If someone calls you “desperate” to have a girlfriend or boyfriend, your reaction is vehement, rigorous, strong, aggressive. Especially if your last break-up involved your ex pinning many labels on you, as reasons for parting.
Why do we react to those labels so strongly? The simple and immediate answer we offer is, “They’re wrong.” If we believe that so deeply and thoroughly, why do we react so strongly?
I may insist strongly that 2+2=5 is wrong, but my righteousness isn’t a defense of my Self.
Our ego lusts to be right. Our ego is our psychic sensor that we are a separate person from others. It senses our INDIVIduality – our sense that we are INDIvisible. Whole. It balances a sense of being connected to a larger collective.
Our ego lusts to be wholly right. Wholly good. Not part desperate.
Our ego subsists in the part of our psyche which is conscious – versus our fuller self. All the other parts of our full self of which we are not conscious, Carl Jung called our “shadow.” It’s part of our whole, but we are not conscious of it.
Labels about us violate our sense of wholeness (or sometimes cultivate it). We are uncomfortable being DIVIded.
Yet, we are a mix of everything that can be put on a list of labels.
Each of us is both good AND bad.
An inflated ego doesn’t like that.
When someone applies a label to us, we want to accept/embrace “good” ones, and reject/defend against bad ones – IN THEIR ENTIRETY.
We don’t like parts of mixes that DIVIde our INDIVIual wholeness.
Responses to “bad” labels can be stronger if such labels open the lid of our repressed Shadow, to expose a glimpse, a peek, at the things in our full Self about which we would prefer to remain unconscious.
When an ex listed labels about you, for why you were parting, none was wrong or incorrect – ENTIRELY.
You honestly couldn’t deny *any* of them – ENTIRELY.
Each label called up parts of your Shadow. Remember, we are largely not conscious of those parts, so we can’t simply call something of which we’re mostly unconscious, wrong.
Your ex was far more conscious of those parts because of the pain those parts caused your ex. As they labeled you, on parting, they had already chosen the ultimate and complete choice of rejection, citing all the reasons you were a bad partner. To them, the list of negative labels was a mountain, and your good labels a mere molehill.
The love that bound you together and kept the scale in favor of your goodness, was gone.
Their labels were partly right and partly wrong.
We ALL are “desperate” for mates because it’s how we are wired by nature. Our tribulation about that label revolves around HOW desperate. A “good” amount of desperate? Or “bad”? Our mix. Our balance.
It’s hard to receive or accept a label like “desperate” with a connotation so negative. Yet we all – each – have some mix from the good and the bad lists. And the mix is never static. Sometimes it changes voluntarily, sometimes consciously; other times it changes unconsciously, or with no choice perceived.
The passage of time is constantly swirling the mix of who we are.
When the mixture hardens, we’re stuck. Or dead. Or a saint outside the realm of humanity.
This is why I’m not comfortable with the absolute rule that we should cut toxic people out of our lives. Yes, I can appreciate that it’s prudent or necessary when we are too unconscious of our Shadow to tolerate the suffering of knowing we are imperfect and weak in the light of our fullness and humanity. At that “sometimes,” we require psychological defenses and “setting boundaries.” But those are steps and phases on a much larger journey, not the stopping point(s).
If we “stop” at a stage of excising toxic people from our lives, won’t we again be a hardened mixture that’s “stuck”?
The boundary of toxicity – who is poison, and who is not – is inside of us. It is drawn by our vulnerability. We are very largely unconscious of it, deny it, avoid it, throw psychological defenses at it, over and over.
Set boundaries and excise toxic people from your life if you must at this “sometime”; but as long as you keep the contents of your Shadow stuffed into unconscious darkness, and you avoid “toxic” people who shine the light of a projector on it, you retard your own growth in awareness about the fullness of who You are.
Both your wholeness and your holes need your whole attention.
Neil D. 2021-09-05