Tag Archives: introversion

Soulbyte for Monday June 10, 2024

-Artwork © 2024 Jan Ketchel

Too much introspection can lead to a failure to connect while too much extraversion can lead to a failure to discover that there is a vast inner world, larger and more interesting than the beloved outer world. Too much of any good thing is just too much; balance is needed. Find ways to strike a balance so that both the inner self and the outer self are fulfilled. With this intent consciously in mind, look for ways to amplify or tone down in one area or another, to turn inward when appropriate and outward when the time is right. Learn to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong in any given minute. Learn the distinct differences between the inner self and the outer self, and pay attention to the needs of each, so that you will begin to know what balance feels like.

Sending you love,
The Soul Sisters, Jan & Jeanne

Chuck’s Place: The Wall

There comes a time…

In one form or another, at one time or another, we must encounter a wall, a limit that says we can travel no further as we are.

At one extreme that wall might be an actual wall, an ending, such as an involuntary crash into the finiteness of death, when we are required to leave the lifelong companionship of our physical bodies to travel onward, transformed, as purely energetic beings. At the other extreme is the volitional imposition of a wall, a container that houses the masses of energetic needs and impulses within us. Through bearing the heat of this voluntary containment we activate a process that leads to transformation. In the end, when we are finally released from that containment, we are a whole being, energetically alive in a new way.

One example of volitional containment is Jan’s favorite process: recapitulation. Recapitulation is willed introversion. Introversion imposes a wall around the inner self as the opus of transformation is undertaken. In extraversion we look to the world—our relationships, teachers, jobs, communities, and government, etc.—to be the container and the opus of our change. In introversion we withdraw our expectations for change from the outer world—the buck stops here—and go within the walls of the self.

Part of the challenge of undertaking willed introversion is contending with the compulsive, energetic pull of needs projected onto objects in the world. Those objects glow with the glimmer of gold, as the unknown self projects itself outward onto people, places, and things that we are drawn to consume, possess, love, hate, merge with, and control in the world.

In willed introversion we acknowledge the projective nature of our very alive but very hidden inner selves. The inner self, hiding in the dark, seeks desperately to be known and lived through attaching to the objects that seize us in our extraverted worldly lives. These objects are symbols that mirror the unknown parts of our inner selves.

In willed introversion we withdraw our living of this inner self out in the world and instead contain and interact with it inwardly, learning to know, love, and integrate our unknown self. In willed introversion we view our compulsive and addictive impulses as the symbolic language of our inner truths. We choose not to concretize those impulses in the world by attaching to substance or person. We choose instead to go inward and interact with the energetic source that is being activated.

Strange characters may appear…

For instance, during recapitulation, we may notice a compelling, attractive, repulsive, anxious fearful, or disorienting reaction to a person or event in the outer world. Rather than energetically attach outwardly, we willfully go inward and ask to be shown the source of the energetic excitation. Often we are led to images, characters, dreams, and memories that lead us into unknown, forgotten, or split off parts of ourselves that are desperately seeking attention, reconciliation, and new life.

Even our bodies may manifest sensations or pain that may reflect communications from our unknown selves. While of course we must always medically rule out physical challenges, exploring the body as a symbolic object of projective communication might lead into a deep discovery of the unknown self. It doesn’t hurt to ask, to talk to the body.

If we don’t construct a wall, if we don’t accept containment, we cannot achieve the self-knowing that allows for real transformation and genuine extraverted fulfillment freed of projection. Without containment, we find ourselves wandering aimlessly from room to room, seeking our projected gold in a vast and endless consuming world, never realizing that the pot of gold is waiting not beyond the rainbow, but within the confines of the self.

