Depth Discussion: How do we solve seemingly "unsolvable" problems? Week of 8-15-13

Please share your experience...

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First off, perceiving there is a problem to solve is the first step. I don't say this to be glib; in the realm of 'dysfunctional systems' the primary concern is the human being looking back at you in the mirror each morning.

My personal experience of a dysfunctional system is myself. The simple acceptance of the possibility that the Shadow, both personal and collective, plays a significant role in the unfolding of our lives is the first step on a life-long journey. One of several frames I've utilised is Depth Astrology.

Perceiving there is in actuality a dysfunctional system to fix is dependent on one's perception first, then a willingness to do whatever it takes to fix the dysfunctional system. Whether that's yourself, a client/patient, or society is irrelevant. Invoking the conscious will to acknowledge the system doesn't work is step number one.

Hi Richard. Thanks so much for your comments. I so agree that looking in the mirror is a critical aspect. At the same time, in my own life I am seeing some surrounding relationships that appear to be spiraling completely out of control (mine at least!)--which really actually reinforces your point. What do these seemingly disconnected events and individuals have to do with ME? Surely they echo something symbolic, strategic, and certainly meaningful, that is right under my nose in my own quest for growth. But ouch...what a painful process to dwell on much!

Isn't that the work of depth psychology, to regard and to hold the tension of whatever is at play?.... Thank you for pointing out this powerful perspective...

I like your question, Bonnie. The answer is YES, that is the work of dp, to regard and hold the tension of whatever is at play.  And play requires some work, doesn't it? If the work of dp can stay in play a bit longer than we're comfortable with, and allow the Insolubles some oxygen to flail us around, well that's where the gold emerges.  I mentioned in my other post that CGJ saw the pathology not in dysfunction, but in our clingy tendency to get "stuck in a conflict." I just can't get enough of the images around solution and fix -- in alchemy (and everywhere else, actually) a solution is a moving, active, liquid-like state/process that can have any elements in it. And the "fix" we are looking for -- to fix, to freeze, to harden -- there's your "stuck." What's happen to our poor "solution" word -- enslaved into a hardening agent, sought after as the end of an argument, when really the solution is the beginning of the process? Where's Jim Hillman when I need him? Oh yeah, he's right here, I almost got stuck in thinking he was gone, or ever here for that matter...

To start with, suggest cancelling any thought that a problem is unsolvable!  And recognising that we can't please everyone all the time. 

Some problems are not ours, they are for another to sort out.  Beware the 'rescuer' psychology which inter alia contains the implicit (and superior) assumption or belief that others are incapable of meeting their own challenges in life, which they will undoubtedly pick up on to their detriment.

We also tend to over-complicate things as 'rational' beings!  Cf. cutting the Gordian knot.

There are no unsolvable problems, 'wicked' or otherwise.  

If we have done all we are responsible for, the rest in in the hands of God.

In general, of course, "I have found the enemy, and he is us".

I agree that the only thing we can change is ourselves and sometimes it takes time, maturity and developing conscious awareness to 'outgrow a problem that has destroyed others.'  Of course one has to have the constitution to engage in shadow work, not just the study of it.  From my point of view, depth work is not for everyone, nor should it be. 

It's been my personal experience that when I recognize there is a problem with me, and I work to become more conscious of the change needed to right the attitude or behavior, then my world shifts - people leave, jobs change, new people and experiences manifest.  

The first dysfunctional system I tried to change was the family of origin.  I assume everyone can guess the result of that. The next was a board of directors for a nonprofit, of which I was the VP.  After that was the consulting world I just left a year ago.  In each case I became more conscious of my shadow, and the power of group think and the unconscious.  

It took these three experiences, a midlife crisis at 44 which brought me to the study of Jung, and turning 60 last year, before I realized and understood that individuation is a personal goal and not a collective one.   I don't mean to imply that a revolution of one can't make a difference.  It brings to mind people like Martin Luther King.  He sacrificed his life to begin the changes needed in our racist culture.  I am no Dr. King, so I have to believe that my personal struggles to change myself make a difference to the collective, be it my family or my country.  If I am more conscious, then it shows in my work; my attitudes, my relationships and my world.  From there it ripples out to the larger culture.

I agree with David that some problems are not our own.  You do what you can and leave the rest to the G.O.D.  Thanks for the opportunity Bonnie.  It makes insomnia much more interesting........:)

On the wall right above my desk is a handwritten transcription of a favorite CJG quote which references "insoluble." He's taking another swing at the same target, and we can learn a lot from reading this excerpt:

"I had learned that all the greatest and most important problems of life are fundamentally insoluble. They must be so, for they express the necessary polarity inherent in every self-regulating system. They can never be solved, but only outgrown. I therefore ask myself whether this outgrowing, this possibility of further psychic development, was not the normal thing, and whether getting stuck in a conflict was pathological. Everyone must possess that higher level, at least in embryonic form, and must under favorable circumstances be able to develop this potentiality." (1967) CW 13, par. 18.

It almost needs no explanation, CGJ does all the work for you here.

The insolubility here is comforting to me, as a person on a certain path... If I hear it in a panic, as a person who needs to fix everything, have everything solid, 'fixed' as in cement, then I get itchy and sweaty - "wait, I'm gonna always feel trapped by my persona, and never really be seen or known by everyone? and feel like a fraud? I wanna fix myself and this problem of not being known by others!!!" (for one example).

But this itchiness belies the pathology of stuckness he's pointing out here, with some amount of tender compassion, I have to point out, something we can each relate to.  "Oh, so if I am paying attention to Self as a self-regulating system which by nature wrangles with polarities and is destined to never win the wrestling match outright...then I can have hope (a potentiality) for not figuring it all out or erasing the badness or finally watching the cement harden into a perfect form...then I can respect these Insolubles, even love them as I outgrow their vexing and confounding Problem-ness!"    

This second voice is a voice of what a friend of mine taught me is a growing edge. A growing edge of awareness of the potentiality to outgrow and in-grow, grow down, not just grow UP -- and never to move too far away from the struggle, the conflict, the prima materia to believe the hype of a clean escape, or desperation to drain the swamp. 

Jung's pointing that out when he pairs "that higher level" with "embryonic form," polarities are active and regulating (with and without assistance from S/self). And when he says everyone must have that potentiality, it's not "--or else" but it's with hope that "favorable circumstances" will present themselves, make themselves evident, or be created by us via choice and hard work, even.

So yes, I believe in insolubility. With a smile on my face. A 'dysfunctional system' is sometimes a ripe and ready fully-active highly-functional system just SEEN WRONG, with immature eyes that whine "I'm never gonna grow up, am I?" With faith in the "outgrowing" happening all the time within us and around us, mostly not even within our awareness.... well then there's not really a system that's dysfunctional is there?

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