Repressing Self-Expression and Individuality

(Written as a continuation from last week's "Cutting the Floor Out From Under Myself."

As I said in my last post, when you repress something it doesn’t go away, it just expresses itself in different (but often less healthy) ways.

At the time, I was a college student studying fine art. When I realized how much of my creative work and productivity was motivated by striving for love and admiration as well as a fear of insignificance, I began to repress my drives for individuality, expression, and excellence. I found myself completely disenchanted with painting which was always one of my favorite activities.

After years of religiously buying into the cult of individuality, I now thought that my worldly drives and unique personality were keeping me from true happiness and belonging.

So, I began to pull myself in two opposite directions. Get rid of my need for excellence and significance but still maintain my GPA and productivity enough to earn scholarships and keep myself in college.  All this while unconsciously craving significance and admiration from my peers and professors. This resistance was very stressful as I was facing a dilemma no matter which direction I went in.

Now I can see clearly that I was throwing the baby out with the bath water.

It only created a resistance to my greatest strengths, but the shadow traits remained. I still felt insignificant and unworthy of love. But I had kicked the crutches of personal achievement and worldly success out from under me. The funny thing about crutches is that, generally, people who use them actually need them.

So, my cravings for love and significance had to find other ways to be met. So, as many women do, I turned to sex appeal and attractiveness to get the attention and significance that I craved.

I had a brief period of promiscuity that lasted for about a month and a half, where I got myself into a really negative spiral.

I would meet a guy, and he would invite me to spend time with him. Then, because he was giving me attention, I wouldn’t say no, even though I knew that he wanted sex. I would convince myself that I would just say no because I didn’t really want sex. Then, he would come onto me and I would just fail to say no.

My shadow needed the attention. Me saying no to any kind of attention would have been as likely as a starving child saying no to food.

Then the morning after each encounter, I would feel even less significance because of cultural narratives about the worthlessness of slutty women that I had always unconsciously bought into. So, because I felt even more worthless and insignificant, I would be even more susceptible to the same problem the next time a man would want to spend time with me. I was seeking self-worth in an activity that diminished my self-worth. That’s objectively insane.

After repeating this pattern four times, I realized how much of a problem it was becoming and so I didn’t leave my apartment, except for school and for work. I withdrew from people and isolated myself from friends, particularly male friends.

I see now that repressing my worldly drives caused this. I was addicted to admiration, and doing well in school and in creative endeavors gave me a much healthier way to get my fix for that addiction.

This reminds me of the chakra framework. From the bottom up each chakra responds to a particular human need and instinct. When we get blockages in particular chakras we get stuck in the lower chakras.

So, the chakras on the bottom deal with our more animalistic drives and needs where our upper chakras deal with our higher order traits. To ascribe one word to each of the six chakras starting with the lowest:

  1. Root= Survival

  2. Sacral= Sexuality

  3. Solar Plexus= Individuality

  4. Heart= Love

  5. Throat= Expression

  6. Third Eye= Intuition and Reasoning

  7. Crown= Connection with the Divine

So, since I was repressing and creating blockages in the Throat Chakra and the Solar Plexus Chakra that deal with expression and individuality respectively, my energies were relegated only the Sacral Chakra which left me stuck in my lower self.

I am currently still working toward healing my repression of my individuality and expression, and that has begun coming back quite well with the creation of my website, and also realizing that the crutches are not the wounds.

As far as my need for significance, I still have it. However, I’m working slowly toward transcending (not repressing) the ego, and in the mean time I need just to have patience with myself and realize that all wounds need to heal are a little time and attention.