Sending greetings from inside the wall,

#726 Chuck’s Place: Active Imagination: Engaging Images in Action

For the seers of ancient Mexico, our apparent perception of the world is, in fact, really our specifically human form of interpreting the energy of the universe at large. Those seers maintain that we take in very little sensory data, mostly through our eyes, which we then use to quickly call forth the intent of an object. This intent is what Jung would call the inner image or inborn archetypal representation of an object that then gets projected onto outer reality. The uniformity of human intent has generated a consensual reality populated by objects believed to definitely exist, as we project them in the outer world.

From this perspective extraversion can literally be seen as the extra version, the projected version of the preexistent inner image. In contrast, introversion can be viewed as the inner version of our dancing images. In either case, our primary relationship is with our own images—as projected in the world or within ourselves.

Jung stated that everything unconscious is projected. Translation: everything we don’t know about ourselves we project upon the world. Hence, our inner unknown images, or parts, are all projected upon the world. Active imagination is a technique Jung developed to directly discover and interact with the specific images active within one’s self. This technique offers a path to self-knowledge and wholeness.

If we are primarily extraverted, we meet ourselves, our inner parts, in the outer world of relationships. If we are primarily introverted, we are preoccupied with the images within ourselves that might present as fantasy images, thoughts, feelings, or moods. Most people are a mixture of both introversion and extraversion, therefore are confronted by their personal images both within and without.

Last Sunday, I awoke with the impulse to create a retreat structure in our backyard. I spent the better part of the day walking the grounds, envisioning a multiple array of potential structures ranging from a stone tower to a cave. I even engaged in Google, You Tube, and book research on various methods of construction. Finally, hours later, exhausted, I sat with my images and realized that my ego had concretized the energy of an inner part of my self. That part was using a series of images to communicate to me the need to retreat. However, in typical Western extraverted fashion, I ran with the image as a consumer to the virtual mall of retreat structures!

What a different Sunday I might have had had my ego sat with the image and talked to it. “Who are you? Why are you presenting yourself to me? What are you trying to tell me?” I’m quite certain that new images, feelings, or words might have emerged: a connection, a discourse, a relationship, a different day, energy conserved.

The other night, after a lovely, filling meal, Jan and I sat and watched an episode of “In Treatment.” An adolescent girl was eating a fresh pizza. Suddenly, I was hungry, wanting pizza. I couldn’t possibly be hungry, but the urge was compelling. The image of pizza had stimulated something inside me. I sat with it and discovered that it was my desire body, what don Juan would call “the nation of the stomach” masquerading behind the pizza image as the physical experience of hunger. In this case, my ego, through bearing the tension of apparent hunger, was able to intercept the secret plot of “the nation of the stomach” attempting to take control of the world of the self. Experientially, once exposed, the desire body released its illusion of hunger. My ego rather gently informed my desire body that there is nothing wrong with satisfying a desire, but really, not on a full stomach!

These two examples, I hope, demonstrate how images generated from parts of ourselves can control our perceptions, needs, and behaviors with our complete unawareness. I close today with a perhaps more universally recognizable image trap. First, I will admit to being a hopeless romantic. However, I have learned that in spite of the intoxicating draw of falling in love, the real magic is in love itself.

Under the influence of feelings of emptiness and lack of fulfillment, with a need and desire for love, connection, partnership, and wholeness, we set the intent to fall in love by evoking the archetype of romance. This archetype comes complete with a standard program and a specific soul mate image tailored to address our underlying needs. The next step is to locate a suitable energetic being upon whom to project this image. When two energetic beings meet with the same romantic intent, their soul mate images may be cross-projected onto each other and, Voila!, it’s love at first sight! When these images unite, the experience is indeed magical. However, as the night fades and as subsequent days fill in the shadows, slowly the images recede, as our apparent soul mate may be revealed as a human being no longer able to reflect the requirements of our specific soul mate image. Often these revelations result in the end of a potential relationship.

My closing question: Who is falling in love when we fall in love. Hint: Images in Action!

If you wish to correspond, please feel free to post a comment below.

