Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

A Lasting Solution to Terrorism December 15, 2015

“. . . today most people cannot see the beam in their own eye but are all too well aware of the mote in their brother’s. Political propaganda exploits this primitivity and conquers the naive with their own defect. The only defence (sic) against this overwhelming danger is recognition of the shadow.” ~Carl Jung

Creating a persona, or social mask, to gain acceptance from our family and groups is normal.   Being accepted as part of a group is important to us, especially during adolescence, and usually well beyond.  But problems arise when we grow into adulthood believing our persona is the whole story about who we are.  It isn’t.  Life isn’t just about what you see; it’s also what you don’t see.

Psychological realities have energy. When we deny them honest expression they become like weeds that find their way out through cracks in the foundations of our personalities. My father’s death created a crack in my psyche and I turned to religion to heal it.  But instead of finding a loving Father God to keep me safe, my religion’s shadow, a judgmental God of retribution, crept in through the crack. The more I sided with and tried to emulate a gentle, forgiving god-image, the more power my punishing god-image acquired until it became an overly scrupulous spiritual bully.

My spiritual bully usually shows up in my dreams as mean, critical men, but I have occasionally dreamed of a hostile female authority figure. Once she was a Russian policewoman who tried to throw acid on my face.  I knew these characters must represent something in me, but I couldn’t see how they showed up in my waking life. After a while I realized that sometimes I had negative thoughts about myself, and once in a while I could see how these thoughts brought me down and sapped my energy. But it took years of dreamwork before I knew my bully for what he is:  the strategy of a fearful child trying to protect myself from more trauma. After all, my inner Orphan must have reasoned, if I punish myself, maybe God won’t punish me again!

To gain approval from the “good” God of my religion, I decided to be good too. Adopting a “good girl” persona required me to repress any “badness.” But instead of going away, some of my repressed qualities merged into a spiritual bully. My bully thought he was doing me a favor and I believed him. We thought self-criticism was good for me. We thought constant vigilance to root out the tiniest infraction would build character and keep me humble!

Perhaps it did in some ways, but in other ways this habit of negative self-thinking had the opposite effect. Constant reminders of your flaws hurt. If I’ve been feeling self-critical and someone adds to my pain by saying something hurtful, I forget that when other people hurt me it’s all about them. In this vulnerable state my Orphan can break through my persona.  I know she’s arrived when I start feeling sorry for myself. Wisdom and compassion fly out the window and I feel a childish resentment. I can feel superior, self-righteous, and yes, critical.  I can be thoughtless, insensitive, unsympathetic.  I can be a spiritual bully.

We need to see these things because we don’t just hurt ourselves when we blanket our shadows (everything we disown about ourselves) under thick, impenetrable layers. We also hurt others. Because the longer we ignore our own darkness, the more power it acquires to become the very opposite of who our masks proclaim us to be. Thus, self-righteousness and mean-spiritedness thrive beneath Church Lady’s piety; manipulation and control fester under the martyr’s mask; self-pity, sadness and depression hide behind the clown’s face; fear and powerlessness feed the excessive violence of warriors and terrorists; and lustful desires torment those who would be obsessively chaste and pure.

 “Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.”~Carl Jung

The Western world does not recognize the shadow as a powerful entity in every individual. Most of us will admit to certain flaws, but there are others we simply cannot see. We can easily see our most despised qualities in others, and are usually happy to point them out, but rarely can we admit to their presence in us.

This is not just psychologically ignorant, but dangerous. Our inability to understand and accept our personal and cultural shadows is the reason for our prejudices, hypocrisy, thoughtlessness, cruelty, broken relationships, crime, genocide, terrorism, imperialism, war, and destruction of our environment. The only lasting contribution I as an individual can make to world health and planetary peace is to know my own shadow well enough to restrain it without projecting more darkness into a world that already has enough to destroy us all.

Politicians take note: Killing dragons in the outer world will never free humanity from terrorism and tyranny. The only lasting solution is for each of us to make peace with the enemy within. Everyone has the power to do that.

