P1 Accepting the Law of Personal Responsibility wipes out self-pity, resignation, passive endurance, smoldering resentments against the injustices of life, and the masochistic game of harping on one’s case against life. It enables you to resolve whatever problem you may have. It makes defeat unnecessary because it also removes, among other things, your childish illusion of omnipotence, which is just as unrealistic as the illusion of being life’s passive victim. Accepting your own limitations and the limitations of others increases your power to direct your life meaningfully.
P2 When you finally see that an unfulfilled longing or painful conflict of long standing is the result of an inner attitude with concomitant behavior patterns, you are no longer a helpless tool in the hand of fate.
The See-Saw Law or Law of Compensation: Each attitude has an opposite, which can be either a healthy complement or a distortion. When your self-work has made you conscious of only one side of the “see-saw,” it is impossible to resolve the problem, no matter how hard you try. For example, let us say that a man has a tendency to assume too much responsibility for others.
He may come to understand clearly and in detail that he does so, what the ramifications are, where the tendency comes from, what other attitudes in him contribute to it and are affected by it, and so on. Still he cannot leave other people’s responsibilities to themselves, where they belong. Either he cannot recognize what he is doing when he assumes responsibility for another, which may happen in a subtle way, or he feels extremely uncomfortable and strongly compelled when he refrains from assuming the false responsibility. Such a forced act would be unnatural and incompatible with organic development. Its effects might be worse than giving in to the compulsion.
This ease will come once he sees the whole see-saw—in this case that there is an area where he does not want to assume self-responsibility and thus uses others as a substitute for his own conscience or authority. For example, the individual may assume responsibility for others in the sense of feeling guilty when his reason tells him he need not feel guilty. At the same time, he may sell out his integrity to obtain approval and affection from others. He thus makes them responsible for what he must give to himself. Blaming life for one’s unhappiness is another way of negating self-responsibility, as mentioned before. Such blame always incurs an opposite, compensatory attitude of accepting burdens not one’s own. The healthy version of these opposites is a harmonious balance of proper self-responsibility and a freedom from assuming the burdens of others, which has nothing to do with a free and loving act of wanting to help.
The Lever Law: It applies when a particular distortion can be relinquished only when a completely different attitude is found and changed. The lever may be found elsewhere: a violation of integrity may exist, for example, in any number of ways that seem to have little to do with the problem of loneliness, but the violation of integrity gives the person a sense of not deserving happiness and love. The violation is not necessarily in overt action; it may lie in emotional attitudes, such as an expectation to get more than one is willing to give.
Misconception-Split-Vicious Circle: Every misconception creates duality and inner conflict, which in turn create a vicious circle.
P4 False Guilt Produces Real Guilt and Vice Versa: The case history demonstrating the law of Misconception-Split-Vicious Circle also demonstrates the interdependence of false and real guilt. A childish misunderstanding often produces false guilt. The false guilt produces emotions, defenses, and pretenses that lead to justified guilt because they violate a spiritual law. Whenever you find false guilt in the course of self-confrontation, you must never let it go at that. Somewhere a real guilt is concealed behind it. It is as though your personality, unwilling to face up to the real guilt but pressed by your conscience, produces an unjustified guilt to mask the real one.
P5 Childhood Trauma Not Directly Responsible for Neurosis: A childhood trauma produces deprivation, unhappiness, destructive feelings and behavior – in short, neurosis—only indirectly. Your parents are not finally responsible for your misconceptions. Resentment against them violates the law of self-responsibility. Similarly, you are not responsible for the neurotic patterns of your own child. Excessive guilt for your child’s problems is based on a misconception, although you are responsible for your own distortions that might affect the child.
Stepping-Stone or Stumbling Block? Personal freedom is at once relative, limited, and total. Since we must experience the products of our past attitudes and actions, we cannot avoid hardship now when our past attitudes and actions were based on illusion and thus were destructive. But we do possess the total freedom to choose our attitudes to our self-produced fate. When we see that the stumbling block was the direct result of our distortions, we prevent similar—perhaps worse—experience in the future. We make the result of the past a stepping-stone.
Outer Situation Reveals Inner Reality: No matter what we consciously believe we want, our life situation, in its negative manifestations, reveals a contradictory unconscious desire. Not knowing this principle—or not wanting to know it—will produce bitterness and the sense of being victimized. Even though one does not see how the undesirable life situation is self-produced—this notion may even seem preposterous—we can choose to probe this possibility in a spirit of openness and humility, with the wisdom that knows the human soul is complicated and many-faceted.
P6 Vague emotional reactions or passing thoughts one usually ignores may reveal more about the unconscious state than seems possible at first. When they are recognized, they can be reconciled with realistic conscious goals.
Recreating Soul Substance by Changing Negative Imprints to Positive Imprints: After you become thoroughly conscious of your misconceptions and actively experience your negative emotions without acting out the negativity, the recreating can begin. You must formulate your desire and the intention to change in clear, concise thought forms. You need to create a clear vision of how the healthy, productive personality would function, as opposed to the past destructive patterns. (1) It (conscious ego) must initiate the change, strengthen its own will, formulate thoughts, impress the distorted soul substance with the truth, with the picture of benign circles; and (2) it must actively call upon the greater inner power and become receptive and listen. It must step out of the way for a while to let the inner power reveal itself.
Balancing Ego Functions and the Involuntary Manifestations of Universal Guidance: It is not always easy to find the constantly fluctuating balance between inner action and the conscious ego-mind. You must learn to sense when to be active in formulating new imprints and when to step aside and keep the self calm and receptive. One of the universal self’s remarkable attributes is that it can be activated even for the purpose of sensing more accurately how to perceive it, and for the inspiration and depth of feeling to meditate in a meaningful way. Each phase of your work may require a different kind of meditation, and thus you may need to invoke different aspects of the universal power. All this power can come from within when it is asked for. The mind’s limitations decrease as these limitations are recognized and the “vaster brain” in the solar plexus is consulted.
You Must Lose What You Want to Gain: Psychologically, it means that without the willingness to let go, there is such inner tension and fear that the good of life cannot come or be received.
The Unitive Law: It is never true that one opposite is good and the other bad. Each can be either. Each alternative may be healthy and productive or unhealthy and destructive. Various examples like Active v passive, introspection v concerns for others, self-assertion v flexible adaptability, outgoingness v being self-contained. This demonstrates how duality must lead into the unitive principle in the course of this Pathwork.
—The Pathwork® Guide