Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Keyless Entry of Self Image

Self-image is the personal view we have of ourselves. It is our mental image or self portrait. Self-image is an internal dictionary that describes the characteristics of the self, including concepts like intelligence, beauty, kindness, selfishness or insensitivity. These characteristics form a collective representation of our assets and liabilities as we see them. Relationships reinforce what we think and feel about ourselves. Self-image is important because how we think about ourselves directly affects how we feel about ourselves and how we respond to life.

How we think and feel about ourselves influences the way we react or respond to life stressors. A hopeless self-image can lead to suicide. Self-image possessing body strength and health can lead to wellness. A loving self-image can lead to a life full of loving relationships. An angry self-image can lead to a life of isolation. A fearful self-image can lead to a life of suffering. In these ways, self-image can determine the quality of our relationships with others.

How we imagine ourselves to be can be different from how we witness ourselves to be, but ultimately the two will become the same if our desire to be as we imagine is unwavering. Depending on the beliefs we gather throughout our life, our self-image can bring us success and happiness, or, on the other hand, failure and misery. But this image can change, if we start questioning our beliefs about our selves and our lives. When our belief system falls apart, we are ready to receive a greater truth, and resurrect belief, born anew with possibility.

What do YOU think?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Unlimited Golden Shadow

In order to understand repetitive patterns in relationships, Dr. Carl Jung suggested what we understand the psychological rule: “The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside as fate. That is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious of his inner opposite, the world must perforce act out the conflict and be torn into opposing halves.”

This acting out involves projecting our shadow aspects, or our belief in our own limitations. The more we know about ourselves, the more choices we have, and our limitations fall away. We can then choose not to behave in a certain way. When we don’t know about something, then it will take on a compulsive, autonomous element to it. Projection is an unconscious psychological mechanism. We all project onto other people parts of ourselves that we disown, that we deny. We will usually not identify with the projected quality or characteristic at all. It’s them. It’s not us. Until we accept our own shadow.

One of Carl Jung's real contributions, was to point out that our shadow, or the rejected aspects of ourselves or undeveloped potential, contains all sorts of creative, positive content. If you were a musically gifted child, for instance, and you dreamed about playing guitar or composing a symphony but your parents felt that they wanted you to perform academically and go to law school and join the family law firm, your musical ability went into the shadow.

Rudolph Steiner's take on shadow is the Guardians of the Threshold - there are two. You cannot cross the threshold into integration until you know that you can illuminate darkness yourself. The first Guardian, contains all of our fears in aspects of good and evil. These fears prohibit our crossing the Threshold until we reconcile all good and evil within and see them interwoven into whole being. The unseen then becomes seen.

The second Guardian is a sublime, luminous beauty impossible to describe. It holds our highest potential, and our low self image and our perceived limits keep us from embracing this Guardian and crossing the Threshold. To embrace the second Guardian we must realize that invisible forces within our selves create our character and that our world of sense is a seed ground for the higher world. By embracing the second Guardian, everyone is redeemed and all are connected. We cannot cross the threshold in separation.

Once we can cross the threshold, according to Steiner, divine protection envelops us. Evil that was once part of our experience will no longer enter our experience. Because we have integrated evil and no longer hold it in separation, the greater is joined to the lesser and proceeds from us in love for all.

What do YOU think?