Monday, September 17, 2007

Hidden Agenda

There's a song on a lovely new CD by singer/songwriter Alain Quinn called Hidden Agenda. I listened to it today and it got me thinking...(always dangerous, I know). The protagonist of the song protests the "deep dark secrets" that are part of her lover's "little power trip". She claims "I know what you're thinking"; that his "dirty lies...gonna wear me out."

Yeah, we've all been in THIS movie at one time or another. When we are in the throes of love or passion (not the same thing, BTW), our projections onto another person can make it very tricky to observe the reality of what is transpiring in the relationship we create between us. Needless to say, it feels terrible to have been duped by the psychological games another might play on us. But I think the real hidden agenda is the one we hide from ourselves.

It is only in farsighted retrospect that I have come to begin to understand the part my unconscious desires and strategies have played in the relationships that have shaped my adult life. While I was in the middle of "it", whatever it was, I was almost entirely unaware of the powerful, murky tides that were tossing me around. This was most true when I was "sure" that I was 100% in command of my faculties. It has generally been so much easier to see, analyze and (of course) judge the actions of the other person.

The real truth is that we humans have precious little awareness of the deep forces that move us to behave the ways we do. So much so that, as far as I can figure, the main work that we must do to get healthy is to shine the light of consciousness into these figurative mental/emotional corners. To paraphrase Carl Jung, we must endeavor to make the unconscious conscious. This is the only way we can ever hope to free ourselves from the ravages of repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

This task is not solely an intellectual pursuit. The unconscious mind is a complex labyrinth; it is layered, subtle, violent, spiritual, unreasonable... These parts of ourselves are impossible to grab onto once and for all. Things keep changing; the soul's longings change over time and with experience. And it is entirely too easy to get suckered into believing that "this time will be different". Pete Townsend got it wrong: we WILL get fooled again - if we choose to stay in the dark.

The first task is to acknowledge that this IS our primary task - to seek to know ourselves. Damn Dr. Phil and his ilk. Changing behavior is NOT a matter of willpower or being "sensible" or accepting Jesus or whatever the panacea du jour might be. The work is INNER work; it is difficult and scary and slow. But it must be done.

When I become aware that my unconscious is filled with hidden agendas - all operating simultaneously and on various levels - I can begin to stop blaming others for how they are harming me. I can start to see how I set up situations that cause certain things to happen (again and again); I am able to observe how I collude with others in creating unhealthy outcomes. From this awareness flows compassion, kindness, forgiveness and the kind of peace that comes from letting go of the need to judge others.