I just woke from a dream about this, where I was discussing self care with one of the several people I know who struggles with their concept of religion and God. And I thought of Kierkegaard’s definition of the self (the relation of the self to the self which relates…). I tried to say maybe self-care is the work of aligning the self to the self-concept. It could be trying to bring the self closer to self-concept, or revising self-concept to include more of our reality.
As I woke up I thought of the illustration of Freud’s personality structure we had in class, of the ego as a fulcrum balancing the id and the superego. That who we are is the struggle to moderate between our animal drives and who, it could be argued, we think we should be. Though I’d never understood before this semester that the superego and ego both overlap the unconscious.
The current consensus (professor, textbook) is that the unconscious is real. Somatoform disorders and blindsight argue that things happen to us that we don’t know are happening. You’re likelier to run into people who think it’s interesting to wonder whether consciousness is real. If you can agree on what the definition of is is. Freud saw it as a seething cauldron of conflicts that we struggle to contain. Few heirs to Freud have taken so bleak a view.
But what about self-concept? I daresay for a lot of people this idea overlaps strongly with what they think about God. What do they think it means to be perfect? Kierkegaard never married because he worried love for a woman would come between him and God (to simplify?). This seems as bleak, to me, as Freud’s representation of what we are. But I see a lot of people struggle with a feeling that God is not on their side, or that they cannot be on his. The assumption that God is on your side has it’s problems.
I guess I don’t think it’s about sides, but about a relationship, learning who someone is, demonstrating who you are. Picking sides is not a good way to relate to people on Earth, why would it be in heaven? If you believe God is real, you have a relationship with God, but what kind of relationship is it?
I’ve thought a lot about the death of my son, wondered at times why God would let that happen to me if he loves me as he says. I’ve thought a lot of things about it over the years. Today I think it’s because understanding him means knowing what loss means. A while ago I was reading Zechariah 12:10 “they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” While this passage refers to the messiah, I believe God feels this way about nearly everyone at some point.
I feel like a lot of people’s idea of who they should be creates problems for them, whether or not this is attached directly to a concept of God (well, who am I kidding, I am a 12 stepper, but I also realize that God is a terrifying or distasteful subject for many people). Is it possible to help people who don’t want to talk about God? Is it possible to help people who already think they know about God? Why do I think I can even help anyone? I don’t know, but I feel like I have to try.
And so I try to talk about self-care and robust mental health. It’s not that I feel like I can lead anyone where I’ve gotten to, but only show that relief may come by continuing to search. No one approach has saved me, besides maybe believing change is possible. Heh. Maybe Earthseed is the way.