Why this is harder than it would appear?
It would seem relatively easy to move from a position of feeling “less than” others to one of seeing oneself as simply neutral – capable of making good or bad choices but not inherently good or bad. It’s a move to a more positive position – wouldn’t that feel better? -- without having to move all the way to saying that I’m a “good person.” But the reality is more complicated, for reasons we’ll look at below.
Hidden benefits of seeing oneself negatively: blunting the pain
For many people who have taken this position, the reason they did so has to do with the extreme negatives they have experienced which occurred in real outside reality, that is, they have been verified as real, not imaginary. Typically these are intensely bad traumatic things that have happened to us, or intensely bad negative things we believe we have initiated/chosen/done.
If we shift our choice spectrum to be negatively balanced two beneficial things happen regarding these: first, they psychologically become LESS NEGATIVE – If they were 10 points to the negative before in my inner reality, now they are only 8. This is captured by the common sayings “Well, it could have been worse, “ or “Well, I could have chosen or done worse.”
This is one of those odd situations where the line between reality and fantasy is unknowingly crossed. Choosing to do worse things is always possible in fantasy/imagination – so that part is true. But being actually CAPABLE of choosing worse –it becoming a real possible choice for you – is NOT TRUE until proven true. We don’t know if we are truly capable of something until we actually face it in outer reality.
Shifting the spectrum to the negative makes these more extreme choices appear real, appear that they have somehow been validated by reality when they actually have not. This is like saying “If I’m capable of this, then I’m capable of even worse things.” In reality THIS IS NOT SO – worse things only remain POSSIBLE, just as they always have been. They aren’t any more real than they were before.
But the shift helps blunt the pain of what actually did happen by making it appear less intense internally than it actually was externally.
Hidden benefits of seeing oneself negatively: removing the sense of real ownership of the very bad things/choices/experiences
The other thing that the shift accomplishes is that it takes away the sense of real ownership of this situation and these choices. While I still see these as part of my internally real set of choices, I no longer have real ownership of them because the shift causes me to see the corresponding intense positives now as unreal, imaginary, fantasy.
This “de-realizes” the choices. They become actions or situations my internal sense of “who I really am” doesn’t fully own in outer reality. Even though I still feel I own them in MY reality, this is falsely based – I’m matching up the wrong real positives with the negatives (hang on, I’ll explain this more shortly).
What’s important is that I don’t have to feel the full reality of them I would get with outer reality ownership. Now in reacting or choosing in this area I can do so more in a role than with genuineness… and often that is precisely what happens. I label my actions here – I am “being” a soldier, or a “victim,” or sinful or many other possible labels, all of which de-emphasize being a human being making a personal choice or reaction.
By decreasing my sense of ownership in these ways I blunt some of the power of the outside reality regarding these very bad things – in my head, not in the real world. But that is useful at times.
The cost, however, is enormous. My attempts to get ownership over these will always fail in the real world, no matter how diligently I seek to balance them in internal reality. I CANNOT ATTAIN OWNERSHIP AND CONTROL OVER THESE IN OUTER REALITY, because I have cut myself off from the intense positives that would allow me to do that.
The only way I can achieve a sense of outer world control is by tying in these actions and choices with their actual balancing real-world extreme positives, and although these ARE available to me I MUST MAINTAIN THESE AS FANTASIES, as not real options for me, to stay negatively balanced.
Further, these will seem to be outside my real capacity to have/initiate/choose, and far more intense than they ”should be” regarding my actual negative choices/experiences. If I stay negatively balanced (less than) I’ll assume that the only way these could fairly come to me would be if I became, or accepted being able to become, outrageously, fantastically bad. Worse than the overly-extreme bad that I already accept for myself as possible. That’s the only way I can fairly balance them from this position.
Accepting that these extreme positives are real means seeing myself capable of being even more of a (fantastically) bad monster than I felt before. This is scarcely going to be seen as a benefit to me to do.
There are three parts to regaining full balanced control in your life
There are three areas where negative balance throws things off.
Negative balance means that:
In making the change needed here ALL THREE have to be addressed. It is not as simple as changing just one. Please see my companion paper on this.
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