In 1971, Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D. wrote a book called, The Disowned Self. He was convinced that most psychological problems were rooted in how we keep aspects of ourselves outside our awareness and disown those qualities that we have to suppress to gain acceptance. In thinking about the past 4 years of facilitating our certification programs using Zoom, one of the main joys has been how often participants discover and reclaim their own superpowers and capacities. We feel privileged to be witness to the energy release that happens during the deep exploration in a safe environment.
Many times people sign up for the content knowledge and facilitation skills and they complete Certification to attest to that knowledge. However, they often find the rewards of that deeper self-awareness and self-knowledge to be of even more value. This has been a surprise, prompting me to adjust the curriculum to make more space for these deeper experiences.
In our free Community and Connection course session this week, we asked participants to consider the following questions:
We heard comments about how type helped them be more accepting of themselves and also helped them grow and develop. Some even offered that many of their clients have been moved to tears and said they felt understood for the first time in their lives. For us, this is the reason we keep doing this work. Type is often used for applications such as team development, leadership development, learning, communication, and even career choice. Of course, these applications are very helpful. However, if we recognize the deeper benefits of helping people reclaim their disowned aspects of themselves, those benefits will do even more to benefit clients and workshop participants.
In my view, an approach that is built on an ongoing process of self-discovery (as described in our previous blog) is crucial to help contribute to healing the trauma that comes from not feeling okay in our own skins. This goes beyond taking a test or an assessment that gives a result and says, “You do this….You do that.” While an instrument can be useful, it is only an indicator of what might be a good fit for the person. It can be a data point, but keep in mind that there may be measurement error if we have disowned a lot of who we are at our core. Then the result will be counterproductive in helping us reclaim ourselves.
In this blog, I want to focus on the importance of including more than the 4-letter type code and the dichotomies of the preferences that are referenced there. While some of the simple use of Extraversion vs Introversion or Thinking vs Feeling can give us some clues to the ways we’ve not felt accepted as who we are, there is so much more to understanding the whole of our psyche that can be represented by the dichotomous preferences.
For example, in my own case, at first it was enlightening to discover (at the age of 30) that I had INTP preferences. In my Masters in Counseling degree program we were exposed more to Keirsey’s temperament theory than the letters of the type code, so I got a deeper understanding of what having Theorist Essential Motivator pattern meant. Lucky for me I felt right at home in that learning environment, especially with a focus on models and frameworks. I didn’t think so much about how I hadn’t really claimed who I was, but at least I then understood why I was so different from the other young mothers in my neighborhood. It wasn’t until later on that I really understood that growing up in a small town in Kansas in the 50’s and 60’s, I certainly didn’t fit the mold of what was expected of girls and women. So there was always a sense of being defective.
But it wasn’t until I really understood Cognitive Dynamics and the various roles of the eight Jungian functions that I had a road map for a path to reclaim my disowned self. Cognitive Dynamics helped me understand that not only did I not fit the cultural mold for women, I had an internal critic with aspirational extraverted Feeling. In Dr. John Beebe’s archetype model, I lead with introverted Thinking and tend to default to constant analyzing, often in a heroic way, but sometimes in an overbearing way. I learned from Beebe that the spine of the personality for my pattern puts extraverted Feeling in an aspirational role. So the extraverted Feeling behaviors I always have aspired to be good at was just what the culture wanted from me and wasn’t getting. Since we often idealize the function that fills the aspirational role, I seemed to not measure up to the standards I had for myself on top of those external standards. This led to even more of a feeling of being defective until I found myself attracted to partnering and working with those with ENFJ and ESFJ preferences. And through their modeling, I developed some of the skill needed to engage extraverted Feeling more appropriately and also the sense of forgiveness I needed to reclaim and own my full pattern. This allows me to laugh at myself rather than feel defective as well as be proud of myself when I engage the whole spine of my being.
Having the road map of the roles of the processes increases our self-awareness and helps us be open to growth experiences as well as seeing value in what we had previously disowned about ourselves. We start to see ways that all of the processes are within us and we are designed to bring certain gifts to the world. For an overview of Cognitive Dynamics you can watch this video and perhaps begin to identify what you might be disowning in yourself. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzbFWJ_u_84&t=4s