issues for certain, but so does John. She’s in his life for a reason. She’s a reflection. John's spending scares her but rather than communicate her fear she intimidates and shames him to get him to change so she won't have to feel it. You might call it a modern day version of stoning. John has his own flair for intimidating and shaming—his ability to be honest with his feelings and communicate could use some maturing too. They could even develop these areas together if they were so inclined. Growth through love deepens intimacy and keeps the spark alive in relationships.
As long as we need others to change we remain hooked to the illusion that we are different. I highly recommend viewing an urge to vent as a reflection from which to learn, heal and grow rather than submit to the temptation to break the mirror (hurt the other person) with your irritation. After all, the notion of 7 years bad luck for breaking a mirror didn’t come from nowhere.
When you look in the proverbial mirror and a smile of love and gratitude bubbles up from your heart for the one who has triggered you—because you have chosen to use their awkwardness as fuel for becoming a more authentically loving person—you know you are free of the hooks and the curse of your condemnation coming back at you. John’s growth will allow him to communicate out of genuine concern for Mary and their relationship rather than condemn her. There is no guarantee that he and Mary will be breaking bread together in the future but I believe in miracles. Lord knows I’ve seen enough of them.
Friends in this Love,