Awakening, alienation, and Schizophrenia—a connection?

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Imagine for a moment that everything we see and hear is but a dream a waking dream if you will where all seems real and following a rational and very linear approach to the world around us. Unlike this waking dream* what if the sleeping dream were to present a reality that was the mirrored image of the waking dream where everything seems real but seemingly irrational and non linear? The experience of the reality of both worlds comes from the individual experiencing them and is projected by the dreamer and is an effect of the inner world of their psyche. In either world as experienced the dreamer cannot be sure they are awake or dreaming.

It is said that if one pinches themselves and it hurts then they are not in a dream but what if feeling in a linear dream world feels like pain and in a nonlinear dream world feels like sadness or the color red? One world follows linear rules of cause and effect while the other does not. Are these worlds any the less real because one does not look like the other?

In a linear world we sleep and then we wake up. It is said that we are becoming conscious from a state of unconsciousness. But could it also be that we are becoming conscious of the unconscious? But perhaps they are mirrored forms of one consciousness.

While pondering this little thought experiment I settled down to meditate on it when a question formed in my mind that wouldn’t go away and shanghaied my focus (this happens more than I like). It went something like this: If a person were living within a waking dream, what would happen if they actually woke up?

As I sat upright I began to imagine what might happen. If most of what drives our vision of the waking world is effected by our personal and collective unconscious material that includes many archetypal symbols shared by all humans both in dreams and in what we call consciousness, what if we were to awaken from this shared symbolic vision and find ourselves functioning with a different symbology? This would probably affect our linguistic system, visual and mental interpretation of everything around us.

Those around us who were still living in the world and asleep would see us behaving in a most peculiar way and we might be confused what with not being able to communicate adequately with those around us. Even our experience of objects and people around us might be altered and our relationship to these might look somewhat delusional to others.

Looking closer at the possible behaviors of this theoretical “awakened” person, I noted the similarity with the diagnostic pattern of schizophrenia. I also remembered an article I’d read years ago that discussed the similarities between those with schizophrenia and shamanism. The seemingly bizarre philosophies and insights of many religious mystics also come to mind.

R.D. Laing, a Scottish psychiatrist during the 1950’s through 1980’s, suggested that Schizophrenia was triggered by what is known as a Double Bind situation, what is sometimes called the “Incompatible Knot” caused by extreme and prolonged different, or incompatible messages and an attempt of the psyche to resolve these**. Laing also suggested the possibility that when experiencing this double bind situation the ego and the self cannot express themselves and that can cause a very personal symbolism that is meaningful to the individual and incomprehensible to all others—diagnostic of Schizophrenia. He also reasoned that quite possibly the actions of those identified with Schizophrenia may actually be in the process of trying to avoid the losing of the self.

For Laing Schizophrenia may be a transformative process like the Shamanic Journey where one might enter a state where they encounter insights which make them more grounded perhaps in an expanded reality.

Might also some of those who experience schizophrenia be on a shamanic journey and  among the “awakened,” or they who have experienced a shift in perception? This is hard to tell especially when some doctors use a medical model, or even a behavioral model based on biologics. Dr. Laing suggested that behaviors such as those exhibited by those with Schizophrenia, can both conceal or expose experience. Is it possible that the Schizophrenic is trying to communicate the experience of the shift in awareness, but have lost their connection with the world around them?

But this connection of which I speak between awakening and schizophrenic behaviors is only rumination on my part, or at most, speculation in that there is no evidence for a connection nor for that matter is there any evidence for the Waking Dream as a reality. If the connection is true, I’m not sure I want to be awakened though the prospect and mystical promise is tantalizing.

There does seem to be some experiential evidence, however that society has created a context for behavior that may be antithetical to normal, or natural behaviors e.g. where there is encouraged and unnatural split between inner and outer experience—we are, generally speaking, not aware of our inner selves and thus most of us experience a pervasive alienation from one another and a general misunderstanding of reality. Under extreme cases this may lead to extreme forms of alienation e.g. Schizophrenia.

 

For without the inner the outer loses it’s meaning, and without the outer the inner loses it’s substance.”