This video is from my new YouTube series called Dreams as Guides to Self Discovery. You can find the entire 5-part series here on my blog (on the above right of this page,) on my website , and at this link: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMS7ZEV9HgLz1wuOVOCkDrLx6YR7ZfQSU   Or simply google Youtube, Jean Raffa.

 

 

 

 

Jean Raffa’s “The Bridge to Wholeness” and “Dream Theatres of the Soul” are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at KoboBarnes And Noble and Smashwords. “Healing the Sacred Divide” can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications.

 

Crumbdungeon or Changing Woman? September 11, 2012

I’m back in Florida now. This summer I didn’t experience much of the peace and solitude I usually get at our mountain cabin. Living amidst that wild beauty was restorative, but this was mostly counteracted by the 10 hours I spent at my computer every day unless Fred, the kids, or guests were there. I love the writing phase of a book, but promoting it is an entirely different matter! Neither my personality nor my brain finds anything fun or easy about that. It didn’t help that my computer skills are rudimentary and our internet service was wonky!

Another thing. After months of obsessing over final edits and revisions, double-checking citations for my sources, answering my publisher’s questions, and attending to numerous other mentally demanding details, by summer’s beginning I was thoroughly out of touch with many realities of daily physical  life. Adjusting to the drastic changes in setting, home, and social responsibilities required skills I hadn’t used in a coon’s age, and sometimes this magnified my usual social and sensory spaciness to embarrassing extents!

Of course, the stress of having to employ my inferior functions day after day was an open invitation to my Shadow! She found these changes in my habitual lifestyle so difficult and frustrating that by mid-August I was resigning myself to the new and decidedly uncomfortable self-image of curmudgeon! Or as my friend Eleanor calls it, crumbdungeon! Naturally, my perfectionist Spiritual Bully was not amused to see this “flaw” in my Persona.

But I learned some very valuable lessons. My difficulties forced me to ask for help more often than usual. And I received it, especially from Fred and two of his office staff in Florida. And when the kids visited, my son cleaned out over 100 items on my computer that were causing unnecessary obstacles. HUGE help! Plus, my publisher’s marketing department knocked itself out on my behalf. These almost daily gifts warmed my heart and took a huge chunk out of my tendency take the blessings of my life for granted.

In short, my “vacation” was unusually challenging but surprisingly gratifying. For example, persisting despite my struggles reactivated some left-brained circuits my brain hasn’t used for far too long. It was eye-opening to see the limitations of my personality type—INFJ on the MBPI—and the perils of obsessing over it. Combine one-sided rigidity with the natural effects of aging and you have a recipe for diminishing mental functioning. You know the saying, “Use it or lose it.” I get that now and I’ll be more proactive about balancing my inner and outer lives from now on.

Launching my new book will offer additional challenges in the coming months. With many more obligations than usual, I’ll need to think farther ahead and plan more carefully if I want to keep doing everything that’s important to me. One of these is publishing two posts a week. Thursday I’ll be presenting for the Literary Sala in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and the following week’s schedule contains four more book-signings. Yikes! This leaves little time for writing.

But I think it’s going to be okay. This summer I also learned that while I can’t always be balanced, flexible, or free from my shadow’s influence, the energy and skills I need to pursue my passions will be there when I need them…as long as I remain healthy, self-aware, and open to redefining myself every day!

You can order Healing the Sacred Divide at www.larsonpublications.com or www.amazon.com.

Here’s a link to the site of the San Miguel Literary Sala for whom I’ll be presenting Thursday evening:  http://sanmiguelliterarysala.org/archives-2012/september-2012/

For a neat video of the San Miguel de Allende writer’s conference, click this link: U-TUBE VIDEO

 

Fear of Retribution December 6, 2011

The fear of God’s retribution has haunted me most of my life. I believe it arrived at the age of 11 when my father died of his third heart attack. Since he had divorced my mother three months earlier to marry another woman, I must have concluded that death was God’s punishment for betraying Mama and leaving us. Of course, I received a little help from my religious training on that assumption; after all, the Old Testament god was a punishing god.

