This post follows from the Devalued Self, and explains development of the Self based on the same Principles but with the opposite conditions. Because of how vulnerable we were as children we needed our primary caregivers to validate us, to instill in us an intrinsic sense of Value that eventuates as the basis or foundation of a healthy self-concept later on in life. They accomplish this by responding appropriately to our emotional and physical needs with attentive care in a consistent manner. Whereas emotional hungry parents communicate to their children that love, as a concept, is conditional, emotionally abundant parents teach their children that love is unconditional. There aren’t any games to be played to ‘win’ love. As adults, an internalized understanding of love as an unconditional concept gives us a sense that we are inherently worthy and lovable, and that we do not need to prove that to others. The internalized concept of love affects the way we perceive the nature of the world, our expectations in life, and our ability to manifest a strong confidence and exist as self-assured beings.

This perception of the world becomes entrenched more deeply as it is consistently validated and confirmed through our very experiences of the world. However, our experience of the world arises out of a complex interpretive process that is designed to validate our subconscious perception of it in the first place, a sort of feedback loop. And so our primordial condition of abundance or emptiness becomes more and more reflected in our experience of reality. It is the underlying reason behind the sentiment that the poor get poorer while the rich get richer. This applies to any sentiment that contrasts a state of emptiness with the state of abundance. Emptiness feeds emptiness with more of the same while abundance feeds abundance with more of the same. How does this affect our conscious experience of the world? How does this impact our emotional and mental health? How do we escape the negative and downward cycle of emptiness and enter into a state of abundance? It takes concerted effort to master the Mind, it takes a deep concentration to understand the nature of the Soul and our human condition in order to produce positive change.

Early Childhood Conditioning and our Nature

The first act of unconditional love is the inculcation in the baby the expectation that their needs will be met, which is felt as an overarching sense of security and contentment. This conditions the baby based on the Principle of Vulnerability out of which arises three basic premises. The First Premise revolves around that early sense of unity between the baby’s sense of self and the mother; prior to the end of the separation-individuation phase of child development the baby does not perceive itself as being separate from the mother. The Second Premise is the baby’s perception of the parent(s) as perfect; out of the baby’s perfect state of vulnerability and neediness it has a necessarily equally proportionate reliance on the parent(s), particularly the mother, in an ultimate sense. The Third Premise is the baby’s world-centric perception of reality; the baby views its own subjective experience of reality as objective in an ultimate sense, that its actions are causally related to all outcomes and events. Since the parent(s) determined the nature of the baby’s subjective experience they are the perfect and transcendent, yet immanent, source of the baby’s experience of reality; archetype(s) of God, essentially. The baby’s experience of the world is thus internalized by the baby. This not only leads to a full sense of trust in the parent but it also defines for the baby its expectations in regards to the nature of reality, giving us ability to trust in that which is beyond the scope of our immediate knowledge. This is essential in allowing for emotional stability and confidence to emerge later in life.

This internalized experience of trust leads to the second act of receiving unconditional love; the experiencing of a sense of Gratitude, which is the opposite of Shame. These are Mind-States. Whereas shame was our reaction to abandonment and pain, causing us to close our hearts off from vulnerability and engaging in what Brene Brown calls “foreboding joy”, gratitude is the antidote to shame; it tells us that we are enough, that we are deserving of joy, that we are loved. It is what opens our heart to experiencing ourselves in a loving way, unafraid to accept that we are intrinsically beautiful and loved transcendentally. Accepting our inherent beauty allows our awareness to be focused inwards whereby we attain self knowledge. Howels writes that gratitude awakens our consciousness to our connectedness to the other. When we do not have a sense of gratitude, or worse yet we exist in a state of shame or ingratitude, then this connection to ourselves suffers, and therefore our connections with others as well. The ability to love and be connected to others is dependent on our ability to relate to our Self on a fundamentally deep level, as Kernberg wrote “A capacity for relating to one’s own self in depth as well as to others seems to be a basic precondition for a deep and lasting relation between two people who love each other.”

tl;dr: Parents validate their children through unconditional love, which is the basis of emotional abundance. Unconditional love inculcates in the child the expectation their needs will be met, which is felt as safety and security. The nature of the baby is according to three Principles: The First Principle is the sense of unity between the baby and the mother; the Second Principle is the baby’s perception of the parents as perfect; the Third Principle is that the baby thinks it, and thus the mother, is the center of the universe. This sense of security conditions the baby according to these Principles, resulting in a sense of trust in the parents and the universe. As the baby continues to develop cognitively, this trust results in feeling a deep sense of gratitude towards the parents, which tells the baby that it is worthy, precious, and valuable.

As the baby transitions out of the rapprochement sub phase of separation-individuation, developing psychic separateness from the mother, that state of Gratitude that defined its reality manifests an inherent sense of worth or Value as the basis of the child’s ontological sense of Being; although it was unconditional love from the caregiver(s) that was the requisite condition for Value to manifest, after the formation of our self-concept out of this experiential condition of love we feel that it was our inherent sense of Value in the first place that led to us being taken care of and being loved. Our experience of the universe became our experience of ourselves, and this experience of ourselves became our individual self-concept. Since our parents were our universe, our parents are a part of our self-concept. The transcendent merges with the immanent. The source and cause is thus united with the effect, forming as the immutable Essence of the Valued Self; transcendent love causes to arise feeling loved immanently (within us, personally, experientially), and so this immanent sense of feeling loved is both a connection to as well as a reflection of transcendent love. The source thus has a continuous presence in the maintenance and sustenance of the Valued Self. Essentially, if a person has internalized the understanding of love as a conditional concept, and because love is the basis for our sense of Value, then their sense of Value is also conditional and thus not inherent. But if love is internalized as an unconditional concept, then our sense of Value later on in life is also felt as uncondtional, and thus, inherent.