Until we meet again,

#650 Chuck’s Place: The Wise Ancestral Self

Welcome to Chuck’s Place, where Chuck Ketchel expresses his thoughts, insights, and experiences! Many of the shamanic and psychological terms used in Chuck’s essays are defined in Tools & Definitions on our Psychotherapy website.

We are born into this world with bodies fully formed and constructed via ancient programs of evolutionary successes and, yet, our minds begin as blank slates, orphans of our ancestral parentage. What an apparent contradiction! This is the dominant scientific perspective and, in fact, the experience of most people with the birth of consciousness, or the ego, in early childhood.

This birth of awareness, of “I,” a separate self, is at once exciting and overwhelming. Excitement comes from discovering the freedom and power of autonomy and choice. Fear springs from the awareness that our newly discovered “I” is small and inadequate, hardly capable of caring for itself in a powerful world it neither understands nor can control.

This birth of consciousness is the moment of eating the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden. The punishment for awareness of a separate self is banishment from the garden, and the charge to the ego, that separate self, is to “go it alone,” despite its inadequacy and lack of preparation. Our banishment, the birth of the ego, is our separation from our wise ancestral self. We become a blank slate, seeking, with desperate extraverted eyes, to fill our egos with knowledge, gained from trial and error or formal education, to be capable of occupying a space in this world, with some sense of legitimacy, orphans that we are. This is the plight of the ego, alienated from its wise ancestral self.

We spend the better part of the first half of life struggling to find our place in this world. We seek to discover our talents, our callings, where we belong. We burn through many false starts, trial and error careers and marriages, all the while accumulating more knowledge and clarity of who we “really are.” Regardless of our successes and failures in life, at the deepest level, we remain orphans, at best very adequate, well adapted, successful orphans, but, underneath, aware of a void. For some, this void is a deep sense of inadequacy, while for others it presents as a deep spiritual longing. Jung would identify it as the challenge of individuation, where the ego accepts its rightful but relative place as part of the all-encompassing wise ancestral self.. That wise ancestral self is present and functioning throughout our lives, it is our true guardian angel.

For example, years ago, as I stood alone on a beach in Jamaica, forcibly loading my spear gun, I inadvertently stabbed the back of the spear deep into my palm. (I wrote about this experience in The Book of Us, but I am presenting a different perspective on it this time around.) At that moment, I fainted; my ego vanished. It was overwhelmed; it knew not what to do. When my ego woke up, I returned to consciousness: I was sitting on the beach with my palm packed in a lump of wet sand. The bleeding had been fully contained and coagulated; the wound was completely sterile and healing. Who did that? Who knew exactly what to do without any intervention of consciousness? No one else was on the beach, and my ego was fully asleep.

In another example, years after that, I was driving alone very late at night northbound on the Taconic State Parkway. I fell completely asleep. When I woke up I was driving, properly, in the southbound lanes of the Taconic State Parkway! Mind you, I was not drunk, in some kind of blackout state. I’d simply fallen completely asleep. Who took over the wheel and had the sense of humor to make me grapple with the fact that I had somehow successfully made a U-turn while my ego was asleep!

These are dramatic examples that, for me, illustrate the background activity of the wise ancestral self that operates on our behalf, fully independent of our ego awareness. Yes, we think we are orphans but, the truth is, our wise ancestral self is always participating in our lives. The real issue is whether the ego is in alignment with this wise ancestral self or completely at odds with it. Psychological symptoms, such as compulsions or compulsive projections, as well as physical illnesses often reflect interventions by our wise ancestral self to influence the decisions and actions of our alienated egos. I give the following hypothetical example, using a sexual compulsion. This is not a judgment about the type of sexual play enacted in S & M play. I assume here that my hypothetical client is disturbed by their compulsion. For example, this client might be an executive with an extremely powerful, dominant personality in the world, with a lot of control over others but possessed by a strong masochistic sexual compulsion. In this case, the wise ancestral self saddles them with a compulsion that attempts to deflate a power-hungry ego by compelling it to walk around on all fours with a collar around its neck, obeying the commands of a dominatrix. If this individual can rein in its alienated inflated ego and become humble, by assuming its rightful but modest place as part of a greater whole within the psyche, then the wise ancestral self could lift the compulsion and allow balance to be restored.

