Walking the Talk: Airing Our Complexes and Our Complexity

“My so-called personality is a persona through which soul speaks.”  (Hillman in Re-Visioning Psychology)

James Hillman used to remind us that if you don’t think you’re talking to yourself--that there isn’t a constant stream of chatter in your mind and body (dreams of course carrying the largest cast of characters and their chatter, shouts, murmurs, and demands) --you’re kidding yourself. And part of his message regarding this substantially unconscious inner dialogue was to help us get real about all those inner figures and give them some space and time to express themselves in a more conscious way. Going on quest, creating some time and space to honor and uncover the true color and character of these figures is a great way to illuminate shadow figures that are either controlling your life unnecessarily or hiding too much energy and opportunity from your daily activity. Hillman and depth psychology help us to realize that personifying our inner lives can be a great tool for living more consciously and thus more in contact with the too easily dismissed life of soul. Hillman actually called this soul-making.

So in this context, that popular expression, walking the talk, meant to express the idea of living your truth, we can see might have another layer of meaning. Walking the talk here is a sort of airing your truth, giving it room to move, to be heard, and to be seen (and eventually either confronted or engaged with more honesty and awareness). We walk our talk, go on quest with our internal figures, our grumblers and celebrants, our belittling voices and our grandiose dreamers, under the sky, give them some fresh air, perhaps name them, play and explore the depth or shallowness of their character, introduce them to the earth under our feet, and see who and what shows up with these figures we have invited out of the closet and onto the trail. Walking the talk, here on quest in nature, opens and invites the depth and breadth of soul to the natural world.  

In addition to personifying the unseen world of soul, when we walk the talk in this expanded meaning of that phrase, we honor the embodied nature of soul, we physicalize, place one foot in front of the other, as embodied soul characters, capable of both small and large steps, breath, voice, unexpected movements, and most importantly, an easy and natural engagement and relationship with the figures and beings of the natural world. My aggravated and meanest inner figure will have as unique and real a relationship to the sun as will my meek yet curious and childish self. Bringing curiosity, presence, creativity and most importantly faith in the reality of these soul figures, can help you bring consciousness to the range of movements, demands, and desires of these inner figures. Otherwise, without the benefit of this walking the talkers, the talkers will just as surely walk you! One of the oldest rules of a depth perspective states that if we don’t own our complexes, the complexes will own us. And most certainly, the more we leave the inner voices and figures to their own devices, the more unconscious and hidden they are, the more ruled by their hidden movements will be our actions, our thoughts, and our feelings. Walking, airing, introducing these figures of ourselves to the natural world allows us on the one hand to confront and limit their dominance of our lives and on the other hand it allows us to bring out and celebrate those that are otherwise too easily hidden or under appreciated.

Walking the talk in nature allows us to quest for more authenticity regarding the powers at play in our lives. The sooner we acknowledge our faith in these figures and their roles in our lives--that we are more Us than I--the sooner we can move towards wholeness and feel our energies and our efforts less divided. Walking in this context is: airing, honoring the truth of, introducing to the outer world, bringing into relationship, and earthing the complexes and complexity of our lives. 

*Mark's work with walking the talk and airing our complexes and complexity in nature can be found at Soul And Stream

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Comment by Mark Sipowicz on August 24, 2015 at 6:29am

Hey Randy, glad this post helped you feel more open to exploring the figures in your dream. I think it's always worth dialogging, walking with even the most annoying figures in my dreams--sometimes especially them! And doing it in nature is a great way for some of us to do it in a more somatic way. Sometimes it's a movement, sometimes a voice, sometimes just an angle of light that helps me work with the dream figure--watching for the aha! or the new consciousness that comes through and helps us to make a shift in attitude that we wouldn't otherwise. Out on the trail, the naturalness and the seeking for health and wholeness that I believe all dreams are motivated by, can really flow more easily sometimes. Good luck with this annoying figure. I'm sure there is some hidden gift or perspective he holds for you. Good luck and happy trails!

Comment by Randy Westfall on August 21, 2015 at 4:19pm

"My aggravated and meanest inner figure will have as unique and real a relationship to the sun as will my meek yet curious and childish self. Bringing curiosity, presence, creativity and most importantly faith in the reality of these soul figures, can help you bring consciousness to the range of movements, demands, and desires of these inner figures."- Mark

Mark, thank you for this post. I recently had a dream in which I was feeling a very strong emotion about a situation, and a dream character was mimicking my "poor me" attitude, to the point of outright mocking me. I asked the character to leave me. When I woke up, I realized that I had missed a perfect opportunity to quiz this character to find out more about my situation, as I understand the addressed problem now that I'm awake.

I want to communicate with these figures, so I will reflect on how to do just that.


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