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You are your lens (what it means to look in the mirror)

Happy New Year my brothers! May the upcoming months provide you with opportunities to find a deeper place within yourself.

This is the time of year many of us reflect on 2019 and make resolutions for 2020.

I basically suck at resolutions, but do like setting intentions. One of my intentions for 2020 is to enter more deeply into my King energy, smooth my jagged edges, and authentically appreciate the people in my life.

To do that, I have to challenge the way I view my experience. Everything I see and witness is a reflection of who I am. All that I am and everything I’ve experienced color the way I see things. I cannot separate my identity from my perspective.

I’m reminded of the cognitive psychology tool, used in recovery treatment, called Johari’s Window. It’s a technique that helps people better understand their relationship with themselves and others, which is something I found helpful during my time in early recovery.

The window is separated into four quadrants and basically shows there are:

  1. Parts of ourselves that are known to us and others. (Public Arena)

  2. Parts of ourselves known only by us but we keep private. (Façade)

  3. Parts of ourselves others can see but are blind to us. (Blind Spot)

  4. And the fourth quadrant is the unknown. (Unconscious)

The intent of Johari’s window is to help you shrink your blind spot. The best way to do that is to ask other’s for feedback.

Let me share a story.

A traveler nearing a great city asked an old man sitting by the road, “What are the people in this city like?”

“What were they like where you just came from?” asked the old man.

“Horrible,” said the traveler. “They were mean, untrustworthy, deceitful, and unreliable.”

“Ah,” said the old man, “You will find them the same way in the city ahead.”

Soon after the first traveler continued on his way a second traveler approached the old man and inquired about the people in the city ahead. Again the old man asked about the people in the place where the traveler just left.

“They were great people: honest, hardworking, compassionate, and generous to a fault.”

The old man responded, “That’s exactly how you’ll find the people here.”

The old man in the story was simply witnessing the blind spots of the travelers.

The way I view others is a reflection of myself. It’s the lens I see through. This is good information to have if I find myself judging others.

I love seeing a Red Tail screeching above me, or a fox cross my path, anything I can claim as a sign or evidence that I’m on a spiritual path. But I think there’s a greater truth my Higher Self wants me to understand. It shows up when I find myself being triggered by someone. Now that’s a sign that really provides an opportunity for spiritual growth!

These messages open the door to the work I still need to do. I need these signs and messages to point out the places in me that are incomplete and need my attention. For instance, if I’m not a trusting person I may not see others as being trustworthy. It provides an opportunity to explore why I’m not trusting. Where might I have been wounded in my past that left me feeling unsafe? That lack of trusting may have protected me in the past but it may also be the very thing that continues to sabotage relationships in my life.

We all have wounds and shadows, and although we may have come by our wounds honestly, it’s our responsibility to try and heal those wounds. It’s our way of finding out who we really are, our Hero’s Journey. After all, we are all just like the travelers in the story.

I feel a deep sadness when I see men who have had history together, disappear from each other lives because of a story they may have created about each other and they didn’t take the time to check it out or to challenge themselves (look in the mirror) about why they were triggered in the first place.

Step ten of Alcoholics Anonymous is “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.” In the (AA) Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions book under step ten, there’s a line I hold very close to me. It states, “It is a spiritual axiom that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us.” It means we may get triggered but how we respond is our responsibility.

It takes incredible courage to say “I felt triggered because you touched a place in me where I was once hurt (naming that hurt). In that moment I wanted to hurt or punish you, by striking back or leaving.”

I find what’s most helpful to me, is to align myself with others who are doing their inner work and aren’t afraid to own their mistakes or shadows. Others, who can separate their shadow from their inherent goodness, and are willing to give feedback and accept feedback without getting defensive.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year. Whatever you’re scared of doing, do it.

Paul Gemme gemmepaul@yahoo.com and the COMEGA OC

P.S. In the words of Baba Ram Dass (1931-1919) “We are all just walking each other home”


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