While I was working on my last book, I’d arrive home after dropping the kids at school and head straight to my desk, ignoring the mess the children love living in. During those uninterrupted hours, nothing could have lured me from my computer. I knew my time was limited (it’s amazing how short the school day seems when it’s not you at school!), so that helped me to be disciplined.
But there was also another factor at work: it felt as if I needed to write that book. I didn’t have any choice. I had to learn to ride the wave that had swept me up.
W hen you take on a large job, such as starting a family or running a business or leading an organisation or embarking on a creative project, it is almost inevitable that, in the beginning at least, you will become absolutely caught up in that venture.
But because many personal growth teachers suggest you ought to be in charge of your life, keeping all aspects of it – and of yourself – in harmonious balance at all times, you might become critical of yourself for getting caught up in a ‘wave’ and losing control.
The truth is that being on an even keel is not always possible. Life seems to move along in phases or waves and you have to ride out each wave the best way you can.
Sometimes the waves are small and easily manageable, or there aren’t any at all, and you might be in a place where you feel you have things worked out.
But then a powerful tidal wave rolls in and you have no choice but to be swept up by it.
When Big Things Happen
When big things happen, some of the best life advice is to just deal with them. You don’t really have any other choice!
One of the main tidal waves of my own life came along when I became a mother and my life became almost completely dominated by the needs of my children, which meant I became, in Voice Dialogue terms, ‘the Mother Self’.
This already strong identification became intensified even further with the drying up of help from extended family, who were so excited by the arrival of the first grandchild that they always wanted to be around, but by the time the third arrived, not only had the novelty worn off but their time and energy had dissipated too.
Even paid babysitters baulk at taking on more than two children, and those that are willing to, charge extra for the third child. Suddenly it felt as though I had a hundred children.
So as time became more scarce and costs increased, my husband and I were nudged further into a very traditional bonding pattern where I took on most of the parenting and household responsibilities and he had to work even harder outside the home to bring in enough income.
This scenario is similar for many families, and it’s a perfect situation for the creation of strong bonding patterns. And bonding patterns are perfect supporters of waves!
(Bonding patterns are triggered by vulnerability and opposite selves of two people bonding to each other. So when one partner makes no income, there is vulnerability for that person about their total dependency, and there is vulnerability for the partner making all the income because the financial wellbeing of the whole family rests with that person. Each partner also becomes the parent for the other’s inner child: the working partner parents the child of the non-income making partner by caring for them financially, while the partner at home parents the child of the working partner by taking care of all their home-based needs.)
So if you are riding the wave of the Mother archetype, and you are in a bonding pattern where the Mother part of you is involved, then that wave will be a tidal wave in your life!
The Waves of Different Life Stages
This type of immersion in one part of yourself, of being taken for a ride on one huge wave, feeling as though you have no ability to get off, can happen in many areas of life.
Another tidal wave of my own was my book-writing one. It actually sprang from my situation of finding myself being in such a traditional mothering role. I felt I needed to convey the immense importance of the immensely under-valued job of mothering, and so evolved my book Enlightenment Through Motherhood. Writing it was a wave I could not get off and had to stay on until the end.
Other examples of huge waves sweeping you up include starting your own business, or being placed in charge of an organisation, or simply being a teenager where you are separating from your parents and discovering the outside world more independently, leading to an inquisitive, wide-eyed, externally focused, maybe even rebellious energy to come to the fore.
And when you fall in love you are swept up by the goddess of love, and it is unlikely you would even want to get off that wave!
There are many other life phases we experience too, and these phases invite particular selves in to help take you through them. These powerful selves are the archetypal energies we all share, and they are ready and waiting to help us through when we embark on something big. Often they just come in and take over without our awareness that this has even occurred or was about to occur.
With much personal work we can unhook to an extent and bring in other energies to help us see with greater perspective and to give us more choice in how we deal with situations that arise, but at certain times in our lives these archetypal selves become dominant.
Archetypes are Influenced by Your Primary Self
Each person will experience archetypal energies in a way that is influenced by their primary self system.
