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Monday, April 27, 2015

Give Birth to Yourself



Erich Fromm, psychoanalyst and author of The Art of Loving among many other books, wrote: A person's main task in life is to give birth to oneself.

Giving birth to yourself can happen at any age. You could be in your 70's, you could be a teenager, you might be in your mid-thirties: it makes no difference, you can make this exhilarating change in your life at any time.

Why is it exhilarating? It has to do with you finding the real you...the one that was meant to be...the one that senses a true meaning and purpose in his or her life...and the one that will bring you to greater levels of joy, fulfillment, and happiness than any other aspect of you, barring none. (See also Keep Your Energy High).


The Inner Life

We begin to become interested in our own inner life - not in a selfish fashion, not born of our ego - because this inner life is precisely what can most clearly point the way towards our own birth. The fact that our intuition is hugely involved in this process, should surprise no one. You may have heard of the fact that scientists now refer to our second and third brains (see also my May 2006 Newsletter about this subject), with regards to the billions of neural cells they now know we have in our gut (intestine) and heart, respectively. These neural cells offer intelligent information of another kind to our being, so that in conjunction with the logical information we receive via the neural cells in our brain, we also receive intuitive and emotional information from the neural cells in our gut and heart respectively. Together, the three types of information - if we will but use them in conjunction - allow us to make choices that are much more informed than those that originate merely from our rational brain.

Intuitive Intelligence

Our intuitive intelligence has much to offer us. It can speak to us in the language of our innermost self ... of that part of us that is not only the part that is visible to the naked eye, the part that others can see, but also of that innermost part of us that has always existed, and that will always be. To understand its language is to understand how we can give birth to ourselves. Hence, learning to listen to our intuition is of utmost importance, and one of the best ways to do so, is to begin to allow our hunches to lead us. (Also see the brief article about Gert Gigerenzer's new book about the subject: Intuition Has Great Value After All!).

Listening to our intuition can be fomented by spending some time alone, by meditating, by taking solitary walks, but above all, also by allowing the little voice inside of you, when it comes up and nudges you about something, to be heard. In other words, don't just ignore it, don't just tell yourself that whatever it was that you just thought had no value, and that therefore you will not pay any attention. Do something about it. Or notice if right after, something happens, as in: I just thought of Aunt Mabel and two minutes later she rings me. While this type of example is minimally important, it does allow you to begin the process of better understanding the role of intuition in your life.

Listening to our intuition also has a lot to do with our self esteem. If we have not got a good sense of self esteem, we will not esteem that inner voice and give it validity. Hence, understanding that our self esteem is one of the most important parts of our own self that needs to be enhanced by a process of self love, is high on the list of priorities towards the goal of giving birth to yourself. It is precisely from this intuitive sector of your being that you will get the greatest amount of vital information about where to go and what to do in order to expedite your birth.

How do we find meaning in our lives? One of the easiest ways is to listen with your inner ear to your bodily reactions to anything. Notice especially a sense of excitement in your solar plexus, an increased rhythm of breathing, heightened facial color and body temperature, as you hear a conversation, listen to something on the radio, watch a documentary on TV, because your body is giving you information about the importance of the particular subject in question to you and your true purpose in life (see also Finding a Meaning For Your Life). This inner listening is totally connected to your intuition and your emotional self, and it is another way of strengthening the inner dialogue in order to give birth to yourself. (See also Using Your Emotions to Learn About Yourself).
Here are some further ideas about how you can go about this important process of change:


The Unexamined Life

It was Socrates who in 399 BCE said the unexamined life is not worth living.

Most of us live unexamined lives. Why? Because that is how our world - generally speaking - is. We may examine our outer circumstances: our profession, our homes, our standing in society, our finances, etc., but we tend not to examine our inner lives.

History - world history - has shown us that there are certain cycles that repeat with some regularity, and that we can learn from in order to avoid mistakes of the past, and potentiate other, stronger, and more positive aspects.

Interestingly, humanistic astrology also focuses on cycles in the human life span, and uses, for example, the planet Saturn to determine when those cycles take place in the life of an individual. Once determined, and especially if the individual is no longer a young person, by virtue of past cycles, the current and future cycles can be much better understood (not predicted...this is not about fortune telling, but about understanding). However, even with these tools, past cycles can only be understood if the individual has made an effort at examining the events - inner and outer - of his or her life.

