By Alyce Barry
One definition of a paradox is “a statement that is seemingly contradictory . . . and yet is perhaps true.”
So it seems that the following statement contains a paradox: “Each of us is a separate individual, and we are all connected.”
How can both be true? How can we be discrete individuals and connected at the same time?
Using the Shadow Work Model, it isn’t difficult to explain how both can be true.
The Model is based on the belief that there are four parts of the self — four “flavors” of the life energy that streams constantly through us — which we call Sovereign, Magician, Lover, and Warrior.
Each part of the self has its own purposes and priorities, and hence has its own point of view. The seemingly contradictory statements are simply the differing points of view of different parts of the self — a very useful perspective I learned years ago in the Basic Facilitator Training (BFT) and have thought about a lot recently.
SEPARATE AND CONNECTED
“Each of us is a separate individual” is the Warrior’s point of view. The Warrior is the part of us that sets boundaries and values what we call “reality.” On the plane we call “reality,” my Warrior says, Even if someone I love dies, I can go on living, because there’s a boundary between my loved one and me; we are separate individuals.
As someone who lives much more often in my Magician energy than in my Warrior, I don’t enjoy thinking this way very much. It seems like a lonely point of view.
Lonely, at least, until I reframe it as my Warrior protecting the vulnerable child part of me, the Lover. One of the Warrior’s jobs is to protect the Lover.
And so it happened that, when my mother died last fall, it was my Warrior’s job to remind me of the boundary between my mother and me. It reminded me that I wasn’t the one who was dying, that my mother’s death wouldn’t bring about my own death, because she and I are separate individuals. Though it wasn’t true of my mother’s death, I can imagine a person going down into death as a result of the death of a loved one.
Many people who have suffered a loss, however, take comfort from the Magician’s point of view that “we are all connected.”
“We are all connected” is the Magician’s point of view. The Magician is the part of us that knows and gets perspective and values what some people call “spirit.” On the plane we call “spirit,” my Magician says, When my mother died, our connection didn’t end because we are all connected. My Magician, which can do a certain amount of time traveling and other forms of magic, reminded me that when I remember my mother, she is still alive in a sense, and also that I can bring her back to life in ritual space in a Shadow Work® container if I want to talk to her about something.
WOUNDEDNESS AND CHOICE
In remembering the months I spent with my mother, I’ve come across two more examples of this difference between Warrior eyes and Magician eyes.
Was my mother capable of change? Or was she incapable of making different choices because of the ways in which she was wounded emotionally?
“She could have changed if she’d wanted to” seems to be the Warrior’s point of view. The Warrior is the part of us that takes responsibility for our “stuff” and finds the courage to do it. The Warrior is also the part of us that sets a boundary between our various options for taking action and makes a choice, thereby discarding or “killing” all other possible choices. From the Warrior’s point of view, my mother was responsibility for herself and for her decisions and might have made different choices.
But the Magician has a very different point of view. With its perspective on her emotional issues and her capacity to take risks and pursue change, my Magician says, She could no more have changed than she could have flown to the moon.
Another example of the difference between Warrior eyes and Magician eyes is how we think about mistakes.
When we take action that seems to hurt us in some way, was it a mistake?
I think “We make mistakes” is the Warrior’s point of view. The Warrior sees a boundary between decisions that help us and decisions that hurt us and relegates the latter to the category of “mistakes.” The Warrior seems to believe that we could have made a different decision if we’d wanted to.
I think the Magician has a different point of view. “There are no mistakes,” it says. “Each decision we make is based on all that we are in that moment, and we couldn’t have been anyone but ourselves in that moment.” From the Magician’s point of view, a mistake is a decision that didn’t bring us what we truly wanted. The Magician sees the long view in which our life goals are significant, and it can assess each decision we make in light of those goals and whether the decision served those goals or not.
Alyce Barry is a Certified Shadow Work® Group Facilitator and Coach in Evanston, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. She is the author of Practically Shameless.
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