We are our own worst enemies. That should go without saying but, although the adage has a solid place in our vocabulary we seldom really stop and think about it. Or at least when it applies to ourselves. We can, quite readily, observe patterns of behaviour in others… the person who is inexorably drawn to the same cycle of mistakes, the same type of person or toxic situation, for example, but it is far more difficult to see when we ourselves are the subject of our scrutiny.
Why? Because, quite possibly, we don’t really want to see. Motivations for our behaviour are complex and very deep rooted and it takes a long and courageous exploration to obey one of the central tenets of the Mysteries and begin to ‘Know Thyself’. It is never a pretty journey and always uncomfortable. It makes us squirm. All sorts of things are lurking in the shadows like assassins waiting for their moment to strike and, like the best assassins, they are masters of disguise.
In the Silent Eye School, one of the things we do in the first year of the correspondence course is to begin to get to know the various aspects of the personality and how it manages to conceal itself in all manner of highly inventive ways. If we were to stop and acknowledge just how good we are at this we would be amazed at our own creative genius. We might also be raising our eyebrows at how blind we can be to our own subterfuge.
Take the person who gives their all to help those in need… the caring person who puts themselves at the bottom of their own to-do list. They are genuinely good and caring people who simply choose to serve, to care, to be helpful, yes? Well, yes, sometimes that is quite true. For others it may be that their need is to serve. That is one possible layer of motivation. They may need to serve because they will feel they are appreciated and they lack the self-belief that would allow them to appreciate themselves… that is another possible layer. They may lack that self-belief because they have never felt ‘good enough’, worthy of love… they serve because they need to be loved and, in their own eyes, feel that they themselves could never be loved. That may be yet another layer…and it can go down a long way once you start looking at ‘why’.
The answer is not that they should stop being a kind, caring person, but to look at the underlying reasoning of the deeper levels.
We con ourselves all the time, finding reasons that are close to excuses for many of the things that we do, because it is safer to stay within our comfort zone, even when it is not the most pleasant of places, just because it is familiar.. The personality is, as a rule, terrified of losing the identity it has built for itself from the bricks and mortar of reactive experience. It may not even be an identity we like or want… but it is all we have with which to face the world and we guard its illusory existence zealously. We have little choice. It is that or begin dissecting it deeply enough to find the root causes and begin to heal old wounds we did not even realise could exist.
The spiritual Enneagram that forms the central symbol used by the School gives us a set of tools to do just this and though the scalpel may be just as sharp as the assassin’s knife it is wielded with love and a different intent, and by the Companion themselves. No-one else can ever see us as truly as we can ourselves when we look through the eyes of the soul, no-one else is qualified to read our innermost hearts, but sometimes it is easier to walk that journey in empathetic company and it is a quest that has very real benefits that soon become apparent.
A behaviour pattern once identified is very much like a ninja assassin wearing neon lights and warning bells… they are no longer hidden in the shadows, they cannot creep up on us unawares and though they may still throw the knife, we can, at least see it coming and perhaps, avoid it. Not always… sometimes we are stuck and cannot move fast enough, sometimes we don’t know how… but we are no longer taken by surprise. Little by little we learn what we need to know in order to get out of the way of the killing blade by changing those underlying beliefs about ourselves that have employed the assassin to begin with. And it does seem rather an odd thing to do to be both employer and target of our own personal assassin.