Economic and business cycles also study the fluctuations of the market and the changes in any given economy or society. Also see Gregg Braden’s book Fractal Time.
Therefore, it would seem that examining one's life is also truly important, if one has any interest whatsoever in understanding it and oneself.
Examining one's own life is not tremendously difficult, but it does pose some awkwardness for those not versed in this kind of activity, as it involves time with oneself. I have found that for some people journaling is a good activity, as it allows them to bring out inner feelings and thoughts that they may not be so very much aware of in ordinary everyday life. More than journaling, however, I also recommend that a sheet of paper be taken for every year of the life. Then, simply write down those things that you know: residence, which family members (and pets) lived with you, school, friends, etc., progressing to further education, jobs, partners, cities of residence, and so on. As you fill in obvious bits, you begin to remember others. Jot them down in bullet fashion, in order to flesh out your own forgotten and unexamined life. This is the beginning to greater understanding. You may see how decisions you took at age 22 led you to expansion and growth at age 29, that in turn led you to other avenues at 36. Or you may see the reverse. You may notice that whenever you had one type of calamity, your reactions were of a given type, that led, some time in the future, to another version of the same calamity. Now you are in the middle of facing another one. Perhaps - due to this examination of your life - you may now decide to react differently.

However you do it, examining the life is always of great value. You may even find it fascinating!

Inauthentic Lives

Many well-known and respected speakers refer to people who live inauthentic lives. The sense I get from them, is not that they are criticizing these people, but that they are suggesting that living an inauthentic life may lie at the root of much unhappiness and desperation that is often covered up with sex, eating, drinking, drugs, shopping, non-stop deadening of the senses with television and mass media, an incessant social life, and so on.

Inauthentic is defined as "false, not genuine", and what is false and not genuine about an inauthentic life, is the fact that the person living it is not in connection with his or her true self.

That is to say, this individual is generally living a life that he or she feels should be lived, a life perhaps that the parents expected, or a life that the partner or spouse expects, or simply that this individual feels should be the life to be lived in order to live up to someone else’s expectations. It’s often also a life in which much greater importance and value are given to the outer search for material abundance and social and professional prestige (all of which are very worthwhile aims), than to the inner search for purpose and meaning and for connection to the self and others. (See also my April and May 2006 Newsletters: Losing the Connection and Tending Your Inner Garden).

In an authentic life both the inner and the outer quest are given importance, a balance is sought, and the person soon recognizes that what most motivates him or her, and what most gives satisfying meaning and significance to the lifetime, is something that literally comes from within; something that emanates from the deepest inner self, and which creates a true connection to the self.



The Main Task in Life

Back to Fromm who tells us that our main task in life is to give birth to ourselves. In his article Selfishness and Self-Love, published in 1939, he damns modern culture, Calvin, Kant and others due to a pervasive taboo of selfishness. This ideology teaches “that to be selfish is sinful and that to love others is virtuous. Selfishness, as it is commonly used in these ideologies, is more or less synonymous with self-love. The alternatives are either to love others which is a virtue or to love oneself which is a sin."

Fromm becomes even more damning as he continues his assault on our societal mores concerning self-love: "The doctrine that selfishness is the arch-evil that one has to avoid and that to love oneself excludes loving others is by no means restricted to theology and philosophy. It is one of the stock patterns used currently in home, school, church, movies, literature, and all the other instruments of social suggestion. „Don't be selfish“ is a sentence which has been impressed upon millions of children, generation after generation. It is hard to define what exactly it means. Consciously, most parents connect with it the meaning not to be egotistical, inconsiderate, without concern for others. Factually, they generally mean more than that. „Not to be selfish“ implies not to do what one wishes, to give up one's own wishes for the sake of those in authority; i.e., the parents, and later the authorities of society."

And Fromm continues: "„Don't be selfish,“ in the last analysis, has the same ambiguity that we have seen in Calvinism. Aside from its obvious implication, it means, „don't love yourself,“ „don't be yourself,“ but submit your life to something more important than yourself, be it an outside power or the internalization of that power as „duty.“ „Don't be selfish“  becomes one of the most powerful ideological weapons in suppressing spontaneity and the free development of personality. Under the pressure of this slogan one is asked for every sacrifice and for complete submission: only those aims are „unselfish“ which do not serve the individual for his own sake but for the sake of somebody or something outside of him." (italics mine)

In that sense Fromm made a magnificent statement: "Selfish persons are incapable of loving others, but they are not capable of loving themselves either."

In Man For Himself Fromm wrote: "selfishness and self-love, far from being identical, are actually opposites.

Fromm's encouragement is that we begin to love ourselves in the sense that we can truly be ourselves, in the sense that we can find ourselves, so that we give birth to ourselves, by loving ourselves enough to walk this path. It is - as always - a choice.

Image: Sculpture by Paola Grizi

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Also visit my book website: www.gabriellakortsch.com where you may download excerpts or read quotations from any of my books. My latest book Emotional Unavailability & Neediness: Two Sides of the Same Coin is now also out globally on Amazon in print & Kindle. You can also obtain it (or any of my other books) via Barnes & Noble.

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