What a jerk! What an A-hole! What a schmuck! What a clown! What a pussy! Confronted with a group of people, it’s always fascinating how quickly first impressions turn into childish judgments. Of course I’d never (well, at least rarely) say something like that out loud, not even to myself. After all, I’m well socialized, strongly identified with being kind and polite. Yet not far under the surface, there’s a little guy with his eyes wide open and ready to judge. There’s something very comforting about forming these kinds of ultra-rapid pigeonholes.
Stereotypes serve a purpose for us. If we’re mature, the stereotype, the pigeonhole serves as a starting point for the next impression. How do we do this? How exactly do I do it? What’s the process? With patience and a considered second glance, the ‘jerk’ becomes a lonely guy looking for love and validation. The A-hole becomes a nervous man, beaten and raped by his priest as a youth. The schmuck becomes a woman, verbally abused by all three of her husbands, and just learning to set boundaries for people. The clown becomes a suicidal, resigned boy using exaggerated humor as a last resort. The pussy becomes a dyslexic man with an overweening mother.
It might sound weird, but one of the keys in this process seems to be Self-Doubt. I mean this, of course, in the most positive of ways. Self-Doubt, as I’m referencing it here, is the habit of doubting one’s first impressions in a way which opens the senses to new impressions. Few people know better than I how crippling the negative form of self-doubt can be. Skimming out the negative forms and emphasizing the positive forms is a work-in-progress for a lifetime! Hard work, but it pays off big. Doubt has enormous theological, philosophical and psychological implications. Writing about that would entail three entire books. Suffice it to say they are all at work here.
Earlier I associated this perspective-shifting with the eyes; seeing out of one eye, then seeing out of the other. I’m not sure this is entirely wrong. Focusing on a single object and covering one eye then the other makes it clear how the slight change in perspective alters, sometimes dramatically, the perspective. Whether or not this corresponds with the left eye or the right eye, or if this is just a useful metaphor, I’m still not certain. In the early days of astrology they associated the right eye with the Sun and the left with the Moon. That’s what started me thinking about it. As always, when there is this kind of polarity, or dichotomy, you begin asking; what is the mix? Allowing one, then the other and then the mix, often feels like right eye, left eye, third eye. Anyone who’s studied even a little of the esoteric traditions knows that this is not an original thought of mine!
Putting this into practice, I noticed, using that third eye mix, that the jerk/lonely guy has a real talent for listening. The A-hole/abused man has an enormous potential for self-assertion and brought it out well in others. The schmuck/verbally abused woman loved, I mean loved men and all things masculine and expressed a breathtaking sensuality. The clown/suicidal boy is quite the expert in systems analysis, cybernetics and computer design. The pussy/dyslexic loved women and had a tacit understanding of how women think, feel and express themselves.
So for me at least, the quickest first impression aligns around the pigeon hole. The second aligns around past vulnerability and the mix focuses on potential. Now that’s interesting information. Dividing these up into personality parts finds them struggling with each other for domination and discovering who’s ‘really’ right. With a bit more self-knowledge and self-acceptance, I found that the entire process could unfold quite naturally, with little or no sense of internal conflict. Now that’s a good day when that happens. In other words, allowing the entire thing to unfold in its own time- the first impression; the harsh judgment, the second impression; past wounds and the third, mixed impression; hidden potential, is a question of consciousness and acceptance.
Interesting also for me in this context is C. G. Jung’s distinction between “The Judger” and “The Perceiver”, as archetypes. This was modified and integrated into the now well-known Meyers-Briggs model. Only in this model, unlike Jung (at least to my understanding), any given individual is either one or the other. For me personally and in my coaching/teaching, all these archetypes live as internal need structures and personality parts. Each comes forward in specific ways from one context to another. In my present model of the world, that idea makes it effortless to integrate my own “Judge”, “Perceiver” and “Potential Junkie”. They’re all good friends, accept each other and live in peace and prosperity.
It’s easy to feel guilty for having unsocial thoughts and impressions. I know it was for me. With more experience and trust, guilt has no place. The so-called ‘unsocial’ thoughts are more like a diamond in the rough, the beginning of something deep, multi-faceted and very valuable!
Evan Bortnick Musa Vocalis Gesangsunterricht Wiesbaden