Astrology, Hall of Mirrors, Personal Growth

Personal Growth. Ugh

This is not a story post. I’ll leave that for another day. As I tend to do, I do a lot of soul searching. Usually it’s not particularly effective unless something happens which brings me up short and makes me look at something anew. I’ve talked about my Hall of Mirrors concept and how useful this has been to help me see things a bit more clearly. Another tool I use extensively is astrology. I actually even teach astrology basics. It’s a massive subject, and I’ve found that those who are seriously educated tend to forget that for the new student it’s an entirely new language and an entirely new way of perceiving the world, and thus it’s entirely too easy to overwhelm and intimidate people just getting into it. That’s where my class comes in. I teach all the bare bones basics and it takes a total of 10 weeks – 1 2-hour class per week. So far, excellent feedback!

I enjoy teaching something because it gives me the opportunity and challenge of figuring out ways to convey ideas in a manner that allows my audience to connect to it. If I’m explaining something and I get a blank look, I need to try again. I do reasonably well and I’ve been told I’m an excellent teacher. *buffs nails* But I also like teaching because it forces me to revisit the content, and I’ve learned that you can NEVER know the basics of ANYTHING too well. Since I ride horses, this is illustrated exceedingly well also. A constant review and expansion of the basics is always a good thing. Which leads me into what has been on my mind.

Caution: this post will feature heavy astrological archetypal language. If you’re not into astrology, it likely will be confusing.

In my birth chart, I have the Sun/12th/Pisces in Opposition to Pluto/6th/Virgo almost to the second — that means this is a really powerful aspect and indeed a very dominant theme. Pluto is a major powerhouse planet, and not one to take lightly. I particularly love thinking of Pluto as indeed the God of the Underworld, the dark lord of the deepest subconscious self where all the aspects of ourselves we wish were dead and gone … really aren’t. I’ve been struggling with how to manage these Sun/Pluto combined but opposing energies. Pluto is so damn powerful that I want to make it my ally, and I’ve been stumped as to how to do that.  To help give me insights, I’ve turned to the wonderful Interwebs and read what other astrologers more steeped in this paradigm than I am have to say on the subject. The single most helpful verbiage that I found was written by Jean Marion.

Now I have a few … shall I say “personality quirks” that I’m not overly fond of. One of them she flat out boldly stated: “prone to inner tension and negative, self-destructive behavior. When things are going well, they suffer from fears that something will come along to change that.” Ooooh, so guilty. This awareness is not new to me, though. Using the Hall of Mirrors techniques, I identified this one and when I catch myself starting to think something along the lines of “why did he say it  with that tone? am I about to get fired??” then I know my innate paranoia is starting to take root.

There’s a book I’m reading right now called “Come As You Are” by Emily Nagoski, and boy will I be talking about THIS book later but the chapter I’m on right now is talking about meta-emotions — or rather, how we feel about how we feel. Now my Hall of Mirrors is about identification and observation of emotion and motivations, or essentially it’s about mindfulness. I started to use the observations of myself as a means of bullying myself into behavior I wanted to express, as another means of shoving the unwanted stuff down into the Underworld for Pluto to manage for me. Not a great idea!! So until I read that chapter in Emily’s book, when I noticed my paranoia starting to run amok which essentially is a self-sabotaging behavior set, I judged this “bad” and began to verbally abuse myself to force the behavior to stop. I’m choosing now to use words which illustrate the violence I’ve been doing to myself in an effort to control behavior. It doesn’t work. In me, it serves to entrench my position and incites rebellion. Now, meta-emotions. Nagoski does a great job of illustrating that how I feel about what I’m feeling has far impact on the situation than anything else. Mindfulness? Useful, but not the means to an end that I had ascribed to it. I put this to the test. Next time I started to feel something and then feel something else about that feeling, I addressed the meta-emotion and let the base emotion run its course.

“Run its course?? Are you crazy?” I’ve learned long time ago, though it’s easy to forget, that base emotions are usually trying to be helpful. They are survival tools. How I feel about those emotions, not so much. So if my paranoia is starting to kick in, instead of doing violence to myself in repudiation of the base-emotion my experiment has been to listen to it.

Remember in my story when I talked about the reaction our first sexual questions get from our authority figures is what sets the tone for our life long attitude towards sex? Well, guess what? That works for my base emotions too. So I’m getting paranoid. My inner monitor sees something that I don’t see and is trying to raise a flag. Perhaps the flag it’s waving is not the most useful, but that’s for my conscious mind to deal with. Let me turn this into a story.


 

 

Paranoia is all nervous, feeling edgy and unsafe. Nail biting commences. “I think they don’t like me. I think they think I’m not pulling my weight. They are thinking about firing me.” As she speaks, her entire demeanor is one of defeat and doubt, shoulders bowed in as if to protect herself.

Conscious mind looks at Paranoia and for the first time actually sees the fear driving this mindset. Before I would have berated Paranoia in an effort to shut her up, but shutting her up doesn’t make her concern lessen. In fact, it makes her feel even more unsafe. Like beating a scared child to make them toughen up. Completely inappropriate response! I choose a different response this time, though asking ‘Why do you think that’ will only invite further sinking into the abyss. No, I need to stop the cycle but in a constructive way. Quickly, I analyze the situation before I speak.

