Come meander with me on the pathless path of the Heart
in these anecdotal,
sometimes inspiring, sometimes personal meanderings of the Heart's opening in the every-day-ness of life...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Prickly Personalities...

My sister has a prickly personality. She tends to be brash, disagreeable, black and white, right or wrong, self-righteous, judgmental, very angry and critical of everyone and everything, creating a very toxic environment. We have had a lot of prickly people in our family tree. In fact the whole family dynamic is rather prickly. We all end up walking on eggshells – except the prickly people. :)

Anyway, she’s rather unpleasant to be around. I tend to unconsciously protect myself from her negative energy when I’m around her. I understand where she’s coming from because I too have had a “prickly personality.” I understand that her prickly personality means that she feels fearful, unloved, wounded, overwhelmed and victimized by life, not realizing that the world doesn’t revolve around her or for her, and that she keeps everyone at arms length with her constant need to be in control, using anger and criticism as a false sense of power. It has been humbling for me to see this reflection. Thankfully my “spiritual path” (and some good therapy :) has led me down a different road - a road of awareness; becoming more self-aware of my unconscious patterns, as well as more *Self* Aware. That is, more aware of my core Beingness – that still, silent place of Conscious Awareness within us all. But the tendencies are still there. I did not escape them, I only became aware of them, and over time I have softened and learned a different way of being in the world; which is not to say that I have perfected this “new” way of being. I can still get prickly at times.

I have been reading a very inspiring book by Oriah Mountain Dreamer called: The Call. While reading, the phrase: “Meet her in her wholeness” came to me. And with that, the sudden realization that I didn’t need to try to protect myself *from* my sister, but to meet her in her Beingness – that place of wholeness within her - from that same place within myself. Instead of shutting down and protecting myself against her negative energy I could consciously “sit back” into (internally become aware of) my own felt sense of Beingness/Wholeness and meet her, eye-to-eye, Being to Being.

I decided to experiment with this one day. As she railed on at what was wrong with the world, with that familiar blank look in her eyes, I just silently sat listening, while at the same time “connecting” with (becoming aware of) my own sense of silent Beigness within - looking right into her eyes. As I did, I noticed a slight softening in her eyes and demeanor, as if there was an inner recognition – Being to Being. It lasted for only a brief moment, and then that blank veil came back over her eyes, and she went on railing at the world. The difference was that I was aware that I could now meet her from a place of wholeness. By *remembering* my own Beingness, by consciously becoming aware of this space in me, I could meet her Wholeness, her Beingness behind the shield she constantly throws up to protect herself – and from behind my own unconscious shield.

This is not to sound magnanimous at all. This is not about ‘me’, but about awareness, and re-discovering a way of being and relating that I have forgotten in the chaos of family dynamics. Clearly I don’t always remember to meet my sister in this “new” way because her unconscious ways ruffle the feathers of my prickly personality. There is still a reactional instinct to push back, to get angry, and to respond in kind – to want to change her, fix her, make her behave. But I also see her suffering, and want to respond to that – if I can find a way in…

When I remember to remember the Wholeness of Being within myself and relate from there; trusting Beingness that *sees* through the prickly personality, something “magical” happens – sometimes; a recognition of Beingness in the "other." Isn’t that what we all want – a mirror of our Beingness; to be met in our Wholeness – Being to Being. I don’t think this is pie-in-the-sky idealism. Experiencing and living from our Essential Nature is not just a fantasy. It’s the Way of Being. Or is that a little too prickly... :)


“Embracing your wholeness is the greatest gift you can give to others.”

Christine Wushke
Journey to Light


“All things are made of the same sacred presence, stillness…”
”All things emanate from and return to and are never
separated from a vast and sacred wholeness.”

“This spaciousness that we are is not
indifferent to the suffering that we feel
when we have forgotten what we are.
It reaches out to us, calls to us.”

‘It is the Great Mystery.
It is what we are made of,
and what everything and everyone
is made of.
It is what we participate in
with every breath.”

“We will never be happy
or truly able to live and
love fully
until we find our way of living
from an awareness of the deep stillness
at the center of what we are
- our essential nature -
which is wakefulness, awareness,
love, peace, truth and beauty.”

