As within, so without

Ben, Noah and Bodhi sitting near me while I write this post
Ben, Noah and Bodhi sitting near me while I write this post

Many years ago, a woman whom I’d had a fairly on and off again friendship with, sent me a letter outlining, in no uncertain terms, things about me that she disliked. My first reaction wasn’t, “Oh thank you so much for helping me to see myself more clearly”, but I didn’t shut down either, and even though I wasn’t jumping for joy, I could see her points. I was critical and judgemental…..BUT she was too! She was always a willing participant in our little chats that often involved the character assassination of someone we both knew.

But still, her letter changed me. I saw the truth in it and I thanked her, but she ended up out of my life anyway. The tone of her letter had been basically, “I’m fed up and don’t want anything more to do with you, but before I leave, I’m going to tell you the reasons why I can’t be in a relationship with you anymore.”

Her letter still changed me, and I began to look at the aspects of myself that she had trouble with. At times my mind would scream, “How dare she say these things to me when she is just as bad or worse than I am?!” But somehow, I kept going. I kept working on myself and I began to change.

Years later, I ran into this woman and I was shocked. She looked like she’d aged 20 years (and it had only been about 5). Her face appeared to be a mass of tight, dark, lines and she was having trouble walking. I had hoped to talk with her but she wasn’t interested in a conversation, and as I watched her limp away, I wondered what we ever had to talk about.

All those years earlier, when she was seeing such negativity in me (which was the truth), she had no revelation that we only see what we are. She wasn’t able to recognize herself in me, so she felt if she could cut me out, she’d be happier. But she wasn’t happier. She hadn’t heard her own words of advice, so she was locked in a prison with the thought, “I am fine. Everyone around me is messed up.”

I still do not like criticism. I don’t like it when I think that someone doesn’t like me. But I learn from everyone……especially when I have a strong reaction to them. So often we miss the opportunity to change by becoming insulted or thinking that, “If I am this awful or wrong, then they must be right or on-track” and it doesn’t mean that at all. The woman who sent me the scathing letter had almost the identical issues to my own. The only difference was, she didn’t benefit from her own insights. But I did.

The world is for us, for our growth, for our expansion. This is a new year. We can leave the past behind…not run away from it, or wish it never happened, but know that all was, and still is, happening for us. I see myself in everything around me. It is my prayer for this new year that I not only see myself clearer, but that I embrace all the images, love them, and allow them to transform me.

“Man moves in a world that is nothing more or less than his consciousness objectified. Not knowing this, he wars against his reflections …while keeping alive the images (which he then wars against). Stop trying to change the world (others) since it (they are) only the mirror. Leave the mirror and change your face. Leave the world alone and change your conception of yourself. The reflection will then be satisfactory“. From, Your Faith is Your Fortune, by Neville Goddard

21 thoughts on “As within, so without”

  1. Mary, I really like you having never met you. You are beautiful inside and out. Have a beautiful day.

  2. Good advise Mary thank you. I always benefit from the additional quotes at the end of your blog. You are evidently we’ll read. Thank you for sharing the wisdom of these fine men and women. Sending wishes for a very happy New Year !

  3. Wow, Mary – where do you find all these amazing quotes and all these authors I never even heard of?

    Your story about the letter resonated with me. There have been several times in my life when I have had very negative responses to something I had written and the feeling was crushing. But, I did learn that I was expressing myself in a brash and emotional way, without much thought to how I came across. (oops -see above!)

    Stopping and thinking is something I need to work on, and I wish I could have welcomed the message without falling into a state of self-criticism, doubt and guilt.

    Thank you for the reminder that the world is for us. Great concept to take into the new year.


  4. Mary, I think this is one of your most profound postings, for me, at least. I’m grateful for each and every post that comes into my inbox from White Feather Farm but this one is particularly insightful. And isn’t it wonderful to have the companionship and gift of love from four-legged furry friends. We have a family member who is allergic to cats and my experience in having them in the country is that they are an easy prey for coyotes at night and if a cat wants out at night, they yowl and howl until there is no point in keeping them in. We lost a lovely cat named MacDuff that way some years ago. We now live with two furry Aussies.
    SandyP in below zero F Ontario, Canada

  5. Ooohhh, Mary, you’re so right that we see and dislike in others what we also see and dislike in ourselves. Sometimes that is outright squirmy uncomfortable.

    It takes such courage to rise above the criticism, to take it to heart, and to look for ways to move toward our better selves.

    My own experience forces me to qualify this statement, “… she had no revelation that we only see what we are.” Many times I also see in the same squirm-inducing person good things, things that I am not (yet), and qualities that maybe I envy. Then, if lucky, my better self will decide to strive to embrace those better qualitles, even if only a little bit. And to try to see that person (hence myself, too) through a more compassionate lens.

