My work often reminds me that a lot of people have, to a greater or lesser degree, some amount of confusion within with regard to their identity. And often the roots of that confusion are to be found in the messages received from parents when they were children. For the most part these parents did their best to love and provide for their children. However, having unresolved emotional issues themelves they inevitably conveyed mixed signals, saying or doing one thing, but unconsciously expressing in their energy or mood something else. In my experience, this sends the signal that the child’s emotional independence and autonomy are subtly not accepted. As a result the child grows into an adult with a clear internal message of not being fully lovable. This can then manifest itself in persistent anxiety that seems to be present without reason, in depression, self-doubt, repeated failed relationships or the belief that one has to push hard to achieve any sense of worth.

Jung reminds us that whatever we do not pay attention to, or is lacking within ourselves, we compulsively seek in the outer world instead. So when we encounter something or someone that corresponds to our archetypal inner schema, we can often rush to compulsive solutions for the inner lack. He went on to say, in his seminar on Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, The self is relatedness. Only when the self mirrors itself in so many mirrors does it really exist. . . You can never come to your self by building a meditation hut on top of Mount Everest; you will only be visited by your own ghosts and that is not individuation. . . .Not what you are, but what you do is the self. The self appears in your deeds, and deeds always mean relationships.

Putting these thoughts together, he seems to suggest that the lacks we inherit inside ourselves from our relationships with our parents can become manifest in the relationships we choose to have as adults. We can only travel with another person as far as we have travelled by ourselves. The stronger the dynamic is from childhood, the more likely it is that we will see it being played out in later relationships.

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