Few ideas have had more of an impact in the last couple months on my way of thinking than Robert A. Johnson's first chapter in Inner Gold. I don't even think I finished the chapter- it was the first two pages that hit me between the eyes and then I returned the book to the library, having needed time to digest what I just read. If you were a psychology student, you might have studied him already in school, Johnson being one of the best-known Jungian writers on earth today, but having just found him, I am so excited to read every single one of his books. I love Carl Jung and this guy now.
His first chapter is on projection. You know how we develop crushes on people and we absolutely have to have that person in our lives. It's embarassing to need or want someone that bad, especially if you know you don't have a chance. At least I find it something to be embarassed about. Well Johnson lays it out in the most compassionate of terms- basically we all have inner gold- our sense of value and worth, and sometimes, he says, that gold is too heavy for us to carry and we need someone else to carry it for us. If that person is willing, ie. if they have the "psychic container" for the gold we can't carry, they'll smile and carry it for us until we demand it back. Crushes on your teacher are like this- you have a crush on your grade three teacher and then you outgrow it. The teacher knows you will, but she makes a fuss over your Valentine's Day flowers anyway and put them in some water. On the other hand, they might not have the psychic container for it, and it might make them feel really uncomfortable.
That's a phrase I keep coming back to- container. Johnson says, "All psychic energy needs a container". Just those six words- I've been seeing how they can apply on so many levels.
If you know about the three instincts in the Enneagram, you know the Sexual instinct (the need for intensity, the preference for one-on-one interactions over group interactions, and the enjoyment of increasing the intensity in a group, like cracking a joke instead of keeping the pace and tenor of the conversation on a regular "beat". You know Seinfeld's low talkers? Well close talkers- there's a good chance they stand close to you to feel the intensity. But I mean, that's just an example. Not everyone with the Sexual instinct stands close to you when they talk to you, but it is a thing.) I've written about this before- you can google it for more examples.
Anyway, I've been noticing amongst my friends a lot of Social couples having children who have the Sexual instinct. (I seriously think we have children to balance us out, because Mr. M is the opposite- he's a Sexual 8 with a Social daughter.) But yeah, I can name quite a few couples with a laid-back Social instinct with crazy intense children, the container for which the parents just don't have. If the parents don't realize this and the intensity annoys them, they tend to "orphan" it. Like cringe and be like, "Ooohhh, XXX, just settle down, PLEASE!" It can happen between spouses too- I know a couple where the husband can get really intense- like either mad or excited and he'll raise his voice and his wife will bristle and say, "Just lower your voice- why do you have to get so angry?" And he'll be like, "I'm not angry", and she'll roll her eyes really slowly and dramatically. I guess I would call that orphaning the sexual instinct, like not holding it, not honoring it because the wife just doesn't have the Sexual instinct (ie. Not to say she doesn't have sex!- big difference- the Instincts are technical terms- it just means she doesn't have the instinct to instensify the energy in a conversation- she's fine with her Social instinct, where the energy is a lot more spread out and democratic amongst the group).
We have some families at school where only one kid in the family has the Sexual instinct and it's sad to watch because they have no container for it- neither of their parents knows how to "hold" it and they end up condemning it, or to borrow this phrase from a recent post of Fred Wilson's, "orphaning it", and it takes quite a few years- decades even- for you to figure out how to handle all that instensity in a graceful way if you don't have someone to emulate how they handle that energy. The Sexual instinct can be a curse that way, but I mean, once you create your own container for it, you're sailing.
Anyway, this is just what's been brewing in my head lately. Looking forward to finding more applications.