“Look at your own life from within
that sense of quiet stillness
that you are.
You will see this inner essence,
this innocence, like a bright thread
woven throughout the center of your life.
Living it consciously is why you are here…”

Quotes from: The Call
by Oriah Mountain Dreamer


  1. what a beautiful and insightful post. your sister is indeed lucky to have you in her life. yes, that instinct to react in upsettness to the other prickly person. that is a hard one. Or when one feels offended by another's tone of voice and scolding mode. hard one I mean in terms of working with it inside myself.

    usually i react inwardly not outwardly. but then i bring harm to my inner harmony.

    much to contemplate in your post. thank you.

  2. Thank you Suki ~ Yes it certainly is a challenge, as a lot of family dynamics are. And I can't take any credit for being in my sister's life. We still relate very much from personalities and I tend to just acquiesce to keep the peace. But there was a real *noticing* when I tried coming from that space within myself that something shifted (in me mostly), if only for a few minutes. So we'll see where it goes from here...

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment :)

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  4. My heart goes out to you! Family dynamics are difficult— but wonderful. I tell myself they are the best teachers of all. Then I feel gratitude and compassion for them. One family member is constantly, openly judgmental, always comparing and weighing the rest of us. It takes me weeks to recover from visiting. Usually that recovery involves frustration in relating to someone who is silent rather than openly stating thoughts and feelings. I look back on visits with the openly judgmental one, and find gratitude and even admiration for her capacity to say what's on her mind (even if it's judgmental). So it's back and forth— each one helps me appreciate the very qualities of the other that so upset me.

  5. Kris ~ Thanks for your candid comment! I'm so glad that you are able to find gratitude in the dynamics... I feel compassion for my mother who has to live with her, as there is other pathology involved here. And we both wish we could help alleviate her suffering. But as they say, one needs to want help. It certainly is huge opportunity to remember who we all are, despite our pathology! :)

  6. lovely insightful post. I like the "meeting" of you and your sister. and as Kris says who do we learn most from but those closest to us. I think that is why we travel around in these little groups.

    your humility makes your writing and insights feel comfortable and non judgmental. I like that.

    and I think it always helps to hear these family stories. it helps us in so many ways with our own; helps us know we're all in the same boat and offers ideas of how to work with it all.

  7. ZDS ~ Thank you Carole... Glad that sharing my experience was helpful... I don't know why but it always amazes me how the Dharma is always right there, in the every-day-ness of life experience, just waiting to be seen through these little dramas.

  8. This is tremendous, Christine! "Being to Being..." How glad you experienced that with your sister, even for a moment. Prickly people, and negative energy in general, does challenge our being-ness. Just a small step can take us back to where we belong, our wholeness. Oriah Mountain Dreamer's words inspire... And I am thankful for your shared insights, my friend. :o) Happy Weekend ((HUGS))

  9. Tracy ~ Yes, I *love* seeing 'Being to Being'! If only we could all remember to see each other this way! To step back from our little personalities that we've come to identify as ourselves and step into that expansiveness of just Being. De-light-ful. :) I try to make it my practice now. Of course it's easier with animals and strangers. Harder with people with whom we have a lot of emotional baggage. Thank you. I think you would really like Oriah's book. Heart Hugs :)

  10. I read with great interest your description of your whole Being attempt to meet your sister at a place of deeper consciousness. I have a prickly brother that makes me break out into an allergic reaction whenever I find myself in his obnoxious presence. My partner tells me I have similar tendencies, from time to time, as those of my sibling, but of course I have disowned them, so don't recognize them when they crop up. While I do try to bring awareness into my own reactions to people and situations, I must admit I have abandonned all hope of ever truly connecting with my brother. But this, at least, is a way of acceptance.

  11. louciao ~ Absolutely! And I may never have a true, deep, relationship with my sister either. We can't necessarily have "healthy" relationships with "toxic" personalities. We still have to set boundaries and limit our time with them, even though we can see beyond their prickliness. That "connection" I felt only lasted a fleeting moment, but allowed me to *see* past her prickliness and get a glimpse of her "True Self", which does not mean the relationship has or will change. We still relate from a personality level.


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