Archive for the ‘withdrawing projections’ tag
Today’s photo was taken while I was on a walk. Though it is deep into autumn, there are still a lot of flowers appearing on bushes, trees and on the ground. Most of these blossoms are very short lived and soon wilt at the edges as though they are born almost super ripe. Appearances, for a moment, suggest spring. But, appearances are often deceptive.
When looking at the world, the people and the things in this world, it is almost as if I see this world through a skewed and opaque glass. Nothing is as it appears. There are so many inner things that cloud the picture of the outer world.
“We are naturally inclined to believe the world is as we see it, that people are who we imagine them to be. However, we soon learn that this is not so, because other people frequently turn out to be completely different from the way we thought they were. If they are not particularly close, we think no more about it. If this experience involves one of our intimates, we are devastated.” (Sharp,Jungian Psychology Unplugged, p. 59)
In reading these words of Daryl Sharp, the first thing I think about parent, mother, father. It is only over time and a lot of heartache that one comes to know the truth about one’s parents, that they are ordinary and fallible people. To shift from a position of childhood wonder and awe to one of awareness of their not being perfect leads to a sense of loss that takes seemingly forever to overcome.
Yet, it hasn’t been the parents who have changed. They have always been flawed and worn by life. What has changed is the “self” who has withdrawn projections, unwillingly. Life forces us to grow up and see the world more as it really is, rather than to continue to live in a cloud. So, we grow up and become adults, jaded by the losses of innocence. And as we grow, we begin to see others in our world. And we again project the unknown aspects of ourselves onto these new people – both the dark and the light aspects of ourselves. And, this is good.
“No one can escape this. It is quite normal for unconscious contents to be projected. That is life. Projection has generally had bad press, but in its positive sense it creates an agreeable bridge between people, facilitating friendship and communication. Like the persona, projection greases the wheels of social intercourse. And as with complexes, life would be a whole lot duller without projection.” (Sharp, Jungian Psychology Unplugged, p. 59)
I’ll accept this idea. Now, to continue my walk and see what other things I can discover with my camera and be grateful for projections that allow me to see the world in a magical way.
This is a flower that I found on a dirt trail about three kilometres from the villa one morning. I was captured by the delicate nature of the flower, especially how it was in very close proximity, almost entangled with its mate. It reminded me of how a man an a woman are often entangled in each other sometimes to the point of being so enmeshed that they have trouble figuring out who is self and who is other. I guess one could say that they are so “into each other” that there is no room left for self awareness, for being conscious.
In the beginning, a relationship based on love is not a relationship built on consciousness. It is a relationship built on projections and hooks. Both man and woman see the “other” as the ideal that is buried within the unconscious, a projected anima/animus. For me, it was unquestionable, it was love at first sight. Three hours after meeting the woman I was to marry, I proposed and she accepted. What did I “know” about this woman? Nothing and everything; I knew nothing about her as a person, but I knew everything about her that somehow connected to a deep inner place within me. I didn’t need anything more other than the inner confirmation. I guess it was the same for her as she accepted my proposal immediately. Now, decades later we are working at trying to understand, trying to get to know the reality of the other. It is only now that a real relationship is being examined for its possibilities. That said, there is so much still in place that is based on unconscious responses based on complexes.
Young men and women cleave to each other on the whole for instinctive gratification, not because they are enamored of the loved one’s psychology. This may not be all bad, for at least it perpetuates the human race. But the truth is tha the heart-felt words, “I love you,” are generally motivated by physical desire, social standing and the like. (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book Two, 2008, p. 89)
This is very evident in marriages between young people, but I am finding out here in Costa Rica, that it is no different for those in midlife who have come here alone and soon pair up with a local Costa Rican. The same was seen in China and Mexico. It is enough just to have someone to cling to in order to escape loneliness, to escape too much of being with the “self.” What I am seeing suggests most of the pairing is instinctual, a meeting of needs rather than a conscious assessment of the self and the other in order to establish a relationship based on both parties being conscious. The problems of relationship are not solved in clinging to a new partner if the relationship isn’t based on being conscious of what is going on within self and other. When the needs change and the blinders again fall off, relationship is again doomed. Patty Loveless sings about what remains when projections are withdrawn and one is faced with the stranger they married . . .
“She left the car in the driveway
She left the key in the door
She left the kids at her mama’s
And the laundry piled up on the floor
She left her ring on the pillow
Right where it wouldn’t be missed
She left a note in the kitchen
Next to the grocery list
It said, you don’t even know who I am
You left me a long time ago
You don’t even know who I am
So what do you care if I go
He left the ring on the pillow
He left the clothes on the floor
And he called her to say he was sorry
But he couldn’t remember what for
So he said I’ve been doing some thinking
I’ve been thinking that maybe you’re right
I go to work every morning
And I come home to you every night
And you don’t even know who I am
You left me a long time ago
You don’t even know who I am
So what do I care if you go
You don’t even know who I am
So what do I care if you go”
So, what to do when one feels misunderstood, when one’s needs are not being met, when the feeling is “you don’t even know who I am?” I guess the best place to start is with your “self.” It’s hard to blame the other when even the self is a stranger. Will this solve the problems and allow the relationship to be saved? Well, not necessarily. But, what is the alternative?