Soon I began to ask the big questions about the meaning of life and gravitated toward religion which appeared to have some answers. By 17 I was hooked, and over the next ten years I read the New Testament of the Christian Bible three times. Its words were very comforting, and gradually my god-image of retribution morphed into one of love. Consciously, that is.

But here’s the thing: It’s not just about what you see; it’s also what you don’t see. My conscious belief that God was about love, not punishment, did not convince the wounded child whose fear of retribution never went away. In fact, the more I sided with a gentle, forgiving god-image and disowned its opposite, the more power my punishing, masculine god-image acquired until it became an overly scrupulous spiritual bully whose job was to criticize and repress me. And this hidden character in my inner cast of players began to influence me in equal measure to his opposite with one important difference: he did it without my awareness!

Psychological realities have energy. When we deny them honest expression they become like weeds that find their way out through cracks in the foundations of our personalities. My father’s death created a crack in my psyche and my bully took advantage of it. Instead of focusing on my good qualities and reminding me of my worth and lovableness, he’s the part of me that delights in emphasizing my mistakes and flaws.

He thinks he’s doing me a favor. After all, you know the saying, “Pride goeth before a fall.” He believes self-criticism is good for me and constant awareness of how “bad” I am will keep me humble! And therefore safe from God’s retribution.   But thinking we’re bad, hiding our light, and squelching our soul’s truths lest we attract God’s wrath or upset others are not good uses of our precious time on Earth. Might as well crawl into bed and pull the covers over our head.

Our soul’s reason for being is to live fully, love wastefully, and become all we have the potential to be.  That’s hard to do when we’re being pushed around by a spiritual bully. So how do we handle that negative inner voice? I choose to believe my Wisewoman, who, after 22 years of dreamwork, I can now hear in waking life. She’s the alpha mare who says to my spiritual bully stallion when he gets too inflated, “I hear you, buddy, but I’m not buying what you’re selling. I think it’s time you got a new job. How about helping me follow my bliss instead of criticizing me for being human?”

Taking our inner characters and disowned realities seriously is a choice to live our life fully instead of trying to kill it. What was Wisdom’s response when I finally saw my bully and started challenging his authority? Failure? A bolt of lightning? Loss of love? Abandonment? No. Actually, it was more like, “You go, girl!”

 

The Girl in Dark Water November 16, 2010

The dream “Nude Descending Stairs” demonstrated how full of myself I was feeling for having  dared to bare a “naked” truth. That same night I had a second dream depicting the other side of the tightrope. Prepare yourself. It’s kind of gross.

Dream #4252: Maggot Descending Nostrils

I pick something out of my right nostril. It’s small, whitish, and bean-shaped. I put it in the palm of my left hand to examine it. I move into the light to see it better. I’m appalled to see it has burrowed between two fingers. Oh, God. It is as I have always suspected. I have some sort of rotten infestation and the truth is finally coming out. I wonder if anyone else has seen one of these emerging from my nose. I wonder what it is. A maggot? I find two more and throw them away quickly. I am disgusted, but also resigned. It is what it is. I’ll just have to deal with it.

The day before this dream I noticed a small brown object on the floor that looked like a piece of tree bark someone had tracked in. On closer inspection, I saw it move. It was some sort of insect. Mildly repelled, I carried it outdoors and tossed it in the hedge. This was obviously the trigger for the dream image, but the dream wasn’t just a random replay of a waking event. There was meaning in it, and it was up to me to coax it out.

The first thing I think, both in the dream and when I remember it later, is, Ugh, I knew it. There’s something disgusting in me. Is Dream Mother saying I’m profoundly flawed? I don’t think so. She doesn’t want me to feel badly. She just wants me to see a feeling or assumption so deeply rooted and ever-present that I’m unaware of it; the way a fish doesn’t notice the unhealthy water it’s in because it’s never known anything else.

