Real Life #6 – The birth of the false personality
It is commonly known that children require mirroring (a positive and true reflection of who they are and what they are doing). But it is seldom know that from the earliest stages children are mirroring their parent simply by virtue of experience. We will explore how this gives rise to a replication of our parents at the core of our self-identity, hence a false personality. In other words, we are going to the very, very beginning of our relationship blueprint.
Let’s start by reviewing what we covered last week and then adding to that.
Success strategy – It’s how people get by, but it is strategical. It is a compensation for conflicts and pain that are in a person’s unconscious mind. We call this the “shiny defense” or the success strategy. It’s what people are typically good at.
For example, kids who are just too cool, too cool for school.
Losing hustle – When that strategy breaks down people resort to complaining, victimhood, etc. The seed of their complaint is authentic pain but they are overwhelmed by it instead of feeling through it, healing, etc. It has a feeling of stuckness and complaint. We call this the “angry defense” or the losing hustle.
For example, the kids we mentioned might complain “My parents suck… school sucks”.
Intolerable loss and emptiness – This is the sens of emptiness that underlies most peoples personalities. It is what fuels compulsive action, filling empty space and boredom. If people stop action and feel into their experience they usually feel that something is missing.
For example, what people fall into in a mid life crisis. Or what the too cool for school kids fall into when it’s time to find employment.
Authentic pain – is simply the unprocessed pain and difficulties that people have experienced in their past. People are frozen here because at the time they didn’t have the resources to metabolize those experiences. Most of this material is much earlier in life than people realize.
For example, the pain those kids might have about parents divorce or illness. Maybe it gets revealed in therapy
Reality in all its qualities/Being – This is the holy grail of a spiritual life. It is happiness. The love, peace, bliss and so on that characterize Reality and our Being. The false personality blocks the experience of this but it is there and can be accessed if the previous layers are felt through and understood.
For example, sitting at a café or on the beach and you feel good for no reason. Usually it is a peaceful setting (and sometimes the setting is seen as the cause) which allows space for the our being, space for Reality to shine through.
That was all review. Let’s look at something interesting about these layers of the mind.
Imagine a lake with a mountain in the distance reflected in the lake. It creates mirror image of the mountain. So you now have two mountains, the real one and the fake one.
The five layers of the mind are like that.
The success strategy is a false reflection of Reality and our being.
The losing hustle is a false refection of authentic pain.
The top half or defensive layers and the false emptiness are a reflection of Real or authentic layers below, all the way to Reality and Being which is our very core and link to everything.
This is because the traditional personality is a defensive reflection and substitute for our real experience and our real selves.
Typically, people’s experience of themselves is actually a negative mirror of themselves.
This starts way before people ordinarily think. This building of a false self, a false relationship blueprint, begins at the earliest point in life. When the infant is being formed by the parent, biologically and experientially.
In the womb, in the first few months of life, and all throughout infancy the child does not take itself to be separate from the parent. In the womb and possibly the first few months of life the child isn’t thinking at all. It is just experiencing. Then thinking and identification begin. But the imbibing of experience has long started.
Character formation actually begins in-utero and in the symbiotic stage of development where the child lives in a “dual unity” (mahler) with the parent, not separate from the parent. Now we can understand that our initial caretaker is of extreme importance in the formation of our selves/relationship blueprint from the very beginning.
Nurture and nature are not ultimately different because we are formed biologically AND experientially before we can even think a single thought.
Let’s look at what pioneering psychologist Margaret Mahler has to say about this dual-unity in the symbiotic stage of development (2-10 months of age).
Within the symbiotic orbit, the two partners or poles of the dyad may be regarded as polarizing the organizational and structuring processes. The structures that derive from this double frame of reference represent a framework to which all experiences have to be related before there are clear and whole representations in the ego of the self and the object world (Jacobson, 1964). Spitz (1965) calls the mother the auxiliary ego of the infant. Similarly, we believe the mothering partner’s holding behavior, her `primary maternal preoccupation’ in Winnicott’s sense (1958), is the symbiotic organizer-the midwife of individuation, of psychological birth.’ – Mahler 1975
So ego identity is seen to originate in this time of undifferentiated dual unity. In fact, the deepest aspects of the personality are seen to go back to this undifferentiated state of the ego. The personality began to be absorbed particularly at that time, between two and ten months of age. We would argue that it goes back even into the womb (as stated above).
The point is that the child exists in the parents mood, in their action patterns, in how much they touch or don’t, their speech patterns, emotional experiences and so on. The child mirrors the parent experientially by virtue of attention. But the infant experiences that mirror image as itself because the infant doesn’t have any concept of separation. The infant associates those experiences with itself. And as identity forms begins more and more to build an identity around those experiences. These experiences start even prior to birth.
In summary, the false personality mirrors the true person and that false personality begins with the infants earliest experience, which are with the parent.
This understanding provides an access for us to much deeper in our Corework. We can go much deeper by free associating and feeling into these deepest layers and noticing our similarity to our parents at the deepest levels of ourselves, regardless if we resist or bury those levels or even act the opposite ways to compensate for them.