When you look at this picture, what do you see?
A duck looking to the left?
A bunny looking to the right?
How easy was it for you to see the other?
Could you have seen the other one if I didn’t tell you it was there?
So how does that relate to your life?
This famous picture from psychologist Joseph Jastrow is a great example of how easily what you see is influenced by your mind and emotions –– and how dramatically things can change by how you experience them.
Like every human on this planet, you see things (including love) through filters of what you’ve experienced in your past and your beliefs.
A lot of your filters were formed when you were a child. And they’ve been lurking around in your subconscious ever since. They influence:
- how you feel in relationships
- how you feel about others
- how you feel about yourself and
- how you react when you get triggered by what others say or do
For example, maybe your mom was filled with rage.
As a kid, that traumatized you. You weren’t able to understand or process her anger. It’s like your body froze.
Now, as an adult, you might pick a partner filled with rage.
Why? Because that’s what you know, what you’re used to. It feels comfortable — even if it’s not.
You’ve spent your life walking on eggshells around rage. So it’s not surprising you’re doing it again with a partner, boss, friend, or even your kids. You’ve been taught that’s love. It’s not.
But you keep doing it even though it’s painful. It’s what you know.
Or maybe your dad was super critical.
That’s what you were taught love is. Now you find yourself judging the annoying things that your spouse does (like yesterday when he kept his eyes locked on his phone while you were trying to vent about what your asshole boss said).
You might even revel in talking with a friend about the irritating things your spouse does.
But you’re just using your filters to justify your ruffled feathers.
It’s really an old pattern of pain being played out for the billionth time.
It’s all unconscious. You don’t even see that you’re doing it.
Instead, you stay stuck in that narrative of, “I’m a victim,” or “He needs to change,” or “I feel sorry for him and I’ll try to save him from himself,” or “It’s my fault. I suck.”
95% of what you do is an automatic response from your subconscious mind.
On one hand, that’s great cuz it keeps you breathing at night when you’re asleep. But it also means you’ll keep walking on eggshells and shutting down around anger or filtering others’ actions through a judgmental, critical lens. 🙄
It’s a human thing. You play things out until you realize they’re causing you pain.
But in order to find the new way, you first need to honestly see yourself — good, bad, ugly, and everything in between. There’s no need to judge any of it. It’s all good.
What do you do if you can’t see the truth?
What if you’re blinded by all those subconscious filters, and all you know is you’re not happy?
That’s when you lean in and do your work. Only then can you FINALLY break those patterns that keep you in that infinite loop of feeling abandoned.
What’s the first step to letting go of filters and held emotions that have been running your show? Become aware of bullshit lies and misunderstandings you innocently didn’t even know were there.
Pretending the darkness and heaviness don’t exist just delays your healing.
Of course it feels super uncomfortable to face it. But the only way through it is through it.
Years ago, as a volunteer for hospice, I had a front-row seat to people who were actively dying.
As I visited with one gentleman, the conversation turned to death.
He got to ask me questions about death. I shared stories of what I’d seen, heard, experienced with other hospice clients’ experiences, along with my experience of death with my 9-day-old daughter Amy.
He was so hungry to talk about what he was experiencing. He was also really interested in what others who were dying had gone through. No one else was talking about it. Through this entire process, no one had named that he was dying. And he was in hospice! It was the elephant in the room.
He found comfort in hearing stories of other people seeing the light, seeing loved ones, and hearing about how thin the veil gets when you’re close to dying.
As our conversation went on, you could see his whole body relaxing. He thanked me for honestly answering his questions and sharing what other people experienced.
Death (just like darkness) is a part of life and he softened into exploring this new journey.
Truth is a healing balm.
The darkness shows you what’s up for you to heal. If you continue to ignore it, you’ll kick the can down the road and recreate your comfort zone over and over again. It keeps you held in pain only to be played out again and again.
I see it with clients all the time. They’ll get a divorce, leave a job, or wait until their kids move out. Then they just recreate the patterns of rage, criticism, or abandonment and rejection in their next relationship, at their new job, or with someone else in their life.
In order to heal, you need to dig into the stored trauma from your past. That’s how you clear it and finally live free. (Trauma is anything that happened and at the time your body couldn’t process it)
You can’t do that when you’re busy avoiding conversations about death, making your partner the problem, and unknowingly living through your filters of pain.
That unhealed portion of yourself deserves more love, not less.
Often you’re not aware of the unhealed part of yourself that’s being triggered.
Sometimes when we’re stuck in disconnect, having another share love with us and believe in us is the power and how transformation happens.
That interrupt alone can change how you see things. And it can be the spark that takes you down a path you never imagined.
Right now, you might feel afraid. You don’t know how to change. You haven’t done it yet.
But even though it feels scary, the quickest way to real healing is to face your trauma.
If you’re confused about whether or not you have trauma or where things are stuck, look back at painful experiences from your past. When you think about them, do you feel yourself shutting down, your body contracting, or a knot in your stomach? That means there’s some stuck energies (trauma) stored in your body waiting for you to process.
For some of the big stuff, you’ll likely need support to move through it. It’s okay. We’re all stronger together.
In the meantime, see if you can make it a practice to live your life with an open heart. Ask yourself on the daily:
Is my heart open?
If yes, can I open it even more?
If no, breathe deep, focus on your heart, and invite it to merge into thoughts of puppy dog snuggles or inviting, cleansing warm waters of purifying hot springs. You’re here to experience the love that you truly are.
You have the say on whether you experience love or not.
The truth is, some people won’t love you, no matter what you do.
Some people won’t STOP loving you, no matter what you do.
Is your true love hiding in the darkness? It’s time to bring truth and light to it so you can heal.
When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
And that makes ALL the difference.