 R.D Laing, The Politics of Experience, 1972

 

“For nature, as we know, is at once within and without us. Art is the mirror at the interface. So too is ritual, so also myth. These, too, bring out ‘the grand lines of nature,’ and in doing so, re-establish us in our own deep truth, which is one with that of all being.”

                                     Joseph Campbell, The Inner Reaches of Outer Space, p. 132

 

________________

*see also 1) https://thebookofdreamsblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/30/waking-up-from-the-dream/  2) https://thebookofdreamsblog.wordpress.com/2018/10/22/dreaming-wakefulness/ 3) https://thebookofdreamsblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/15/awakening-from-the-darkness-of-mere-being/ 4) https://darkknightofthesoul.blog/2018/03/09/dreaming-yourself-into-existence-become-lucid-within-your-waking-dream/

**Laing, R.D., The Politics of Experience, Ballantine Books, Inc., N.Y., 1967

 

 

 

Deciphering two disquieting dreams reveals an even more disquieting reality

1480965422423.jpgDream image: 1) An inverted evergreen tree hanging from the ceiling in a grand foyer. This caused much confusion and concern. Though not a nightmare it was very disquieting i.e. it just wasn’t right.

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The card Players by.- Michaelangelo Caravagio

2) In another dream two men are cheating a younger man at cards. He is clueless as to what’s happening. They are manipulating and taking the younger man from all his worth i.e. they are stealing his self-worth. It feels evil.

 

What to make of these two disquieting snippets of dreams? When I break down the dreams into their component parts I begin to decipher the meaning of these dreams and their import becomes all too obvious both in my treatment of self and in my observation of how the nation as a whole is being treated.

upside down: Confusion as in “Everything turned upside down”. This could also be a metaphor for an antithesis i.e. something in opposition or thinking differently about something or someone. Are you being illogical?

Perhaps you need to see something from a different perspective.

treesThese can represent the structure of your inner being your self-portrait, how you see yourself psychologically e.g. your connection with the family and your past as in your roots.

Trees can represent your personal growth or the stages of your life.

Power, strength, patience, steadfastness, and quiet centeredness seem to be the attributes the trees offer and that I most admire and desire.

ceiling: This could be about your upper limits i.e. what you use to protect your identity. There’s a possibility that your old way of being is breaking down and there’s a need for new coping strategies. Have you reached your limit?

foyer: The main access to the vast inner self. It can also be a space where one may be ready to make an announcement about themselves or reveal something new.

evergreen tree: This could be about growth, eternal knowledge, happiness, immortality, or wealth and even immortality. It could also represent hope in the midst of despair.

Possible interpretations: On a personal level the image of myself may need to be righted in that is has been turned upside down to what is actually there. For example, my self-criticisms have turned my view of the world both in and around me upside down and is breaking down my self-confidence.

Alternatively, my world and the way I thought it was has been turned upside down and makes no sense anymore. My portrait or understanding of self has been inverted. I cannot trust the “rightness” of things.

There may also be a desire to correct the out of balance nature of the inversion and to wade into the confusion created by this out-of-rightness both in myself and in the world. But first the self because it is only from there that one can tackle the rest.

The second dream may reinforce the idea that I am cheating myself of my own worth. Things are not right and need to be corrected in this dream as well.

On a national and world level there are those who are stealing our self-worth and self-image as well and we are cluelessly letting them do it. In the dream the young card player is literally being “Trumped” at every turn. A symbol not lost on those who are following the insanity playing itself out in the American government right now.

We are allowing a small number of people to steal our sense of self and of what we have always said that we stand for both as a people and as a nation. We must stand up to these bullies whether they be our own critical inner voice or the illegitimate voices of our politicians, our so-called leaders, our President.

Our national self-portrait has been turned on its head by an insane and self-serving bunch of crooked people who are turning our deeper natures against us by turning us against ourselves and this must stop or nothing will be right side up again.

In fighting ourselves we are also distracted from the theft of our country and our livelihoods. This is to make us ever more clueless.

