‘During the process of working with the real self, consciousness changes. The mental ego is mainly either existence-oriented or relationship-oriented. If existence-oriented, then the main concern is with power, mastery and control. If relatedness-oriented, the main concern is with conformity to people or standards. But in either case the main motivation is fear. The concern with power, the concern with conformity and standards, are both based on a dualistic conception of the world, where one part is supposed to control another part. And the reason why A has to dominate B is because A is afraid of B….. Basically the mental ego sees the world is a scary place, where at any time the lower might break through and overwhelm the higher. This must be prevented….
When we emerge into the integrated world of the real self, however, all this changes. Instead of a dualistic world we see things in terms of ecological systems. Instead of fear of being the dominant emotion, we can be open to a whole wide variety of feelings, all of which can be allowed into conscious awareness. Instead of trying to control emotions, we let them all have their say, but in such a way that they flow and integrate with all of the other things which may be going on, such as ideas, aims, needs, ideals, motives, other emotions, etc….. We can explore the whole of our land – it all properly belongs to us. We start up from safety, but in order to grow we need to make journeys away from Mother’s Knee. Each time we move towards the dangerous sea, we break down existing structures, and every time we move back towards the safe sea, we build up structures. We make our home at a point which is not too safe and not too dangerous……
If we can see the world in this way, the question of personal power becomes much more easy to handle. We are just not so panicked by the issue. It becomes something we can discuss without being scared all the time about the implications. And just because this new personal power has been gained by a total integration of the person, it takes more into account than the old mental ego was ever able to do. And because more is being taken into account, action is more rational (in the best sense of that word) and more adequate in social terms. We can act spontaneously and well at the same time.’
The Reality Game: A guide to humanistic counselling and therapy – John Rowan
The writer agrees with John Rowan and Carl Rogers on this. It is from a position of distorted reality that we fear stepping into personal power will be antipathetic to social responsibility, or ethical behaviour. In reality, the reverse is true.
People come for therapy, and explore – sometimes for the first time – ideas that they might legitimately or usefully:-
- pay attention to, and validate, their own experience;
- allow their feelings to be what they are, and to matter;
- offer themselves the core conditions, and require that in relationship.
Often they will voice fear, frequently tagged with the word ‘selfish’: ‘Isn’t that selfish?’. The sub-text: ‘Won’t others turn away from me, if I do this?’. We are so conditioned to believe we are unacceptable as we are – whether we respond to that by seeking to acquire money, status, popularity, approval, or by defying and rejecting, or by numbing and disconnecting ourselves, or, or, or…. Always driven by fear. We are so conditioned, that any tentative thought about our acceptability evokes a fear response – we must be controlled, others must be controlled, or harm will ensue.
But when a person actually makes the journey, and begins to inhabit themselves more fully, to allow in more of their authentic experiencing…. the effects, as Carl Rogers commented on, are in fact relationally and socially enhancing. We step out of blame structures, and into ownership and responsibility for what we say and do; we step into empathy; we move towards valuing and respecting others, and our environment, at the same time as we move into valuing and respecting ourselves.
Here’s the book link:-
Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter
Counselling in Exeter since 1994