Last week, I wrote about shame and how shame stifles the energy of love. I want to keep building on that idea and share some thoughts on being "good."
I recently read this excerpt from a book titled A Life of Meaning, authored by James Hollis.
"Jung frequently reminded us that our task in life is not goodness but wholeness. Now, I don't know about you, but I never heard anything like that when I was a child. And I wish I had. Like most children, whenever I had what I would consider a shadow thought, fantasy, or hope, I immediately felt awful about it because of the weight of collective expectation to always be" good."
When that happened, I believed "goodness" alone was the task; it was what I had to do. Pieces of one's life are pushed aside, projected onto others, or dropped back into the unconscious, where they will sooner or later act autonomously."
This excerpt perfectly encapsulates the problem with being "good" and the necessity of forgoing the pursuit of being whole if goodness is our task.
If you have followed me for a while, you have probably heard me talk about my religious upbringing. If you haven't, I have nothing against religion. I know it brings peace and purpose to many people, which is beautiful. I support anything that brings peace into people's lives.
My religious background instilled many ideas about being "good." There was a rigid structure I had to adhere to to be worthy of love and acceptance, which inherently required me to cut off parts of myself that fell outside that structure.
There are many structures outside of religion that influence our pursuit of goodness—things like school, social circles, popular culture, and family systems.
These structures will have defined what is "good" and "right" through direct communication or indirect observation and acculturation.
Now, this is well and good. We HAVE to assimilate into our groups to survive. BUT this becomes a problem when we never reclaim authentic aspects of ourselves because, eventually, the repression of these aspects will break.
Usually, this breaking is manifest through symptomatology like depression, anxiety, and other mental health distress.
Hollis describes this when he says, "They will sooner or later act autonomously."
So, the work for us as conscious adults is to identify what we do in pursuit of being "good" and "right."
For many of us, once we start to ask that question, we quickly realize that much of our behavior still aligns with our past conditioning.
Sometimes, this is fine. And other times, it is a HUGE problem because it keeps us from acting in alignment with the most authentic version of ourselves.
So here are a few questions you can ask yourself.
What do I do or not do out of fear of letting others down?
When I think about being good, what behaviors align with that image?
What was I told about being good growing up?
If/when I acted outside of that, what happened?
Answering these questions will acquaint you with your conditioning and the things that may get in the way of being your most authentic self.
If this topic interests you, I recommend the book The Audacity to Be You by Brad Reedy. It's super easy to understand and goes much deeper on this topic.
Thank you again for reading each week. I appreciate your attention.
I also released a new YouTube video this week talking about psychedelics and the different types of facilitation. If that interests you, you can check that video out here:
See you next week!