I find three concepts from clinical psychology helpful in looking at some of the ways we stop ourselves from becoming whole. “Flight from wholeness” is called repression. This refers to burying a basic part of who we are, a fundamental drive, within the unconscious. Once it is buried, we forget we buried it and have no conscious awareness of that part of our nature. A common outcome is physical illness.
If we block a basic drive in our psyche, it can hit the physical body as illness serves unconscious needs. For example, the individual who is extremely strong, competent and capable may have a hard time facing her vulnerable, dependent, childlike side. If she represses her need to sometimes lean on other people, physical illness can become her only route to being taken care of. This is not the most comfortable way of getting closeness needs met, but no one ever accused the unconscious of being perfect — only of striving to fit in the missing parts.
Another flight from wholeness is what psychologists call projection. In such cases, the mirror principle of life operates. We draw into our lives people who will manifest for us the missing pieces (the parts of our own nature which we are not facing). The major problem in such cases is that these other people whom we unconsciously attract tend to overdo whatever qualities we are under-doing in our lives. So, if we are strongly identified with a need to be free and achieving in the world, we may be denying our needs for emotional attachment. In such cases, we are likely to attract other people who are too dependent, too emotional, too possessive, too clinging, who seem to want to tie us down and hem us in. Our need to be needed and to be strong and responsible can keep on attracting victims, or weaker people who want to be taken care of. We get the closeness, but at what price?
The opposite side, of course, is the person totally identified with the desire for love, relationships, warmth and an emotional commitment. Such a person may be denying her needs for freedom, space and independence. She may unconsciously attract “free soul” types as lovers, people unwilling to settle down and be faithful. Or, she falls in love with married men (not really available, so she still has her freedom). Or, the only attractive people she knows live one thousand miles away (again, unconsciously retaining space and independence). There are lots of variations.
When projection is going on, the client need only realize that the other party is mirroring the client’s own potential, in an exaggerated form. Once the client can integrate that quality, in a moderate fashion, balance is achieved and s/he no longer needs that external example. Of course, this is much easier said than done!
The attribute being mirrored is not negative; the other party is simply carrying it to an extreme. It is the task of the client to discover a fulfilling way of expressing that basic part of her nature, in moderation, in balance with her other needs.
It is also important to remember that projection is a two-way street. If one party is unconsciously denying one end of the polarity, the other party is probably unconsciously denying its opposite. If one projects freedom needs, the other projects closeness needs. It becomes a natural match; each finds someone to express what s/he will not allow him/herself to manifest! Both are teaching one another and both are learning. Neither one is “making” the other do anything. They are attracted to one another because they both have something to give and receive in the relationship.
Another concept borrowed from psychology is displacement. This simply refers to expressing a perfectly natural and positive drive at an inappropriate time or place. For example, there are times in life when being direct, honest, forthright and assertive is the only way to get what you want. There are other times when more tact, diplomacy or subtlety is called for. If we insist on being ruthlessly, bluntly, totally honest at all times, in all situations, we will create great pain for ourselves and others. However, if we always tell little white lies, avoid saying what we really mean, hint around rather than express our preferences, we will also create great pain for ourselves and others. Balance calls for some of each — depending on the circumstances.
Tags: iwori-ika, flight-from-wholeness, repression, displacement