There’s a saying we’ve all heard, “the world is your oyster”. When I went online to search for the phrase, I found it implies that you can achieve anything you wish in life or go anywhere, since you have the means to do so. To be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about this advice. Could I become an engineer if I lacked the ability to comprehend concepts to qualify as one? Instead of believing that I can become anything I want to become or do anything I want to do, I’ve learned that the world is a mirror that reflects oneself. Whenever things aren’t going well in one’s life or relationship, chances are there is something amiss within oneself. Let me try to explain what I mean.
The Sufi perspective holds that everything we see in the outer world reflects our inner state. As an example, they did a famous experiment at a prestigious university in California. The mock mugging took place inside the courtyard, which was full of people. During the mugging, they pushed the victim down. She was robbed of her purse by the mugger, who then fled the scene. In the mugging’s aftermath, the people conducting the experiment asked eyewitnesses what they saw. Different eyewitness accounts emerged during the experiment, which made headlines. The “mugger” was said to have been male, female, black, white, Hispanic, wearing yellow or green t-shirts, etc. Why did each observer see things so differently? What we see reflects our own personal experience. You will most likely think the world is a dangerous place when your heart is filled with fear. There will be reasons all around you to justify your hatred if your heart is filled with hate. The world around you will seem full of heartbreak when your heart is full of sadness. When your heart is troubled by grief, you will see the world through a dejected lens.
When we see a lot of something in the world, or in our own lives, we must know we ourselves may carry that “thing” within us. Asking ourselves, “why are we being shown this” or “how is this a reflection of ourselves” is the first step to healing and making a change. Life may not be going your way. Trouble and hardship seem to be a constant no matter what you do. Understanding whether you possess any of these traits, and then doing the work to eradicate them, will see your world change for the better.
Here’s a nice exercise. Imagine the person you most admire. Make a note of their name. They can be alive or not living and from any era. Highlight their best traits. Review what you wrote. All the reasons you wrote are character traits of yours. Because you possess these characteristics yourself, you can identify them in someone else. It would have been impossible to see them in someone else if you didn’t possess these traits yourself. This is also true for the things we don’t like about others.
When I heard this, I asked, “What about people who are abusive, or are criminals? Do I also possess these traits? No, it doesn’t mean I am abusive, or a criminal. It means that I may have a similar trait but at a much lesser level. l am not a murderer and have no desire to murder, but I may become furious. I assume anger is a trait for someone who wants to cause another harm. I may be envious of what others have, which is a trait a thief may have. The character trait may not be equal, but there’s something similar that is a reflection. Looking at life in this way shows how the people in our lives are like mirrors, showing us what we need to work on in our own selves.
That brings me to my next point. Somewhere in history, someone came up with the idea that changing the world meant making others change. Marriage is no different. Most people believe that marriage is 50/50, but have you ever succeeded with 50% effort? The two are 100/100, but it begins within us. We’re all so busy pointing outward, trying to make others make the changes we don’t like. The strategy is backward. We must make the changes internally first before worrying about externally. If you start with yourself, like a tuning fork, the others will resonate with you.
Let me close by saying this. As with putting our oxygen masks on before helping anyone, begin healing and working on yourself before asking others to change. While it may be difficult, and it may seem counterintuitive, try it anyway, and see how things change around you.
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