We all meet resistance during the journey of healing. It’s natural. When the unconscious starts to hand us uncomfortable information or push us towards inward and outward changes in our lives, the ego will often resist. The ego hates change, uncertainty and not being in control and will do anything to stop these things, if we let it. We can either be unconsciously in resistance or commit to the sacred marriage inside ourselves.
The unconscious is very wise and has its own way of being and sharing with us. We need a relationship with the unconscious to grow. We need to bring unconscious Shadow aspects of the Self into the light to move towards wholeness. This is where awareness is a vital tool for growth and self-healing. A lack of awareness of the different aspects of ourselves–how and why they are behaving in the way they are–makes it more difficult to center ourselves and live our fullest lives.
What stays unconscious when it is asking to be felt and what we resist looking at when it cries out to be seen will control us in ways we can’t even imagine. Challenging things are happening in our lives and we don’t understand why or where they came from. When the same old painful patterns are rising their ugly heads repeatedly, we need to ask ourselves “What is our unconscious trying to show us? What is asking to be lit up and exposed?”
We have a choice – we can either courageously feel into the pain, the frustration, the anger, sadness…whatever it is. We can journal, make art with the feelings, analyze our dreams, sit with the discomfort…until slowly, in its own time, the unconscious begins to come forward. Or we can become the victim of circumstances. If we have a tendency to want to control our environment and others, we can blame others, externalize the problem, point the finger outwards. If we have a tendency to blame ourselves, doing anything to be loved and accepted by others, we can self-flagellate. Neither of these paths will lead us to true selves and growth.
These fall-back mechanisms, which are either the need to control others in order to feel ok or the need to deny oneself for the love of others to feel ok are the two main systems people who are out of balance within operate through. We’ve all been there. A large aspect of the journey towards healing is identifying these systems and working to bring balance.
In the Jungian approach, bringing together the opposites within harmoniously is vital to finding inner balance and health. Jung named these opposites anima and animus, referring to our contra-sexual partner that lives in our unconscious shadow. As I have mentioned in previous posts, this isn’t about male and female, but rather two distinct and opposite principles of life. We could refer to these aspects as yin and yang. The balance is found in the meeting point of these two principles. If you visualize the yin and yang sign, it is at the line that runs between both – the meeting point. We cannot get away from these principles. They are the undercurrent of life and all creative ventures. The egg needs to receive the sperm for life to arise. The pollen needs to fertilize the plant ovary for reproduction. To be the creative beings we are destined to be, we need spirit needs to penetrate matter. Only then does matter becomes conscious of itself and of life in this way.
The fall-back mechanisms mentioned above differ in intensity and the way they manifest depends on the individual. At their extreme, the controlling person may be suffering from narcissism and the people-pleaser, who denies the self, from codependency. Needing to control others and the world we live in is a very ‘masculine’ approach, needing to merge with others before honoring the Self is a very extreme form of the ‘feminine principle’ – both are out of balance because they are operating without the other.
When a woman is dominated by her need to control her partner, her children, and everyone else she comes into contact with, when she is only happy when they behave or react in the way she wants, we could say she is animus-possessed. Her masculine or yang energy is dominating. Not only in her outer relationships but within. Her animus is doing to her feminine principle what she does to others. Controlling men, who identify with the patriarchal power structure we live in, do the same to their inner feminine as they do in the world.
People-pleasing and denying the self in order to be loved tends to be a female thing, because it is socially sanctioned in our society. Women are told that being codependent is what is expected of them, especially when they become mothers. However, men too can fall into the survival strategy of self-denial, passivity and people pleasing. Again, this is not a gender thing, we all have both principles within, and the aim is to identify where we are out of balance and so we can bring them back into harmony.
Ancestral healing is a large part of this because both our survival strategies and masculine and feminine aspects have been shaped by not only our parents but the ancestral lineages and stories we have been born into. Both men and women have an inner masculine. We need to connect with our ancestors to heal our inner masculine.
I personally was 100% codependent for most of my life, pathologically so. It has been a long and sometimes painful journey through it, and it hasn’t been without my fair share of resistance. What I have learnt from the journey is that in order to find the balance I had to be brutally honest with what was going in within me, then see how this pattern was mirrored externally in order to raise my awareness of my patterns and behavior. My feminine principle was totally codependent to one aspect of my inner masculine, the controlling, narcissistic aspect. I saw how this relationship between two parts of myself had been shaped by my mixed-race ancestry. The imbalance between my maternal father’s side who were white and living as colonizers in India and my maternal mother’s side who were native to North-east India was playing out within. As I am in female form and identify as such in this lifetime, when I was in partnerships with men, I played out the feminine codependent aspect of myself shaped by my maternal line.
My work was to decolonize the motherline and liberate the feminine aspect while exposing and taking responsibility for the controlling, inner narcissistic masculine. It took time, a lot of time, self-compassion and commitment. I had to trust in the flow coming in its own time from my wise but nonconformist unconscious. Once I had identified and exposed the internalized patriarchal energy and reconnected with the energy of my native motherline, a surprising thing happened. I realized that there was a sacred masculine energy that had been ostracized through the colonization of the motherline. Not only had the women been colonized, an aspect of the animus of my great-great-grandmother, my great-grandmother, my grandmother, my mother and myself that was shaped from our Indian ancestors (the three generations of women before me all came from a mixed-race community in India, known as Anglo-Indians) had been ostracized. By exposing the inner colonizer (with compassion) I liberated this healthy, indigenous energy.
However, the work was not over then. I noticed that whenever I was in my power as a balanced woman, I was terrified. The fear came from the inherited message that as a woman, I would be punished if I was in my power, because being in my power meant that my body, my feminine, my matter was supported by the sacred masculine. The internalized colonizer, who is also in my blood from the maternal fatherline, was in rivality with the indigenous or sacred masculine and threatened him, disempowered him in the ancestral story. My awareness of these energies and power games that began a hundred and fifty years ago and have been passed on and registered in my psyche (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies). It slowly enabled me to find the balance between the embodied, visceral energy of being a living descendent of my motherline and feeling the feminine energy that comes through it from the earth and this ‘matter’ being impregnated by a masculine that is no longer dominating but cherishing the feminine, the earth and the gift of life. The journey is by no means finished, but at least a healthy inner marriage has begun. And like all marriages there will be challenges and a continual dance of finding balance, but I know the vessel is strong. The alliance has been made.
So, that is a little about my journey and of course everyone’s journey is different – that’s the magic of it all. Living our personal myth isn’t about getting to a perfect destination, it’s about honoring and recognizing our own individual stories as they unravel.
An essential oil that has been particularly helpful recently on this path has been Davana:
“She’s the best of you, the purest of you. She’s the sensitive, intuitive, naturally perceptive part of you. She’s beautifully and authentically herself. Her lover contrasts her lightness with his earthiness, his wildness. She loves him and he loves her – they are one. Wholeness is her signature, effortless wholeness. She is the part of you that you have been searching for, she is the part your partner fell in love with within you and within himself. She is pure feminine and yet she dances with her masculine – it is this union that makes her whole. From her divine wholeness comes her creative force – again effortless. It is born from her and held by her inner masculine so it can take form in the world. She is what others fear when they have not met her in themselves. For nothing can own her, she is freedom in its purest form.”