One of the teachings of A Course In Miracles is that, like a hologram, our external world is the reflection of our inner world. Said another way: the challenges you face in your external world are essentially the externalization of your inner world. This outer experience gives us the opportunity to take responsibility for our world. It gives us a mirror with which to look at ourselves more deeply and begin to welcome and work with the parts of ourselves that we have hidden from the world and even from ourselves.
So, as an example, there is someone at work who is so arrogant that you can’t even stand to be around them. Yet it seems you can’t avoid them no matter how hard you try. This is an opportunity for you to look inside to see whether there is some arrogance or intolerance in you that you’re not admitting to. This is an opportunity to take that out, look at it, stop resisting or hiding it and maybe even come to terms with it or let it go. But this will only happen when you stop blaming the other person, and take responsibility for your own part in the creation of your world.
It is easy to blame our behavior as a reaction to other people, “society,” the economy, or even as caused by Satan. It is not so easy to look at the parts of ourselves we most despise. The truth is that until we look at those parts, they will keep visiting us through other people, and we will continue to be revolted or angered by them. When we take responsibility for what is being triggered in us we have an opportunity to stop being victims and actually make a change – since it is really only possible for any of us to change ourselves.
Of course, it might be difficult to see the seemingly ugly parts of ourselves, and this is where it is helpful to proceed with patience and gentleness. Cultivating loving-kindness towards ourselves helps us to see ourselves honestly. The Metta practice is one way of cultivating gentleness and kindness towards ourselves and others.
The Metta practice uses 4 phrases.: May ___ be free from suffering; May ____ be healthy; May ____ be happy; May ____ live with ease. You start off repeating these phrases for yourself (May I be free from suffering… etc.), then you do them for a loved one, then for a friend, then for a neutral person or a stranger and then for a difficult person. In this way we begin to soften towards the difficult people in our lives and also toward ourselves. We do not say these phrases with artificially contrived emotion, we just offer them as they are – no strings attached.
As we soften towards ourselves we do not need to run away. As we soften towards others we can see that they are us, and we can begin to take responsibility for our own part in this play we call Life.
May you be free from suffering. May you be healthy. May you be happy. May you live with ease.