For example, a man embarking on fatherhood who has a primary self which is carefree and likes to have no responsibilities will be a different type of father to someone who has an impersonal business self as a primary self; and a man who has as primary a pleaser will be a different kind of father yet again.
Depending on a person’s total personality picture, sometimes the archetypal selves come in and completely transform a person.
For instance a self-centred, fun-loving and irresponsible man might become a devoted, committed and totally responsible father.
(When such a complete transformation occurs, usually the ‘old self’ becomes disowned and later, once the initial intensity of the new self wears off, the old self tries to rise to the surface again.)
Should You Ride the Wave or Get Off?
It is tempting to wish for a state of consciousness where we’d instantly become aware we were being taken up by a powerful energy and be able to unhook from it quickly.
But the reality is that you are lucky if you even become aware at some point that you have been swept up on a huge wave. For chances are that if you have not yet experienced a particular life phase or event then you won’t have an Aware Ego in relation to the archetypal self that’s swept you off your feet.
Normally it is only after a period of time that you will become aware of what has happened and then be able to start the process of unhooking from that energy.
So sometimes you have no choice and simply have to ride out the wave until it naturally dissipates or something knocks you off it. If you are in the middle of a big life event, you may as well enjoy the ride and live your life!
That entails surrendering to where you are in your own journey and not expecting particular outcomes or results – life is easier if you are accepting of yourself.
Also, there is no requirement that you need to attempt to separate from these selves. There have been many times I have struggled with being so fully ‘the Mother’, and I have wished I could have been somewhere else, on my own, with no mothering responsibilities – being my ‘old self’ again.
But the thing is, for a while I wasn’t able to do much work separating from her. The hold was way too strong.
Maybe if my husband and I had organised our lives so that the pressures would not have been so great to identify with my inner Mother so strongly, I would not have felt the need to escape her. But the fact is, life proceeded as it did and I can’t escape that now. I have had to accept that this is where I am and I can only do as much as I can do.
So is there any point in doing techniques such as Voice Dialogue if you are very caught up in a particular life experience, if you have been swept up by a huge wave?
Should you try to separate from Aphrodite when you have just fallen in love?
Should you unhook from your Visionary as you sign up investors for a big project?
Should you turn down the high energy and idealism of early adulthood and bring in some middle-age conservatism as you embark on life after school?
For me, the answer is: only if you feel you need or want to.
There are no ‘shoulds’. If you feel you should, then you are following a rule – either someone else’s or one you have created for yourself. Living by a consciousness pursuing rule-system, especially when you don’t feel like it, can backfire and cause you to identify with the opposite side and rebel against your own rules!
So if you are caught up in something, then you are caught up in it. But if you want to, and can, then do the work. By doing it you can only benefit. For by starting the process of unhooking from a self, you can create space for more objectivity about that self and then you have access to a greater picture, and to the energy from other selves. From such an aware ego in relation to the self you have just separated from, you might very well choose to stay on your wave for the time being, but you might also be able to ride the wave with more skill and conscious intention.
On the other hand, with no awareness at all of what is going on in your psyche you can get caught on a wave for longer than you might like, if you had had any choice.
There are many instances of the rebellious teenager being a rebel for life and never being able to feel they belong in a community.
There are many workaholics who never are able to turn down the powerful self who enabled them to get where they are, and their job becomes their life.
And there are many mothers who can’t set aside the mother self and they live their lives vicariously through their children and their relationships suffer from being a mother to everyone.
And then, for some major life events, those events become easier and richer when you simply let go and go with the tide, or energy, or flow. A prime example many women will be familiar with is the process of childbirth – it works better when you let go of trying to control the process and allow the energy that naturally arises within you to take you along with it. And to do that, in my experience, you have to totally identify with it, surrender to it, and trust it will take you in the right direction.
So if you’ve realised you’ve been riding a powerful wave for some time, and if you feel you are ready for a change, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just look at it and accept what you have achieved (or not achieved) by being there. The fact that you are now aware that you have been caught up in something means you are ready to unhook from it.