Monday, February 15, 2016

An Important Question

Hope you had a nice Valentine’s Day.  It’s normally a pretty big commercial event here in the States.  I know that it’s done differently around the world, every country has their twist.  Here it can be deeply wrapped in big expectations… the flowers, the chocolate, the dinner, the wine, the romance, the promises, the deep kisses and deep everything.  With this said, it’s interesting to think about attitudes around all this, the giving and receiving of it all, and I’ve mainly been the giver on these things, with some years being better than others.  In any case, the reactions of the one receiving these gifts are always telling, but it’s not just the gift itself, but in many cases the attitude of the giver which very much affects the one receiving the gift.  Many times it depends on the depth of your relationship and the level of your commitment, but again, the feelings are always telling.

I guess I haven’t mentioned yet that I’m a middle-aged, straight male.  I just remembered that’ll be important for any of you reading this, to know that, to keep the perspective in mind.  I’ve always been the sensitive type and felt things deeply, almost to a fault.  I’m the romantic type as well, which has been an issue (we’ll explore the topic of romance further down the road).  I can even remember some of my first girlfriends as a child, giving them gifts, writing them love letters, etc.   It’s kind of funny to recall that about myself, how soon we forget who we were about such things, but it’s important as well as it guides us in our understanding of our own personality and its formation.  That type of thing will be important for us as we explore what it takes to know ourselves, and to know the “other”.

In these posts I’ll be trying to provide thoughts on things that have helped me with my decisions, and things which have helped me to either find, or re-find aspects of myself which were important, and would have helped me to avoid mistakes and wrong choices.  Some of these things will be psychological, some leaning more towards the spiritual, it’s interesting how those two are also closely related.  We’ll likely explore that as well.  I now want to tell you the person whose writing has had a profound influence on my thoughts over the past few years.  His name is James Hollis, a psychologist, writer, Jungian analyst and therapist.  Some in the States may have seen him on PBS.  I find his writing practical, profound and his ability to share the perspectives and psychology of Carl Jung all extremely helpful.  I’ll be sharing a lot of Hollis’ words of wisdom, as I think it may be very helpful to you as well.

The point I’d like to leave you with today is that fear always plays some part in our lives, and that we have to understand how it affects the many dimensions, especially our relationships.  Hollis brings out a key question in his book, What Matters Most, which I highly recommend -- “Does this choice diminish me, or enlarge me?”  You can and should apply this question to every aspect of your life, but today, ask yourself this about your relationship with your significant other – does it diminish or enlarge you?  What I like about the question is that when you ask yourself this in a relaxed, calm state, that you can almost immediately know the answer.  There may be certain pro’s vs. con’s type thoughts that arise, but if you let it settle in, the answer can arise, or at least the beginning of an answer.  The next question is what you do with that answer, and your next steps in exploring that further.

So check out Hollis' book, What Matters Most, it has an incredible amount of practical wisdom, which we’ll be exploring.  I leave you with his words:

So there you have it. Fear is the enemy. Life is not your enemy; the Other is not your enemy; fear is the enemy, and fear has crowded you into a diminished corridor of that vast mansion of possibility that the gods provide us. Ask yourself of every dilemma, every choice, every relationship, every commitment, or every failure to commit, “Does this choice diminish me, or enlarge me?” Do not ask this question if you are afraid to find the answer. You might be afraid of what your own soul will require of you, but at least you then know your marching orders. 

Only the boldest among us can acknowledge the role that fear plays in their lives. The bold are like those captives freed from Plato’s cave— they are no longer servants to ignorance. If you are governed by fear— and who is not— and if you can acknowledge what it does to you, what it costs you and others for whom you care, and even the world to which you owe your best being, then you at last know, really know, to whom your final obligation belongs.

James Hollis.  What Matters Most: Living a More Considered Life.

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