The shadow of owning your experience

Owning your experience is one of Circling Europe's Five Principles of Circling. To me, owning my experience is a way that I can continuously practice recognizing that my experiences are a projection of my own mind. While this is just one lens we can use to interpret the world, it can often result in less suffering than the lens of blaming others or putting responsibility onto them. However, like any other principle, when "owning your experience" is taken as absolute dogma, we can start to more clearly notice its shadow. (cf. Alexandre Dumas: "All generalizations are dangerous, even this one.")

The ugly part of ownership that I've observed in myself and many others is that in trying to own our experience, we inadvertently end up reinforcing our own ideas of who we are, as well as a sense of being separate from and invulnerable to others. The shape of this pattern is similar to how, in practicing equanimity, we can accidentally suppress or repress our feelings rather than being truly equanimous with them if we're not careful. Similarly, when we do what we believe to be "owning our experience," yet have parts that are still very subtle to us or that we don't yet understand the relevance of, it's easy to elide over those parts and take on more responsibility than we're actually able or ready to.

I don't know who I am, and I've been surprised by myself many times in the past. Additionally, I've observed over time that when I share, it impacts myself and others in ways that I can't predict. Before expressing, I can spend a lot of effort trying to mod out the part of my expression that is an "unfair" projection, my own codependency/caretaking, etc., but in constantly doing that (partially in an attempt to avoid being accused of not owning my experience), so much aliveness and possibility is lost.

For so long, I've used pattern matching as a way of developing myself. Since I believe that I should own my experience, whenever I notice anything that looks like non-ownership, my self-improvement pattern recognitions become alert. However, I'm starting to warm up to the reality that the world appears more and more nuanced as we cultivate wisdom and love, and consequently, the rules we previously set to guide our growth become less and less appropriate. This is the way I'm relating to owning my experience now.


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