Sunday, 25 October 2020

The power of less

Third stage. As the person is drawn inward, there is greater self-awareness. The person sees himself or herself more clearly, which St. John calls the bitter pill of self-knowledge. In Jungian terms this signals the confrontation with the shadow. The ego is drawn down into the underworld of the psyche. As anyone who is familiar with this aspect of the psyche knows, the underworld of the psyche is not a pretty picture. The reinforcement strategies in the last article hinged on the positive consequences of substance use for your loved one--what he gets out of it--in order to help channel his motivations toward alternative behaviors. Allowing natural consequences channels, or rather avoids diverting, any negative consequences to maximize their naturally deterring effects. Even more than withdrawing rewards, allowing consequences helps your loved one understand his behavior as his choice. He learns that changing his behavior is his choice, as opposed to something you are pushing on him all the time. Natural consequences are the direct outcomes of your loved one's substance use that he would experience if no one interfered. They're the costs he naturally incurs by using. They can be emotional costs, such as depression, anger, shame, or feeling out of control; The costs of using may range in severity from mild headaches or embarrassments to deep shame and major deprivations like getting fired or losing custody of a child. For most people, using or overusing substances results in negative consequences that pretty quickly convince them to limit use to moderation or no use at all. For most people, the costs just don't seem worth it. Whether Saturn is exalted or in fall doesn't make it a good or bad Saturn. A strong Saturn may be severe while a weak Saturn is always tough, but fair. SATURN IN ARIES

You're slow out of the starting gate. And that's not by choice. Unexpected delays have hobbled you since childhood. Maybe it took a long time to speak as a toddler, you were beset with health issues early on, or you were held back a grade. Whatever the initial stumbling blocks, you've been playing catch-up ever since. Watching the light turn red when everyone else gets the go-ahead is discouraging. What's the point of competing if you're always being tripped up? It can be very disconcerting, for it's the repository of the person's unacceptable impulses. Yet this is an essential aspect of knowing yourself more fully. John describes this beautifully. The aridities and voids of the faculties in relation to the abundance previously experienced and the difficulty encountered in the practice of virtue make the soul recognize its own lowliness and misery, which was not apparent in the time of its prosperity. Now that the soul is clothed in these other garments of labor, dryness, and desolation, and its former lights have been darkened, it possesses more authentic lights in this most excellent and necessary self-knowledge. In Jungian psychology, the shadow has no particular content, rather it consists of everything that is not in the light of consciousness. John and the fifteenth century monks and nuns he was writing for, the personal and cultural shadow at that time and what tortured him most deeply, were sexual impulses and blasphemy. In today's world, these things hardly raise an eyebrow. In our very different cultural and historical context, the modern shadow consists of shame around a defective or deficient self, not feeling worthy, conflicts around anger, dependency, or other forbidden feelings, and early trauma. Journeying into the underworld alone is treacherous, but in St. For others, the benefits of using are greater and/or more numerous, and the negative consequences are fewer and/or less--because their brains are more rewarded by a substance, or life feels more painful to them in one way or another that a substance relieves, or their social group uses more heavily, or any of the other reasons people use. But you would not be reading this article if there were not also significant negative consequences to your loved one's use, and the goal here is to let those consequences speak for themselves. In cost-benefit terms, you aim to not get in the way of or prevent the costs from occurring.

What would happen if your husband was late to work because he was hungover and moving slowly and you didn't rush in to drag him out of bed, pack his bag, or help him find his keys? If your wife passed out at the kitchen table and you didn't carry her to bed? If your son took ecstasy and failed to turn in his assignments the next day and you didn't provide his school with an excuse? Probably trouble with the boss at work, the stark reality of waking up in the kitchen, and having to deal with the principal at school. In other words, if you let it happen, your loved one would feel the impact of his or her behavior and the costs would register in the costs column of his motivational accounting, where they belong. Good News: Costs seed change. Disliking the outcome of a behavior pushes strongly in the direction of extinguishing it. Saturn is in fall in Aries, which means that your biggest fear is things being over before they've begun. And if you take yourself out of the running, that's exactly what will happen. The solution is to choose your races wisely. You know you weren't built for speed, so skip the sprints and sign up for the marathons. Saturn in Aries gives you endurance, stamina, and that ability to pour it on when the finish line's in sight. It's ideal for pulling all-nighters, powering through obstacles, and delivering in the end. Aries Saturn . Burdens: Aries Suns with false starts and premature endings. Exacerbates: Taurus and Pisces Suns because it won't let them walk away from a fight. Allies with: Gemini and Aquarius Suns by making them go the distance. John's time it was the only way. Today, psychotherapy is a journey into the underworld of the psyche, and having a guide (therapist) can be of great assistance. Fourth stage.

As the person gets more and more lost crossing the desert, losing willpower and the pleasures of life, in encountering the shadow and getting drawn down into the underworld, suddenly there is a joyous breakthrough. An oasis appears in the desert. What was troubling recedes, and the person enjoys a respite from the pain and engulfing depression. Serenity and light replace the darkness. The person feels huge relief and believes the worst is over and the goal is reached. What this actually signifies, however, is the beginning of the much darker night of spirit, which St. John views as a separate, second phase. After all, negative consequences are the reasons for your loved one to stop doing what he is doing. We call this strategy the quiet confrontation, because allowing natural consequences helps relocate the stress, frustration, and fight to within your loved one, rather than between the two of you. Instead of arguing with her, let the argument about whether she uses substances reside within her. If you don't deflect them, then she will directly feel the discomfort, alarm, and other misgivings about her own behavior and use that information to make different choices. Allowing her to come face-to-face--the literal meaning of confront--with the results of her own actions, without distraction, will help her take her own behavior to heart instead of blaming you. How to Get Out of the Way You can use the approach to problem solving that we presented in article 8, Goals (and Problems), to plan how you will step out of the way of naturally occurring consequences. Allowing is not as simple as it sounds. Define the problem. What are the potential (and actual) natural consequences of his substance use? Thwarts: Cancer and Capricorn Suns when it doesn't step up to the plate. Mentors: Leo and Sagittarius Suns by getting them back on their feet again when they've been laid low. Is anyone's guess with: Virgo and Scorpio Suns because they can't win for losing.

Sometimes good because they do make headway, sometimes bad because for every three steps forward there are two steps back. Opposes: Libra Suns. You see others as closed doors. When Saturn is opposite your Sun sign, you don't connect to its energy naturally, and you'll find yourself being tested until you do. Your big test is to knock. Libras hate making the first move, but you could grow old waiting on others. If someone answers: great! Phase 2: The night of spirit. In this second half of the journey there is a more direct spiritual action to purify the soul. The temporary reprieve of joyful exhilaration at the oasis soon gives way to a feeling of sinking into a black hole. Everything seems dark and unknown. John compares this to the biblical story of Jonah being swallowed up in the dark belly of the whale. There is a descent into utter darkness, where the soul feels lost, alone, abandoned by God and by friends. People seem far away. There is a terrible sense of having been forgotten by everyone, even the Divine. The soul is stripped bare. As this is happening there is a de-repression that occurs in the psyche. Is there anything buffering his experiencing these directly? Is there anything you are doing, inadvertently or purposefully, to deflect his costs? We've already mentioned some common ones.

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