Lecture 85 – Distortions of the Instincts of Self-Preservation and Procreation | Abbreviated Version

P1             The unhealthy soul experiences any rejection—withholding of love, admiration, and approval—not only as unsafe, but actually as death. Deep within, you panic as though your life were at stake whenever a real or imagined slight occurs. When healthy, the instinct of self-preservation will lead a person to refrain from self-endangering activity. Yet when the distorted instinct of selfpreservation operates, inner or outer action that in itself could be constructive is thought to be dangerous and is therefore not attempted.

P2             Outwardly, for instance, you may be generous with material things, but in certain areas of your inner life you may be emotionally stingy. If you carefully examine the emotions of prejudice, you will see that preconceived ideas have the same origin as avarice, stinginess, tightness, the same holding on to something that appears safe. Here, as in any other aspect of this work, the more you become aware of, the more you understand the causes and effects of negative emotions, the weaker they will automatically become.

The soul movement of this particular distortion is a tight holding down of a force that should be fluid. The restriction prevents assimilation of new ideas and attitudes. It also creates rigid rules of behavior and attitude; it freezes ideas and feelings as long as the basic distortion is not changed. It all amounts to an emotional constipation, which may or may not manifest physically. The instinct of procreation includes more than the physical continuation of the human race.

In other words, your yearning for pleasure supreme is connected with the instinct of procreation. In distortion, the following tendencies come into being, again according to character structure: acquisitiveness; reaching out to grab and receive in a raw, grasping way rather than in a healthy, flexible, receptive way; greed; craving, which leads, in crass cases, to addiction. The more unconscious the craving is, the greater is the havoc within the soul.

P3             Since both distortions are intrinsically self-centered, the personality also becomes self-centered. Self-centeredness brings frustration, anxiety, tension, compulsion, guilt and insecurity, to name but a few of the negative emotions thus generated. The inner process of preparation, based on an imagined need for safety, stems from the imbalance of inner weight. You focus your entire attention exclusively on yourself.

P4             Both soul currents, being utterly self-centered, prohibit you from experiencing and dealing with defeat. From the findings you have made in connection with your idealized self-image, you know that its nature is very proud. This pride cannot admit defeat. Since defeat is occasionally inevitable, when it does come, it threatens the very ground you stand on, the grecarious pseudo safety of your idealized self-image. The healthy personality can take defeat.

It is possible that your outer behavior in defeat leaves nothing to be desired. But we are not concerned with appearances. It takes considerable willpower, self-honesty, and patience to become aware of how you really feel. The small daily rejections and failures threaten your security and belief in yourself. They cause shame or humiliation that has to be hidden from others so that your defeat will not be exposed.

Test yourself on how you embellish a situation to your friends; how you hide by subtly coloring that which seems painful and humiliating for you; how you belittle others who are supposedly responsible for your defeat to save face. Test how you fear exposure of certain reactions and incidents and how you avoid them. To experience defeat in a healthy, mature way presupposes true humility, not a false superimposed one. It presupposes a certain generosity of feeling, a certain greatness in that you can admit defeat without loss of dignity. The truth is that you are great to the degree that you cope with defeat honestly, humbly, with dignity and poise; without embellishment, projection, humiliation, or pretense.

If your pseudo-solution is the quest for power, then your reaction to defeat will be extreme humiliation that has to be hidden at any cost. This very process of concealment takes a heavy toll on your life-force. One way of dealing with a defeat that cannot be hidden is to belittle others by making them seem responsible, so that your defeat becomes theirs. This creates additional guilt in you. If your pseudo-solution is the quest for serenity, you will deny the very existence of defeat as long as possible.

P5             A professional setback may not be a defeat if your attitude is relatively mature in this area. You may regret or dislike any material disadvantage resulting from the setback, but you will not feel as though your value as a human being, your dignity, is at stake. However, you may have an overly strong reaction to little incidents, such as a person being unfriendly or unpleasant one day. Just observe, and little by little you will grow into true dignity.

You will loose your sense of shame, which, after all, is nothing but the reverse side of the inordinate pride of the idealized self-image that cannot allow for any semblance of defeat. As your idealized self-image weakens, you will no longer command yourself to be victorious at all times, so you will not feel exposed and humiliated when you suffer defeat.

P6             You demand of yourself a perfection you cannot yet have. And what you think you demand of the other, is, as I pointed out, an externalization of your own demands on yourself. Often, the goodwill to superimpose ideal standards is a mixture of the true good intentions and the demands of the idealized self. I cannot emphasize strongly enough that to recognize these childish emotions does not force you to act upon them.

P8             Unconsciously, you hold on to what you chose as salvation and safety: the pseudo-solution. It makes change, growth, and liberation extremely difficult.

P9             The near goal would be, “I want to become aware of what really is in me.” When that is accomplished to some degree, the next goal will present itself.

—The Pathwork® Guide