I have refined the knowledge of depth psychology into seven principles. Reading these principles over on a daily basis—as a kind of two-minute inner workout—is highly recommended.
These principles are boiled down to about 400 words, so it only takes a few minutes to slowly read the content. But a person could take a lifetime assimilating the knowledge behind the words.
What are the benefits of doing this every day? We’ve got remarkably thick skulls when it comes to learning depth psychology. Our instinct is to reject self-knowledge: it’s so unsettling to the inner status quo. It changes our sense of who we are, and we’re afraid to lose that old familiar sense of self, even when the old self is infused with pain. By facing inner truth each day in the form of a two-minute inner workout, we can overpower our resistance.
So read slowly and ponder the significance of this knowledge. The real trick is to begin to understand how this knowledge applies directly to you. The intent is to turn the knowledge into self-knowledge, which in turn helps us to overcome many forms of misery and self-defeat.
These seven principles don’t mess around—they zero in on what gets us into emotional trouble. They identify the processes through which our negative emotions are most easily aroused. Becoming stronger emotionally is a process of recognizing and overcoming our deeper negativity. We learn how we have unwittingly been producing and holding on to various forms of suffering.
A lot of people find it easier to feel negative rather than positive. In these seven principles, this negativity within us is examined and understood. We want to take what has been unconscious and make it conscious. Don’t be afraid to look at this dense heaviness of mind and spirit. You’re not at fault because it resides in you. It’s just part of human nature. We’re trying to evolve so that we have less of this negativity.
If you continue to make an effort to learn these principles, you’ll begin to understand how they apply directly to you. Enough said. Here we go:
1 – Parts of our psyche are infused with negative emotions that have lingered from childhood. We are attached to these negative emotions in ways that are largely unconscious. This means that, in certain situations, we’re unconsciously inclined, compelled, or willing to feel deprivation, refusal, helplessness, criticism, rejection, and abandonment.
2 – We pay a big price for our entanglement in this negativity. Symptoms of this negativity include addictions, compulsions, anxiety, stress, confusion, self-doubt, anger, loneliness, cynicism, laziness, apathy, pseudo-stupidity, and a sense of feeling overwhelmed by life’s challenges.
3 – In our relationships, work, and life in general, we can be compulsive about acting out our negativity. That means we recycle and replay situations, experiences, and dramas that draw us back into experiences of our old unresolved negative emotions. In chronic self-sabotage, we can even seek out and provoke situations that enable us to relive these old hurts and bad feelings.
4 – Psychological defenses operate in such a way as to keep these attachments and compulsions hidden from our conscious awareness. Our defenses prevent us from knowing about these inner dynamics. One defense is to blame other people or life in general for our suffering. Often we use vanity, narcissism, and righteousness as defenses to cover up our attachments to self-doubt, self-criticism, and self-rejection. Exposing our defenses produces self-knowledge and evolutionary progress.
5 – One important aspect of human negativity is self-aggression. This element of our psyche involves an inner critic that holds us accountable, often in a cruel and mocking manner, and to which we react defensively. We absorb this negativity and then pass it along to others in the form of disrespect, disapproval, criticism, hatred, and violence.
6 – Another important aspect of our negativity is inner passivity. This part causes us to feel weak, defensive, indecisive, overwhelmed, and disconnected from self. Our passive sense of self often feels normal and familiar. We often function under the influence of inner passivity, and we can even experience it as our essence. Inner passivity and inner aggression are almost always in conflict with each other.
7 – We transfer onto others the sense that they are directing toward us the forms of negativity to which we ourselves are attached. We project onto others (see and dislike in them) the negativity we are reluctant to see in ourselves—and to which we are attached. We identify with others in a way that enables us to feel within ourselves the negative emotions they are feeling or that we imagine they are feeling.
Print up these seven principles and carry them in your purse or pocket. Or file them on a smartphone or record them for listening. Whether listening to them or reading them over, you can do the workout any time, any place. Consider making notes or keeping a journal because, as you continue doing the workout, valuable new insights pertaining directly to you are likely to pop into your mind. You want to capture these insights to create your guidebook to inner liberation.
These seven principles expose the manner in which our intelligence is lacking. We are all encumbered by this negativity. Now we see exactly what we have to overcome. We see more clearly where our evolution needs to go. This knowledge humbles our grandiose self-image, and in doing so allows wisdom to arise in us.
By the way, number 7 in this list is a mentally challenging mouthful to swallow all at once. If you read this fuller meaning below, you’ll find it easier to absorb the knowledge.
Transference: Be aware of how you might want to misinterpret the words or actions of others for the purpose of feeling hurt or offended. It’s so easy to feel refused, criticized, belittled, rejected, and unloved. Our psyche jumps at the chance to take on these negative emotions. Becoming aware of transference helps us to see the inner choice we make to suffer in this way.
Projection: Try to acquire the insight that enables you to understand the human tendency to see in others what you don’t want to see or acknowledge in yourself. For instance, if you’re resistant to seeing selfishness or self-centeredness in yourself, you’ll be quick to see and dislike it in others. When we’re smart and wise, we see the world more objectively or realistically. When we’re entangled in negative emotions, we lose our ability to see the world around us in a clear, objective way.
Identification: Be aware of how you might be willing, at a deeper level, to feel the pain of other people. Often it’s a good thing to imagine their pain in order to sympathize with them and be willing to help them. Other times, though, we feel their pain quite strongly in order to arouse or awaken certain negative emotions in ourselves. If, for instance, we feel the agony of someone’s helplessness, we could be replaying and recycling this negative emotion within ourselves. Doing this is no help to anyone.
If you encounter strong resistance after doing the workout for several days (or for a week or two), back off and give it a rest for a few days. Strong resistance involves the feeling that your mind is no longer processing the content. It can feel as if you mind is saying, “No thanks! I’m not interested in reading this material today. I can’t get my head around it anymore.” Resistance to self-development is common. It can occur even when we’re trying to do daily physical exercises. On an inner level, we all have resistance to assimilation and acceptance of inner truth. This resistance has to be honored; we don’t want to get in a futile struggle with it. Resistance can be an indication we’re making progress. Don’t be discouraged or defeated by the resistance. Continue reading the content after taking a break. Trust that the benefits of this deeper knowledge will begin to manifest.
These principles provide the means to appreciate the universality of humankind. We see ourselves and humanity more objectively and more compassionately. Through self-knowledge, we discover our authentic self.
(Visit my website where more than 175 posts provide insights into depth psychology.)