They are taking away our traditional good nature and replacing it with suspicion and hatred, they also manipulate us by feeding us misinformation and by destroying our sources of honest information and substituting them with what is essentially a State run media outlet. This is pretty much how it’s done in Russia and China or in any country bending toward autocracy.

This is how one takes over by shutting down honest media and thus controlling the dialog. And these dishonest fellows are masters of controlling the dialog. They say and do outrageous things to hide what they are doing behind our backs e.g. stacking the deck in their favor.

But when will enough of us catch on and refuse to play the game? Will we wait until they’ve taken all that we own? Because if we wait too long to do anything we’ll have nothing with which to stand up to them.

If it is true that there is both a sleeping dream and a waking dream we’ll see how bad the dream gets. Our waking dream is not quite a nightmare yet but moving disquietingly in that direction.

There be Dragons out there: Sailing into the imaginal

 

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Children have a special relationship with the imaginal and learn early on to edit their sharing of it with adults. You see, adults draw a hard distinction between what they think is real and the imaginal world of the child. The child plays with and explores the boundaries of real, keeping it flexible, while most adults have hardened those boundaries thus keeping what is contained within trapped and limited. But reality doesn’t care what you and I think of it and doesn’t conform to the ego boundaries that we set for it.

Those who have decided what something is one way or the other have essentially killed any possible alternatives (note that the root is “cide” i.e. to kill). This of course limits ones perspective and thus their options and resources. If we place too many conditions upon reality we eventually build a box of sorts around ourselves– a box born of many deaths.

When I reflect upon my dreams over the years one particular theme keeps showing up, nightmares of being trapped, contained, boxed in, imprisoned and trying to escape. I’ve been trapped in ever constricting tunnels, struggled mightily to fly and stay air born, held down, cornered, and lost within caves or endless hallways with no way out.

Something within me desperately wants to be expressed and keeps showing up in my dreams. But what is it? I honor the imaginal, some say to the extreme, but I too have a limit on this, artificially created so as to not look too crazy, or too over the top. After all I have a reputation to keep up and want to maintain the freedom to explore (the world tends to reign you in if you get too far out there).

But nothing new can be found if you remain within the safety of the box. To use another metaphor, no new worlds can be discovered if you’re not willing to sail off the “edge” of the world you’re on, just ask Columbus, Magellan, Elon Musk, and Steve Jobs.

I’ve been inside many boxes in my life and what usually keeps me there is the fear of what is outside, I mean, there are Dragons out there! I also don’t like to let go of what I have until I know what’s out there to grab hold of. Using yet another metaphor that resonates for me, it would be like letting go of the trapeze while blindfolded and hoping there’s someone to catch me at the other end of the flight. But risk taking is…well, risky.

Growth and the discovery of new worlds is often like that in that you don’t know what’s out there, you just know that you can no longer stay cooped up in the box any more. Though there may be dragons lurking on the journey, they must be willingly faced for the glory and the wonder of new discoveries.

For me it’s the imaginal world of my dreams that offers clues that there is something beyond my self and the culturally imposed boundaries and that I need to cast off into its unknowns so as to really see what’s possible.

It is a lonely journey, one because it is very personal and two because there’s little agreement from the rest of the world that the journey is worth it and there’s no guarantee that you’ll survive it. But remaining locked up in this damnable box, or tied to the safe harbored dock, is not what I want my life to be about i.e. there’s no journey if you’re tied to the dock.

 

“Disturb us, Lord, when we are too pleased with ourselves,
when our dreams have come true
because we dreamed too little,
when we arrived safely
because we sailed too close to the shore.


 Disturb us, Lord, when
 with the abundance of things we possess
we have lost our thirst
for the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
we have ceased to dream of eternity
and in our efforts to build a new earth,
we have allowed our vision
of the new Heaven to dim.



 Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly to venture on wilder seas
where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
we shall find the stars.



 We ask you to push back
the horizons of our hopes;
And to push back the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.”

 –Sir Francis Drake

Here she comes!