She’s afraid of something. The language she’s using are words associated with survival: firing means a loss of stability and safety provided by the income; not being liked is a threat to our safety within the tribe, within the social dynamic; not pulling my weight is likewise a threat to social position but also a concern with self-worth. So the motivation for these concerns is actually deeper than the words, it’s essentially feeling unsafe. Something is triggering this feeling. Paranoia is a bit hypersensitive, which is both good and bad. Good in that she’s very sensitive to the subtext of any and every situation; bad in that she takes everything to the darkest extreme she can. So Paranoia is picking up on some vibes in the area that are triggering UNSAFE! feelings. Being paranoid, she is the center of the world and every emotion others have is entirely because of and about her. That’s not a judgment, it’s just an Is that I need to be aware of. Now it’s time to engage in a supportive, constructive manner. My goal is to positively stop the negative spiral while honoring the base emotion that was triggered.

“What would make you feel safe?” She stops chewing her nails and looks at me confused. This is not the response she expected and she doesn’t trust it. Fair enough. Her mouth works for a bit as she tries to formulate a response, still a bit stunned that I’m taking her concerns seriously. “Knowing I’m not going to get fired, reassured that they like me.”

“Those won’t really address the sources. What if they need to let us go because the work load can’t support an additional employee? That has nothing to do with our worth or likability, yet we’re still fired. So what would make you feel safe?”

Now Paranoia is almost starting to panic. And here’s where the answer from Jean Marion really gives me the painful insight I need to work with this base emotion. Here’s the magic line: the root of this is an intense fear of change that would threaten to make them vulnerable. Before Paranoia can slide into a full-blown panic attack, I gently but firmly take hold of her hands. “You are afraid of being vulnerable.” She stops abruptly and stares again, though this time her eyes start to fill with tears. Nailed it! “What can we do to become comfortable with being vulnerable? Life will change, always. Stressing about uncontrollable changes will only make our hair fall out. But we can learn that we can manage our vulnerabilities, and we can learn exactly how to go about doing that.” Having her root fear identified and called out so matter of factly, no condemnation or judgment, while also reminding her this is something we can control, has her shoulders starting to straighten out, her eyes to brighten.


And now I return to normal headspace, or rather what passes for normal headspace for me. This is the crux of the Sun/Pluto issues that I’m having. Paranoia is a mouthpiece, but really it’s all about control in effort to stave of vulnerability. Now I have a rather strong, in fact often overwhelming, personality. I can be loud, abrasive controlling and overly enthusiastic. I am aware of this, and so I rein it in quite fiercely. I always thought it was to protect others from me. Turning myself from bold and expressive into mousy and silent was to enable others to be around me. I don’t like being alone!

Jean states: They fear being exposed or invaded. Again, this is an expression of their dissatisfaction with the self they are projecting. Ouch! Direct hit. I am actually intensely dissatisfied with who I see myself as, so I lock it down to keep others from seeing it, to keep me from seeing it.  …intense need for privacy… Another fear response. Control what is seen about me, control how others think of me. But I tend to pull back, literally not letting anyone see or know anything of substance about me. Even my own husband doesn’t know how I think or feel about most things. That is … a problem for us. …their fear of being exposed is really about a fear of being vulnerable… *cringe*

I write this blog and others, but my name isn’t attached. My family doesn’t know anything about this blog. I can express and explore and perhaps a random stranger will see it, but I don’t care. It’s not like you know me, or I you. Not really. It’s the safety of overwhelming anonymity while still having the ability to say “this is my truth” in the center of a busy, noisy, crowded train station where no one stops long enough to hear the entirety of any single thought. And yet, it got said. That’s what’s important.

One of the other challenges I’ve had is my own business. Being an intensely private person who tends to undervalue my own creative expression makes it REALLY freaking hard to market myself. I used to try to bully myself into tooting my own horn, but that never worked. It, predictably, had the opposite effect and I’d clam up even more. But if I could get Paranoia to consider things constructively, perhaps I can work with Vulnerability in the same way?

We all have a dark, irrational side, but people with Sun-Pluto in hard aspect are forced to confront it and integrate it into their personalities. I think a keyword for this particular planetary aspect is “transformation”, and not in the airy-fairy way. I mean by walking into the crucible, over and over again. DarkAstrology adds this nugget to my Sun/Pluto exploration: Until they are able to accept themselves they remain feeling bad, unattractive, unworthy and unlovable at their core.

Yeesh. I know that I have the capacity for tremendous work. I’ve not encountered many who can work as hard, as long, as fast or as effectively as I can – my husband being one who can. But money and status don’t motivate me. Passion motivates me. Engage my passions and I will literally move a mountain. No passion? No drive — what’s the point? But I have passions, and the work I do within my business touches of many of them. So why have I been a lump for 4 years now? I sabotage myself at every turn, rebelling constantly. “You can’t MAKE me!” my childish Rebel shouts in defiance. What the hell gives?? I kept saying “this isn’t me”, but a few days ago I realized … it is. I can be lazy like nobodies business! If I work hard, I can work REALLY hard at doing nothing. So yes, I’m a lazy, lump with paranoid, secretive tendencies and a chronic sense of no-self-worth who will go to the moon and back in an effort to sabotage myself and destroy everything good in my life. That is me! I’m ALSO a really smart, driven, kind, hard-working, broad-minded person with deep insights and a capacity for stupid levels of compassion and empathy. That is me!

Boy was that hard to admit to the first time. But now that I have? I can work to integrate all the dark with all the light. Not easy, and not fun. Anyone who thinks this personal growth business is a cute or fun way to pass the time really needs to wake up the shit they are shoveling. It’s dirty, dark and painful but the result is a degree of emotional intelligence and awareness and wisdom that is impossible to match. Mainly, the result is being comfortable with who I am.

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