38. Strengthen your total self, not your ego

January 18, 2018 Sticky Thoughts No Comments

For decades, people have been driven to strengthen their egos, irrespective of who they are furthermore. This used to be called ‘assertivity training’. Actually it still is this way. I use the past tense because I would like to see it gone…


So there it was. And it was a great business, perfectly in tune with a powerful underlying current in Western civilization. Children and adults alike were being ‘positivized’ into becoming strong personalities, strong egos. As if they were the positive poles of batteries. But things are not that simple. People are not batteries, nor are they rabbits running on such batteries.


More and more, driven by the evidence that it doesn’t work, this problem is being recognized. Now is, I think, I hope, I see, a time of change. As with any change, there are risks involved: the risk that the positive may be thrown away together with, well, in this case, the ‘positive’ of the aforementioned kind of positivistic assertivity training.


In order to avoid this, a distinction has to be made between the ego and what I would call the total personality (total person, total self, or simply the ‘self’ in Jungian terminology). In this sense, strengthening the ego is just not enough. It may even have a reverse effect through starting an internal battle whereby the total person in the end may be worse off than at the start.


A strong ego without a strong self behind it is like a pond covered with ice. Ice may be very hard. Moreover, if it’s not cold enough, there are weak spots as causes of accidents that sooner or later are bound to happen. Encompassing all this is the problem that there is no contact anymore between water and outside world or even the ego itself. This water and this ice don’t comprehend each other very well. The harder the ice, the more they speak different languages. This may be OK for short periods, but in the end it’s not a healthy situation.


‘Assertivity training’ is OK, but it needs to take into account the whole pond. It shouldn’t strengthen the dissociation between water and ice. On the contrary: a truly assertive person is one who stands upright as a total person. Then, you see: such a person incorporates the world. He stands up for his own rights and there will not be much difference between his rights and the rights of everyone. Such is true assertiveness.


Am I a dreamer? Probably. But I’m not the only one. And if you care to join me, the world will be as one… Thanks, John.


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