18. Mirrored & Seen: The Wisdom Of 100 Eyes
One of the many quirks of being human is that each one of us appears to come fully equipped with our very own psychological blind spots. We seem to need each other to help identify the self limiting patterns, habits and beliefs that we carry around with us. This is one of the reasons that joining a Collective can be so hugely beneficial to our personal growth and development, as it not only opens up the possibility of having our best qualities acknowledged and celebrated by the group, but also of having our shadow sides reflected back to us as well.
By tapping into the collective wisdom of the many trusted perspectives in our community, we gain the ability to form a kind of three hundred and sixty degree view of how we show up in the world. And if we’re open to receive to it, such a multifaceted reflection of how we appear in the eyes of others, can be a hugely beneficial tool in our journeys towards greater levels of growth and integration. And while being so intimately seen can at times feel like a daunting prospect, in my experience it’s almost always worth the risk, as when we have the courage to open up and reveal the more tender and vulnerable aspects of our ourselves, we create the opportunity to be loved and accepted for who we really are, which may be one of the most profoundly enriching human experiences we can have.
As Hanzi Freinacht puts it, ‘it is often our highest hopes and dreams, the parts of ourselves that are most universal and most intimately held and cherished, that are not seen, heard, given recognition and successfully integrated into society. Hence, more and more people simply feel alienated. It is not really that the world has become a colder, lonelier place. It’s just that the integration of these many unique souls is a more complicated and difficult matter. Because people have come farther in their (in)dividuation, more people also feel estranged, lonely and subtly dissatisfied.’36 In other words when we begin to more fully blossom as individuals, we seem to require more complex and dynamic communal contexts to allow us to be held in our entirety. And this is precisely what Collectives are intended to do, to serve as crucibles of care for the most intimate and complex parts our inner selves to be lovingly acknowledged and appreciated by a group of people with whom we share respect and trust.
But when we increase the complexity of our communities, then we must also increase our ability to maintain healthy and supportive cultures within them. Part of this process involves learning to consider what kind of impacts the less integrated parts of our personalities may be having on the communities of people around us. After all, the large majority of us were raised in highly individualistic, overtly materialistic, systemically racist and wholly unsustainable cultures, so there is no shame in admitting that we may still have a long way to go in our personal journeys of relearning how to engage with each other, and ourselves, from a place of sustained and compassionate understanding. But for this to happen, each of us may have to undergo a significant process of all encompassing transformation, a kind of metamorphosis from being mere Social Animals into that of truly Communal Creatures. Let’s now take a closer look at what such a journey might look like.