P2 Let us consider the three major directions of our work so far. As you know, there is always one main image which causes the most important unfulfillment in your life. The second concern of our work is to deal with the repressed needs, and, in connection with them, repressed emotions, positive and negative. In the third phase we investigate the defense mechanism you have developed in order to obtain what seemed to you a protection.
In this category belong the attitudes of submissiveness, aggressiveness, and withdrawal. These three aspects, as well as the idealized self image, form a part of your defense. Let us review in brief how an image comes into existence. The childhood hurts and frustrations, which every child experiences at least to some degree, cause unhappiness and discontent. The situation that brings this about leads the child to jump to the erroneous conclusion that every similar situation is bound to bring a similar result.
Thus, what was once reality now turns into illusion, because no such generalization can be valid. The generalization freezes into a rigid, inflexible mass in the soul substance that should be fluid and dynamic throughout. This, then, is the image, which will later act as a preconceived idea. But the image also always contains the supposed remedy for the hurt. Since the image is unreal, so must be the remedy, which therefore never works.
P3 Your pseudo-solutions are supposed to bring you the fulfillment without having to take a risk of being hurt or humiliated again. Since this cannot happen, your defenses become stronger and fulfillment becomes even less likely. The repeated pattern not only proves the image right, but it also proves that your defenses against it do not work.
P5 Even if the pseudo-solution is submissiveness, which seems so opposite to the arrogance of the aggressive success-seeker who denies needs, underneath the submissiveness as much arrogance and superiority will be found as in the other pseudo-solutions. It is clothed in a seemingly more acceptable cloak, but it contains as hardened a defense structure as the extreme opposite. Only by repeatedly observing how your destructive defense feels in you, what it makes you do, feel, think, and how it makes you react, and how this affects others, will you see and truly understand. Only then will you gradually let go and become free of it, and only then will your true “undefended self” manifest.
You struggle between two alternatives, either of which could be healthy or distorted. You will find the answer only when you have found your point of relinquishing and are completely aware of the hardened mass of your defense mechanism. When you appease or submit, when you give up or allow others to take advantage of you, you do so only because you cannot relinquish your needs, and because you are still unaware of them. You bow down to your inability to give in, to lose. Your real self can lose. It may be painful, but that is never as painful and bitter as the struggle of straining toward the impossible.
P6 The stronger your tendency to submit, the more self-contempt you beget, and therefore the stronger is the pull into the opposite direction of arrogant aggressiveness and superiority. Whether you manifest it outwardly, or whether it smolders hidden, your aggressiveness has its effect on others. If you have not (found your main image), consider your main problem, your unhappiness, unfulfillment, and then proceed to find it.
Once you see the main image, determine the part that worked out because of its in itself correct premise. Then consider the hidden claim, which did not work. Look at the needs involved with this image. Once you recognize the image with both the fulfilled and unfulfilled claims, you will know that the needs must be there even before you feel them.
P8 Let us take the case I used tonight. The real need of this person is to be loved and to love; to have a real, meaningful relationship. He is unaware of this need. The childhood experiences with their effect on this particular man have prohibited the unfoldment of the personality which would bring about fulfillment. He has repressed the knowledge of this need. Instead, he pursues success, approval, impressing others. This then has become a superimposed, false need, covering up the real need.
To begin with, he would not be fully aware of his need for approval. But let us assume such a person follows a path of this sort. He will first become conscious of the tremendous drive for success, surpassing his rational explanation for it. He will slowly realize that a stronger force urges him on and on. At first he will not understand it, but as he is more willing to examine his emotions, he will see that the need for approval exists. To stop at this point will not yield relief and liberation. It is only a part of the way.
But by going on, he will ask himself why he needs success so badly. The answer will be that approval is very important for him. Why is it so important? By consulting his emotions very honestly, and without resistance, he will finally see that his need for love has been denied as a child, and that he has gone on denying it himself by way of the image, with all its byproducts. He will come to see how he sabotaged the fulfillment of his real need by the pursuit of the false need. He will clearly see the behavior pattern caused by the false need and how it damaged the real need.
Therefore he will begin to change in that respect. This is relinquishing in the real sense. One grows into it by insight, by full understanding of all the angles. This leads to the awareness that one no longer has to hold on to the false needs and the destructive defenses. But the change can never happen by an act of will. Become aware of your emotions, your needs, and your defenses—how they make you behave inwardly, and therefore also outwardly.
—The Pathwork® Guide