Friday, October 24, 2008

Self Portrait Of A Shadow...

I've been spending a large portion of my day today consciously (and unconsciously) thinking about shadows. I even took the time out of my hectic steroid withdrawal/post "if this is a relapse, it sucks" phase to photograph my own, physical shadow...because it seemed somehow *important*...because fall is in the air, daylight is spending less and less of its time gracing our presence, and...well...I've been thinking a lot today about *shadows*.

So WHY am I so focused on shadows today (I KNOW someone must be asking this!)? The answer is both quite simple and highly complex...just what you'd expect from a navel lint gazer, I suppose. LOL

As always on CHEESE, I am ever-cautious WHAT I write here because the Internet can be an open window of peering for billions of eyes...not that billions of eyes DO come to read my blathering (more like two TWO loyal readers!). But I am always cautious of telling ANY stories that might involve others, never knowing if those "others" might be that anonymous *click* into this blog. And even if *they* aren't the subject of my tales, far too often the human psyche wildly will project itself into ANYTHING it recognizes as "self".

OK, I'm psycho babbling here...but prepare yourself with some rubber boots because the *psycho babble* is about to get deep! And please understand, due to the sensitive NATURE of my tale, I simply must type in veiled and vague language to avoid the possibility of further discomfort. (DISCLAIMER ENDED)

I've been thinking a lot about *shadows* today because I am currently experiencing an emotional conflict with someone in my life. This *conflict* has been raging for many months now, but I've had a heightened AWARENESS of it only recently. I've even gone so far in my OWN mind to entertain the notion this *conflict* may have been part of the catalyst to my recent relapse...well, that and running myself physically ragged with abandon. Whatever. As my mother used to say, "It's six of one and half a dozen of another"...whatever the heck THAT means!

But suffice it to say, whether or not the *conflict* played a key role in my physical decline or I am simply more FOCUSED on it BECAUSE of my physical decline (after all, what DOES one do with multi-hours stacked upon hours of cabin fever and little else to distract other than navel lint gazing!?!), this *conflict* has been secretly lurking about in the *shadows* of my brain.

Swiss psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, was one of the first in the psychoanalytic field to discuss the concept of *shadows* and how this relates to the unconscious. He was once quoted as saying, "Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.” Jung believed that in each of us (our psyches) there exists areas of unconscious thought/experience/perception, which drives us to project our own experiences and way of seeing things onto another...whether that perception is TRUE for the other person or not...WE believe it to be so because of the processes in our own minds.

The term, "projection", is still a common term that is batted about in the psychiatric field like a ping pong ball. For example, we might refer to a client *projecting* their past anger toward their mother into an experience today because a situation TODAY reminds them how they FELT when dealing with their mother in the past. Often times, the FEELING is real in present day terms, but the level of INTENSITY is purely related to something in their past.

So, just to totally cause you to get a concussion from hitting your head on your computer monitor while falling asleep reading this, Jung also said, "Just as we tend to assume that the world is as we see it, we naively suppose that people are as we imagine them to be. In this latter case, unfortunately, there is no scientific test that would prove the discrepancy between perception and reality. Although the possibility of gross deception is infinitely greater here than in our perception of the physical world, we still go on naively projecting our own psychology into our fellow human beings. In this way everyone creates for himself a series of more or less imaginary relationships based essentially on projection." It is the latter part of the above quote I am focusing on today - everyone creates for him/herself a series of more or less imaginary relationships based essentially on projection.

In my current *emotional conflict* with this "other" person in my life, I am aware issues between us have an intense, spiraling effect on me. Things said, actions taken, or words written by this "other" create a literal physiological response in me that is highly exhausting. I become extremely defensive and protective as well as down right rageful internally, while all the while trying with futile effort to project into my external world a voice/presence of calm and tranquility. I even find myself becoming angry that I feel I HAVE to "pretend" in this manner, when what I am really feeling borders on homicidal! I generally think of myself as a person who (I believe) is slow to anger, but also very, very, very sloooooow to forget what has created this feeling inside me. Yes, I DO hold a grudge...if we're playing the honesty game here.

I've gone so far as to make a list of the behaviors in this "other" person that annoy/anger/frustrate the hell out of me. Lists are good, right? Lists are a way of giving a physical presence to a thought. Lists are a way of taking concepts and ascribing words to the concepts, thus making the concept "real" or concrete. Lists are a way of organizing our thoughts.