So I go back to the waking life event that triggered this dream: I picked up something, examined it, and found it repellant. In the dream I’m picking something out of my nose, examining it, and……Aha! This is what I do! I’m always picking at myself and feeling repelled by something that has come out of me: a critical thought, a careless word, a subtle bid for approval or sympathy. The dream doesn’t say I’m basically unworthy: it merely says I have always secretly suspected that I am, or else the Lone Ranger wouldn’t have shot me and Daddy wouldn’t have left me by divorcing Mama and then dying!

Moreover, there’s a pattern. This dream came immediately after the naked dream in which I felt gloriously free to be myself. But I barely had time to enjoy that before Wham! I started picking on myself and the wonderful feelings were replaced with self-disgust and sad resignation. I must have been doing the same thing in waking life without realizing it. In fact, yes, I was feeling a bit low the day before this dream.

There’s a wounded girl in me who’s been floating in dark water for a very long time. But the good news is, I am beginning to recognize her unhealthy attitude! And if I can stay conscious of it, the next time she shows up I can choose to  reassure her instead of letting her drag me down. I like it better when she and I are out in the open, naked and proud and breathing fresh, clean air.

 

Fear of Retribution June 6, 2010

The fear of God’s retribution has haunted me most of my life. I believe it arrived at the age of 11 when my father died of his third heart attack. Since he had divorced my mother three months earlier to marry another woman, I must have concluded that death was God’s punishment for betraying Mama and leaving us. Of course, I received little help from my religious training on that assumption; after all, the Old Testament god was a punishing god.

Soon I began to ask the big questions about the meaning of life and gravitated toward religion which appeared to have some answers. By 17 I was hooked, and over the next ten years I read the New Testament three times. Its words were very comforting, and gradually my god-image of retribution morphed into one of love. Consciously, that is.

But here’s the thing: It’s not just about what you see; it’s also what you don’t see. My conscious belief that God was about love, not punishment, did not convince the wounded child whose fear of retribution never went away. In fact, the more I sided with a gentle, forgiving god-image and disowned its opposite, the more power my punishing, masculine god-image acquired until it became an overly scrupulous spiritual bully whose job was to criticize and repress me. And this hidden character in my inner cast of players began to influence me in equal measure to his opposite with one important difference: he did it without my awareness!

Psychological realities have energy. When we deny them honest expression they become like weeds that find their way out through cracks in the foundations of our personalities. My father’s death created a crack in my psyche and my bully took advantage of it. Instead of focusing on my good qualities and reminding me of my worth and lovableness, he’s the part of me that delights in emphasizing my mistakes and flaws.

He thinks he’s doing me a favor. After all, you know the saying, “Pride goeth before a fall.” He believes self-criticism is good for me and constant awareness of how “bad” I am will keep me humble! And therefore safe from God’s retribution.   But thinking we’re bad, hiding our light, and squelching our soul’s truths lest we attract God’s wrath or upset others are not good uses of our precious time on Earth. Might as well crawl into bed and pull the covers over our head.

Our soul’s reason for being is to live fully, love wastefully, and become all we have the potential to be.  That’s hard to do when we’re being pushed around by a spiritual bully. So how do we handle that negative inner voice? I choose to believe my Wisewoman, who, after 22 years of dreamwork, I can now hear in waking life. She’s the alpha mare who says to my spiritual bully stallion when he gets too inflated, “I hear you, buddy, but I’m not buying what you’re selling. I think it’s time you got a new job. How about helping me follow my bliss instead of criticizing me for being human?”

Taking our inner characters and disowned realities seriously is a choice to live our life fully instead of trying to kill it. What was Wisdom’s response when I finally saw my bully and started challenging his authority? Failure? A bolt of lightning? Loss of love? Abandonment? No. Actually, it was more like, “You go, girl!”

You can find Healing the Sacred Divide at this Amazon link or at Larson Publications, Inc

 

 
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