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Reply To: The Power of the Personal,” with Mythologist Dennis Slattery, Ph.D.”


    Thank you so much Dennis; your response ties in perfectly with my last request which is directly related to: anxiety, shame, and the debilitating effects of: separation, isolation, and loneliness that are the cause and result of not only low self-esteem; but that of mistrust. Mistrust caused by the inability to share one’s inner feelings which further exacerbates their sense of hopelessness and despair that nothing can come to relieve their pain. This is what happens when shame and loss of community closes all doors. And it contains a much darker milieu talked about in today’s newsfeed where there was an article that specifically articulates what many are feeling now because Covid; and especially “misinformation” has created a social isolation so severe that people do not know who to trust to seek help from their pain and isolation. And when one considers the toxicity and distrust promoted within our newsfeeds and especially social media it is no wonder that this mistrust is a main driver surrounding our new normal. If people fear medical opinion much less vaccines, if they despise people they do not know much less have never met because of encouraged political animosity; then where do they look to find relief, comfort, and hope that they can overcome their inner tragedies and demons.

    This is where the second part of my query from the lecture series comes in; (which unfortunately you were not able to attend); which Michael Meade mentions about: “witnessing; and being heard”; which I mentioned here:

    Dennis; your lecture on this issue I think provided a very important insight that was further addressed in  Michael Meade’s lecture that same week on one’s “Inner Genius”; when he talked about where our “Inner Genius” lies which is behind our pain and our wounds. But he also approached this critical need by adding another way to think about it which you also addressed by personal writing. Meade said that there is an inner desire to not only “Witness” our inner self; but also it is just as important – “to be Heard”! I think here is one of the greatest gifts humanity has to offer itself; because by entering into a dialogue with our inner personhood and sharing it with both with oneself as well as others we allow others to also become vehicles of healing and wholeness; and the raising of consciousness itself. And whether one’s inner process of dialogue is instigated through journaling, through support groups, or through just sharing one’s pain through that most important of human relationships – (that of Friendship); we become more than just an individual; we become part of our larger community of human family; we become that realization of what Joseph and so many others throughout history have referred to as: “you and the other are one”. And we are not alone; left in the darkness of our own human suffering!” To many this simple suggestion would seem like a “no brainer”; but if we look deeper I think it would be very difficult to articulate the depth these nuances go to supply the meaning and sense of personhood these relationships provide. For instance how many real friendships does one normally have? Not the virtual chit-chat ones; but the deep heartfelt ones the soul longs for to share one’s innermost thoughts, feelings, and fears with? But it’s more than just having a sounding board to bounce things off of; because as we should know from what our books and art tell us these very special and rare relationships should offer what the soul needs to thrive; for we also know that no soul thrives alone!


    In your brand new project with prison inmates as well as what you have so often encouraged throughout your books and lectures; “personal journaling” you show us is an important resource to establish an inner dialogue with the self so that one may be able to hear what our inner voice is asking for. And indeed when we as individuals seek human contact and are able to share our intimate feelings with others so that we no longer feel alone. AA meetings for instance are a great example where “witnessing and being heard” can have healing results concerning acknowledging our masks and defense mechanisms and what lies behind them; but one thing I think is lacking is understanding our “new normal” is somewhat different in that it also exposes our lack of community in a new and terrifying way. It sends a message that lets you know in no uncertain terms that we are not only alone; but there is now mistrust and fear to contend with on a level not seen before that promotes helplessness. Here is where our most valuable weapon can be called forth which is that of friendship. This powerful tool has the ability turn adversity into meaning, comfort, and hope; something that can reveal the deeper inner dimensions of who we really are because it lights the candle that illuminates the darkness that surrounds us with an affirmation that only love and compassion and inter-human connection can supply. I know for myself sometimes in closed group settings venting my frustration can often bring a sense of temporary “Catharsis”. A feeling of fighting back against the frustration that grips so many of us. But this is only a band-aid for a much deeper wound that I think many us are experiencing; and whether it visits us through our Shadow projections out loud; or follows us in quiet reflection; we are still confronted by this social dilemma that seems to know no end in sight.

    I think this ties in very much with personal expression and our psyche’s inner need to express itself; to make sense of what we are surrounded by in a way that provides affirmation to our existence that we share with others. And it does this in a way where we can actually experience that ultimate goal of the psyche that Jung refers to of: “being-in-being”. (What Joseph refers to as experiencing: “the rapture and wonder of being alive”; not just that of mere existence; and which goes past meaning.)

    I see more and more as your important work points out that people don’t know themselves; and that furthermore as Joseph points out; that the world is a wasteland that we must deal with in learning how live within a system that must “not” be allowed to rob us of our personal selfhood. And by getting in touch with who we are this road or path becomes a gateway to see our interhuman connection with others as well as healing our inner wounds.

    One of our chief moderators; Michael Lambert; over the years has brought up the importance of teaching kids to: “write about themselves”; to explore their inner feelings and to connect these insights to their developing understanding of what archetypes and mythic themes are and to be able to see these things in everyday life and how this relates to them. But what one of the most illuminating questions he would often have to address from them is: “I just don’t know how to write about myself”. I think this question lies at the very heart of why people feel so disconnected to themselves; which is one of the main issues I think your work is so critically concerned with.

    Now I bring this up because I wanted to directly address an issue that Shaheda and I; as well as others like Marianne, Stephen, and Michael have talked about on various occasions which is teenage disconnection. And it most often raises it’s head with teen gun violence and crime in a world that doesn’t seem to care. The rising numbers are staggering; and yet no one seems to know how to address the cultural divides that exacerbate it; and as this drift away from the previous moorings that society always depended on to provide guidance and help; such as religion; no longer work because as Joseph pointed out they are no longer relevant to the reality in which they are enveloped. Here is where personal writing can become a weapon against despair as you point out; as well as a lifeline to a sense of friendship and community that can be nurtured that Michael Meade mentioned; but these other new social dynamics I mentioned I think are changing the rule book. Covid and mistrust; especially on social media are isolating people more and more in regards to this inner despondency and angst; especially among teenagers; and to bridge these gaps I think is going to take more than just the same old approaches.

    There was a movie I referred to in one of my other posts called: “The Freedom Writers Diary” where teacher Erwin Gruwell used personal writing as a gateway to opening up possibilities to who they could become; and went on to build a foundation that teaches others how to do this as one example. But my point has to do with connecting some of these various dots as to how you see or interpret these “new normal” dynamics through your own ideas; (like you talk about in your book of: Writing Myth/Mythic Writing); of breaching this guardian gateway for writing, sharing, and being heard, and sense of friendship and community as weapons seen in within your own philosophy of how to combat these forces we face; and if you wouldn’t mind sharing some of your personal thoughts about this. You have spoken so eloquently and passionately from your own personal experience of using “the pen in your hand” to make these connections to open this door. And I find the biggest hurdle to overcome sometimes is our own reluctance to share these things with others in a way we can get past these gate guardians where our dragon or minotaur lies waiting for us to do battle with our own fears.

    Again as before; my apologies if my post seems somewhat more convoluted than before; and I know this may be a bit longer and more complicated request than before; but I also think it has very deep relevance to what now we are currently facing concerning Covid, mistrust, and the frightening insecurities that many are dealing with; not only for kids but for grownups as well. You have been so very kind with your thoughts and your time; and please know that what you have shared is so deeply appreciated.