Psychosynthesis is for those who want to be free.
“Psychosynthesis is a method of psychological development and self realization for those who refuse to remain the slave of their own inner phantasms or of external influences, who refuse to submit passively to the play of psychological forces which is going on within them, and who are determined to become the master of their own lives.” – Roberto Assagioli
You were born with everything you need.
When you were born you came into the world with nothing more than some physical, mental and emotional needs, an experience of your essential wholeness, a connection to your nonphysical source and a tremendous amount of human potential. This potential included a great capacity to receive and give love, an undeveloped will and an internal observer. If you were like most people, you were met by two figures that seemed like gods to you — your mother and father. And, depending on how they responded to your needs, you quickly “learned” what was lovable and “unlovable” about yourself. What you learned wasn’t necessarily true, but you had no frame of reference. Since they were “gods,” you believed it. Unconsciously you fashioned your self to keep assuring their approval. You HAD to. You were made that way.
Psychosynthesis simply partners with the process that is already unfolding inside you so that you can get to self realization even faster.
Inside every living organism there is a natural process of unfolding, an innate drive to evolve and realize its full potential. A psychiatrist and contemporary of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, Roberto Assagioli, studied the potential for self-actualization and wholeness as it is reflected in human consciousness. He developed a model that described the process, and offered ways to facilitate it. Assagioli called this process Psychosynthesis. Psychosynthesis is the first psychology that recognized the importance of the spiritual dimension of human nature: an approach which encompasses the totality of human experience from impulses and drives and the impact of early wounding, to creativity, joy, will, wisdom, and the ultimate goal of human existence – self-realization.
Hurt makes you feel fractured inside.
Human beings are born with an undeniable need for love and approval because otherwise, we don’t thrive. Being loved is so essential that if you were treated badly, you had the ability to convince yourself that it was because of something about you. You began to develop subconscious survival strategies to defend and protect your vulnerable self. You hid your vulnerability inside of you, out of harm’s reach. You rejected the bits of you that were repeatedly rejected, and buried them deep inside you so you could believe they were not you. But, since the drive toward wholeness and the need to heal is innate in human beings, the parts of you that were buried continued to exist and were now stuck in time. You consistently experienced how your caregivers and those around you treated each other, and how they viewed the world. You began to internalize parts of your parents and other people and the attitudes, beliefs and prejudices of the culture that was fed to you. It all became part of your subconscious programming. You began to act in the world based on those internalizations, all of which affected the way the world treated you in return. Often those responses seemed to reinforce what you were “taught” – even if that information was false!
And, while all this was happening, the truth of your essential wholeness and the connection to your source continued to exist, but your experience of them grew fainter. You were becoming fragmented, and it showed up in subtle ways. Instead of approaching the world from your essential wholeness, you began to find yourself reacting from parts of yourself, depending on the situation. It was mostly automatic. You just seemed to act that way. You might have met someone who was vulnerable, and if your needs were seen as unacceptable, you found yourself treating that person’s needs as yours were treated. If you met someone who had characteristics of the parent you had never resolved your issues with, you found yourself responding in childish ways – inappropriately reactive, and feeling brought down and stressed by the interactions. And all the while as you moved through your life, witnessing every interaction, hearing every thought, noticing every emotion, your inner observer sat watching.
Your essential wholeness is a fact you just may not always feel it. That’s because you are governed by your sub-personalities.
Assagioli saw that our “Self,” although being consciously experienced as a unified entity, was in fact a result of the workings of many less-consciously experienced parts, each with its own attitudes, feelings, beliefs, perspectives and purposes. Because they interact with the core self but are not the actual self, Assagioli called these parts “sub-personalities.” Each of us has many sub-personalities. Some sub-personalities develop out of a need to protect us and cope with experiences from our childhood. Some are internalizations of aspects of our caregivers, others are aspects of ourselves that we have disowned because we were “taught” that they were unacceptable. Some are familial and cultural attitudes that we internalized without choosing them consciously as our own. Some are associated with the roles we fill in our lives, others are internal resources that developed out of experiences of mastery. Still others have archetypal universal qualities.
Sub-personalities can be compared to various musicians playing in a symphony, while the central core of the self is the conductor. Each sub-personality “musician” can add its own unique sound, adding brilliance and resonance to our being, or the “musician” can dominate the performance – creating a piece of music that was not intended. It’s the conductor, which Assagioli called the “Self,” whose function it is to assure the smooth transitions from one instrument to the other, and keep all the “musicians” in proper rhythm.
Your sub-personalities need to get along Our sub-personalities are always communicating with us, but the communications are more often than not unconscious. The more unconscious their workings are, the more often we “find” ourselves acting automatically, often in ways that we wouldn’t consciously choose. When our sub-personalities are not in harmony we can feel frustrated, demoralized and defeated, and consequently, behave in ways that sabotage ourselves. Addictive behaviors are glaring examples of self-sabotage, but self- sabotaging behaviors in our careers and relationships are no less “Self” destructive.
