We’ve all got them. Not just one; more like a handful. They usually appear as counterpoint to however we’re trying to be. Typically at inconvenient, even critical, moments. The shadow sides of who we aspire to become, even if we generally act more evolved.
There’s no mistaking when they show up. Like an anti-fantasy. You’re aiming for charming: out comes the truth teller or the boor. Need to be articulate or persuasive: stupid brain takes over. Your evil twin embarrasses you. It also steers you to self-sabotage, both active and passive, decisions both made and avoided.
To be clear, your evil twin might be something I aspire to. My best self might be someone else’s evil twin. We’re all here doing learning different lessons. So our shadow selves take different forms and bring different lessons.
This week’s reading’s about two brothers. Opposites: bookish vs. hunter, sly vs. forthright, strategic vs. wanting immediate gratification. The one who lies and cheats to gain an inheritance? After his own tough homework, he’ll transform into a revered patriarch. There’s hope for us all.
Torah’s enacted in a time when we lived more outside. Sat by the fire after dark. Looked at the stars and shared stories. Who a person was, was in part who they were told to be.
Who “you” are is how others speak and think about you, as well as who you feel on the inside. A gap between aspiration and action can exist even when it’s just you watching. But when your twin takes the wheel, your foibles are prime time.
We tend to see what we want and surround ourselves with folks that seem to like and accept us. If our shadow has little need to appear, we can coast pretty easily through our days. No need to look into our darker corners.
But each time your inner twin reaches for the foresworn chips or chocolate, picks a bad relationship, acts stubbornly, selfishly, or foolishly is a chance to look deeper. To ask what your hidden, hungry, unfulfilled self really wants.
We’re attracted to certain types of people or situations. We know when we’ve met our kin, whether that’s religion or voting pref, profession or sexual orientation. Your twin feels safe, and less likely to act up or out.
Other times we seem predestined to butt heads. Things and people that don’t fit so nicely, no matter how you might want them to. That electric bristling of not liking. Nothing seems to come out right. Murphy’s law condemns every word and action. What a playground for the evil twins!
These people and situations are in our lives to teach us. Yes, the lessons reflect a side of ourselves we’d rather not be known for. But seeing and naming are good ways to bring your shadow into the light. Not always pleasant but necessary to grow,
Think about people and situations that push your buttons, where your not-best-self pops out of the woodwork. What do they have in common? Knowing will show you the parts of you that need more work and integration. They’ll almost certainly offer you more chances to do your karmic homework.
I think about this often. I try to understand why my difficult situations are part of my life… Hard to see through, but worth the effort.
Usually we need a little time/distance to get perspective. Having the same lessons crop up until we get learn them, or try different options, is a good reminder of our work. Why we’re here, as well as to teach others.