What does it means to fully embrace being human?
I think about this often. What I know, in my own philosophy of life, is that we are not simply material bodies existing in space and time.
When I think of people who seem to have it ‘together’, I tend to think that they must be fairly well-rounded — healthy body, mind, heart, soul and spirit.
But, identity development does not typically work that way. And it sure didn’t happen that way for me.
What happens is that dominant traits takes over starting at a very young age. And, we are usually not even consciously aware of that happening. I sure what was missing but I was definitely out-of-sorts so to speak in my rationally-cognitively dominant, but emotionally-spiritual-void world.
For instance, a person who is particularly strong in one facet of the Self tends to be weaker in the complementary facet — the one on the opposite side of let’s say a circle or a square.
Let’s consider this from the perspective that there are 4 facets of ‘Self’. Are you the muse, healer, innocent or the wild one? I was reading Soulcraft and other work by Bill Plotkin, and these images were discussed.
When I reflected on this, I found it to be an interesting way to build a more well-rounded me. So, of course, I thought I would share it with you and see what you think.
the circle of you
The four facets, as described by Bill Plotkin, are four cardinal directions, four seasons, or four times of day.
the Nurturing Generative Adult, compassionate, empathetic and competent — healers, teachers designers, artisans
(I fit very well in this category but I was stuck because my South was repressed.)
the Wild Indigenous one; sensitive emotive, erotic, playful, instinctual; home is more than the human world with visceral deep-rooted kinship with all other creatures
(This is a deep-seated pull and as I engage in the “South” more fully my “North” is more free to explore without fear to engage confidently..)
the paradoxical fusion of the Innocent and the Sage; one who perceives the world purely, simply, clearly; lighthearted and big-picture wisdom about the world; in the form of the Sacred Fool (who lives beyond the rules and norms of the everyday social world. or as a Trickster who uses humour and chicanery to help us lighten up and appreciate the greater realities of our lives and the world.
( I love humour and seek out the simple life, nature and clarity. And, I get angsty in situations of authority — repression, oppression, judgmental people etc…)
the Muse or Inner Beloved, adventurous and visionary with desire to explore the unknown; the fruitful darkness which when explored, opens us to the light– archetypes such as Anima/Animus, Magician, Wanderer, Hermit, and Guide to the Soul.
(My “West” needs much deeper reflection for understanding of the inner archetypal influences. I am quite sure the ‘lightness’ of the east will become lighter as the dark of the “East” is explored and reconciled.)
…as a reflective journey for a healthier Self…
In order to help us understand these aspects of Self, Plotkin further provides himself as an example of these scenarios. He says he has been rather ‘West’ his whole life: As a child and youth, he was utterly introverted, solitude loving, idealistic, dreamy, mood, and romantic.
Meanwhile, the East has been an enigma for him, for most of his life. About 20 years ago, when speaking about the psychological qualities of the four directions, he would sometimes draw a complete blank when he got to the East.
He admits, that at the time, he was not a very light-hearted person. Nor did he have an ‘extraverted bone in his psychosocial body’. He says he was not exactly the life of the party. This would fall in to the archetype of the Fool and an East-bearing personality trait.
the square of you
The Myers-Briggs inventory views the Self or identity-narrative from a different angle.
The Myers-Briggs builds the personality on Jungian psychology. Each of the gold boxes reflects a different personality depending on your combination of the following 4 main areas:
Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I) — Favourite world: Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world?
Sensing (S) or Intuition (N) — Information: Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning?
Thinking (T) or Feeling (F) — Decisions: When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency or first look at the people and special circumstances?
Judging (J) or Perceiving (P) — Structure: In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options?
… building your personality type…
When you decide on your typical ‘orientation’ in each category and bring them together, you are building have your own personality type. This, according to the MBI, can be expressed as a code with four letters. I would say I am INTP but that can very depending on mood, situation etc. What is important is that I recognize this. The understanding is the empowering part, not the label.
is this digging into identity, holistically, TMI?
Maybe but I don’t think so. It has certainly helped.
I know that being a self-help junkie is counter intuitive. We want fewer habits, not more. I think we can get really stuck in habitual ways of emoting, thinking and behaving.
But, getting unstuck required knowing what I was/am ‘stuck’ in.
I prefer being open-minded, balanced, reflective and living life to the fullest. We are born with the capacity to embody each of these sets of psychosocial traits. I think of them as resources or tools for discovery and empowerment.
In different ways, writes Plotkin, mainstream Western culture ignores or suppresses all four archetypal facets: muse, healer, innocent or wild one. This is because the fully embodied Self is incompatible with materialistic, ego-oriented ways of life.
Me, I like the challenge of seeing past that. Embracing body, mind, heart, soul and spirit is truly, an adventure, towards fully experiencing life. Until I very consciously and intentionally decided that I would nurture and cultivate each area, it just wasn’t happening.
My journey to embrace this process, whole-heartedly includes writing, art, running, sharing and meditating. And, Medium is a great source of learning! (The world of words is my oyster:)
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P.S. The Matrix book and eBooks are in the works. Please stay tuned!