“On the whole, depth psychology . . . is suitable more for older couples whose relationships have foundered, run aground, precisely because of the lack of the partners’ self-knowledge. Even later education may not heal a broken relationship, but it can prepare both parties for another kick at the can, without blindfolds. After divorce or separation, they are indeed often ripe to know, open to learn, about the role played by their respective psychologies – typology, projection, complexes, shadow, animus and anima – in their unhappy situation.
I am not suggesting that marriage counseling is the answer, or even individual therapy, though often it is. Truth to tell, becoming conscious is responsible for quite as many break-ups as kiss-and-make-ups. When projections are taken back, there is often nothing or very little , to hold people together.” (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book Two, 2008, p. 89)
Ouch! Not too hopeful is it? I guess if nothing, it is about honesty, and that is worth quite a bit in itself. At least in becoming more conscious one one’s self, one is able to avoid most of the blind mistakes as one moves through what remains of life. It might not be as hopeless as it looks as it all depends on the willingness of both to become conscious and to re-approach each other consciously with the intention of fulfilling the promise of “for better or worse until death do we part.” For, as one learns, it is about balance, not perfection; it is about providing a safe place for both darkness and light within the relationship.
I finally got a photo of a Scarlet Macaw that I am satisfied with. obviously, I was able to get quite close to this tame bird. I have quite a number of photos of Scarlet Macaws from a distance in trees and in flight. When I look at this fellow, I get a sense that he is more than aware of me, perhaps even an awareness of things that I think are well hidden from people in general. When I look again, I see a mask for a man that is a bit of a Don Juan, someone who is sophisticated while playing the field, a playboy. Yes, my imagination runs wild with all sorts of ideas.
But, I know that none of this is real. This bird is simply a bird and none of the ideas running though my head have anything to do with the bird. All of these thoughts are projections. Knowing that, I can look at the thoughts, these projections and begin to learn a little more about who and what I am.
Here are a few words from Daryl Sharp on projections:
. . . projections repeat themselves whenever we try to explore an empty darkness and involuntarily fill it in with ourselves – just as we regularly fall in love with a pretty face without knowing who or what is behind it. (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book Two, 2008, p. 49)
That pretty well sums up what this blog site is about, using photographs as a vessel to receive projections. And as I mentioned in the last two posts, withdrawing projections is the key activity of alchemy in a psychological sense. Psychologically, I can see value in doing this work. However, saying that, this takes a lot of time and energy, time and energy that is limited. So, how much time and energy do I put into this at the expense of the other aspects of my life, at the expense of my wife and children and grandchildren, at the expense of developing and maintaining friendships in community? Trying to find an answer to this question is almost impossible. All that I can say is “What if I don’t take the time to become more conscious of my self?”
I already know the answer to that question – “I self destruct!” Whether it be loss of sanity or loss of will or loss of life, my wife, children, grandchildren and community would have even less of me. Again, a few words from Jung on the subject:
Without consciousness things go less well. (Jung, CW 8, par 695)
Things are worse if I don’t do this work. I am worse if I don’t do this work. It is worse for those around me if I retreat from this journey in search of consciousness. And, this journey in search of consciousness promises not to be an easy journey. Yet, it is a journey that I dare to take, a journey into the unknown in hopes of making it known.
I realise that I have used this photo before, but it fits today’s post so I am reusing it with apologies.
Continuing on with the topic of relationship, especially that deep relationship between two people that somehow defies common sense – romantic love. The story is as old as human kind. Boy meets girl, sparks fly and the world changes forever. For the two, it is as if both have died and gone to a place of eternal bliss. This is definitely something that has fueled movies, myths and our imaginations. This is something that has shaped our psyche in anticipation as a western world society, an anticipation that is seeping into other cultures and societies as our western world myths travel through the media. As I was doing something so mundane as shelling peas this morning, I was listening to the radio which played song after song that spoke to this, that celebrated and wept over romantic love. One song in particular caught my attention, a song sung by Trace Adkins called, “This Ain’t No Thinkin’ Thing.” I am putting the lyrics for the song here, lyrics I found here.
I been thinkin’ ’bout our love situation
All this attraction in the present tense
I’ve reached the only logical conclusion
Love ain’t supposed to make sense
This ain’t no thinkin’ thing
Right brain, left brain
It goes a little deeper than that
It’s a chemical, physical, emotional devotion
Passion that we can’t hold back
There’s nothin’ that we need to analyze
There ain’t no rhyme or reason why
Cause this ain’t, this ain’t no thinkin’ thing
Forget mathematical equations
Self help psychology
Gray matter don’t matter much darlin’
When it’s gettin’ down to you and me
Listening closely, it is easy how to see where such a relationship gets into trouble when one drops the rose-coloured glasses and begins to see the real person on the other side. Dropping the rose-coloured glasses is, of course, the withdrawing of projections. Listening closer, one realises that becoming more conscious is the death knell of romantic love. Does it also mean the end of relationship? Most times, yes. Sometimes however, what emerges is something even deeper; sometimes what emerges is an entrenchment into cohabitating seperateness where even “like” is lost in the fog of bitterness; sometimes both retreat into co-dependent unconscious clinging to what once was in fear of being alone with a “self” that is too much a stranger. What do you think?