Unfortunately (although Carl Jung just turned in his grave to say "bravo"!), lists can also serve as a mirror. And in the case of making the list of annoying/angering/frustrating behaviors of this "other" in my life, I began to note words on my list in which I *resemble that remark*. LOL

You see, the very things I read on my BITCH LIST about the "other" in my life slowly became recognized as the very things I struggle to NOT judgmental, not truthful, holding a grudge, manipulative, sneaky, grandiose, etc. As painful as it is to admit, ALL of those characteristics exist inside me, too. They are my SHADOW. And, although I work to project what I want to believe are *better* characteristics of who I am as a person, those *shadow* characteristics still remain inside me...locked in a time and space when their development was initiated...during life experiences where I learned coping mechanisms to survive psychological attack.

My favorite and final quote by Jung is this: “The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.”

And to translate, this means, "the crap I despise the most about this "other" in my life, is the very crap I fear being consumed by in my own mind. The very characteristics of this "other" that cause such a visceral reaction in my life are the same parts of my character I run from or attempt to hide away."

Don't get me wrong here...I STILL can't stand this "other" in my life and I STILL feel angry in their presence. Change takes time. Sometimes anger at injustice is appropriate. But at least now I know the root cause of my reactions and I can begin to assume responsibility for changing ME...I can turn and face my *shadow* and not be so terrified by the darkness.

After all, *shadows* only exists because there is a light shining somewhere...


Jen said...

I have a friend whom I've known for about 15 years and we have had some recent struggles where I come away from a meeting very annoyed and ready to just end the friendship. Turns out that I, too, have the same characteristics that drive me crazy. It seems like people get repulsed the most by their own flaws seen in others. Mine (off hand) are selfishness, rashness, and a bit of a bold tongue (which sometimes hurts other people's feelings...I don't mean it to.)

So I too see the "darkness" in myself that I accuse others of possessing. Although some of these "flaws" can definitely be turned around and be considered strengths. I guess it depends on the way you think about it, and whether they can be accepted as part of an imperfect character.

Joan said...

As always, you write what I am experiencing or feeling. I, too, am having a MAJOR issue with someone(s) and you have given me lots to think about. Somewhere in time, I came up with my own proverb: When times are tough, look for the lessons. When people irritate you, look in the mirror.

I hate looking in the mirror and have been forced to do so recently. I really appreciate the quotes you've added. But now the question I'm struggling with is, "HOW do I let it go and move on?" and just how do I get over all this? I am also very angry. I know that this person just brings out the worst in me, and everything I hate about that person, I become.

I guess I'll just continue to read your blogs, Oh Wise Woman!

Signed, Grasshopper (tee hee)

Spaz Attack said...

Have you cleaned all the cheese outta your navel yet??

Gotta give ya another high five Brain Sage, for once again hitting another nail solid on the head as you pound it into "our" MS coffins. Your gift of insight in, and writing about, mental musings us "peeps" of yours identify with. Really, you're so right on with your ideas and thoughts your vocation should be working with the mentally drowntrodden (LOL).

Gosh, once again your feelings are so similar to my own. Calm on the outside, homicidal and holding a grude on the inside.

While I'm not sure a bitch list would be productive for me (I'd probably want to frame it and that would fuel my flames even more). I do believe what you're saying to be true -- that sometimes we draw people into our lives through what we're projecting. These days the common phrase we hear is the "law of attraction."

I tend to live my life in internal anger, and I hate that. Yeah, I got valid reasons for my anger due to things that happened while growing up (I'm sure most can say that), but I hate that about myself. I've recognized it and have worked to change it...thought I was doing well in fact until I was smacked down with Multiple Shit. All the anger resurfaced. Found out all I did was sweep it under the rug while I became a proud workaholic too busy to think about the past.
In the past couple years I have learned to change the way I outwardly react, simply by reacting in kindness (in other words eating shit). And learning to ask questions of the other person, instead of accusing the other or telling the person what I think. I hate it. But to my HUGE surprise the "act" of being humble and kind has worked so well I try to continue to apply it.

In truth it really hasn't changed the other person's personality who I have trouble dealing with, and by golly I think they need to get a reality check and CHANGE. But it has helped me to realize I am powerless to change others, but like you, Brainsplat, learning I do have the power to the way I REACT has changed the outcome of situations.

Ok, I'm just rambling here. Bottom line is that, YES, since you are in a MS Downmode, and have more time to dwell, our imaginations do run wild and make the way WE ourselves perceive a situation off track.

Instead of dwelling on what's wrong, try to think of questions to make THAT person think and answer about the situation. You might find yourself totally WRONG about what's really going on in that other person's mind, OR it will put more power in your court if you broach the subject yourself, before it blows out of proportion.

Or, you could emulate my true self which is to say, "life sucks and then ya die."

So shoot me, PLEASE!

pUNKrOCKfairy said...

And she does magic tricks too! Turned a bitch list into a mirror, eh? It's awesome how your brain can be vomitted out on paper and then get up, turn around, and stick it's tongue out at you, huh?