“The battleline between good and evil runs through the heart of every man.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
The Sacred Law of Correspondence says that that the outer universe is a reflection of the realities of our inner universe. As I wrote in a previous post, this means that if we believe in a spiritual reality “up there” or “out there,” it’s because our psyches are furnished with a central archetype of wholeness that Jung called the Self — also called our religious function. This law also means that what we do with our lives is a function of who we are.
Who you are is a combination of your outer and inner, conscious and unconscious selves. You are not just the well-meaning, kind-hearted thoughts and intentions you’re aware of. You are also those defensive reactions and painful emotions that create discord in you and your relationships. One unconscious factor that influences you in negative ways is a complex.
While everyone has the same archetypes, complexes are unique to each of us. We develop them as we experience conflicts between our inner and outer worlds. They’re made up of unresolved memories, perceptions, emotions, habits, and wishes that are all related to one archetype. Thus we can have a mother complex, a father complex, a warrior complex, a savior complex, a victim complex, etc. Although these are mostly unconscious, we can become aware of them by noticing the voices in our heads that say things like, “No one understands or loves me”, “I’m smarter and more spiritual than everyone else”, or “Everyone at school bullies me. I’ll show them!”
When we have negative thoughts like these, we rarely realize we’re being influenced by an archetype or complex. Mostly we dismiss them or justify our attitudes and behaviors by blaming people and circumstances. But if we reflect honestly on what’s going on in our minds, we will see that something within us had us in its grip. The unconscious forces we don’t like or want to admit to are aspects of our shadow. The difference between people who can see and control their shadows and those who cannot comes down to four factors.
1. The first is your genetic inheritance. Psychological scientists have studied children’s disruptive behavior for years. They’ve discovered that many genes—probably hundreds, contribute to the risk for behavior problems. But one particular gene called CHRM2 can increase the risk for alarming behavior in adolescents whose parents are distant and do not monitor their activities.
2. This means that the second factor is your environmental inheritance. If you grew up in a home where you felt safe, respected, and loved, if your caregivers were involved in your daily lives and activities, and if you weren’t traumatized to the point that your automatic response to a perceived threat is fear and defensiveness, your risk for highly negative behavior is very low.
3. The third factor is the makeup of your psyche, or personality. We’re each born with our own strengths, weaknesses, and unique ways of gathering information, responding to stimuli, interacting with our worlds, and making decisions. We’re also born with the potential to notice and monitor the positive and negative influences of our behavior. Whether we do so or not depends on the other factors.
“The conscience of children is formed by the influences that surround them; their notions of good and evil are the result of the moral atmosphere they breathe.” – Jean Paul
As infants we have no concept of good and bad. We react to stimuli spontaneously and unconsciously. If our innocent and immature responses are met with rejection, hostility, or abuse, we acquire anti-social attitudes and behaviors that remain with us throughout our life. Conversely, patient attention and thoughtful feedback will heighten our self-awareness and foster pro-social behavior.
4. This leads to the fourth factor, self-awareness: i.e. knowing that we exist and understanding how our minds work. Self-awareness comes from reflecting on our inner and outer lives and paying attention to how we feel and affect others. Although being self-aware doesn’t make our problems go away, it helps us accept responsibility for our whole Self.
“I define a ‘good person’ as somebody who is fully conscious of their own limitations. They know their strengths, but they also know their ‘shadow’ – they know their weaknesses.” – John Bradshaw
The divisiveness, hatred, and corruption all around us today threaten not only our rights and freedoms, but our lives and the lives of our children and grandchildren. The Sacred Law of Correspondence tells us that we can redirect this trend toward community and compassion by owning our part in dysfunction and reining in our personal shadows. With self-knowledge and self-love, together we can resacralize our world.
“What a liberation it is to realize that the ‘voice in my head’ is not who I am. Who am I then? The one who sees that.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
Art Credit: Joan of Arc Hearing Voices. Luc-Olivier Merson
Paper and E-book versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. The Wilbur Award-winning Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications.com. Jean’s new Nautilus Award-winning The Soul’s Twins, is at Amazon and Schiffer’s Red Feather Mind, Body, Spirit. Subscribe to her newsletter at www.jeanbenedictraffa.com.