In the late Nineteenth Century, the prevailing view of the path to growth was what historians have called “creative repression” – the view that our path to growth lay through denying ourselves. (1)
Victorians constructed a view of self that was based upon needing to appear to be completely in control of oneself. Any slippage was frowned upon.
It was thought, for instance, that the physical body was a fixed energy system. If a woman indulged her feelings (at worst, engaged in “hysterics”), she’d bleed off vital energy from her other physical systems and could faint, contract “neuralgia,” go into “decline,” etc. Therefore a woman must control her emotions.
Similarly, if a man indulged his feelings, he risked yielding to extremes, losing all discernment, falling into strong drink or drugs, going insane, incurring dementia, etc. Balance required the stuffing down of errant, inconvenient or immoral thoughts and feelings (conservatively interpreted).
In the middle of the Twentieth Century, when the growth movement came into full swing, the prevailing view became what was called “creative expression,” which was often described as “letting it all hang out.”
People were encouraged to turn the suppression button off, express their emotions openly, fully, and courageously, stop withholding, share their secrets, etc.
What we didn’t realize was that we constructed a self-image just as surely as the Victorians did. Now those who shared deeply and copiously were regarded as advanced and many people built a self image as the one who hid nothing but shared everything about themselves, often enjoying shocking others by their transparency.
I recall pooh-poohing the first and lauding the second. But my work with AAM has steered me away from a dualistic view of the situation, towards an additive. I now consider that there’s a place for both.
If we adhere to creative expression exclusively, we overlook the times and occasions when exerting self-control is a good thing.
If we met with people from Andromeda (and many of us will) and “let it all hang out,” we might disqualify ourselves from further interaction. People from higher dimensions, apparently, find our emotional displays difficult to bear, nauseating to their more refined systems.
So a degree of self-control becomes more and more important the further we move into working with people from other terrestrial societies and cultures and indeed essential when we work with people from other planets.
By the same token, the stiff-upper-lip, sang-froid emotionless self-presentation is also not easy for higher-dimensional beings to be with. It’s a blind or cover, and not the truth. So for those whose culture advocates hiding emotion and “keeping on keeping on,” some allowance for creative expression becomes important – at least enough that the truth gets spoken rather than being denied or covered up.
The idea of black-and-white “either/or” took root in our culture over millennia and some of us now find ourselves in the position of needing to break the addiction to seeing things that way. Breaking it may prove as painful and difficult as breaking an addiction to anything else.
However, anything that brings us out of the extremities and into the balance point of the center, the middle ground, or the heart restores peace to us and so carries a reward which, when fully opened to, eclipses whatever satisfaction we got from keeping a poker face or letting it all hang out.
Usually the only satisfaction we got anyways was from feeling right and superior that we were excelling in what society recommended. For repressives, that boiled down to not letting the team down through excessive emotional display, being “right” through not succumbing to emotionalism, etc. For expressives, it boiled down to feeling superior at having released one’s character from the dead hand of repression, feeling right in refraining from gunnysacking negative feelings, etc.
Preferring the center, staying away from the extremities of both ways of being leads us to focus on the center or the heart. We find that our journey to our center is endless, infinite. We go deeper and deeper and deeper into love. And that in turn releases our love to rise from the heart and flow through us, out into the world.
We’ve cleared our core issues (if we have) and we’re now cleared for take-off into the journey that never ends: the journey to the center of our being.
(1) The statement of the case that most impacted me was Michael Bliss, “‘Pure Books on Avoided Subjects’: Pre-Freudian Sexual Ideas in Canada,” Canadian Historical Association Historical Papers, 1970, 89-108. Bliss called it creative sexual repression, but it applies more generally than simply to sex.