The introvert has the advantage of direct contact with the wise ancestral self because the primary focus is the inner subjective experience whereas the extravert focuses outside the self, giving primacy to the object. The introvert has direct access to the thoughts and feelings of the wise ancestral self who communicates in both images and words. The artist frequently receives the images and expresses them on a canvas or in other form. For those inclined to words, there is verbal communication with various parts of the wise ancestral self. Jung called this active imagination, where the ego volitionally communicates with the greater psyche to better understand its message or point of view. Channeling, at a certain level, is written or verbal contact with parts of the individual psyche or wise ancestral psyche, what Jung called the collective unconscious. At the deepest level, channeling is communication beyond the psyche and the confines of this world.

Dreaming is a daily dance with the greater psyche. Every time we write down a dream and feel and contemplate the characters and the situations in our dreams we are connecting with and seeking greater alignment with our deeper wise ancestral self. When I write down a dream, I structure it like a poem. For example, recently, I had the following dream:

My younger son was about nine years old, and was a DJ.
His dilemma was, how to get rides to his jobs.
I offered to take him to a particular job.
It turned out that he was the DJ for his own birthday party.
I was surprised. I didn’t know about the party.
He told me he had invited Efren, my old therapist.
I thought, “Why would Efren come?”
He didn’t know anyone.

When I first wrote the dream, I was struck by the image of my son spinning 45’s, as well as the interest of my old therapist in attending his birthday party. That was the extent of my dance with my dream. I returned later, continuing to visualize the spinning record. The word circumambulation came into my mind and I researched its meaning. Jung identified the circular process of attempting to find one’s way to the self as an individuation motif, the process of walking a labyrinth; the ego’s circuitous attempts through life to find its way back to the center, to the garden, to the wise ancestral self. As I visualized the needle on the record, going round and round, making its way toward the center, I recognized that my wise ancestral self was pointing me to embrace the innocence symbolized by my young son. This was further highlighted by my old therapist’s interest in going to the party. He had once been the projection of my wise ancestral self by my younger self, then in therapy with him. This continued dance with my dream shifted both my mood and awareness and directly impacted decisions that I made that day.

The challenge for introverts is to value their inner experiences in a world currently dominated by an extraverted prejudice. The challenge for extraverts is to recognize that the outer world becomes the palette for the deeper psyche to guide and alter judgments and actions. Owning projections for the extravert is an important means to dance with the inner images and align with the intent of the wise ancestral self.

In truth, there is no contradiction between psyche and body when we are born into this world, both are connected to their ancestral roots. It remains for the blank slate ego to rediscover its wise ancestral self. For the introvert, this is most accessible within; for the extravert without, via projection, but no one is a pure introvert or extravert. With a little effort, extraverts can dance with their dreams and introverts recognize their projections.

If you wish to correspond, please feel free to post a comment below.

Until we meet again,

#646 Chuck’s Place: Extraversion, Codependency or Projection?

Welcome to Chuck’s Place, where Chuck Ketchel expresses his thoughts, insights, and experiences! Many of the shamanic and psychological terms used in Chuck’s essays are defined in Tools & Definitions on our Psychotherapy website.

Extraversion, codependency and projection all share a common quality: orientation of self to something outside the self. If I find myself dominated by something outside of me it’s important to find out why. Is it normal? Is it a problem? Or is it the basis of a new discovery about myself?

