We meet every six weeks in a quiet Balmain pub lounge. Over the years we’ve mentored each other along our work and life paths. These are valuable friendships and conversations, our shared interest in encouraging each other toward full and happy lives. Soft conversations they are not.
Last meeting we added the spice of Chapter 6 from Karen Horneys ‘Neurosis & Human Growth’, material we each worked with through LF.
Ch 6. ‘Alienation From Self’ explores the process and costs of losing touch with our real self and invention of an idealised image. KH describes our real self as the “alive, unique, personal center of ourselves; the only part that can and wants to grow.” [p.155]
Five effects of alienation from real self are
- dimished capacity for and awareness of feelings (i.e. pride governs feelings)
- squandered energy (investing in idealised self rather than real self)
- reduced sense of direction of own life (driven by shoulds, compliance, compulsions)
- avoidance of self responsibility (vs recognition of self as is, willing to bear consequences of actions, realising it’s up to oneself to solve difficulties)
- undermining our integrative powers (reduced feeling of inner unity)
As we talked, we examined each of our stories and experiences in relation to these effects. Asking questions about our spontaneous feelings and thoughts, energy levels, motives and intentions. Conversations of rare quality.
Inevitably though, it is tricky separating the real from the imagined. Having peers reflect back their impression helps orientate your view. And yet in the end, each of us takes responsibility for what filters through and into our life.