Triggering Relationships as our Teachers: Harville Hendrix’s “Imago Therapy” & “The Symmetry Principle”

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Over the course of 20 years, a lot of amazing things came together that led me to discover the Symmetry Principle, the psychological quantum physics that lets us depend on the fact that “whatever upsets us is holding the key to our path to peace and freedom.”

One of the things that had a huge impact on me at one point in my marriage was the work of Harville Hendrix. His Imago Therapy is based on the idea that it’s actually your image of the other person that you are reacting to, and that the other person’s behavior mimics (often on a subconscious level) what happened to you as a child. Since it creates a replica of the same big emotional charges you had then, you can use it to heal those old wounds and to correct those long-standing beliefs.

Much like the Symmetry Solution I teach, with Imago Therapy you can deep dive into an intimate, committed relationship with yourself and others, and let the pain and stressors that relationship reveals evolve you in a way that nothing else really can. Because the stakes are so high, you can start to heal that level of dependency you had in childhood.

MISSING PIECES

Simply understanding his ideas was helping me a lot — and yet it didn’t save my marriage. I still didn’t have a way to really shift the thinking behind it all. And I think I needed to come home and be in greater solidarity with myself, before I could truly be in solidarity with another.

I didn’t get that thing I now call Self-SolidarityTM for quite some time, but something else led me so much closer to it–and much further away from the blame and judgment that comes out in relationships. It was The Work of Byron Katie. It was not only completely consistent with Harville Hendricks; theories, but gave me a way to put them into action to shift my big emotional charge.

Harville had the theory that this person that we attract is going to trigger our every childhood wound. If we can use those wounds to evolve ourselves, use them as a mirror, use them to wake ourselves up to the old programming, then the relationship can really evolve us. WIth the ability to use those triggers, the relationship pain can change over time and can grow into a wonderful thing. Without them, it can go completely the other way where the other person starts to look like the enemy. In some ways that’s what happened for me. I still didn’t have the solutions I have now.

THE GENIUS OF KATIE AND HARVILLE

Until I synthesized these two pieces and added my own Wheel of Self-Love as a way to stay connected to and forgiving of myself, I could not really welcome the Symmetry inherent in whatever was pushing my buttons. I didn’t know what to do.

I even worked Imago Therapy all by myself for a good, long time even though it’s supposed to be done with couples. I liked his theory so much, and then I got hold of The Work of Byron Katie and I was able to see how to turn the thoughts around. That’s when things really started to change. The two put together were just genius!

I was able to combine these techniques to turn theory into action. In time, I began to stand in solidarity with myself and was able to eradicate what in some ways was causing all of my lack of self-love and relationship conflict. I recognized that I was beating myself up and putting myself into a place of blame and shame where I needed someone else to come in and rescue and validate me. I was the one who left myself, so I was the one who needed to come home. I saw that in some ways I had already figured out that there was something about doing the opposite that was going to make a big difference.

WHATEVER UPSETS US HOLDS OUR PATH TO PEACE

When I got the work of Byron Katie, I saw how the turnarounds allowed me to find specific, tangible examples for how I was doing to myself and the other exactly what I thought they were doing to me.

How humbling it is to see that in some ways you’re actually creating your own pain, or creating the other’s pain, even more than they are. It wasn’t the kind of thing where I used to go in right afterwards and find my part, and beat myself up, and apologize a lot.

Instead, I was just taking a look at what I had been blind to. Instead of hopelessness and helplessness, it gave me freedom and peace and hope.  Why? Because if the whole thing is an inside job, then I can clean it up from the inside.

A paradigm shift took place in me as a result of that, of putting together all my years of spiritual work. Everything came together when I saw the Symmetry in that whatever upsets us holds our path to peace. I look forward to teaching you more about it.

Thanks, Harville and Katie!

If you’d like to learn how to harness the Symmetry in your own painful relationship dynamics as a direct path out of your suffering, join us in the Radical Relationship Relief Workshop, a 2-hour mini-course happening soon (click the pink bar at the top of the page)!

 

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Shawn Mahshie

Shawn Mahshie

Shawn Mahshie, CEO of the Center for Self-Solidarity, is an internationally published author and thought leader in the field of self-compassion. She offers practical, reliable steps for how to harness whatever hurts as an efficient and personalized portal to peace, teaching simple models that transform tenacious patterns of anxiety, guilt, regret, defensiveness, grief, and even depression into instant breakthroughs and sustained results. Also certified under Byron Katie, Shawn has spent the past 30 years researching and validating the Symmetry in relationships. She holds transformative online masterminds, as well as sold-out waterfront retreats at her home near Washington DC.

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