we and our secrets

Anything concealed is a secret. The possession of secrets acts like a psychic poison that alienates their possessor from the community – Carl Jung

I found this great quotation at the blog – ‘Jung at Heart’, which is  written by a Jungian therapist and is an interesting read for anyone interested in the areas of psychology and personal growth.

Time and again I have seen in the experiences of friends, of people in meditation groups and of myself that self-revelation has the potential for healing. Of course, the revelation should not be to everyone and in every setting. Revealing one’s own secrets pushes the anxious buttons of the one who hears and unconsciously moves him towards confronting his own secrets. This may elicit a hostile response from the hearer, and in delicate matters even a cold look can be perceived as highly hostile, for the one who shares his deeper self is revealing an aspect of his being where figures from the past are still alive at their punitive, cruel best.

How true the above is for each one of us shows the penetration of the emotions of shame, guilt and fear into our lives, and how they shape us in fundamental ways even though you may not see even a glimpse of any of these emotions on the face of persons you meet everyday. I remember a friend once saying that even in an average marriage, perhaps only two thirds of one’s inner life is completely shared. I am not married, but I think that is true.

It is a bit of a paradox – the prevalence of these emotions and the denial of them, seemingly because indulgence in them may keep society from really functioning. If we sit down in office and start talking about the things we are anxious about and tracing them to patterns from our early years, there isn’t going to be much left in terms of an office environment that drives one to meet one’s deadlines and produce a body of work. As a Freudian would tell us, our irrational feelings, unfulfilled desires, raging instincts, all must be kept at bay – by suppression, repression, sublimation of that energy into something more constructive – so that civilisation may be built:  families and societies may survive, and institutions of science, commerce and art may be constructed. But these attempts are often unsuccessful. Psychologically speaking, this is a split in the mind. And the more polarities there are in the mind, the more suffering results.

But I suppose we all need a little space of our own to come back to, where a hand may hold ours and comfort us, where anything that is on the mind may be said.  As the Beatles would sing:

Its been a hard day’s night and I’ve been working like a dog

Its been a hard day’s night, and I should be sleeping like a log

But when I come home to you

I find the things that you do

Will make me feel alright..

In one word, what we are talking about is this: empathy. Empathy from others is essential to feel loved and to love. Empathy towards oneself is essential for personal growth. Often the lack of the former leads to the lack of the latter. This is one of the reasons I and many others like me never related to the idea of a God who sits up there counting your misdemeanours (or in another version of the myth, it is his angels who help him in this). The traditional, mainstream religious worldview, especially in Islam and Judaism, seems to go against this worldview that regards total empathy being necessary for human growth. Of course, both are correct, being products of their own times. In the year 4009 AD, people may think again like strictly moral, religious persons, and look down with scorn at how persons like myself a few centuries ago were so morally lost and loose.

Till then, we may ponder over another wonderful quote, this time from the Norwegian actress Liv Ullman. If I remember right, it is from her very thoughtful autobiography called Changing, which is one of the nicest autobiographies I have read.

We all need somebody to talk to. It would be good if we talked… not just pitter-patter, but real talk. We shouldn’t be so afraid, because most people really like this contact; that you show you are vulnerable makes them free to be vulnerable.

~ by tdcatss on August 2, 2009.

2 Responses to “we and our secrets”

  1. encore! i am sure you are familiar with the peter sellers rendition of a hard day’s night?
    if not, here’s a link;

    : )

  2. no i didn’t know about peter sellers’ rendition. its really nice! :D

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