Withholds and Beyond -8

Withholds and Beyond

Part 8 –

Ok, so now we are going to get to the heart of the matter.

In my last blog post, I left you with a question, (sorry its so dense, but it does seems to really sum it all up): If communication is a function of intention, and my intention is to relate rather than control, and I fulfill my intention through dis-identifying myself from the grip of my mind by sharing my experience and thus being open to the unknown – then what is authentic communication a function of?

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All communication is a function of intention.  And there is a difference between inauthentic communication and authentic communication. The difference is not all black and white, but by degrees of course.

So there is inauthentic communication and there is authentic communication.  Inauthentic communication is usually driven by the unconscious intention to control.  So, then what is authentic communication a function of?  You can assume its not control, so what is it….?  Agency.

Agency, its that word again.  The word keeps s coming up.  I seem to have a thing for agency, and there is a very good reason why.  Lets consider how agency relates to authenticity. I have found this way of looking at it very useful, especially if you consider our becoming as an evolutionary process.  How do we evolve into agency?

In order to look at it from a developmental standpoint, it’s best to break it down into four parts. This model is something I learned from Robert McDonald via Mark Lewis. Dependency, Co-dependency, Counter dependency, Counter dependency and Agency:

dependancy chart

First, lets look at each part.  There’s dependency.  In a literal sense the infant is dependent upon the mother or parents.  In adult relationships, I think all of us have had the experience of being emotionally dependent upon someone – or at least it felt that way.  And/or we have had the experience of having someone feel emotionally dependent upon us.  Often, from the looks of it, (looking from the outside) this situation looks like the one who is dependent is the smaller of the two.  But actually, what makes it a dependent relationship is that the bigger person is actually getting something out of the littler person’s dependency on him.  He (or she) is getting a sense of identity though being depended on.

I think we all have some experience of being on both sides of this street.

Usually, at a certain point, the little person is going to go, “hey, wait a minute – your not always right!”  Then all the sudden the larger persons dependency is going to be illuminated, and then we go into an evolutionary shift into (our favorite) co-dependency.  To think as co-dependency as an evolutionary shift is pretty funny!

Now, co-dependency.  People’s tolerance for co-dependent pain is impressive!

The level, the degree, and the consistency of human’s tolerance for this – its truly impressive.  In this state we can even fight as if we are against each other, even threaten to leave, but we are really hooking each other into further and further dependencies. Co-dependent arguments; these are those arguments that never end, or those process conversations that never get resolved.   We can talk all night long and its never works out, that’s co-dependency.

In these situations, at a certain point when the pain threshold gets intense enough, we go, “fuck you.”  That is when we move into counter dependency.  This is the most insidious kind of dependency.  You can basically sum counter dependency up to this: “I am that I am not you.”

In other words, my identity is based on not being you.

I will not take that anymore.  Fuck you.  Right?

I am who I am based on pushing off of you.  So its still a form of dependency, but because it looks so counter, (and this is what makes it so seductive), there is an illusion of independence.  Actually, it’s only a much more insidious form of dependency.  Most teenagers go through this.  It’s a classic, and necessary, developmental stage.  They start pushing against you, right?  Defining themselves.

Sadly, most relationships don’t get out of this cycle.

The classic cycle is this: I’m dependent and at a certain point I get enough of a sense of self that I go, “your not always right.” And then we go into co-dependency.  Then one of us goes, “fuck you then.”  Then that fuck you, (if it doesn’t end up breaking the relationship), will end up going back into dependency and the same cycle will continue with roles of each person often switching back and forth.

This cycle can go on for a lifetime.

Agency on the other hand, in my experience, is very different and very rare.

Agency is something quite spectacular and it is really missing in our culture.

The more I think about it the more I see that making such an evolutionary leap (a leap to agency) is a very mature thing.

There are allot of different ways to describe agency, but for now we will look at it in terms of 2 poles, with 4 quadrants.

Lets say that the first quadrant is strength and the ability to manage well.  I mean a certain kind of strength.  I don’t mean force.  Force is counter dependency – i.e. I get my strength from pushing off of/against something.  Not force.

Genuine strength is innate strength.  It does not need anything to push off of, or resist, in order to exist.   I am also including here the ability to manage well – which means the ability to manage allot of sensation, allot of anxiety, allot of unknown, just allot of stuff.  It takes allot of strength to do that authentically.

The second quadrant here is weakness and the inability to manage well.  I can’t handle the sensation, i.e. my sense of self breaks down if it all gets to be too much.

Its not black and white, there are degrees to these poles.  But for the sake of explanation I’ve abstracted it – in order to draw you a map.  But remember, the map is not the territory.  But its useful to look at it like this.  So far I’ve described one pole.

Now the second pole, the first quadrant here is made up of being open and venerable and the second is made up of being closed and contracted.

Two poles, four quadrants.  Again, remember that there are gradations and it’s not black and white…

Lets look at what happens when we take strength and we bring it into closed and contracted.

I would say that this personifies the idea of domination.  It’s more like force.  I’m too closed and contracted to be impacted by the negative effect of my action on you. I’m too psychologically and emotionally closed to feel the pain that I am exerting on you.  This gives me the ability to dictate, and dominate you with out being able to feel the emotional impact I am having on you.  Right?  I think we have all experience people like that and, at times, we’ve all been like that to some degree as well.

Here’s a very important thing to get about this, being a victim is just another form of domination.  In fact, it’s a much more insidious form of domination because it doesn’t look like domination, right?  But the truth is that when you go into blame and start being a victim, you’re dominating the situation.  It’s all about domination.  So, lets not kid ourselves about being a victim.  Victim = domination.

So, closed + strength = domination.

Now, if we take closed and contracted and we bring it into the pole of weak and can’t manage:

Then we get resigned and numb. Imagine being subjected to a certain amount of pain over a long period of time.  Well, at first, my may be like, “Hey, stop that!” But then, if there’s this point where we realize we can’t do anything about it, we will get resentful.  And then we will get really enraged.  And if we are still subjugated to this pain, at a certain point we are going to get that we are too weak to do anything about it, then our mind does something very brilliant, it resigns.

Resignation is a brilliant way to basically deal with being tortured over a long period of time.  I’ve thought about this allot.  Imagine being caught in a war and being tortured for years; I hope I could get resigned and numb in that situation!  Who would want to stay open to that?

Resignation is a legitimate way of dealing with being subjected to an enormous amount of pain.  It’s amazing; the mind has this great defense mechanism, right?  It resigns.

Now, if I get resigned for long enough then I will eventually become numb.  This is how toxic marriages are created.  People stay in these painful, hurtful marriages – how do they do it?  Well, they get resigned, then numb.   They basically go to sleep.

They start tolerating things and tolerating things and then they stop even noticing what they are tolerating because they’ve gone numb.

In my next blog post I will continue investigating how agency is a way to move beyond dependency, and what making the evolutionary leap to agency looks like.

Stay tuned!

Interested in being trained to facilitate this?  https://guysengstock.com/the-art-of-circling/

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