Self Encounter

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It is easier to label them and simplify the problem than to look at each individual life, to address the cultural problem of how we deal with mental illness, to trace the line of suffering in a family, to look at the cultural and societal factors that contribute to that suffering. Hyde in the ugliest man of Nietzsche; again and again such figures have appeared and made their bow before human consciousness, but the psychological meaning of this archetype of the adversary has not yet dawned upon mankind.

Now, back to our question. We look around and perceive the people around us to be so certain, so at peace in their own minds with who they are that we fail to realize we are all asking ourselves the same thing. This is a vast oversimplification of a complex moral problem, so it will prove problematic in some regards. Are you hurting people or animals on purpose? Or, is the suffering you cause merely a byproduct of your own pain, of your own defensiveness, of your own shadow at work in the world? Do you gain satisfaction from creating suffering in others, or do you strive to avoid causing pain, and work to rectify the situation when you do hurt others?

Of course, we can say that people who hurt people on purpose are also hurt. This is why this line of questioning is problematic. And then there are those who fall in the murky gray area of human nature — those who will be casually cruel to people in the service industry, exploit their position of power over their subordinates at work, humiliate their peers in front of others, etc.

But we will call conscious intention our baseline, because people who are awake to their own compassion and empathy will do whatever they can to avoid inflicting pain on others. It is a frightening thought that man also has a shadow side to him, consisting not just of little weaknesses- and foibles, but of a positively demonic dynamism.

The individual seldom knows anything of this; to him, as an individual, it is incredible that he should ever in any circumstances go beyond himself. Having a dark suspicion of these grim possibilities, man turns a blind eye to the shadow-side of human nature. Blindly he strives against the salutary dogma of original sin, which is yet so prodigiously true.

Yes, he even hesitates to admit the conflict of which he is so painfully aware. Now, the extent to which we are conscious of our intentions plays a big role in how we answer this question for ourselves. They simply find ways to feed the needs of their own ego, to make themselves feel powerful in an attempt to counteract previous feelings of powerlessness in their own lives, and then they give it no further thought beyond what it takes to satisfy that unconscious need.

Does that make the behavior alright? Fuck, no — and I have years of baggage from working in customer service to back that up. But does it help us understand others? Does it help us understand ourselves? We have already created a map of the shadow by defining its boundaries with shadow symptoms — but a map is only useful if it actually gets us somewhere. Boiled down to its bare bones, the shadow holds our survival instincts — instincts that have been hard-wired into our DNA for countless millennia.

Irrational anger and quick temperedness mean that our brain has switched over into fight-or-flight mode, and that, in this case, we have obviously chosen to fight. Bottom line: for whatever reason, something about the situation at hand has made us feel threatened in some way. A gentle and reasonable being can be transformed into a maniac or a savage beast. One is always inclined to lay the blame on external circumstances, but nothing could explode in us if it had not been there.

As a matter of fact, we are constantly living on the edge of a volcano, and there is, so far as we know, no way of protecting ourselves from a possible outburst that will destroy everybody within reach. It is certainly a good thing to preach reason and common sense, but what if you have a lunatic asylum for an audience or a crowd in a collective frenzy?

There is not much difference between them because the madman and the mob are both moved by impersonal, overwhelming forces. Guilt can go one of two ways. Again, this comes down to our survival instincts. When faced with fight-or-flight mode, in the case of fear and anxiety, we have opted for flight. Westerners live in a sanitized world. Our media and entertainment are saturated with this part of our reality, but how often do we confront death in our own lives?

How often do we confront the violence inherent in human nature, or in ourselves? Not often enough. And this is the essential message of the shadow and the unconscious mind: nothing that is buried stays buried forever. Not to say that all impulsive behavior is bad — it can be exciting, it can bring variety and novelty.

It is simply a sign for us to analyze to bring us to a better understanding of ourselves. Once more we are brought back to the survival instinct. When we hate someone or something, it is because we feel threatened. And there is another great lesson of the shadow: everyone we encounter is a mirror, reflecting us back to ourselves. Is there an echo in here? Avoidance is a survival mechanism. We avoid people, places, and things that bring up painful memories because we are protecting ourselves from pain. Everything we avoid has its root somewhere in our psyche — traumas we experienced when we were young, heartaches we endured as we grew older, losses and failures and humiliations at all stages of life.

The problem is, when we avoid things, we may be avoiding the pain they bring in the short-term, but we do so at the expense of learning from our experiences, of healing our wounds, and growing as individuals. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, perpetual negativity is also a mechanism of the survival instinct. Negativity, depression, aloofness, and cynicism can become a comfort zone.

Being hurt when we are vulnerable. Navigating the waters of life is exhausting, but it is the rise and fall of emotion that truly makes the human experience so profoundly beautiful. So many of us live a life of gray because we are afraid to be blinded by color. But if the price of sublime ecstasy is to endure moments of great suffering, one must ask oneself, is it worth it?

The problem here is twofold. First, when we attempt to control people, we alienate them, we disempower them — we hurt them. And second, control is only an illusion. And illusions are no match for the sword of truth.

Mapping the Shadow

On one hand, we indulge self-destructive behaviors, such as addiction and reckless, endangering actions, to mask the pain of life. We might distract ourselves from the pain, or get high on the adrenaline rush of novelty and danger. And yet, on the other hand, self-destructive behaviors can serve an even deeper purpose. At any given moment, our unconscious minds whisper to us of our deeper needs.

