We are dominated by everything we identify with; we can control and control everything with which we no longer identify ourselves. In this principle lies the secret of our slavery, respectively our freedom.

From: Psychosynthesis, Roberto Assagioli

Keep your I clean

This is perhaps one of the most difficult tasks you can face. At least……if you have set yourself that as a task. And how do you do that? ‘Keep your ‘I’ clean’ was a response I recently received during a training course in Psychosynthesis, a response that has stuck with me ever since. Somehow it came to me much more than any other concepts I had heard and understood until now. Concepts about what we tend to consciously identify with, or more often not.

Bumper sticker

The principle of dis-identification and identification is one of the basic principles within psychosynthesis counseling that I have been familiar with for some time. Yet I found that this simple comment, ‘Keep your I clean’, immediately made it clear to me what she meant by this comment. And actually it wasn’t really a comment or answer to a question as it was a statement. Maybe it was because it was accompanied by a layer of humor. Humor can often make difficult and heavy things a bit easier for yourself and the other person. Perhaps also because it immediately became visible as a kind of ‘bumper sticker’. Bumper stickers do not contain a whole story but a short and powerful statement. In any case, it made clear to me how important it is to keep myself ‘free’ (clean) in order to perceive with a clear view, free from unconscious entanglements and judgments. And that is not only important for me as a therapist, but also as a person.

Fogged windows

Because let’s be honest, how clean are our ‘windows’ through which we are used to looking? Isn’t it that we are usually occupied by our beliefs, expectations or maybe even held hostage by our feelings and emotions? Or perhaps it is our body that has taken over and is at the helm of our lives due to complaints, limitations, sexual desire or unrest. And I want to emphasize ‘us’ here. Because even though I have been able to learn so much about all the concepts that invite more self-awareness and I still have so much ‘understanding’ of dis-identification and identification, I too suffer from ‘fogged windows’, clouded vision, from occupied and held hostage parts of myself. That way I can sometimes be held hostage by my mind. And for a long time I could not connect with my inner strength and possibilities because my limitations had taken over. I was no longer in control of my own life. Personal growth, awareness and inner liberation is a lifelong process. That is not finished when you have completed an education.

‘Clean windows’ through intervision and supervision

And it is this process that I like to share with my clients. The process of personal growth and awareness in which we can sometimes take a number of steps forward and sometimes have to take steps back. And in that I am no different from my clients. The difference is that during the guidance in my role as coach, counselor or therapist I have to take care of ‘clean windows’, for a clean I, an I that is able to facilitate the process of guidance and or therapy for a ‘clean ‘ and free I. And of course clients can expect that too. Intervision with colleagues and supervision with a supervisor are extremely important for this. Every month I see my learning therapist to make sure I keep having ‘clean windows’ in working with my clients.

Developing Mastery

By becoming deliberately aware of everything you tend to identify with and practicing disidentification and self-identification, you gain the freedom and choice to identify with or disidentify from any aspect of our personality, whichever is most appropriate in each situation. In other words; you develop Mastery over yourself. In psychosynthesis counseling we therefore pay a lot of attention to ‘unraveling’ the versatility and multi-colouredness of our personality and our inner division.

Mother’s will is law

We examine what our will is concerned with and how our free I and our free Will may have become entangled with the I and the will of someone other than ourselves. For you will understand that when our I and our will are entangled with the authority of someone else, it very much determines the course we take in our lives. ‘Mother’s will is law’ does not only apply in childhood, but unconsciously still appears to be present as a law in our experiences. Of course, this could also be the will or law of your father, another educator, or the influence of the religious community you grew up in. The book by Lale Gül, Turkish-Dutch writer, ‘I am going to live’ is a good example of this.

Trauma constellations IoPT

Especially when working with Trauma Constellations (IoPT), these entanglements of our I and our Will often become visible and can be experienced by the client himself. And although working with developmental trauma according to Franz Ruppert’s trauma theory differs somewhat from Psychosynthesis, it comes very close to each other in terms of attention to the free ego and free will. And of course it’s not about the theory or the concepts. It is about the personal experiences of our inner lack of freedom and entanglements that we want to learn to fathom with the aim of liberating ourselves from what keeps us from who we really are. And that’s what Psychosynthesis is all about.

We are Self-awareness

We are not what we perceive. We are what perceives. We are a source of pure consciousness. Assagioli writes about this, among other things:

The central fundamental experience of self-awareness, the discovery of the ‘I’, is inextricably linked to our human consciousness. It is that which distinguishes our consciousness from that of the animals, which have consciousness, but no self-consciousness. Most of the time, however, this self-awareness is indeed ‘implicit’ rather than explicit. It is experienced in a nebulous and distorted way, because it is usually mixed with and veiled by the contents of consciousness. This constant influx of influences obscures the clarity of consciousness and produces false identifications of the self with the content of consciousness, rather than with consciousness itself. If we want to make self-awareness explicit, clear, and vivid, we must first dis-identify ourselves from the contents of our consciousness.

From: The Will, Appendix 1 Self-identification exercise, Roberto Assagioli

Not a concept but an experience

On the website of the practice for Psychosynthesis Amsterdam you will find the exercise about dis-identification and identification. When you do the exercise ask yourself: Who is it that made the decision to listen to this exercise and who is it that brings attention to the content of my thoughts, feelings and my body? The answer to this question is not a concept but an experience. Your experience!

A clear view

What about your ‘sight’. Is it time to clean your windows too? Do you also wish for a clear view and perspective, a free I and a free Will? Do you dare to face yourself, meet yourself in who you are or who you would like to be? What desires do you have that cannot yet become reality? What hinders you in that? Feel welcome in the practice for Psychosynthesis Amsterdam and know that I probably have to do my best for ‘clean windows’ just like you!

A bucket of suds is ready. 😉