An essential step towards reaching self-actualization is having our work as a “team,” each offering its contribution and facilitating the achievement of the Self’s goals. As with any team, members can help or hinder each other. As the central Self you are the manager of that team. If team members are having problems with each other that might affect your achieving your goal, you need to be able to hear what the issues are and facilitate a discussion that leads to a satisfactory solution. The ability to know and understand your sub-personalities and the skills of internal communication are even more essential, because your sub-personalities directly influence your life, either creating obstacles or steppingstones to achieving what you want.
Psychosynthesis believes that self-actualization starts with integration of the Self, because the nonintegrated Self is easily un-centered, and finds itself run by its sub-personalities and their issues. This is like waking up with a stiff neck and having to look at everything from one fixed position. Regardless of what position your neck is in, movement is restricted and your view is limited. When your Self is not integrated, freedom to choose perspectives and perceptions about issues in your life are constricted and your options are limited.
Psychosynthesis gives you a way to get to know your sub-personalities, heal the ones that are hurting, support and nurture the ones that add value to your life, and transform or eliminate the ones that don’t. It allows you to create an internal environment conducive to all your “parts” working together to resolve internal conflicts and assure that no sub-personality dominates you. With Psychosynthesis work we are able to transform the “inner critic,” which erodes our self-confidence and decreases our self-esteem, into an inner coach that champions us and holds us accountable to do our best. The inner healer can be a resource to our wounded inner child, and so on. Sub-personality work allows you to recognize what drives you. Healthfully integrating your sub-personalities gives you the flexibility to make choices, which is where all freedom comes from.
Your observer doesn’t miss a thing.
Regardless of what chaos you may be experiencing in your life, your observer, with you since birth, sits unaffected by emotional turmoil, and does nothing but objectively notice and give information about what it notices – if you ask for it. It’s the part of you that allows you to describe things objectively. When your observer is in balance with the rest of you, you have a healthy “self consciousness.” Psychosynthesis greatly values the function of the inner observer, and uses powerful techniques such as Interactive Guided Imagery and meditation to strengthen it. Your observer is instrumental in helping you perceive your sub-personalities with objectivity, so that you can decide what weight you want each of them to have in your day-to-day existence.
Making decisions about the things about yourself you want to change and going about the process of changing them involves the use of your will. Discovery and activation of your will is a key aspect of Psychosynthesis work. Typically, conventional psychotherapies espouse talking about your issues as somehow leading to change. The many years and dollars people spend on sessions and medications, yet leaving treatment essentially unchanged, shows how ineffective this method is. Psychosynthesis recognizes that without the use of our will, even a deep and thorough self-knowledge is often not enough to lead to lasting transformation. For this reason, Psychosynthesis sessions often lead to action steps that are taken to create change. This is also why Psychosynthesis lends itself to any issue that would benefit from coaching. People usually describe their willpower as strong or weak, and often feel they have to accept it as if they are powerless against it. In fact, our will exists to serve us. It’s one of the most important capacities that we have. Our will is key to our personal power and freedom, and is at the center of all we create in our lives. Our self-motivation, courage, persistence, and how we choose to think and feel is a result of the use of our will. Therefore, all the joy and suffering that we experience is intimately involved with our will as well.
Psychosynthesis honors our spiritual nature.
Aside from what Assagioli called the “Personal Self,” he noted each person also has a “Higher Self” — an aspect of the person that embodies the more evolved qualities of human beings, and connects us to our spiritual nature. Due to his vast exposure to many spiritual paths and his years of experiences with clients, Assagioli realized that essential to the ultimate actualization of human potential was communicating with our Spiritual Self — allowing us to hear its promptings, which often come in the form of inspirations, intuitions and images in dreams.
Assagioli realized that a connection to one’s spiritual self is as necessary to our daily existence as our knees are to walking. He also believed that more often than psychological pathology, it is disconnection from our Spiritual Self that causes much of the misery in peoples’ lives. The words we use every day speak of the essential relationship human existence has to spirit. Words like inspire, expire and respiration all have as their root the Latin word “spire,” meaning spirit. When we’re inspired we take in spirit. When we expire, spirit is leaving us. When we feel “dispirited,” we are experiencing a disconnect from our spirit, and therefore not receiving its communications. This disconnect can show up as nagging discontent, a feeling that something is missing, unrelenting boredom or a feeling of a lack of purpose, and is expressed in all forms of addiction. Existential discomfort is a symptom like any other symptom, and signals a need to find out what’s wrong and to address it.
Assagioli discovered that just as the Personal Self has its personal will, the Spiritual Self has a will as well. When the personal will is put in service to the spiritual will, human beings create lives that are most vital and fulfilling. Invariably he found that in the process of serving the spiritual will, one becomes aware that the spiritual will is under a directive of an even higher will — a universal will — or what many call by many names: God.
Through his work with clients and his life’s experience using the knowledge and methods of Psychosynthesis, Assagioli concluded that when we live a life in which all wills are aligned, we experience our greatest ability to realize the purpose of our existence in this life.
Imagine what your life could be like if you could accomplish what you set out to do and have your will serve you, and not allow you to become defeated or distracted from your intentions. Imagine what it would be like to have a greater connection to your intuition, a direct access to a source of inner wisdom and an easier ability to be inspired. And, imagine creating relationships in your life that support and nurture you, and celebrate each step of your growth.