 

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Yesterday morning I stepped out into the cold half-light of a new dawn scanned the horizon as I frequently do and saw a most enchanting sight. There in the southern sky hung two brilliant stars so close to one another it was as if they were trying to touch.

These bright “stars” of the heavens were Venus and Jupiter symbols of the Feminine and Masculine embracing in the heavens above me.

That same night the Moon took on a red glow as the reflected light from the overbearing masculine Sun was eclipsed by Mother Earth.

“This must be significant” I mused. “But of what?”

And I dreamed that night of a non-coalesced pillar of static standing and vibrating in the middle of the dream space. When I approached and reached forward to find out what it was it revealed nothing. It seemed to promise meaning but gave me nothing.

After waking I continued to ponder both the dream and the waking events of the previous day. “I know there’s something there” I thought. “But what? But what?”

Then it hit me, for days I’d been writing about the Sophia, a visitor in an earlier dream and how she has been showing up in our study of the Magdalene in our Heretics Group, the Women’s March that my wife and one of our daughters attended, the #MeToo movement, media stories of women gaining political influence throughout the world and in my humble attempts at integrating the feminine aspect into the Adult Education programs of the church. I suspect that the pillar was again the Sophia visiting to once again open my mind to what’s going on around me.

Venus and Jupiter in alignment i.e. the feminine and masculine embracing while Mother Earth combines with its maiden Moon adding its light where earlier it was only the masculine light being reflected are all symbols of what’s happening in the world. We are at the dawning of a transformation for humankind.

The old way is resisting the change but change is happening, grinding, shoving, and pushing back against eons of spiritual and psychical imbalance. It is happening and those who embrace it, support it, and work with it will grow while those who resist will shrink and shrivel. The Balance is coming, Wholeness and Oneness is at the threshold invite them in or be trampled as they cross over.

A doorway into the universal soul

 

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I had a dream not too long ago where I seemed to be everywhere at once. The dream was very disconcerting and somewhat dark in nature, I’d no sooner noticed where I was than I’d be somewhere else, then nowhere and yet everywhere. This went on and on until suddenly I awoke and was a bit disoriented. It took some moments to remember and recognize where I was. It was as though the dream had carried into the waking world and I needed to pin the wakefulness down to find where I was.

This dream and its residual into the wakened state reminded me of the quantum physics concept of “nonlocality”. In the dream it was only when I noticed myself as being somewhere that the location would change. In the theory of nonlocality everything is potential and it’s only when we make an observation that the field of everywhere and everywhen collapses into a single place. It’s as though reality is what we make of it. It’s only when our ego-selves intervene that everything solidifies into a something.

Some self-awareness gurus like Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, and James Redfield suggest that at a fundamental level reality is a non defined soup or eternal soul that exists at the level of potential and only taking form through the personal soul, the soul of all our experiences. As Chopra once said “the soul is the observer in the midst of the observation.” Essentially there is an object that is observed, then there’s the process of observing that happens in the brain, and lastly there’s an observer. The brain is interpreting what is seen based on prior information, observations, relationships, and biases. This is all happening while the “observer” is observing.

In dreams this nonlocal essence is often imaged as an ocean or great sea while the waves represent the local or personal point-of-view. Carl Jung, the early to mid-century Swiss Psychiatrist thought of this vast sea as the unconscious mind where the universal archetypes of the psyche reside– that there is a shared information that crosses all cultures and across all time. Everyone and everything is part of a nonlocal ocean of intelligence i.e. an unbounded potential from which we can draw if we learn how. Dreams are but the waves of this vast ocean and present us with information that the conscious mind normally has no access to. They are an access-point or doorway into the universal soul.

My dream might have been trying to help me to keep the doorway and my options open as well as my points-of-view flexible and fluid. In short, to be more willing to let go and let reality evolve. All too often it seems that I cut short the process by settling on one point-of-view to the exclusion to all others.

Dreams and hypnosis

 

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Not too long ago someone asked about the relationship between dreams and hypnosis.

