Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mortificatio: "Killing" Ego Attachments

Before I knew anything about mortificatio, I thought only of "mortification," as in humiliation or shame -- feelings that most of us prefer to avoid. But perhaps that's the point. Humiliation and shame are ego-responses. And a counselor or coach can unwittingly reinforce the notion that unwanted behavior is "bad" by suggesting ways to stop doing what clients don't like about their behavior.

Instead, we can show them how to be with, to embrace these "unwanted" aspects.

Paradoxically, they can then find ttheir authentic selves.
Mortificatio--killing or dead-making, consciously working on reduction of ego attachments; in Jungian terms 'bringing home' our projections, going inside ourselves to embrace the shadow so our being reflects the whole instead of a dissociated part.
David, at 60, had a late and rapid change in his life:
I'd been yearning for the change I'm now experiencing, but never found a way to do it. Frankly, when I first looked at your web site I thought, "My god, this is some sort of cult!" Later, I realized that same skepticism and fear had kept me from the very change I'd longed for, had -- in fact -- been a hallmark in my career. I didn't trust many people. This often showed up as anger and it cost me an expected promotion to President of our company. The CEO said, "You know, I'm worried about you; you're angry and accusing beyond anything that's called for."

I'd learned to curb my anger with my wife when I realized I was going to lose her if I didn't, but I never carried this outside my marriage. I was going to get a job done, and fuck 'em if they didn't like the way I did it! I'd fight to the death to defend a position and at the same time carry tremendous guilt that I either turned people off with my complaining or scared them away.

What's so awesome to me is that for some reason I have an absolute, unqualified trust in this process. When I talked to a counselor years ago about my anger we just scratched the surface, We never got into the soul of what was going on. I'd put Post-It stickers on my dashboard to remind myself not to lose my temper. And that worked...  until the Post-It fell off. 
I encouraged David to observe his anger without judgment:
The interesting thing about this is that I'm not self-condemning, I'm simply noting. This has taught me how to be where I want to be anyway. The oddest part is that I haven't had to sit here and plot some kind of change. It has continued to awe me, the notion of yielding and letting it happen. I used to get so upset over little things. Just this morning I went to the garage to put some stuff into the trunk of my car and the trunk was locked. My reaction a few weeks ago would have been, "Damn it! Why is the trunk locked?" Instead, I noted, "Oh, the trunk is locked," let the annoyance move through me, walked around to the door and unlocked the trunk. I don't know where my irritability went, all that pointing of fingers at other people.

I marvel now at two things. First, that I've been able to continue the process as profoundly as I have; I still find it amazing that I don't have to go through the great labor I'd been enduring for years, trying to curb my anger at others -- I'm not struggling or trying. And second, I'd gone through life always having to know where I was going, figuring out everything that could possibly go wrong; otherwise I wasn't going to do it. Now it's joy that moves me through the process and I don't care where it ends. I've tossed the road map.
(See also Calcinatio, Solutio, Solificatio, Nigredo, Separatio, Sublimatio, Coagulatio)

1 comment:

Left/Right said...

Educational. An enjoyable read...