Full Circle POV

Nurturing a holistic, integral point of view for greater leader and team effectiveness and member well-being.

Archive for the tag “Conscious”

“To Thine Own Self Be True” is No Easy Feat

Emerson captures where I think each person’s center of gravity should lie:

What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people may think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. (“Self-Reliance,” p. 33 – for full citation go to Bookshelf)

Out Standing in It's Field
Out Standing in One’s Field

As I’ve written before, our Persona is the necessary adaptation we make to the external environment that is a  compromise between our internal selves and outer circumstances. We can’t disregard the world around us, but how easy it is to let those external circumstances habitually dictate our realities. For me, Soul is our lived experience, our unique inner self, that gift that is ours alone. What does it profit a person to gain the world and lose one’s soul? The center of gravity resides best within our own truths, with a respectful nod to the realities of the world. Center of gravity means the primary, not exclusive, focal point.

The Suit: Persona Embodied

In checking out Andrew Sullivan’s blog this morning, my attention was drawn to a great article by A.A. Gill about the venerable and enduring Suit. Gill captures the story of the suit:

There is not a corner of the world where the suit is not the default clobber of power, authority, knowledge, judgement, trust and, most importantly, continuity….

No one knows or can say what the spell of the suit is, or how it works, but still it exudes its inoffensive writ.

It is the naivety of young men to believe that it’s what they think that is important; that surface and show and fashion are what the established order uses to maintain itself. But just look at those group photographs of powerful men, of left and right, outside conferences and meetings, and see the power of the suit. It’s not in the singular but the collective. If there were only one in the world, it would be a mad thing, but its strength comes from the massed ranks, the united power, the union of flannel.

Remember the flap when President Obama wore a tan suit to a briefing on the terrorist group ISIS?

Shutters and BlindsShutters and Blinds

Full Circle POV Lexicon: The Collective Unconscious

The Unconscious is all that which is not conscious. The fullness of the psyche is quite simply unfathomable. It is symbolically thought of as the depths, the sea, the darkness, dark forest, the Great Mother, God itself. Unconsciousness is the ground from which consciousness rises and to which it returns. We develop greater consciousness out of an unconscious state. We incarnate into consciousness, as it were, potentialities that lie within the Unconscious. The emergence of consciousness is easy to witness in the development of children.

Jung described two layers of the unconscious, the Personal and the Collective. The Personal Unconscious is the accumulated memories, experiences, thoughts, perceptions, and feelings that have fallen out of conscious awareness through forgetting, repression, or because they lack the energy necessary to be perceived. This is the vast accumulated stuff of a lifetime that is subjective in nature. Clients in therapy, often come to see me to work through this material. There is always a deeper, not personal, level operating for all of us, the ground of being.

The Collective Unconscious is the great depth or vastness of the psyche. It is the nonpersonal, objective psyche common to all human beings. It is here the universals of mankind exist that manifest subjectively in different particular, idiosyncratic ways. The Collective Unconscious is the ultimate source from which consciousness emerges; it is not a by-product of individual consciousness or experience. To Jung, the entire structure of the human psyche and dynamic patterns for psychological development and growth have their origins in this deep primordial level. From the universal objective psyche, the individual subjective psyche emerges.

The Collective Unconscious is the supra-personal foundation, the ground, of both the personal unconscious and consciousness, and is complete in its nature, containing both the negative and positive, thesis and antithesis, what have you, and is unaffected by the directions or judgments of the conscious psyche. The conflicted polarities of human Ego consciousness exist as wholes at this level. The filtering of Unconscious polarities through the conscious Ego determines the positive or negative value of any given polarity (see A Principle of Opposites).

These roots or dominants within the Collective Unconscious are what Jung referred to as archetypes and are, in effect, the universal operating programs, the human software shared by every human being. While archetypes generate psychological images and patterns of behavior, they are not experienced directly, as such, but in the manifestations of their effects.

Because of the bottomless depth of the Unconscious, all human possibility is potentially experienced given the right conditions of biology, personality, gender, or other triggering condition or event, and, by far, mostly never can or ever will be experienced directly. Those possibilities will be given different expression varying from individual to individual, group to group, culture to culture, circumstance to circumstance, but will at root have the same source in the Collective Unconscious. Although individuals, groups, and cultures may look different in their specifics, look beyond and through the particulars and you will see the common archetypal patterns in action.