    It’s a process, huh?!

  6. I have been thinking a lot about reflections lately…both the noun and the verb. And your post this morning fits right in! This time of year perfect for reflecting on the past, yet not dwelling there. I absolutely love a young spoken word poet, Sarah Kay, and her spoken word poet colleague, Phil Kaye. They do a wonderful spoken word piece on friendship. You can see them perform it at and click on the picture titled “An origin story”. There are several lines in it that touch my heart and almost bring me to happy tears. One is “I have seen the best of you and the worst of you and I choose both”. Another is “I want to be the mirror that reminds you to love yourself”. I’m so very grateful for the ‘mirrors’ in my life who remind me to love myself. Happy New Year to all!

  7. Happy New Year Mary and all,
    I was just contemplating writing a letter to my sister-in-law, my husband’s only sister and youngest of seven children- 6 older brothers. She has been the center of her family’s attention since the day she was born when the midwife had to present her to her mother to prove that she was in fact a girl.

    We had a visit with her yesterday; then a not so friendly email request for a check toward flowers she chose to send to one of her brothers who had a recent heart attack. So as I said I was just mulling over a response to her email when I found today’s Post, Mary. Rather coincidental… Spiritually speaking.

  8. I am reading a fascinating novel, Vatican Waltz in which the young woman, studying to be a nurse, but called to the priesthood, even though that technically doesn’t exist for a woman in the Roman Catholic Church – this young woman said that though this sounds counter intuitive, when she prays for a difficult person in her life, she, on an inhale, tries to breathe in all their pain, all the things they may have suffered in their lives that could be influencing their present negative ways, – but on an exhale, she releases it all to God, and in the process of deep breathing, she ends her prayer time much lighter in spirit. You would think it not really good advice to breathe IN another person’s pain, but I tried this last night with a difficult person I am dealing with in my life, and I do believe it helped. It makes us more sensitive to another’s pain, and yet in exhaling, we release it back and away from ourselves, no longer captive of another’s power over us. Just a thought for the New Year. Mary, this is a wonderful post and a hefty assignment.

  9. Well said. Without feedback it is hard to tell who and where we are. With the information than we are at choice as to whether we want to change or not.

  10. Thanks again, Mary. What a truth you have spoken here.

    How blessed I am when I become willing to “try on the garment” offered by another and see if and how it fits. My first inclination is to pull away in defense without any objectivity. This is my transformation; my aspiration for 2014 in the now.

  11. Thank you Mary for such an insightful and moving post. I have been struggling with this issue myself recently, and have also determined to put this forth as my self-work for the new year ahead. While I know the work is far from easy, the other option to burden self carrying it is no longer an option. I too, do the deep breathing in “of all pain” and exhale “in joy” as described by Susan Alcantara in her earlier post, and I do think that it has an uplifting energy for this part of the self-work, lightening the load, and trying not to do it all alone. In starting this self-work endeavor, I am meeting some very kind and patient people, (including this blog!) and I think that’s part of drawing toward me that which I am trying to grow within: kindness, and patience. Happy New Year to all! I look forward to the growth, through the pain, 2014 will bring!

  12. Thank you Mary for this post. I have an issue with a long-time high school friend who stung me with a rather detailed telling-off recently. The truth does hurt and I’m looking into my own heart beyond the anger for the best way to respond. Your writing spirit guides (on the sofa) must be a comfort. Happy New Year!

  13. Happy New Year Mary! I so enjoy the pictures of your cats. They look so peaceful. I also enjoy your blog and get so much insight into myself from them.
    Thank you

  14. thank you, Mary, once again for hitting the truth head on. . . Your honesty and insight are such a gift. . .and I love the quote about others being the mirror and to. . . “leave the mirror and change your face. . . ‘ this resonated so deeply with me. . .I keep seeing myself in what, in others, seems to be bugging me.. .what a lessons each day brings! . . .and hard work to be done. . thank you from the heart.. . . Veronica

  15. Very interesting. You are so wise and open to the input of others. Most people are not like that. Even I probably am not so open, lol. But I too did benefit from the input of a friend many years ago. She too did not remain my friend though we still have mutual friends in common. Her words to me though not said in love, made me so angry. But in those days I would turn such things over and over in my head. Her words ultimately helped me as I began to look at the world through different eyes and see it in reality rather than as I thought it “should be”. It helped me live much more contentedly since then and I am still working on myself. Hopefully we never stop growing. Happy New Year to you and your house.

  16. Thank you Mary – I really like this and especially the summary – really useful my process of honouring & acceptance x

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