[5 minute read]
I have a passionate personality. One which psychology labels as “borderline tendencies.” My ego soars to unhealthy heights fueled by my self-perceptions as brilliant:-) Then I “cut” myself (figuratively), and knock myself off my pedestal into depressive lows by self judgment.
I have dys-coped with these overwhelms by multiple addictions. I will resist this vocabulary from now on. And I therefore also resist recommendations for pills and anti-depression therapy. To my mind and soul right now, these are yet-other means of repression, avoidance, and escapism. They have made me even more ill in the past. This is my personal choice, not a judgment meant to extend beyond the boundaries of my own Self.
My soul is passionate, and does not want to be subdued. And of course it also does not want to suffer the consequences of my dysregulation, but it is encouraging me to embrace my passion rather than regulate it. Psychotherapy that I have been fortunate to find has cultivated within me a habit of self-awareness about my passions being triggered. I think that is a key factor in reacquainting my conscious ego-mind with my transcendent soul.
My soul is coaxing me to cherish even the dark dimensions of itself, and view them as the other side of a coin, opposite Light. Jordan Peterson has his own way of expressing that, involving probing the depths of our own capacity for true evil. That appeals to me. Being “depressed” is a state of “deep-rest” and slow-down so that I can listen better to my larger Self, and nourish my soul.
I really like this short TED talk about liberating myself from judgment so that, when triggers rise to my conscious (ahead of dysregulation), I can less fearfully return beyond the gate at the precipice, and pass through it to my soul’s realm where passion is at home and doesn’t threaten relationship with others or my Self:
“What if There’s Nothing Wrong With You“
My reflection on it:
We and shallow symptom-obsessed psychology focus on learning to prevent or avoid the wrongs, which diminishes the value that the wrongs can reveal to us. And to talk about wrongs using the generalized vocabulary of psychology is perilous, because each of us is wrong in our own individual way(s), not in very generalizable ways (that are the dumbing-down trappings of the collectivism Peterson decries).
Our soul is our own best therapist and teacher because it knows our specifics even better than our smaller conscious intellects. The soul is where our wrongs have deep, deep value. And I’ve come to believe that wandering around in our own soul is the only place where that value can be seen for its fullness and depth.
For a passionate person with borderline tendencies, I am completely normal! [I don’t mean to trivialize the seriousness of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD); I have tendencies of BPD, but I am not “on that spectrum.”] And a narcissist is entirely normal among people with narcissism. And people-pleasers are entirely normal among people-pleasers.
Pathologizing is homogenizing, which is another way of recognizing our prevailing culture’s tendencies toward making the individual subordinate to the collective.
I abhor the Trump mindset, but, if you do too, it might be revealing for you to think about the large portion of the population that elected him. Are his electors his personal fans, or are they expressing their feelings of threats to their individuality and autonomy?
Peterson quotes Churchhill about democracy as a terrible form of government, but less terrible than alternatives.
Why is democracy a terrible form of government? It has built-in, by necessity, a tendency to collectivize, which is always a tendency to suppress individuality and the value of autonomous persons (see the Peterson interview). That is the paradox that astounds Peterson so that he notes the unlikelihood of our not being at each other’s throats (the recurring thread in human history). Democratic government requires a constant paradoxical dynamic: Collective freedom is a threat to individual freedom. And, of course, the converse.
For me and my Borderline tendencies, this brief video was interesting: Jordan Peterson – Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) [Jul 27, 2017]. Here’s an expanded one by a different guy: Embracing Borderline Personality Disorder – Dr Keith Gaynor [Oct 23, 2013].
My Love Style is Vacillator, which is a gentler way of saying I have Borderline tendencies. Intelligent and capable of intellectually recognizing a rational growth plan, but weak at following it. I was encouraged to look into a DBT (Dialectic Behavioral Therapy) program – the only respected help for borderlines – but there are sadly few in the country, let alone locally. I reviewed DBT material myself, and in my mind, these are useful tools, and seem to me clearly to be aimed at exploring my soul. For a whispy intro to what “soul” is (most of us today have a truly and tragically small understanding of this classic notion), The real meaning of soul | Lesley Hazleton [Dec 5, 2016] is wonderful, and she uses much the same language of my favorite source (farther below, Thomas Moore)
Today’s leading authority on the soul – more contemporary than Jung or Renaissance authors or the ancient Greeks or mystic saints – is Thomas Moore. His famous book “Care of the Soul” is spread across 2 free YouTube videos (audio only) about 6 hours each – youch – but nothing compares if you’re genuinely committed to understanding and nurturing your soul. And if you want another book more mired in neuro-psychology and explicit Christianity (Moore’s writings are more universal), try “Anatomy of the Soul” (can lend my copy).
I believe it is chiefly shame which keeps the conscious mind/ego from embracing awareness that its larger container is the friendlier and gentler and quieter soul. I’m therefore fond of famed shame researcher Brené Brown (here’s my condensation of her most popular blog)￼ and contemporary Franciscan mystic Richard Rohr.