The Lower Self, our ever present Shadow
What is the Lower Self?
How does it form and how does it express in our lives?
We can think of the Universe and life as energy and vibration. When we come into being, the energy in our bodies flows freely and as newborns we are a full expression of life energy. This energy vibrates in a frequency that leads to growth, expansion, creation and connection.
During our development, we may experience relationships and events where we repeatedly felt the need to protect ourselves. We needed to withdraw from the world and avoid the pain of not having our needs met. The need for feeling loved, the need for being accepted as we truly are or for feeling that we can express ourselves freely.
Every time this happens, we suppress our emotions and our body contracts. Thoughts and feelings fall into our unconscious mind and the body generates deep muscular blocks. With this defensive reaction, on the long term, the energy stops flowing freely and gets stuck both on a psychological and on a physical level. The energy vibrates in a different frequency that causes contraction, destructive behavior and disconnection.
This type of energy creates what we call in Core Energetics the Lower Self. Our shadow personality, where all the negativity we have against the world and ultimately against ourselves is expressed in our actions and relationships.
In a Core Energetics session we work with the Lower Self, making space for your No! towards life to be fully embodied and expressed. Consciously experiencing our Lower Self allows us to move beyond our negativity, creating space for the pain of our unfulfilled needs to be felt. By taking this step, we can reach our Higher Self and connect again with the free flow of energy that generates self-love and fulfills the longing for deep and truthful connection with others.
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Coming from a Psychology theoretical background and having a perspective of the Psychoanalytical and Junguian framework, first I considered the Lower Self to be related to the Id structure and the Shadow postulated by Freud and Jung respectively.
Freud’s most significant contribution to the understanding of the human being was the concept of the Unconscious. Up until then our western way of thinking, backed up by the work of important physicists, scientists and philosophers, considered that with time Science, Reason and Logic would bring the answer to all the mysteries of the Universe (Ergo Cogito Sum). Our perspective of the world, by then, was mechanistic, predictable and based on Universal Laws.
But with Freud’s contribution, the human narcissism of that time took a serious blow that would never recover itself from. According to Freud, our thoughts and behaviours were influenced and determined by unconscious desires and impulses that our Conscious Self could not accept and would repress. So, Freud conceptualized a tripartite psyche where the Id is the container of all the unconscious material. The Id is the impulsive element of our psyche and it contains both the Life instinct - Eros - and the Aggressive (death) instinct – Thanatos. The Id is demandful, ruled by the Pleasure Principle and acts by irrational and antisocial impulses. It is selfish and with no values, ethics or morality. After Freud, Jung’s contribution brings forth a new perspective of the Unconscious. Besides including a structure comprised by the inhered experience of the entire human race which Jung named Collective Unconscious, according to Jung our Personal Unconscious carries not only the repressed material of our Conscious Ego but it also contains parts of ourselves that we fail to recognize, acknowledge and deal with. Within our Shadow, it can also be found healthy impulses such as creative impulses, insights and any other psychic material that has not yet surfaced to our consciousness.
Complementary to the work of Freud and Jung, Willhem Reich’s concept of Orgon or Universal Life Energy is equally important when addressing the nature of the Human being and the Lower Self. When Reich formulates that emotional trauma will cause physical blocks that prevent the Life Force to express itself freely thus leading individual existence to a limited and unfulfilled life, he opens a new perspective where Human existence and his psychic forces are no longer perceived as being dual, a confrontation of life and death energies (Eros and Thanatos). Human existence is exclusively driven by Life Energy in connection with all of the Cosmos. In accordance to what we now know thanks to Quantum Physics and other scientific fields of research, the Universe is ruled by Principles and not Laws, Non-duality being one of the more important of its features. Human beings are constituent elements of this non-dual and creative field of Universal Life Energy that is constantly flowing, being transformed and interchanging. As we come into being, we Humans are energetic free-flowing organisms without blocks or restrictions. However, as Reich showed in his clinical research, this free-flow state may be interrupted (which often is) due to emotionally traumatic life experiences.
In Lecture 14 of the Pathwork (http://pathwork.org/the-lectures/) it is mentioned that “each living being has a Higher Self or divine spark” and that “the Higher Self surrounded itself slowly and gradually with various layers of dense matter (...) thus did the Lower Self come into existence” in the Human being. Spiritual development is related to the process of elimination of these lower vibration frequency layers that constitute the Lower Self. So, when a Human being comes into existence, our Higher Self creates around it denser layers of matter that, in my view, get increasingly reinforced whenever a newborn, who is developing and growing into an individualized Self, is confronted with life-threatening experiences. Whenever infants come into a world where they feel threatened, where anxieties and unmet needs become permanent and when they are forced to assume False Self personalities, they create defensive mechanisms that crystallize into patterns and that, eventually, block the free flow of the Universal Life Energy - as described by W. Reich - and thus creating and reinforcing the Lower Self. On a psychological level, the Lower Self expresses itself by a Negative Intent that is Self-inflicted. This pattern of No to Life! can take various shapes depending on the particular life experience of each individual. The Negative Pleasure surrounding the Lower Self can give voice to conscious or unconscious beliefs such as I won’t be here; I won’t connect; I won’t give myself: I won’t feel; I won’t give you my heart; I won’t give my True Self; I won’t trust and so on. So, contrary to Freud’s perspective that envisioned two opposite energies – Eros and Thanatos-, I see the Lower Self as being Life Energy but, because it is not flowing freely and it is contained and repressed from surfacing, expressing, and interacting with the outer world, it vibrates at a lower frequency. By doing so, it transforms the high-vibration energy that we might call Freedom, Joy, Pleasure, Creativity, Wisdom, Unity, and Love into Hate, Pride, Distrust, Hanger, Fear and so on.
When I think about Higher and Lower Self, I don’t perceive them as in a hierarchal structure or that it is about opposite forces. Instead, I think of them as Life Energy (which is the same as saying Consciousness) that can vibrate in a large spectrum of different frequencies. Certain frequencies express and give shape to Connection, Development, Higher Complexity of Forms, Growth and so on and the lower frequencies of vibration give shape to disconnected, disorganized, non-flowing and non-receptive forms and patterns.