Monday, March 18, 2013

3/19/13—Uncovering What Lays Hidden in the Unconscious

Five of Swords in the Benefits of What is Hidden in the Unconscious position from the Infinite Visions and the Deck of 1000 Spreads. Are you capable of harming another creature? Could you ever tell a really big lie? Do you know what you're truly capable of?

The Five of Swords is the "win at any and all costs" card. When I first saw this combination, I immediately thought "shadow side". We all have one. And we tend to shove it as far away from our conscious mind as possible in hopes that it being out-of-sight will make it non-existantant. But that never works. And until we bring it out into the light, we'll never know who we really are. And until we know who we really are, we can never fully understand others. 

Every once in a while, something bad will happen. Take Lance Armstrong's lies, for example....his winning at any cost. People get all worked up about it, because they would never do anything like that. Never! Maybe not. But that doesn't mean it's beyond us. 

For example, I'm pretty honest about things. But I can think of times in my life when I've felt cornered and maybe I lied or denied doing something. And I kept the lie going because I got caught in a trap of my own making and was damned if I do and damned if I don't. Fortunately those humiliations drifted away as quickly as they occurred. I wasn't on a national stage with so many coming forward to prove I'd lied. Stubborn as I am, I can see an earlier version of me standing my ground. I wouldn't do this today, but the capability is in me. It's in all of us, whether we've ever done it or not. 

Another example is those awful videos of predators hunting down their prey...the mountain lion going after a deer or something like that. We shudder in horror when the deer is cornered and the lion goes in for the kill, spattering himself in the blood of his prey. But how do you imagine man got food before farming? That's exactly what prehistoric man would do. He'd hunt a mastodon down, trap it, then hack away it until it was dead, body all bloodied from the attack, smelling of a fresh kill. And we'd all do the same if it meant living or dying. That's in us, too. 

Or how about "going postal"? We've all felt stressed and beaten by life and maybe we respond by driving aggressively on the way home, or taking our stress out on a telemarketer. Now imagine that's how your life has been, not for a day or week, but for a much more extended period of time. You'd lose it. We all would. Some of us would internalize it and shut down. Some of us would act out. Maybe we wouldn't kill people over it, but we'd probably do something reckless or feel out of control. We're not beyond taking that extra step.

These are human traits. To say you've never lied is a lie. We've all lied. You may differentiate between a white lie or a lie out of necessity or a lie to save someone's feelings and therefore proclaim your innocence. But you know what a lie is. Lies are lies. And now we know you're not beyond lying, it's really just a matter of the amount of pressure you're under, what's at stake and how much you're in denial before you start telling a lie like the very first lie Lance told about doping. Because, let's face it. The "big lie" was really a series of much smaller lies told over decades...many of which were told to reinforce the first lie. Then once that's told, the second one is easier, the pressure is greater to keep lying. And so on. Sure. You might have made different choices than Lance. Many of us would have. But you're nonetheless *capable* of going down that rabbit hole. Anyone who has ever told even so much as a white lie understands that lies can be justified...if you want to keep from being called a liar. 

See what I'm saying? None of us are going to shoot a classroom full of six year olds. Much of that is due to the fact we don't have serious mental illnesses. But do you understand how small the difference between mental health and mental illness is physiologically? There but for the grace of God and, in some cases, upbringing, accidents and heavy drug use go all of us. We are all *capable*. It's just that most of us are fortunate enough to never meet the circumstances that take us there.

The reason I bring all this up is because when you can shove the ugliness of our humanness into a box in the deep recesses of your unconscious, you never have to admit to being a part of it. It becomes something separate from you that you don't have to deal with. So these "monsters"—the liars, the murderers, the whack jobs and the mountain lions—are a whole other thing from what you are. They're a species capable of hurting others, of following their urges, disrespecting others, acting self important...of being fallible, sick, imperfect in some way...of losing perspective, control. They're not YOU. You'd never do any of that!

But as long as you're in denial about it, you're doing little bits of it every day and justifying it as needed. Little lies, little disrespectings of others, little bursts of anger. Acceptable amounts that keep you within the bounds of being able to justify your horror and judgment of others. Separating yourself from "that other thing" enough that it has nothing to do with you. Then you don't have to take responsibility for it

But if we dared to understand who and what we were at our extremes, maybe we could see our way to work on it as a society. You know, like get people mental help instead of an electric chair. To have compassion for minds so tortured that they kill. To understand how someone can get so caught up in what others think that they would disgrace the legacy they worked an entire life to build. It's a shifting from "how could you?!" to "I'm blessed this wasn't my lot to bear in this lifetime." 

We've spent millennia separating ourselves from "the sinners" and shaming them and how much have we progressed? Denying the "monster within" so we can judge those whose monster is visible isn't working. So hiding the "win at any and all costs" extreme that is part of the human makeup may benefit us in that we can judge others and deny parts of our nature. But the real benefits come when we can pull it out, see it for what it is and accept it. Ironically enough, if we pull out our ugly sides and acknowledge them, we can experience significant personal and spiritual growth through the heightened levels of compassion, love, forgiveness and understanding we're able to reach by seeing ourselves—seeing the humanity—in the ugliness in others.

No comments:

Post a Comment