A Place Worth Visiting

Awakening 1

Any form of personal distress warrants an attentive and honest review of our lives.  Perhaps, there is something in our character that has been put off for so long that we’re unable to make the connection between a defective trait and a present situation.  Perhaps, the tendency to ignore the elephant in the room is the root cause of chronic anxiety.  One thing is certain- our problems grow in proportion to the degree we ignore or suppress them.  Whether we try to suppress or medicate reality, the shadows remain and they lurk between the realm of the unconscious, feeding and growing off their neglect until they have grown to the point of inevitable crisis.   When investigating sudden mental breakdowns or intense crisis in individuals we find that they are rarely abrupt and random.  They are the byproducts of an accumulation of piled up suppressed and unattended problems in the individual.  The infant shadows that were thrown into the basement of the mind have now grown into gigantic beasts.  They break out of the hidden parts of a person, seeking validation and expression, only by now they are much harder to control and wreak havoc in the outer and inner life.  This reality plays itself in the idiom “what we fail to bring to the light, multiples in the dark.”

The founder of depth analytical psychology, Carl Jung proposed the idea that the unconscious and conscious function as a regulatory system, much like the human body.  If the body becomes too cold, given it is in decent health, its regulatory system will work to raise the temperature at attempts of bringing it back to balance.  The mind will function in like manner, in which the contents of both the conscious and unconscious function as complimentary and compensating systems.  An avoidance and ignorance of who we are, the suppression of difficult truths, will always create a breakout of the ignored content- often times in undesirable and hideous ways.  For example, a consciously persistent tendency to look at oneself and the world in a one-sided manner of perfection often produces feelings of terror and anxiety stemming from the hidden parts of the mind, many times so overwhelmingly powerful that it results in destructive behaviors such as eating disorders and substance abuse.  There are many examples of this sort in people that have grown up in “perfectionistic” families or in homes where open communication was not encouraged.  One-sidedness, where the shadowy and unfavored parts of our reality are ignored can lead to the involuntary emancipation of their exaggerated opposites.  It is not difficult to understand this concept, once we examine our fears and anxieties and line them up with the more formidable and essential truths we consciously avoid.  The trait of seeking control, for example, may play itself out in the irrational and disproportionate phobia of ants.

So, what are we to do about such a problem?  How do we know what we may not even be aware of if chronic avoidance has led to genuine forgetting?  The first step is going beyond any form of political correctness and gentle honesty.  It is a willing commitment to confront the undesirable reality of our darkest parts in order to appropriately integrate them into our conscious waking lives.  It is the daunting and necessary step of being brutally honest with the “inner dragons” and “demons” of our nature and the willingness to fight hand in sword and seeing what or who emerges on the other side.  It’s through this journey where we find who we really are, a journey that parts from the light into the deepest trenches of our defects.  It’s the place where we take off the masks, stop looking at the atrocities of the world with such astonishment because we understand the horrors live inside of us as well.  It’s knowing that history and the present with its most ingenious occurrences as well as its malevolence has a home in the human heart.  It’s “Know Thyself and To Thine Own Self Be True” and emerging from such a reality fully awakened.

The Open Door

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If there is a struggle of any kind at this time that overwhelms you, ask yourself two things:  what does it mean? and where is it leading me?  Our minds are inclined to believe that it’s only through light and bliss that we’ll obtain freedom.  But, by now we should know this is utter and complete bull****.  We find the invaluable in the darkness, we obtain the diamond through clawing our way out of the dung hill.  It’s the place that we often put off from approaching but it’s the only way towards realization and balance.  Living a one sided life in which the primary focus is positive thinking  is a denial and rupture of the human condition. The reality is life is brutal filled with battles for us to engage and conquer.  Every one has a battle to overcome but you cannot overcome what you don’t know what you’re fighting.  The denial of our wounds only makes them worse.  It’s necessary to stare down those dark places in our lives, take a stand, and be willing to enter through the dark corridors of our being.  This is how authentic character is built.  Deciding to put fear aside and face reality, face our wounds, is the emancipating and heroic act of escaping the prison of stagnation.  It’s marks the beginning of character.  It’s the only way we come to realize how powerful we are. 

2 Boys

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I love two boys dearly.  One of them I had to leave behind in order to give the other a better life.  One is a lighthearted, inquisitive, and affectionate soul.  The other, while quite loving, can be rebellious, fearful, self-destructive, hyper vigilant, and unstable.  One is my son.  The other my inner child.  I stood at a turning point where most men find themselves who are able to reflect and take inventory of personal defects and impediments to growth.  There I found all the hindrances and shortcomings embodied in my inner psychological youth.  It was here in the personification of my inner child that all sources of irrational beliefs lived.  I had to make a decision to part ways with the boy I had intimately known for decades.

The boy within men must be outgrown, tamed, or carefully integrated into adulthood if we are to properly function in the world.  However, when most men find themselves stuck at a crossroad, repeating destructive patterns, or unable to realize their full potential, most times they will find a restless inner child consuming and sabotaging their present realities.  The boy in us may manifest himself in the form of seeking power and control, general mistrust, and a debilitating apprehension to take on new challenges.  Many times, the boy will not adhere to manipulative tactics of persuasion or compromise.  The boy is adamant in getting what it wants and unless effectively confronted will destroy the man he inhabits.  In this case, the inner child must be subdued, bound, and given up for the liberation of a man’s psychological imprisonment.  It is no wonder that biblical stories such as “the binding of Issac” or the crucifixion of Christ resonate well with many of us.  A man must sacrifice faulty beliefs and dysfunctional familial patterns before he can receive the “blessing.”  Subconsciously, we understand that the most primitive and infantile aspects of our psyche must be (or at least one must be willing to) put to rest.  However, the stark difference lies in the fact that our inner child will not comply and lie quietly as Isaac or the Christian Messiah.  The binding, giving up, and the mourning of the inner boy (false and destructive beliefs) is a necessary process, a journey by which we eventually reach complete psychological and spiritual manhood.  

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