Did you know that dreaming and hypnosis have a lot in common? Both tap into what the subconscious is observing and has stored. Both place the conscious mind in a state that allows for access to the unconscious. Neurologically these frequency wave states are called alpha and theta (8-13 Hz and 4-7 Hz respectively. A Hz being a “Hertz,” which is the name for a cycle per second).

Sometimes hypnosis can help you to recall a forgotten dream, or it can be used to go back into a favorite dream so that you can finish it up (don’t you hate it when you’re in a great dream and you wake up in the middle of it?).

Hypnosis can also be used to generate dreams (dream incubation), or be used in the technique called “Active Imagining” when you take a dream theme and imagine it evolving beyond the reality of the actual dream. This is sort of like Gestalt therapy when the client imagines a theme or an outcome, or places themselves in another’s shoes by acting it out.

There are several states of consciousness with the mind crossing in an out of all three–Beta, Alpha, Theta and even a fourth, Delta, though this last one would be very momentary for this is the state of deep sleep. Each state has its own breadth and depth of consciousness and unconsciousness. Thoughts (what we laughingly call consciousness) is quite broad, but has very little depth, whereas the dream state isn’t very broad in that it is more focused, but is very deep and then there’s hypnosis which has a lot of focused consciousness and a much larger depth of unconsciousness.

To incubate a dream, or to set the stage for what is known as a “Lucid Dream” (one where you are aware that you are dreaming when in the dream, which allows you to orchestrate it somewhat), suggestions are placed during a hypnosis session. These sessions can use cultural ideas, values, or behavior patterns (called memes) in the form of suggestions that are “planted” into the unconscious and which can be brought to consciousness by attaching a cue to them (in the form of a word, phrase, sound, or visual stimulus*) that when expressed will activate the meme. These are good for the short-term, so are effective in dream incubation and recall.

The mind is a fascinating thing even it’s darker unconscious aspects!

_____________________

* For example, “When you see your hand in the dream you will become lucid.”

A waking Dream

 

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When visiting the UK not too long ago I found myself one late afternoon wandering the grass-covered ruins of an ancient Abbey. A strange fog had rolled in and masked many parts of the ruins making it look even more hollow and missing in walls than it otherwise would. It was on days like these that it is said things come up from the underworld and reach out for the souls that wander these halls that are no more.

This the land of the White Monks and the Black Death sings a lonely song, but during the Spring when the grass is cut it lays like a carpet across the floor of the great nave ready for the grand noble entrance of Kings and Queens once more. I could hear them walking past, the swishing of their robes, the clank of a Bishop’s Crosier striking the pace against the stone floor through the hall, and the smell of incense riding the foggy swirls descending from high in the roofless ceiling.

For one brief moment I was there, witness to what was and is no more. For one brief moment I transcended the veil of time. A coldness crawled up my back and I shook my head vigorously to dispatch the errant visions, then stood chilled and still, hearing echoes of a past I never knew, yet somehow they had followed me here and lay amongst my own memories forever more.

Falling into the Abyss

Not so long ago I asked the “nothing-in-particular-of-the-general-universe” (God for some of you) to help me through the funk I’d fallen into and while browsing a bookstore my attention was drawn to a shelf where a book called out to me, The13th Disciple by Deepak Chopra. “Sounds a bit preachy and just alittle too Christian for my tastes,” I thought, but found myself buying it anyway. I waded into its pages when I got home and nothing jumped out but something told me to be patient that there was some gold hiding in the pages.

As I continued to readI came across a chapter that sparked a memory, a recollection of a time spent at a retreat when a grief was resurrected and sent me hurtling down an endlessly dark hole from which I wasn’t sure I could pull myself.

I shook off the memory and continued to read when another turn of phrase triggered another memory of a void I had tripped into shortly after hearing of my father’s death. Both instances of grief propelled me into a helpless emotional abyss from which I wasn’t sure I’d escape and appalling as it may seem I wasn’t sure that I wanted to.

In both instances within moments of my plunge, and with fear consuming every cell of my being, I calmed and faced the darkness before me wondering curiously what lay at the other end and finding that I was just a little captured by the thought that there might not even be an end. What would that be like, I wondered?

