The battle of the sexes isn’t just happening externally — it’s happening inside your mind as well.
If you have ever encountered self-help books, they commonly espouse the idea that the outer world functions as a projection of your inner landscape. For instance, if you have a lot of chaos in your life — drama and volatility in your relationships, clutter and mess in your living space, financial instability, etc. — all of this is a mirror to the turmoil within.
In The Path to Love, Deepak Chopra articulates a similar idea specifically regarding our romantic relationships. Chopra describes how the people we choose as partners and the nature of our interactions with them reveal the truth about our relationships with ourselves. Chopra writes:
“When you find your path, you will also find your love story. People today are consumed with doubts about their relationships. Have I found the right partner? Am I being true to myself? As a result, there is a restless kind of consumer shopping for partners. The path to love, however, is never about externals. The person you are with at the moment is the right person because he or she is a mirror of who you are inside. Every fault you see in them touches a denied weakness in yourself. The path to love clears up a monumental mistake: that someone out there is going to give or take something that is not already yours. When you truly find love, you find yourself.”
Chopra goes on to illuminate a dynamic in the inner world, to which I had been blind: that completeness will come from balancing the male and female energies within, metaphorically marrying the two polarities in a kind of internal partnering. I think most of us already know instinctively that fulfillment cannot be achieved through an external relationship alone. Jerry Maguire’s “You complete me” is pure fantasy. However, it never occurred to me that I should look for the qualities I want in a boyfriend, in myself — that, in fact, those are precisely the qualities I should foster and hone.
In other words, the battle of the sexes is not just a cultural phenomenon, but one that is intra-psychically divisive in each person as well. Many of us have disowned the “opposite” sex traits and thus are at odds with them, so instead we seek out partners with our orphaned characteristics in an effort to achieve a kind of externalized balance. So for example, I personally embrace my femininity through striving to be kind, nurturing, and open, while partnering with someone with a strong, assertive personality.
Together, we tenuously approximate a kind of balance, but individually, we are each tipped too far in one direction, which can be literally polarizing. According to Chopra, prior to a successful union with another person, we must merge the masculine and feminine energies within our own psyches. In my case, my quest for balance will involve bringing to the fore my own strength and assertiveness, in balance with my kind and nurturing side.
(Just as an aside, though Chopra discusses generalized qualities he attributes to “maleness” or “femaleness” and speaks of marriages both literal and metaphoric between males and females, I don’t feel we can fairly charge him with heterocentrism or sexism. The very goal he is directing readers toward is an inclusivity that dislodges our identification with these binaries. Moreover, masculine and feminine energies are present in every relationship regardless of the sexes of the two people involved.)
In addition to avoiding living out your life as a gender stereotype, Chopra also advocates embracing an ambiguity in self-definition that will allow you an expansive freedom and prevent you from illusory attachment to external sources of identity. He clarifies that “the point is to bring home feelings that need reclaiming instead of displacing them onto others.” In so doing, you neutralize the way you look at your own traits.
For instance, if you feel one of your flaws is selfishness, there may also be many instances where you are considerate. No one is fully one way or the other. You can be both selfish and considerate; rather than cancel each other out, they provide the shades that make up your whole character. And for Chopra, “A person who exhibits both strengths and weaknesses is not flawed, but complete” — perfect, in his or her uncleaved duality.
“Untitled” griff le riff @ Flickr.com. Creative Commons. Some Rights Reserved.
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