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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Meeting of Personalities

Chemical Reactions

The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”
Carl Jung

What is the impact of other people on you? If you are extroverted, you very naturally gravitate toward them; you want to know about them, to ask them a dozen questions, and get a read on who they are and what they do. If you are introverted, you likely wait for them to approach you, and then, rather than engaging in the superficial banter so common in our culture, you may find yourself an hour later knowing their entire life story. It's quite surprising to me to observe the differences in the ways people interact with others of our species.

We have all sorts of reactions to people—positive, negative, neutral. We find them interesting or not, engaging or not, attractive or not. When we “click” with someone, that is, when we meet a kindred spirit, there is an instantaneous attraction. It is as if the gods had conspired to bring us together. And when we are repelled by someone, the reaction is equally strong in the opposite direction. They are a terrible person, they have no redeeming features, and we hope to never see them again. And, sometimes people are absolutely invisible to us. We don't notice them because they do not interest us. The way we respond to others changes us—changes our attitude, our demeanor, and sometimes even our personality.

When we have negative or disinterested reactions to others, we tend to excuse it in ourselves; we justify or overlook it. When others have these reactions to us, we tend to judge them for it. We get our feelings hurt, we become defensive, and sometimes we even mirror their attitude and behavior. We become like them in temperament. It is good to be aware of how other people affect us, and to question why it happens. Some would say that we give away our power when others can control our moods. Some would say, as the 12-Step folks do, “what other people think of you is none of your business.” It is good to ask oneself, what's going on with me that this person can shake me up so much? What am I feeling, and why?

Scratching beneath the surface, and examining our reactions to others is one of the best ways of deepening our understanding of ourselves and how we relate to the world. It's soul work.

                                                                 In the Spirit,

                                                                     Jane

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