One of Carl Jung’s most enduring contributions to mainstream psychology was his differentiation of personality types illustrated in the well-known Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality test. Jung first identified that all individuals fall into one of two major attitudinal orientations: introversion or extraversion. Introverts consider first their internal viewpoint; extraverts consider first the external situation and how best to fit into it. Each of these attitudes is normal and apparently biologically assigned, each having their unique adaptive value, hence, each contributing to the evolution and survival of the species. For example, the extravert might act quickly and concisely, the introvert more deliberately or hesitantly. Depending on the circumstances one or the other attitude may be the better choice.

Jung pointed to the value of each of these attitudes in nature and stated that although all individuals were born with a dominance of one or the other, either introversion or extraversion, they carried the recessive trait of the non-dominant attitude, which is a necessary part of life. For instance, a dominant introvert must access their extraversion in order to navigate the outside world. Similarly, a dominant extravert must access their introversion to be in touch with their personal needs.

People who by nature are extraverts can be judged to be codependent. This mistaken classification might originate in a negative judgment toward extraversion, as an attitude that negates the needs of the self. But how could the world function if at least half of its population didn’t focus on the true conditions outside the self and act in a way to accommodate them? Extraversion is a normal, vital attitude; part of nature, evolution, survival and fulfillment.

Codependency can be seen as a forced extreme extraversion. The condition of codependency was first identified in the alcoholism field to describe the emotional, cognitive and behavioral impact of living with a dysfunctional person, such as an alcoholic, addict, or violent rageaholic. The codependent is forced, for survival reasons, to orient themselves to the needs, expectations, and demands of the dysfunctional person. Over time, this mode of functioning becomes so deeply entrenched that the codependent may disconnect from their true identity as they morph into a being focused on placating the controlling tyrant. Codependency becomes a dysfunction itself, as this entrenched pattern of behavior may be repeated in future relationships. Overcoming codependency requires detaching from extreme extraversion, i.e., taking into consideration the needs of the self as well as determining one’s true type. The codependent might in fact be an introvert who has lived a life alien to their true nature. If the codependent is truly an extravert the work becomes one of tempering the extraversion with a deeper appreciation of the self.

Another of Jung’s major contributions to psychology was his unique take on the dynamic of projection. Jung realized that the unconscious psyche literally projects parts of itself, unknown to the ego, onto others outside the self, to reflect back to the ego, like a mirror, the true inner self. If the ego can recognize the reflection as a part of itself, it can take conscious ownership of this unknown quality and take up the challenge of integrating it into the personality where it can find life in a way compatible with the rest of the personality. However, if the ego does not recognize its reflection, whether because it finds it too distasteful, disagreeable, frightening, or attractive, it becomes compulsively attached to the bearer of its reflection. The psyche requires this. The rule is: one way or the other we must stay connected to all of the parts of ourselves. Either we struggle with the painful task of recognizing, accepting, and integrating all our parts or we remain compulsively bound to others who reflect and bear our disavowed parts.

This dynamic might also be mistakenly identified as codependency, as the dominant attitude that emerges when one is compulsively bound to another is another form of forced extraversion. Whether we love or hate the person who bears our disowned or unknown part we cannot withdraw our attention and focus from them; we orient our life in relation to them. The true basis for this apparent extraversion, or codependency, is actually a projection that confounds the ability to separate or detach from a person clearly “not right for them.” The dysfunctional other, whom we cannot separate from, is housing a part of ourselves, which, for better or worse, we must reckon with or remain helplessly tied to, as we live out our wholeness in projected form.

Who are you? Remember, extraversion in and of itself is healthy, normal, vital, and dominant in half of the world population. Just as that half needs to nurture its inferior introversion, the other half needs to nurture its inferior extraversion. However, extraversion can be called upon and driven to extremes in circumstances that give rise to codependency, as well as when a part of the self is unknowingly lost in another. Only deep reflection upon inner truth and outer attachments can clarify who you are and what is in control: extraversion, codependency or projection, or perhaps a combination.

As always, should anyone wish to write, I can be reached at: chuck@riverwalkerpress.com or feel free to post a comment.

Until we meet again,