Releasing Blocks — You cannot follow the herd rules and expect to shift from this system to the next phase in personal development.
Just wanted to note that April 5th was Darbella’s and my 23rd anniversary! Happy anniversary to us!
So, last week I mentioned the idea of gates — blocks to progression through the maze that is life. One of the things I said was that the first 3 Chakras are physical, and that most people get stuck there. I want to talk more about this, as well as explore what it means to “express yourself.”
The Haven Institute (www.haven.ca). Authorship of Models 1992 Wong and McKeen. Permission is granted by The Haven Institute (the Owner) to reproduce, adapt and present this work for any private use provided always that any such reproduction, adaptation or presentation shall include this statement. All other rights reserved.
The Three Levels of Self
The Haven’s “take” on this matches my own. In a nutshell, we come into the world as Authentic Selves — this “self” is pure potential. The authentic self is the container for everything about us. It contains our full skill set, and all of the resources we are born with.
The authentic self collides with social programming, and in a sense becomes the repository for the aspects of our self that are deemed impractical, scary, or “wrong.” Thus, as adults our authentic self is basically a repository for everything that has not been “elevated” to make up our Actual Self.
Our authentic self thus contains the things about ourselves we have been taught to repress.
In other words, when we are born, we are 100% authentic self. By adulthood, the mix is likely 10% actual self, and 90% repressed material, still contained in our authentic self. Through conditioning, this material has often receded into our subconscious or unconscious.
Taken from an old issue of Playboy. I wish I knew who drew it…
I tackle this issue in depth in my book, This Endless Moment in the section on “Deconstruction.” Briefly, our authentic self collides with our families, tribes (I use this word to denote groups, i.e. small town vs. city, conservative vs. liberal, religions vs. not, etc.) and cultures. This collision is meant to be benign — this is our “enculturization,” where those in charge of us and our “proper upbringing” bring to bear the collective wisdom of our culture.
If enculturization did not happen,
we would be unable to function.
However, the method of this process, reduced to its essentials, is the creation of duality. We learn me / not me, good / bad, right /wrong, among others. Now remember, this is not based upon some universally agreed upon norm, but is very specific to the tribes and cultures we grew up in.
In this process, we start to repress what is frowned upon, and emphasize what is held in high esteem.
This process continues throughout our school years, as more and more people impose their perspective (and will) upon us. As simple and common example: most six-year-olds are a bundle of energy, and in first grade are taught to sit still and shut up. We learn to do so by force of will, aka tightening muscles to keep from wiggling. Holding stuff in is the methodology of enculturization.
By the time we reach adulthood (in years, not in maturity) we have “stuffed” great portions of our selves.
The stuffed material may be obvious. I see this a lot. Someone will tell me about something their mother does that they hate, for example, and then a few minutes later will give an instance of doing exactly the same thing, but will justify it. Yelling at kids is a good example. They know they hated it as a kid, and yet engage in the hateful behaviour themselves, sort of on autopilot.
One of my favourite clients tells me that her mother gives terrible advice, especially about relationships. Yet, where does she go for relationship advice? Yup. Mom. (For the record, mom is still wrong, but my client believes the “encultured” rule that “Moms give good advice.”
Other material is buried in the sub and unconscious. Carl Jung was big on “Shadow work,” which is a process of exploring the subconscious material. Hidden there are the “scary parts” of our selves. At least, they were scary to our tribes. It would do us well to explore this material, as much juice and fun is contained therein.
Anyway, by adulthood all that we are
(have become) is our Actual Self.
This is the socially acceptable remnants of all that we could have been. It’s actually quite functional within the parameters of the culture we grew up in.
If you want to see this at work, watch “The Amazing Race.” The people with the most highly developed (largest) actual selves are the ones who function well in foreign cultures, especially the cultures that are really different. They have learned some flexibility, as opposed to judgements.
The majority of people are like the contestants with poorly developed actual selves. They are the ones who get all worked up when people don’t speak English, aren’t interested in going faster, or are living in what the “racer” considers poverty.
Hovering above the actual self, is the Ideal Self.
The contents of the Ideal Self is tribal. What is ideal in North America is not necessarily ideal elsewhere. Now, by ideal, I do not (and The Haven does not) mean correct or right. Ideal means “what the society subscribes to as being highly useful or desirable.” This ideal self model creates a pull toward trying to take one’s actual self (which, by definition is incomplete) and force it even more firmly into society’s ideal mold.
Once you see that this pattern of development is not only true, but true for you, you also see why you are stuck.
Chakras 1, 2, and 3 are all about the areas most often covered by the ideal self. These areas involve security, property, owning, possessing, how one uses relationships, and how one relates to self.
Initially,the self described here is the actual self trying (but always failing) to be ideal. The ideal self is a myth — a creation — something our society markets as “being the best you can be.” It always involves conforming to the herd mentality, being more like everyone else, and striving ceaselessly to fit in (albeit at a higher level.)
The goal of the ideal self is to get a leg up on others, preferably by using the other person as a stepping stone.
And always failing.
Because others are also struggling to get a leg up, there is a lot of jostling about and not a lot of help in the process. And remember, since to goal is “ideal,” or perfection, it is a project doomed to failure — as no one, ever, is perfect.
The only way through this block is to let go.
You cannot follow the herd rules and expect to shift from this system to the next phase in personal development. Shifting requires, in a sense, writing an entirely new script for yourself. This script is one of self-exploration. You begin to examine groundedness, relationships and self-esteem from another perspective — what can I learn about myself and my way of being in the world? This exploration is not about getting ahead. It’s about gaining depth.
One way to begin this work is to ask yourself this:
What is your marker for success?
Many people use money or “success” (which is measured in more money) as the marker. Or they may pick satisfaction, but as you unpack it, it’s linked to more “stuff.” This fits with the Western notion of “Ideal” equalling endless growth, endless “more,” and we’re seeing the results of this single minded focus as the economy teeters on the brink.
Many of my clients, as a matter of fact, put this aspect so high in their list that it eclipses parenting, good relating, and personal satisfaction.
If you allow yourself (typically with the help of a therapist) you can shift all of this by doing a combination of depth work and bodywork. The depth work is a process for extracting material from your authentic self, and the bodywork helps to let go of the tightening down you’ve been doing since someone first told you to “control yourself.”
The movement through the first gate (at the juncture between solar plexus (self esteem) and the heart (compassionate living and engagement) requires a commitment to depth and fluidity, as well as a goodly dose of acceptance (of the stuffed material.)
We will look at this in more depth next week.