Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Problem With MY

You hear it all the time. People using my to express their relationship to someone else. It’s a common habit in our culture.

When’s the last time you said: My husband or my lover or my God? Have you ever thought about what you’re really saying when you do that? Ever wonder if such a simple and seemingly innocent slip of the tongue (innuendo intended) has any lasting, negative effects?

There’s a problem when we refer to our relationships this way. The possessive pronoun undermines the equality in a relationship by its assertion of ownership of the other individual. It’s a subtle point and one that many people dismiss as inconsequential, but all you have to do is look at the state of relationships right now to see that an attitude of possession is one of the things that squelches the respect, the esteem, the true romance and longevity of our love affairs.

How much more robust and durable do you think our relationships would be if we met each other with genuine respect and esteem rather than as possessions?

Even our spiritual relationships are a mess of “my god/your god” attitudes that prevent our ability to see any wonder, hope and power in the world around us. After all, how can you see the miraculous of that which is bigger than you if you place it in a subordinate position to you in your language?

Words are very powerful. Anyone who’s ever had a bad day turned around by a kind word or a good day crushed by someone else’s criticism knows this. One might even say that everything that comes out of your mouth at any time is either:

  • A blessing (it praises someone or something)
  • An invocation (it calls for someone or something. Like, ‘I’m hungry’ calls for food; or,‘I wish I was young again’, calls for some kind of security.)
  • A curse (it dams someone or something). 

When you think about your words that way you start to realize how potent they really are.

Those who know something about the Old Ways also understand a subtle mysticism in all of this. Knowing someone’s true name gives you power over that being. For evidence of this read the story of how Isis took Ra’s power from him by learning his secret name.

That said, realize that every time you call someone “my” you are invoking ownership over that person’s life and claiming their power as your own by naming them as one of your possessions. After all, the accomplishments, feelings, dreams, hopes, hurts and victories of a person are the things that make a person. To refer to someone as my lover or my husband or my wife is to claim all of those things as your own. It places us as the subject of the sentence and them as the object.  To do this is to deny them the freedom of being their own creative source for those things. 

It’s the first step towards what Italian grandmothers use to refer to as ‘overlooking someone’. Also known as the evil eye. To overlook someone is to deny their power, their beauty, their innate talents. It’s on the road towards pushing an individual into being something you want them to be rather than something they really are. The results of that are disastrous, even sinful, because they cause a person to deny at their source who they really are. All of us know how very horrible it feels when we deny who we really are because someone else wants us to be something else.

So, where does this habit of using ‘my’ lead us?

It leads to frustration, dissatisfaction and unfulfilled relationships. It gets us in the habit of making unbalanced agreements and tarnishes our understanding of our own true value. It creates fundamental chaos at our cores and prevents us from seeing the truth of what we really are.

So is there hope? Of course there is. There is always hope, providing we’re willing to see it. And we’ll talk about that hope in the next few blogs on this subject.

But first, we’ll continue with this discussion by looking at what using ‘my’ reveals about your mental state and your potential for happiness.

Until then…don’t be afraid to be bad.

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