The search for self

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In each of us there is a potential for wholeness, for bringing the conflicting parts of ourselves together in a synthesis.  We have a simple name for this totality of the individual.  Jung called it the “self”.

The “self” is the sum of all the divergent forces, energies, and qualities that live within you and make you who you are – a unique individual.  The self is the balanced, harmonious, symmetrical unity of the very center of one’s being, which each of us senses within.  But we rarely experience the self with our conscious mind; we rarely have that sense of unity and wholeness.  We feel ourselves usually as a chaotic mass of conflicting desires, values, ideals, and possibilities, some conscious and some unconscious, pulling us in many directions at once.

The work of “enlightenment” is to make conscious these divided and conflicting parts of ourselves, to wake up to the primordial unity that joins them.  To awaken to the unity of the self is the great goal of our psychological evolution, the Pearl Without Price, the object of our deepest longings.

It is this possibility that is manifested by the dual masculine-feminine nature of the psyche.

In mythical symbolism the self is often represented by a masculine-feminine pair: a king and queen, a divine brother and sister, a god and a goddess.  Through this symbol of the royal couple the psyche tells us that the self is one, though we experience it as complementary opposites.  It shows us that we must make a “marriage,” a holy synthesis, between the two great polarities of our human nature.  Like the dragons of yin and yang, the inner king and queen constantly create our world out of the masculine and feminine energies of the self in an eternal cosmic dance.

But Tristan’s world has no queen!  This is a king.  There is Mark.  But the queen has died.  Blanchefleur has gone away.

It is the feminine qualities that bring meaning into life: relatedness to other human beings, the ability to soften power with love, awareness of our inner feelings and values, respect for our earthly environment, a delight in earth’s beauty, and the introspective quest for inner wisdom.  With these qualities shortchanged, we don’t find much meaning.  With our swords and lances we build our empires, but they don’t give us a sense of meaning or purpose.

~ Robert A. Johnson, We – Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love


I’m conscious of the “chaotic mass of conflicting desires, values, ideals, and possibilities, some conscious and some unconscious, pulling us in many directions at once. ”

My nervous system is pretty much shot through, right now.  I thought it was because of the things I’d been through in the past, the traumas large and small.  Or because of parenting intense kids.  That has certainly had some impact, but I think it’s less so than I thought.  My kids are not as intense as they used to be.

I have moments of deep tranquility.  Usually when I’m outside, in Nature.  When I’m at the softball field with my daughters and I don’t have to “do” anything but watch their game or walk around the field, or read.  I’m not anxious in those moments.

But I realize that when I’m around other anxious people, or talking about ‘coping mechanisms’ I realized two things.  One: their anxiety is slightly contagious and it reminds me of the simmering pot of anxiety in me.  And two:  it’s not the PAST that’s troublesome.  It’s the unlived potential in me that is troublesome.

I was a scientist and I miss the lab, sometimes.  I miss the challenging and rewarding work and the intelligent colleagues and the paycheck and benefits.

Now I’m a substitute teacher, which drains me a great deal, though when I’m in the schools, interacting with the kids, I do enjoy it immensely.  Often, the kids tell me “I’m the BEST substitute teacher EVER!”

I’m a mother of three lovely and bright daughters and a wife of a mechanical engineer-turned-intuitive healer.

Sometimes I find time for my other passions:  writing, photography and art (I do not make art nearly often enough).

There’s not enough time or energy to do all that I want to do.  And for all I do, I still don’t know what I’m truly passionate about and want to make a living doing.

Sometimes when I have time, and energy, I get hung up in kind of an ADD “spin cycle”.  I don’t know what I want to pursue.  Should I do housecleaning?  Or make art?  Or go for a hike and take pictures?  Should I write a thoughtful post?  Should I email a dear friend?  Update my resume and send it out (to where?).

My body becomes electric with energy, but without a focus, it just crackles and snaps and sputters in my veins like a live electric wire lying on the ground.

I’m trying to embrace my experiences and learn to moderate my reactions.  I am trying to breathe through the feelings of anxiety.

I have just learned about a few more supplements I could take that might help soothe my overstimulated nervous system, but I’m wondering, isn’t that just masking the problems?  Maybe the overstimulated nervous system is the only way my unconscious mind is speaking to me.  I just haven’t learned its language yet, so I can’t understand what its saying.

And if I consume essentially tranquilizing agents (herbal supplements or not), am I not just telling my unconscious to “shut up and quit bothering me”?

I’m not dissing that route. At all.  I’m just wondering.

I started taking St. John’s Wort, but, after the initial psychic numbing period I experienced, I am back to feeling too much again.  Sadness, grief and anxiety.  The very things I needed a break from are back, nipping at my heels, no matter how much I try to nudge them away.

Okay.  So, maybe I need to stop pushing it away and start accepting that this is how it is for me right now.  And learn to ride these things out and hopefully glean what my unconscious is trying to tell me.

We’ll see how it goes.

About Casey

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ ~ Jack Kerouac, On The Road Again
This entry was posted in ADD, anxiety, C.G. Jung, consciousness, Creativity, Enlightenment, Highly Sensitive Person, Intensity, Mindfulness, Moods, PTSD, Robert A. Johnson, Self-medication and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The search for self

  1. ksbeth says:

    take a breath and just float

  2. Casey says:

    thanks ksbeth

    i’ll try.


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