Why was I visiting these pains yet again after so many years? Was it possible that I hadn’t fully dealt with either and here was another chance to reconcile, to “zero out” or bring balance to these experiences? I’d always wondered where the tunnel would have taken me if I had not stopped the tumble. I mean what would have happened if Alice had stopped her fall down the rabbit hole by waking herself up?

Almost as soon as I had that thought the following came to me and I quickly grabbed a pen and in my haste, and not finding any other suitable writing surface, wrote it inside the dust jacket of the book.

“Seeking zero point where nothing holds you up and you plunge into the emptiness of your being.

Falling into the objectless void you’re on your own with no one to aid.

But keep your wits and you’ll pass right through hell, the tears will wash away the fear, and the abyss will become your grace.”

The words in my mind came to an abrupt end and I set down the pen and briefly pondered their meaning.

Suddenly a memory of light elbowed its way into consciousness and for a brief moment I was laying on the floor of a mediation room open on all four sides to a surrounding forest that until then had been cloaked in the deepening grays and shadows of an advancing night and marveling how every tree, every leaf, the sky, the ground, and the people around me seemed to have a glow.

What had been a somewhat hostile world became warm and friendly and I got up and walked into the night feeling for the first time in my life that I belonged, not to any organization or place, but to everything.

And then I was back. As I sat at home reading my musings it was as though something in the universe wanted to remind me of the journey I’ve been on all these many years and how far I’ve come and how I’ve changed over that time. It’s not in my essence that change took place but in my ability to see it and function from it and like Alice sometimes there’s a light just for us at the bottom of the dark holes we fall into and we just have to let go in to them.

Walking the Dark Night

 

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Three nightmares across nine fretful nights sleep. In one a character is shot several times as he runs down the road, the last shot bringing him down, I falling with him and reaching out to comfort. Another has me wearing a CPAP mask at a restaurant dining table, feeling shocked, vulnerable, humiliated and virtually emasculated.

The last dream has me being threatened and abused by three twenty-foot giants.

What to make of it all?

In the first dream the character being shot is an expression of myself suffering what Bill Shakespeare called “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” i.e. attacks against the psyche in this case. The fear may be that there will be one too many that I may not be able to soothe and get up from. This dream may have been triggered by watching a friend take several psychic blows that would have left me emotionally bleeding. There’s also a theme running through the “world psyche” at the moment where many people are taking the blows, with the collective-ego becoming increasingly more self-critical.

The current immoral insanity sweeping the nation and the White House is suffering profound psychic blows as well as we each watch the country we love being torn apart by fear, bigotry, ignorance, and hatred. Our shadow aspect that we’ve been hiding to both the world and ourselves is showing itself in all its repressed ugliness.

The second dream seems to echo the first and indeed came on the night following the first. This dream seemed to suggest humiliation and a feeling of emasculation. It continued a theme of feeling vulnerable and not being able to protect myself adequately. The mask itself also may have symbolized a fear of being found out, of not being able to successfully hide what I am feeling in my everyday life right now.

Seven days later the third nightmare intruded and interrupted my sleep. In this dream three imposing and quite frightening ‘giants’ attacked me and stood threateningly astride me as I fell. It felt that I wouldn’t be able to save myself from what was about to happen and then I awoke. Are my feelings overwhelming me? Is my negative inner dialog going to injure me? Who are these three antagonists I wonder? Then it hits me that they might represent my three biggest concerns as I grow older– 1) Body deterioration (not only reflecting all the aches and pains but the loss of attractiveness to the opposite sex); 2) Deteriorating usefulness; and 3) Contracting future.

There’s a lot to be learned from one’s darker dreams i.e. there’s light in our nightmares, though in this case there are few if any answers, but knowing in deeper detail what’s going on with me emotionally may give me an opening through which I can find the light.

 

The empire of the Shadow-self

 

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“I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you, which shall be the darkness of God.”

 –T.S Eliot

 

In the Game of Thrones the story line is about political intrigue and the shadow creatures in this fantasy melodrama are always extensions of the people portrayed. All the human emotions of lust, hate, anger, greed and betrayal are played out with only one goal, to survive and conquer. Of course this kind of human drama has no end (witness real life dramas of war and greed).