The shadow wants to be acknowledged, so it will breed destruction to knock down barriers that stand between our conscious minds and true self-knowledge. The effect of self-destructive behavior on our lives is that things fall apart. This paradox of the psyche is not the healthiest way to breed change, but it can be effective if we awaken to our deepest truth of self. While falsehoods can hurt us, the truth stings even more. Do you need to confront some weaknesses within yourself and make some changes? If an inferiority is conscious, one always has a chance to correct it.

Furthermore, it is constantly in contact with other interests, so that it is continually subjected to modifications. But if it is repressed and isolated from consciousness, it never gets corrected. Every moment of our lives, our shadow is always lurking just beneath the surface of our awareness, ready to provide us with signs and clues that point to true self-knowledge and the chance to heal and grow as individuals. We simply need to put in the work to decipher how our shadow is manifesting within our lives and what messages it holds for us.

Empathy and forgiveness come more easily when you see that others are simply acting out the same unconscious patterns that you are. Everyone is just trying to get by in the best way they know how — yet, our overactive survival responses get thrown together in a society built on competition, which leaves us trampling over each other at every step. What is so difficult for the layman to grasp is the fact that in most cases the patients themselves have no suspicion whatever of the internecine war raging in their unconscious.

If we remember that there are many people who understand nothing at all about themselves, we shall be less surprised at the realization that there are also people who are utterly unaware of their actual conflicts. And if you get hurt along the way, that is simply a side effect of their actions — not the end goal. Yes, you hurt people sometimes. But do you mean to? A lot of times the answer is no. But every once in a while … yes, we do hurt people on purpose. So yeah, anyway. And the only way to cultivate conscious awareness of our shadow behaviors is to be honest about our intentions, which means we have to be very brave in confronting the truth that we find within our hearts and minds.

I want to revisit the shadow symptom of guilt, because as you cultivate awareness of your shadow and take an internal inventory of your thoughts and actions, this feeling will come up a lot. Try not to over-internalize unnecessary guilt when you sift through your psychological contents. Remember that so much of our shadow is the culmination of generations of conditioning. We share a collective shadow within our ancestral lineages, and an even larger one within our societies. Many of our original wounds come from our parents, who were hurt by their parents, and so on. And they were all hurt by others, too.

When I was a little girl, my parents and grandparents would call on our Catholicism to scold me when I misbehaved. I think they kept especially sad depictions of Mary and Jesus around to drill in the sense of disappointment, shame, and guilt when they caught me doing something bad. And I held those feelings in me so tightly that they became a part of my identity. The Creator force itself was watching, beholding and judging me in all my imperfection, so that at my very being, I was Bad.

It was a brand, a label, a stamp on my very soul that conditioned me to understand myself as a vehicle of evil and impurity. Jesus is watching. God is watching.

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Allah is watching. The ancestors are watching. The damn neighbors are watching, for crying out loud. Especially in Western society, we are raised to constantly ask ourselves whether we are bad people — but with the inherent assumption that yes, we are. As though, simply by being human, we are in some way impure, evil, unclean. We magnify the collective shadow, brand human nature as bad, and then do everything we can to distance ourselves from our own humanity.

Perhaps the single biggest influence on the Western mind has been that of Christianity. Whether we are of secular mind or choose to practice religion, our collective guilt and self-loathing have transcended their religious origins and penetrated our cultural mind for hundreds of generations — with more and more to come.

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The Christian God — and his secular substitutes the Holy Church of Public Opinion, for example, or perhaps the more timely Divine Temple of Political Righteousness — is divine through his very ability to judge humanity. By its very nature, the shadow first internalizes, and then projects. What we see in us, we see in others, and vice versa. We perceive that we are perpetually being watched and judged, so we perpetually watch and judge others.

We self-police — finding flaws, calling them out, and whipping up a lot of dust to distract everyone from the fact that those very faults we decry so loudly in others reside within us, as well.

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And we have to confront the fact that our culture is built, to some extent, on meanness. We love to gossip. We love to humiliate. We love to form in-groups and outcast others from them. But if we are able to see our own shadow and can bear knowing about it, then a small part of the problem has already been solved: we have at least brought up the personal unconscious.

The shadow is a living part of the personality and therefore wants to live with it in some form. It cannot be argued out of existence or rationalized into harmlessness. This problem is exceedingly difficult, because it not only challenges the whole man, but reminds him at the same time of his helplessness and ineffectuality. In a society built on competition , the strong win and the weak lose.

So we spend an awful lot of time working to be strong — or at least to appear that way. And what does strength look like?

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  5. Having numbers of people i. Hoarding resources. Hurting others rather than being hurt by them. Being right, having the moral high ground, a claim to legitimacy and entitlement that no one else has. And when we have these things, we can live on. We can procreate. Our names will outlive us. We can beat death. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Self Encounter by Sirshree. Self Encounter by Sirshree Goodreads Author.

    [To encounter oneself, to encounter each other].

    This bestseller book provides an insight into each of the five aspects of your life, i. It also describes how to transcend the whole gamut of feelings encountered within the process of self-development to self-realization. Whether you want to stay fit, grow rich, be calmer and sharper mentally, socialize better, or elevate yourself spiritually, you shall get the solution to all your needs.

    The book also emphasizes that understanding is central to determining the path of Truth and shows the way to attain the Supreme Truth. Get A Copy. Kindle Edition , pages.

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