This marks the successful passage through the stages of childhood development leading to what Mahler called psychological birth. At the center of psychological birth is having an ecosystem of positive and healthy emotions about ourselves; a strong ecosystem has an abundance of positive emotions, which is the basis for emotional abundance. Thus the emotional abundance of the parent(s) has been transferred to the child through unconditional love.

tl;dr: The baby’s develops its own individual sense of self, formed out of its experience of gratitude, it has at the center of this self-concept a sense of value; the Valued Self. Emotional abundance arises out of this sense of value, and thus the emotional abundance of the parents has been transferred and inculcated into the child.

Out of this state of emotional abundance arise the narratives that reflect our conditioned paradigms acquired in childhood through unconditional love. The subconscious paradigm makes us feel that we are worthy of having our needs met, that we should expect our needs to be met, and that we are just as precious and valuable as others. It allows us to automatically, or at least, more easily create narratives to frame our life experiences with in a healthy manner. Narratives frame our experiences of the world in a way that confirms and validates our positive experience of ourselves. From our state of emotional abundance, positive emotions are released by our subconscious mind to protect our conscious mind from insecurity that potentially stifles us during moments of crises.

Rather than uncertainty revealing our fear and anxiety, perpetuated by negative narratives and thoughts, uncertainty is instead met with courage. It brings out the best in us. We may not have the answers or know what to say in a certain situation, but we feel that no matter what happens, we will be fine. It gives us the strength to smile in difficult situations and to act with strength. Courage gives us a powerful intuitive ability, it allows us to understand others more deeply and respond with authenticity. This concept of authenticity is important because it relates to knowledge of the Self.

Erikson described those who are identity-achieved as having a sense of Self that is derived from an enduring and continuing “me for all times and places” that does not vary significantly according to situation or circumstances. In other words, our sense of Self is not disturbed or threatened by that which is external to it, and thus there is no tendency for seeking external validation. We do not define ourselves by the expectations and the reactions of others, by society. This allows us to be grounded totally around the Principle(s) that define us precisely because our defining Principle(s) are expressions of our metaphysical sense of Value. We do not fear devaluation from external circumstances for acting according to our Principle(s), which is where integrity comes from. Rather, not acting in accordance to our Principle(s) is what diminishes this Higher Self. And to a person that is self-actualized, that has escaped the Hell of low self-esteem, death would probably be preferred to devaluation.

When we exist in a state of Value we do not devalue ourselves in relation to others, and so we do not base our relationships with others on a need to take from them; we are not emotionally needy, we are not anxiously driven to possess and control others. These are unhealthy attractions called attractions of deprivation according to Page, and while being powerful they are also negative and toxic. Rather, our relationships are based on giving from our emotional abundance without fear of loss or diminishment. The degree to which we are emotionally abundant determines the degree to which we are inclined towards affection giving tendencies in our relationships, and it is what allows our state to become defined by authentic compassion. Our narratives reflect and affirm this sense of abundance by constructing virtuous attitudes such as giving others the benefit of the doubt, treating others the way you would want to be treated, that whatever is meant for you will find you, that God is the decider of all affairs, that “…we are not merely the drop, but rather the entire ocean itself”, as Rumi says. These are all expressions of the way we feel about ourselves and the world. They are appear fairly abstract, but to anyone who has experienced a powerful sense of emotional and spiritual abundance, a powerful confidence and sense of Beauty and meaning, these expressions appear far more concrete and explanatory of the true nature of reality.

Unless we remember that we are essentially beautiful, that Divine Beauty arises out of the Essence of our Being ontologically, then to open ourselves up to vulnerability becomes difficult, perhaps even impossible. To forget our inherent Beauty is to not be aware of it. This lack of awareness is ignorance, and thus ignorance of our higher Self that leads to our perception of ourselves as inherently ugly, unlovable, and unworthy, as physically and materially reduceable, is the source of suffering. It also means that our sense of ugliness and shame, of voidness and a lack of value, is thus an illusion, a false perception that must be removed. It must be removed because your life is precious and valuable inherently. It is possible to change the way that you perceive your Self and Reality.

tl;dr: Emotional abundance releases positive emotions to protect our minds from succumbing to fear and insecurity during moments of crises. It manifests consciously as narratives that we use to frame our experiences of the world, especially our moments of crises, in a way that validates the paradigms that define us; that we are worthy of having our needs met, that we should expect our needs to be met, and that we are just as precious and valuable as others. This gives us the confidence and the courage to overcome tribulations in the face of uncertainty, protecting us from feeling existentially threatened. When we are emotionally abundant we are inclined towards affection giving tendencies as opposed to validation seeking tendencies.

References

[1] “The Psychological Birth of the Human Infant: Symbiosis and Individuation” (1975) by Margaret S. Mahler (author) with Fred Pine and Anni Bergman.

[2] “Gratitude in Education: A Radical View” by Kerry Howells.

[3] “Gratitude and Trust: Six Affirmations That Will Change Your Life” by Paul Williams and Tracy Jackson

[4] Gratitude: An Antidote for Shame

Art by Cameron Gray, visit his site.

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