On the path to recovery, we learn to value every aspect of our lives, even the bad energies. In the words of Richard C. Schwartz, the inspirational, kind founder of Internal Family Systems Therapy, there are no bad parts.
This can seem like a revelation, if we have the very common habit of turning against ourselves or other people. Haven’t we all been schooled to make divisions all the livelong day, between you and me, good and bad, wanted and unwanted?
When we say (through words or behavior), I like your generosity, I don’t like your anxiety, we cut a person in pieces. And of course we do this to ourselves, too. Keep being studious. Stop being jealous.
Polarity at Play
Of course, at the relative level, it is useful to choose, to clarify which way we want to go. There’s nothing wrong with preferences. This, not that, please. Recovery, not addiction. Health, not illness. Optimism, not pessimism.
Polarities are part of our world. And it’s a wonderful, unavoidable part of human life to like and dislike, to resonate or not.
In fact, polarities are always meaningless without the other end of the pole, as North has no meaning if there isn’t South to oppose it. How can we enjoy something, if we don’t know the feeling of non-enjoyment, too?
Polarities, rather than being true opposites, work together to enhance each other, as a deep dark velvet-black nighttime makes the rich blue sky of the daylight hours more beautiful, and vice versa.
One of the most common pitfalls is when we misunderstand either end of a polarity as absolute, different in inherent value.
This attribution of an inherent value difference creates shadow and self-division, and perpetuates enemy patterning throughout society. Our side is good. Their side is bad.
Do we fall for appearances? Is the person we just crossed the street to avoid what they seem to be? Weren’t they once a soft innocent baby in their mother’s arms? Mightn’t we also be scattered, fractious, and filthy, but for the grace of God?
There’s a divinely balanced, reconnected original form of every energy that currently roams in the shadows, creating havoc and pain in our lives.
When we are willing to look for a shadow’s original form, its higher octave, we can learn a lot and begin to soften our world back into a more human shape.
We don’t have to throw babies out with the bathwater, as the curious saying goes. We can take a baby that seems like a bad baby, and love it, forgive it, connect with it, until it’s free at last to be good again.
Yet we can’t be naive about shadow work. It takes a lot to love what’s fallen far from love, and we must understand our strengths and weaknesses, truly. We’re often not up to the challenge of transforming and transmuting the deepest of darknesses.
We have to understand our opponent and not think that we personally can restore it into goodness, if in actual fact, we cannot. There are psychological limits, like laws of spacetime, theoretically transcendable, but practically not.
Addiction, for example, is not easily vanquished. But we can still know as we stare it down, that this seven headed monster is a gross distortion of what is actually a positive life-force energy.
Addiction is the fallen version of a part of a person that wants, in its deepest nature, to just have some relief from overwhelming pain. And that pain itself is a form of longing to be reconnected with all of life.
Journaling: Higher Octaves
The following exercise is to take something that currently seems like a bad thing, and imagine what its higher octave could be. If each “bad” energy is a fallen angel now, what was it like before it fell, when it was happy and safe in connection with the All?
Try it see where it leads you.
Identify troublesome energies.
Identify or imagine a higher octave. Is there a good version of this same thing?
The higher octave of anxiety is wisdom, caution, respect for life, valuing life, wanting to stay alive.
The higher octave of resentment is boundaries, a feeling of no this isn’t right for me, I desire to be myself as I truly am, not be coerced into being something someone else wants but isn’t actually part of my true path.
The higher octave of shame is humility, the recognition that life is the source, not me, and in humility I can relax into reverence, love and innocent reliance on life.
What else can you imagine the higher octave of?