Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Frightened Children and Wise Elders

      All of us have a fearful, hurt inner child part, as well as a wise grandparent or wise elder nature. Our inner child is easily triggered into 'fight, flight or freeze' survivalist reactions. The more our inner child is held in safety & unconditional love & heals - sometimes with the help of mental-health professionals - the more our wise elder self can continuously express itself & be an aware, nurturing, 'tend & befriend' presence. This gradual progressive shift from compulsive self-centeredness (noisy ego) towards appropriate care for self, others & the environment (quiet ego, allocentricity & ecocentricity), is a hallmark of psycho-social healing, normal human maturation, healthy aging, individuation, evolution of consciousness, arising of wisdom, etc. Self-reflection, meditation, contemplation are essential components of this deep human journey.
     Some of us require help from mental-health professionals simply to survive. Many can endure a life of 'ordinary unhappiness,' but with professional help, could actually thrive, flourish! Two powerful therapies well worth careful consideration are Internal Family Systems (IFS) and depth psychology (Jungian analysis). Those who have taken an 8-week Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course will have considerable insight into both of these therapies.

     Internal Family Systems (IFS) is an evidence-based psychotherapy which helps us 'lean in' & get to know all of our sub-personalities ('parts'), see how these are all actually trying to help us (even parts we initially fear or dislike), and gradually guide all these parts to become peacefully allies. Then the 'Self' (with a capital S, to distinguish it from the common use of the word 'self'), can arise with 8 C qualities (Compassion, Curiosity, Calm, Clarity, Courage, Connectedness, Confidence, Creativity).
     "That ('Self') is what people meditate to get to, that in other traditions would be called Buddha nature, or Atman, or there are analogies in most every spiritual tradition, and I stumbled onto a way to access that 'person' pretty quickly, and not only have it become a kind of observing presence, but to become an active leader.
      IFS does change the way people understand themselves and each other in a very profound way. If everybody knew that there was this undamageable, intact, 8-C Self inside of themselves and everybody else; and that they were connected in the way we were talking about before; and that these protectors aren’t what they seem and they don’t have to fight inside with them (instead, love helps them transform) ... the more you can love your parts that drive you crazy ordinarily, the more you can love people who resemble those parts the same way; then it does change many, many aspects of human interacting, and will have a big impact on the culture." Dick Schwartz PhD, interview: https://resources.soundstrue.com/podcast/no-bad-parts/?utm_source=Customer%20Service&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=N210627-Schwartz%20%28TQHxAh%29&_kx=oubFt43NAjNBb0_NppHaGCF951bovtuCAx1o4i41Tys%3D.JMDgaq
     Richard C. Schwartz. "No Bad Parts: Healing Trauma and Restoring Wholeness with the Internal Family Systems Model." Sounds True, 2021.

     Like MBSR & IFS, depth psychology (Jungian analysis) is non-pathologizing ie sees how our mind is actually trying to help us, no matter how confused, inappropriate or even frankly harmful it may appear. Also like MBSR & IFS, Jungian analysis seeks to go much deeper than mere temporary symptom relief, but go to the very root of our suffering, and finally untangle our earliest knots. Again, like MBSR & IFS, Jungian analysis aims to take us well beyond the abandoned fearful child ('noisy ego'), and help stabilize connection with our deepest, wisest nature, which is profoundly connected to all of life.

     “The capacity of the psyche to heal itself, to express both the problem and the agenda for growth in symbolic forms, has been and remains a miraculous engagement to me. We do not invent or create these things; they are working within us to serve and support the work of nature.
     … the psyche always speaks to us. It speaks through the venues of body, of mind, of dreams, of intuitions, and it speaks symbolically. If we knew, as Jung once argued, that there is a two-million-year-old person inside of each of us – a presence bearing the wisdom of nature, the directives of the soul – would it not behoove us to pay attention to that personage, indeed, to cultivate a relationship to it?

ames Hollis. “Living Between Worlds. Finding Personal Resilience in Changing Times.” Sounds True, 2020. An exceptionally fine book (imho) - essential reading for those deeply interested in their patients' & their own OPTIMAL health.

      "The small man builds cages for everyone he knows. While the sage keeps dropping keys all night long for the beautiful, rowdy prisoners." Hafiz 


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