Lake Superior Schooner

(Jung, 1973, 1977; Stevens, 2003).

See Bookshelf for complete citations.

Full Circle POV Lexicon: Polarities

Polarities are interdependent, opposite motivational values that are equally important over time in order for a system to function most effectively. The pair of values in a polarity are inextricably linked; they are archetypal, universal in all people, everywhere.

Breathing is an excellent metaphor. We absolutely need both inhalation and exhalation. Make the decision to only inhale. That works for a bit until our body, life shall we say, overrides our intent and forces us to exhale. Choose to only exhale, wait a bit, and life does it’s thing, forcing us to inhale. Inhalation and exhalation cannot happen at the same time, although the circular breathing of horn players comes close. There is a rhythmic oscillation between the two, too much of one or the other causes a disturbance.

Polarities are not a continuum. How do you adjust the amount of inhalation or exhalation on a continuum? They are opposites that are both required.

The breathing metaphor is simple enough, no argument about which is more preferred or better than the other. But, what about the polarity of stability and change, perhaps two sides of a larger archetype of sustainability? By personality and socialization (persona shaping), we tend to have our individual and organizational/collective center of gravity in one or the other. Think about conflicts you might have had with another person about which of those should prevail. You will both be very good at advocating for the one you prefer and think is essential, and lay out, readily, the logic and benefits of that preference. You will both be equally adept at pointing out all the flaws, the danger even, in the other approach. It seems self-evident to both sides. Least likely is seeing how your preference could actually be the undoing of the endeavor.

Other examples of interdependent motivational values are competition/collaboration, action/reflection, quality/cost, other-focused/self-focused

Consciousness naturally assigns a good/bad value judgment on the polarity and organizes and acts accordingly, more often than not without question. Our actions reinforce our preference and simultaneously repress the other necessary counter value. We see the one as good/desirable/wise, the other as bad/undesirable/foolish or dangerous. The one becomes reinforced as a Persona/Ego guiding value, the other is repressed or forgotten and slips into the Unconscious (Shadow). The natural benefits of the other are lost.

Here’s a grand statement: Life will not allow exclusive preference for one value in a polarity without forcing the other value back in to the mix. System disturbance will always ensue; it’s a given.

 

 

The Organization’s Conscious Realm

According to Corlett and Pearson:

The conscious realm of the organizational psyche is the arena where the ego-directed actions and behaviors of those who are in charge hold sway over productive activity and the shaping of the organization’s culture. This is the zone of affairs dealt with exhaustively by conventional organization theory and management theory. There is, however an aspect of this activity that cannot be seen through conventional lenses. An underlying texture, both collective and influenced by the unconscious, begins coming into focus when the observer adopts a Jungian perspective. This underlying texture has two principal threads; the center of consciousness [Ego] and the organization’s public face [Persona]….

The center of consciousness is an organizational process, comprising the myriad conscious activities–reflecting, planning, controlling, coordinating, and implementing–necessary for managing the work of the organization (p. 27).

The conscious aspect of the public face, the brand identity, does two things for the organization. First, it transmits the organization’s ideal image of itself. Think of the bank that touts itself as the “friendly neighbor down at the corner.” Second, the public face screens from the operating environment aspects of the organization that the center of consciousness wants to hide (p. 32).

In the end, an organization’s public face is a compromise between how the center of consciousness wants to present the organization and what the environment wants or expects of the organization. In seeking to find its niche, the organization inevitably caters to some degree to what its public wants. In so doing it may to a greater or lesser degree have to sublimate parts of itself. The sublimated [repressed] material will end up in the organization’s shadow (p. 33).

(John G. Corlett and Carol S. Pearson, (2003), p. 27. (See Bookshelf for full citation.)

 

Full Circle POV Lexicon: Conscious and Ego

The Conscious is that part of the psyche that is potentially under the control of the Ego, which, as the center of the conscious, we typically relate to as I. The Conscious is a very small part of the total, or whole, psyche and is a fairly recent development in the evolution of humans.

My Ego, as the center of my consciousness, exists between the environment in which I move and the unconscious psyche and has the function of perceiving, interpreting, integrating, and adapting to the demands, often conflicting, of both. The ability of the Ego to fulfill its function varies in development from person to person, and, for the individual, development continues over the life span. The Ego can be ineffectual or excessively rigid.

To come: Persona and Shadow.

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