People Can’t Initiate Themselves

As Michael Meade said, in The Sun:

Here’s the dilemma: people can’t initiate themselves. The only way I can reveal myself to myself is if someone else is protecting, supporting, and challenging me. The person who’s undergoing the initiation has to feel safe enough to let go and challenged enough not to stay still. When the function of the ego, which is to protect the self, is taken over by others, we can go into a deep descent and find elements of our own soul. If I try to initiate myself, I’m either going to make the temperature too hot, so to speak, or too cold. Initiation needs caring others who know what temperature is right for me. This is a real problem in a culture that thinks, I’m going to do it all myself.

This makes me think of the importance of mirroring in the developmental life of the child. Of how important it is for, when a child says proudly “Look at me!” as they jump off a fallen branch, that the parent says “Wow!” or some other exclamation, some way to mirror the fledgling self before them, which is testing its environment for support. This is initiation.

To be an initiator is an important role for the therapist – to provide a sense of mirroring that was potentially missed by the client.

I cannot initiate myself! Our culture has largely forgotten the need for initiation. Many people make repeated attempts to self-initiate, but this is a hard road.