I min uppsats på Gestalt Institute Scandivia skrev jag om ”The way of filling yourself with yourself from filling yourself with others”.
Här kommer några kortare utdrag ur den:
Discussion and Conclusions, part 1.
What is – filling yourself with others instead of filling yourself with yourself – in gestalt terms?
All the styles of contact can, in different ways, be in circulation. To me the important insight here is that people are bigger and more complex than the theories about them.
”Filling yourself with others” is much about introjection. Often is three different levels of introjects involved. a) A private, individual introjekt that is like a sentense or a decision. b) As an unaware habit so to say, like introjecting grief or needs of others. And c) a moral introject taken partly from society. The second one is the most central and important one when it comes to make a definiton of what ”filling yourself with others instead of filling yourself with yourself” is in gestalt terms. It is about introjceting other peoples needs. Therefore they are outer controlled (going for the needs in the surroundings) instead of following their own inside core.
Filling yourself with others is also about confluens. In that one introjects the responsibility of others as if it would be one’s own then it becomes as if others belong to oneself.
Even if also deflection, projection and retroflection is involved, I see these three more as a way to avoid contact with the pain connected to the phenomena, rather than being a part of the phenomena itself.
There is though a more fruitful way to look at the phenomena in gestalt terms when it comes to how to work with a client that fills herself too much with others. A more fruitful way than to focus on the introjects and the way to digest the introjects and go with the NO. And that way is to look at the phenomena mostly as a matter of polarities. Where one extreme is the ”good and seeing and caring” and the other one is the opposite (and what the opposite to good is, depends from client to client). I have come to see it as more fruitful, because then the work more easy will include the shame. The shame, that goes together with putting light and awareness to the denied dark extreme of the polarity. Being in the process of exploring the other end of the polarity is not possible if it does not go with the therapists’ acceptance and curiosity. And that curiosity is crucial and very very important working with shame.
I think that curiosity more easy could be forgotten working with boundaries and saying NO to invading people on the outside. Because there is lot of people that need to say no. But not all of them identify as ”good”. And that makes the process more ”set” and less sensible I think.
To work with saying yes to the both polarities also connects to the paradoxical theory of change. Because when you let the darkness into the light it isn’ t dark anymore… But when it’s left in the darkness then it continues to be dark, and frightening.
Short discussion, part 2
If I see co-dependence and narcissism as a polarity that is relevant to the theme here, it means that it is important to embrace the denied part ”narcissism” into a whole gestalt.
And yes, narcissism could definitly be a shadow-side of the people that so much need to be good for others.
Within his concept of narcissism Lowen puts at the shadow side (if I ”translate” him into gestalt-polarity-thinking), insanity as one extreme in the polarity. He writes about the fear of insanity and connects it with denial of feelings and fear of life.
In all this, what makes figure for me is acceptance. Inclusion and acceptance. How come?
As I see it both Hellsten and Lowen writes about anger as a way to accept what is. Lowen writes about insanity. Lowens words about insanity and emptiness were exactly healing to me. I do not exactly know why they got to be so important. I think it has to do with the tone of the text. It is accepting. Lowen does not talk about being especially careful with clients that has a risk to go insane. On the contrary, he writes that when it is denied, that is when it could become dangerous. When it’s accepted it will disappear. So he goes with the hidden anger and unlock it from its shadowside. And Hellsten has the same approach. To say ”NO!” as a way to protect yourself and be on your side. Not to say no to someone, no is to say yes to boundaries. Here I think about Marcus Groth who used to say that the only thing a client need to work with to become un-neurotic is to say goodbye and to say no. When you are able to say no, then you are able to fully say yes.
The accepting part of all this that makes figure to me, is also, as I percieve it, the most beautiful part of gestalt, the core of gestalt. The paradoxical theory of change.
“The paradoxical theory of change is at the core of the Gestalt therapy change theory. The paradoxes that the more one tries to be who one is not, the more one stays the same (Beisser, 1970). When people identify with their whole selves, when they acknowledge whatever aspect arises at a moment, the conditions for wholeness and growth are created. When people do not identify with parts of who they are, inner conflicts is created, and all of a person´s resources cannot go into needed interactions of self and other.”
To offer a space of acceptance is the most beautiful gift to give to anyone, and the more denied and ”awful” part the client has, the more important. That is what I get out of looking at co-dependence and narcissism as a polarity. Acceptance and curiosity is the tools needed for anyone with big shameful feelings that could not be shown. And, as a paradox, that gives me hope.