This Important Tool Will Make You Happier
“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darkness of other people.” — Carl Jung
This morning, I had not long finished meditating before settling in for some reading in the parlour. After her usual two raps on the door, Witchy twirled her way into my cottage. I don’t know why she never seems to get dizzy…but I do love her enthusiasm for life and the way she embraces the strange, new land in which she has found herself.
Life in rural England is nothing like it was in the heart of the Transylvania Forest, where she lived with witches, werewolves and vampires for centuries.
“Morning, Witchy,” I smiled. “I’ve just made a pot of chocolate spice tea. Help yourself to a cup.” I nodded toward the pot in the kitchen and put down my book.
“Thank you,” she grinned, helping herself to a mug from the cupboard and lifting the tea cozy off the pot. “I was wondering…could you please help me with something, Liberty?”
“I’ll do my best.”
Coming through from the kitchen, she sat opposite me in the parlour. I waited for her to speak but she stared into her tea and remained silent.
“Is something wrong, Witchy?”
“I think so.”
“Are you going to tell me what it is?”
“Of telling you.”
“Why would you be afraid of telling me?”
“Because there might be something wrong.”
I’m getting used to these convoluted conversations, although not much better at following them. “Aren’t we back at the beginning?”
“Of what?” Her expression was one of complete puzzlement.
“The conversation. The part where I asked you if something was wrong.”
“No, that ‘something’ is different.”
“Sorry, Witchy, I’m just not following.” I swear these conversations are keeping my brain healthy with mental gymnastics that would rival the most difficult Sudoku puzzles. I never did figure out how to do even an easy one.
“The ‘something’ that is wrong is that I’m afraid something is wrong.”
My head was beginning to hurt.
“How about if we skip this part and just get to the ‘something’ you’re afraid of?”
“I think there’s something wrong with me.”
Oy vey. I was beginning to wonder if we’d ever get out of the starting gate. I drew in a deep breath. “Can you be more specific?”
“Do I — well — uh — do I look shiny to you?”
“Uh…no.” I was more puzzled than a giant book of crosswords.
“I’m not?” she gasped, terrified. Leaping to her feet, she began pacing as she often does when overwhelmed by her many fears.
“No, you’re your usual beautiful shade of blue.”
“Oh, no! I knew it!”
“There is something wrong with me!”
“Because you’re not shiny?”
“Yes! Am I sick? Am I broken?”
“Witchy, what on earth are you talking about?”
“Well, this morning, I — I saw something on that Instant-gram!”
“You mean Instagram?”
“That’s what I said. Anyway, I saw something on that Instant-gram that scared me and now I don’t know what to do?”
“Oh, dear. I’ve warned you about social media. And — well — the internet in general. Especially as you have so many fears, it’s not the best place for you to spend time.”
“But I’m having fun, too! And making friends! And that Instant-gram is easy to read and it helps me learn English.”
“Well, that’s true. What’s got you so upset today?” I took a long sip of my cooling tea.
“I saw something that said everyone should practice self-reflection! I tried and tried, but I’m still not shiny!”
Nearly choking on my tea, I barely managed to stifle what would have been a considerable belly laugh but I didn’t want to offend my sweet friend. It took me a minute to regain my composure.
Witchy stopped pacing and blinked at me repeatedly, her expression as serious as a heart attack.
“Dear Witchy…it doesn’t mean you actually become reflective.”
She stared at me. “It doesn’t?”
“No. I promise.”
“I don’t have to look like a mirror?”
I couldn’t help but giggle. “No, Precious, you don’t.”
“That’s good. Because that would be weird.”
“Well, what else could ‘self-reflection’ even mean? English is so dumb.” She sighed in exasperation.
“Yes, you’ve pointed that out many times. And you’re right, sometimes it is. To reflect on something means to think about it, and it’s a good thing. For example, you’ve been reflecting on your time in the Forest since you left after all those terrible things happened.” (See video👇 for full story!)
“I think about that stuff a lot but it doesn’t usually feel very good.”
“Ah, true. That’s not exactly the same. Self-reflection means thinking about something in a meaningful way.”
“What is that?”
“It just means that you look back on something…which is where the word ‘reflecting’ comes from. It’s like…the way your image looks back at you from a mirror…so you think about an event or a situation and you think about how it felt. You think about what you learned or why you did the things you did. It’s basically processing the things that happen in your life and figuring out how they’ve affected you.”
“I don’t understand the difference between doing that and thinking about it when it doesn’t feel good.”
“Well, just thinking about painful or unpleasant things will usually only make you feel worse. Mulling over what’s wrong or what hurt you and dwelling on the past is never helpful. It’s a negative loop of miserable thinking with no purpose and no benefit.”
“Hmm. I guess I do that sometimes. Not as much as when I first came here. You and Enchantra have helped me with that.”
“You do have a wise friend in your beloved cauldron.”
“Self-reflection doesn’t always feel good, Witchy. Sometimes we have to face choices we made or aspects of ourselves that we don’t really like. Or sometimes we did something that wasn’t very nice or that we regret. But the point of it is self-discovery, self-awareness, learning more about yourself.”
“But I’ve lived with myself for centuries! There’s nothing I don’t know about myself!”
“Oh, I’m sure that’s what you think.”
“Yes. It is. I just told you.”
“I know. And many people would say the same thing about themselves. You see, we don’t see ourselves the way other people see us. And they don’t see themselves the way we see them. But it gets more complicated than that.”
“Oh, no!” Dropping into her chair, she said, “Is this going to be hard? Do I have to be extra thinky?”
“No, Witchy. It’s quite interesting. I can explain it to you with something called the Johari window. In a diagram, it looks like a window with four panes. It was created a long time ago by a couple of psychologists. It helps us understand the four aspects of our relationships with ourselves and others. There’s the part of ourselves that we know but they don’t; the part of ourselves that they know and we don’t. The part that we know and they know, and the part that we don’t know and they don’t, either.”
“There’s a part of me that others know and I don’t?” Witchy’s jaw almost hit her lap.
“Yes. It’s the same with everyone. Although sometimes people think they know things about us and they’re wrong. But that’s not what I’m talking about today.”
“What’s any of this got to do with self-reflection?”
“Sometimes we can learn about ourselves from the way others see us because they see something we don’t. We can be too subjective; our feelings get in the way and we don’t see things clearly. Whereas others are more objective, especially if they’re not emotionally involved with us. It’s like you’re in a box. You can only see what’s on the inside. But someone on the outside sees more than you do.”
“Why would I be in a box?”
“You wouldn’t. It’s just a way to explain what I’m trying to say.”
“Whew! You had me worried for a minute.”
“And there’s more.”
“Of course there is.” Witchy rolled her eyes and shook her head. “I think my brains might fly out my ears in a minute.”
I couldn’t help but smile in response. “I promise, they won’t. To sum up, Witchy, self-reflection just means that sometimes we need to dig a little deeper inside ourselves and discover our thoughts, feelings, and our motivations for the things we do. The more we do this, the better we understand ourselves.”
“What’s the point of that?”
“It gives us an opportunity to change beliefs or patterns of behaviour that aren’t doing us any favours. Things we can’t see or don’t want to see. Things we don’t understand until we take time to reflect on them. That’s how we heal past hurts. It’s how we grow and become better people and live happier lives. This is a big part of what I do when I work with people. In fact, it’s what I’ve been doing with you since we met.”
Witchy was quiet for a moment.
“So…I don’t have to be shiny?”
I smiled at my precious little blue friend. “Oh, sweet Witchy…you shine brightly all the time, even without trying.”
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