In a previous article I wrote about the unspoken secret that each individual is a genius and the huge fears we have around the expression of our genius. A second unspoken secret is that ‘what arises in me is about me’ and any attempt to voice that truth can be responded to with considerable hostility. Of course, such hostility is a revelation of the inner world of the person who is being aggressive, a reality that could be dangerous to voice for the person being authentic.
What is it that makes it so difficult to own what arises in me as being about me – be it a dream, feeling, thought, image, action, word, non-verbal response and illness? The answer to that question lies in the answer to another question: has my life to date been a series of safe moments with a few dangerous ones or a series of dangerous moments with a few safe ones? If the former was the case, it is more likely you are in a place where you own what arises in you as being about you. However, if your experience was the latter one, then owning and being responsible for what arises in and from you could prove highly threatening.
When I own what arises in me, I will speak and act from an ‘I’ place, a place of responsibility and self-realisation. When I disown what arises I tend to speak from a ‘You’ or ‘They’ place and blame another, the system, the world, even God for how my life is. There is a great wisdom – though not a maturity – in such projections. The wisdom is that I shine the spotlight of blame and responsibility onto others, thereby cleverly exonerating myself from being criticised and judged. Resolution of these projections can only be effected by the person finding the help and support to hold and value everything that arises as being about Self. In this present economic recession, unless political and financial leaders accept responsibility for their disastrous financial, emotional and social practices, it is unlikely that anything will be learned from the present crisis. Experience has shown us time after time that we do not learn from history. To own our mistakes, our fears, our vulnerabilities, our aggression, greed, avarice, rigidities … appears to be a bridge too far for many individuals. However, it is a bridge that each of us needs to cross. It is in each person taking responsibility to understand themselves that real progress can be made within society. It is individuals who make decisions – not systems – and it is only individuals that can choose to make different decisions. In this way, it becomes possible for each of us to affect the world at large by bringing an authenticity to the people we interact with and the social, work and spiritual systems we live in. All very well to say, but a major challenge to take on! How can this mature process be encouraged and supported?
The future of society never lies with children – it is always with adults. It is adults who need to find the safety and support to reflect on how each relates to Self, to others and to the world. Whether we like it or not, we continually spill the beans on our interior world with every thought, word, feeling and action. When we begin the process of holding each manifestation of our interiority and examine what it is revealing about the relationship with Self and what new choices and actions are being called, then progress towards maturity, self-realisation and taking responsibility for Self and our own words and actions is taking place. Such reflection and contemplation will result in radically different ways in how you are in this world, a radicalism that is direly needed in the world today.
It is not optional for me to own what arises in me as being about me – it is an urgent responsibility. It is critical that leaders, in particular, parents, teachers, politicians, bankers, psychologists, social workers, managers, scientists, doctors, psychiatrists – take up the challenge of knowing Self so that they can create the emotional, social and intellectual safety for children to retain the authentic expression that they so powerfully and eagerly start out with. Leaders who are mature also make it safe for other adults to be authentic.
Dr. Tony Humphreys is a clinical psychologist and author of several books on practical psychology, including Whose Life Are You Living?