P1 To begin with, the child suffers from imperfections in the parents’ love and affection. It also suffers from not being fully accepted in its own individuality. By this I mean the common practice of treating a child as a child, rather than as a particular individual. You suffer from this, although you may never be aware of it in these terms or in exact thoughts. This may leave as much of a scar as the lack of love or attention. It causes as much frustration as the lack of love, or even cruelty.
The general climate in which you grow up affects you like a constant minor shock that often leaves more of a mark than one traumatic shocking experience. That is why the latter is so often easier to cure than the former. The constant climate of non-acceptance of your individuality, as well as the lack of love and understanding cause what is called a neurosis.
You accept this climate as a matter of course. You take it for granted. You believe that it has to be so. Nevertheless, you suffer from it. The combination of suffering it and believing it to be an unalterable fact, conditions you to develop destructive defenses. The original pain and frustration the child could not deal with is repressed.
P2 As the solution to withdraw makes you feel dead inside and robs you of the meaningfulness of life, so does the solution to submit rob you of independence and strength; it creates just as much isolation, although through a different inner road. By making yourself deliberately weak, you exert the strongest tyranny over others. There is no worse tyranny than that which a weak person exerts over the stronger, or over his or her entire environment.
The self-indulgent, lazy self-pity of the weak makes stringent demands on their fellow-creatures. It is fallacious to think that the weak person is harmless and hurts others less than the outright domineering and aggressive person. All pseudo-solutions bring untold pain to the self, as well as to others. By withdrawing, you reject others and withhold from them the love you want to give them and that they want to receive from you. By submitting, you do not love, but merely expect to be loved.
You do not see that others, too, have their vulnerabilities and weaknesses and needs. You reject that part of their human nature, and thus hurt them. By the aggressive solution, you push people away and openly hurt them with false superiority. All pseudo-solutions, in addition to various other aspects, are incorporated into your idealized self-image. Since the nature of the idealized self-image is self-aggrandizement, it separates you from others. Since its nature is separateness, it isolates you and makes you, and those you deal with, lonely. Since its nature is falsity and pretense, it alienates you from yourself, from life, and from others.
P3 The perfectionism that is so deeply ingrained in you and in your idealized self-image makes it impossible for you to accept yourself and others, to accept life in its reality, and you are therefore incapable of coping with life and resolving your own problems. Constantly observing your unrealistic and immature emotions and reactions weakens their impact and begins a process of dissolving them almost automatically. Constructive patterns cannot have a solid foundation before you go through the original pain and frustration you had run away from. You have to face and feel, understand, come to terms with, and assimilate all that first.
P4 In reality you will learn to cope with the mishaps and difficulties, rather than becoming broken by them. You will not fortify your destructive defenses. This, in turn, will equip you with the tools to make the best out of each opportunity, and to derive the maximum benefit and happiness out of every experience of life. But when you find yourself at the beginning of this stage, do not expect immediate fulfillment and happiness in every respect.
First you need to see your possibilities and opportunities and independent ability to choose, instead of being utterly helpless and waiting for fate to bring you happiness. By now you must understand that in many respects you have caused your own unhappiness through your own destructive and unrealistic evasions and defenses. Again, this cannot be done by intellectual understanding. It is an inner process that grows organically.
The primary result on this path is the understanding of your own causes and effects and of the sense of strength, independence, self-reliance, and justice that this understanding gives to an individual. But the pain you now experience is much more the present pain of unfulfillment, caused by your unproductive patterns.
P5 As you go through the process of becoming aware of your needs and of the frustration of their unfulfillment, you will find first the stringent need to be loved just as the child needs to receive love and affection. You have to become aware that your needs are exactly both to give and to receive.
—The Pathwork® Guide