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Can we be open-hearted and sceptical at the same time?

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Can we be open-hearted and sceptical at the same time?

Mike writes:

A friend asked this question recently: Do you believe in balancing a sceptical mind with an open heart? And what does that mean for you?

It’s a great question and I believe that balancing healthy scepticism with an open heart is the essence of a grounded spirituality.

To quote Jesus: “Behold, I send you out as sheep among wolves. Therefore be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”

To me this means being under no illusions about people. Everyone behaves, at times, like a wolf – even though some are dressed up like sheep. We ALL have shadows and sooner or later, despite our good intentions, we hurt people, let them down, betray them. All of us!

And yet we find it really hard to accept this about people. We like to cling to our illusions. We keep needing people to be without shadow, putting them on pedestals, handing over our power and entrusting them with various aspects of our lives.

Often it’s our wounded inner children projecting the need to be safe, loved, nurtured onto another person.

When the object of our projections inevitably hurts/betrays us, the hurt child (who sees things in terms of black /white) will often flip the projection and now the person is seen as bad, evil, with only the flaws visible.

As we grow and heal it becomes possible to have a more realistic view, seeing and even expecting the shadows/flaws/weaknesses in the people around us, and yet also seeing their goodness, beauty and strengths.

When someone makes a promise, it’s good to be sceptical and not hand over our power (or money) just on the basis of that promise, or only hand over what we are prepared to lose if they break their promise. And yet by keeping our hearts open and taking the risk of loving them and having faith in their goodness, we help them to become better people.

Knowing where to draw the line between scepticism and open-heartedness is a skill that grows as we do our own inner work and learn to love and accept ourselves including full awareness of our own shadows.


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