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CULTURALLY – Most people on the planet are wounded for one reason or another. Few have has a genuinely safe, truly nurturing childhood, especially in the first 10 years.
In his 1942 writing, “FEAR of FREEDOM”, Psychoanalyst Erich Fromm deals with humanity’s reluctance to being alone – the lack of Individuation leading to our fear of isolation, & the resulting appeal of authoritarian regimes, such as Nazi Germany. Fromm suggests that many people are so afraid of freedom they find ways to minimize the fear by creating dogma & rituals that seem to provide a sense of security – whether individuals or whole societies. (MORE…)
Authoritarianism: This personality style contains both sadist & masochist elements. They need to have control over others to impose some kind of order on their world, but will also submit to the control of some superior force (government, religion…), in the shape of a person or abstract idea.
Destructiveness: Although there are similarities to sadism, Fromm argues that while the sadist needs to have control over something or someone, the destructive personality wants to destroy anything it can’t control.
Conformity: This happens when people unconsciously incorporate the over-all beliefs & Cognitive Distortions of their society, and then experience them as their own – allowing them to avoid genuine free thinking, which would provoke anxiety.
If we can accept that we have our own specific lessons to learn, we’ll welcome them instead of complaining. Lessons come into our life in ever tighter circles until we’re completed them, so understanding the stages of change & accepting the spiral nature of self-healing can help us recognize our successes and appreciate our hard work.
1. We start by developing awareness – noticing that something isn’t right, in the quality of our life & relationships. It greatly helps if we cultivate a non-judgmental, observer’s point of view & a friendly curiosity about ourselves. This kind yet detached attitude helps us avoid triggering the old patterns which evolved originally as self-protection. It’s imperative that we don’t go into S-H, attacking ourselves when we see these patterns – again – so that we don’t add to our pain, especially if we thought they’ve already been ‘fixed’. No more salt in our wounds, please!
2. We can choose an alternative – once we understand how we ‘mess up’ by following the Toxic Family Rules. This step is about action – but not trying for perfection in any part of our life. Choose a healthy opposite to break the trance of doing things the old, familiar way. It can be a very powerful experience. Switching to a healthy action (or non-action when appropriate) often brings up emotions of fear, guilt & shame, even anger, or sometimes feeling hopeless & suicidal – so be prepared to get the support needed on those occasions.
3. Then it’s about practicing what we learn – over & over. Patience is not our favorite thing, but it IS the main way we get better at anything – from sports to the arts to emotional, mental & spiritual growth. AND as long as we actively work to Individuate, we continually get new info about ourselves, which we have to accept & then practice new actions.
The whole process of individuation is the archetypal soup in which all humankind is swimming in, the container in which everything rises and falls, ebbs and flows. This includes our dreams, fantasies, aspirations and sense of vocation, our ventures and wrong turnings.
Because it’s a universal human condition, we find physical expressions of Individuation Stages toward wholeness in all cultures, in all times, and in a wide variety of forms.
• Artistically, in the seemingly simple “Oxherder” pictures of Zen Buddhism or in the cryptic, alchemical pictures of the Rosarium Philosophorum
• Architecturally, in the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral or in the tower that Jung built in Bollingen
• Esoterically, in the Greater Trumps found in the Tarot cards or in the pseudo-scientific, symbolic system of alchemy
• Musically, in Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute or in Beethoven’s Fidelio
• Mythologically, in the ancient story of Gilgamesh and Enkidu or in the Summerian myth of Inanna and Ereshkigal
• Playfully, in the many ball games played around the world
• Poetically, in the spiraling journey of Dante’s Divine Comedy, or in Hermann Hesse’s novel Siddhartha, about the life of the Buddha
• Spiritually, in the Jewish Kabbalah or the paradoxical sayings and parables of Jesus of Nazareth, such as, “Whoever would seek to save their life will lose it; but whoever would lose their life will preserve it.” From: “Individuation – the Process of a lifetime”
NEXT: S & I needs a healthy ego – #1