Just as the Game of Thrones is but a tale of the Shadow Empire of the ego-self so is the everyday day life of our selves. Why are we so fascinated by this darker side of humanity? Is it because we can see what is also in our self but do it in the safety of arms length?

I spend a lot of time talking about and working with the shadow aspects of myself. I do this because I’m fascinated by the shadow-self, its genesis and how it affects the everyday of my life.

I’ve learned that within me, as in all of us, resides both the light and the dark, aspects of what I approve of and identify with and those that I reject– the seemingly dark, hated, betrayed and unbearable characteristics of myself and my life.

The Shadow-self resides in the unconscious mind. I put them there so that they wouldn’t be, well, conscious.

Most of them I put there as a child– when I had limited resources and experiences to figure out what the traumas meant (a trauma can be as small as a hurt feeling) that were hurled at me or that surrounded me.

But these shadows don’t just reside peacefully within us they actually affect and inform our conscious actions.

They are why we have certain addictions, failures (both in relationships and careers), negative thoughts, judgments, and self-criticisms.

They are why we can’t seem to just “make it” or that we keep choosing the wrong mate or love interest, or continuously make the wrong choices. They represent all those dark impulses and desires, selfishness, hostility and greediness we sometimes experience within ourselves. They are what prevent us from loving and acknowledging ourselves. No matter how successful we become there is often a dark hooded figure that is quick to criticize and bring us down.

 

“Between the conception
 And the creation
 Between the emotion
 And the response
Falls the Shadow.”

—T. S. Elliott

 

None of us want to climb down into this cesspool of dread, sorrow, and childhood fears. It’s why we created the underground sump of the unwanted in the first place i.e. to stop the hurt!

Our ego-selves are designed to figure things out then decide that which will make things better, run smoother, and lessen the pain and hurt vs. that which makes things harder– one is accepted while the other is rejected and all of this is designed to enhance ones ability to survive.

It’s the ego-self that determines when something is real, but sometimes this “reality” is a negative decision about the self such as, “I’m no good” or “I have no talent”, or “I don’t deserve happiness” or “I’m weak and vulnerable, not pretty/handsome, not smart…” and so on and on.

Once the “reality” is locked in place anything that refutes it is then rejected as “not real”. It’s why it’s so hard to change ones self-concept or to accept another persons acknowledgment.

Essentially, the ego-self becomes attached to these so-called “realities of the self” and it is this attachment that leads the ego-self to go it alone and shun any real help because no one can ever know the ego-self and its reality and needs better than the ego-self.

In this way the ego-self cuts itself off from others and from the spirit and soul.

It’s interesting that Alcoholics anonymous refers to the word EGO as an acronym for “Easing God Out” because that’s exactly what the ego-self does, it divides us from our soul and our inner spirit and too often this is to our detriment.

One of my greatest longings, and I suspect yours as well, is to find the true essence of myself i.e. who am I really? It’s got to be better than this! When I fantasize I’m always the hero of my story, I’m always magnificent and awesome (though humbly so). But why can’t I see me that way in my everyday life? Why can’t I identify with a “me” beyond my negative beliefs of self, my self-judgments and criticisms, my hopes and experiences, my anger, desires, impulses, imagined needs and expectations (from self and others)? Why is it so hard to find and embrace this self?

I suggest that it is because we’ve buried it and barricaded it behind all the shadow material that we’ve stuffed into the unconscious sump and refuse to deal with. We’ve given the shadow-self and its lackey, the ego-self, power over how we feel and over what we do by over protecting ourselves.

Bottom line, our nature is both light and dark and the rejection of one over the other through denial or opposition (control or destruction of) only leads to self-destructive behaviors. The ego-self is designed to protect us from the world outside, but often it does this by sacrificing the inside, the very thing it is designed to protect.

Life can be lived without denying the shadow but by choosing the light, choosing to live your life in the light. You can only do that if you know what the dark is, where the absence of the light resides.