I have recently been asking the question: why is it that we are so consumed with the pain of the world and at the same time run away from our own pain? Could it be that the very reason we have become so obsessed and addicted to the media, soaps, gossip and other such things, is due to us running away from what is really going on within us? What is really causing us pain?
There is the general view point that our society is fairly civilized and we have to protect it from external oppressors or what happens to us is the result of someone victimising us. However, what I have mentioned above are all popular and are seen as social norms in many ways. With soaps being extremely popular, how the media gives us our view of reality and gossip, very often being the selling point of most papers and magazines.
The question I ask is, what is really going on at a personal level for us, which make us so interested in these things?
If we were as civilized as is made out, would we really spend so much of our time exposed to these areas?
For me it all comes back to repression. How we repress and push down what is really causing us pain and end up talking about something more acceptable and this usually ends up as being the perceived cause of our problems. With what we repress and express typically being the result of what was acceptable during our younger years and what our society deems appropriate.
I would also add that to the degree we let go off our own pain, will see a direct effect on how much we are attracted all of these things. So as this happens, our interest in them will lessen.
A great example that comes to mind is what I see as often being the physical manifestation of our pain - illness. I believe that before the illness has fully appeared in the body, there is potentially years of emotional suffering before anything shows up, that can be observed by ourselves or a doctor. It is a lot easier for us to talk about what is going on with our body, than it is for us to open up emotionally. I don’t think that the more conventional doctor usually asks how the person feels about what is going on for them or how they have generally been feeling as of late or over their whole life.
I think a lot of this has come about through our lack of understanding of what our emotions are and how they work. I heard on the news the other day, while a reporter was in Egypt, that repression doesn’t work. Of course he was talking about external repression; however internal repression clearly doesn’t work either. And this is how our society has been functioning for many years. This is happening at the microcosm level, within families and at the macrocosm level of the society we live in.
We have been taught how some emotions are appropriate and some are not. This then causes us to become identified with our mind. We can then end up feeling guilty and angry at ourselves for feeling such things. Our emotions are there to give us feedback, to show us what we need to look at in our life. They are ultimately neither good nor bad, they just are. They do not represent our true nature and are largely being triggered from our past.
One of the consequences of repressing our emotions is that we can end up cutting ourselves of from our own inner guidance. Tapping into what brings us meaning and what makes us passionate, becomes difficult to say the least. A feedback loop is created: as our connection to ourselves is lost through repressing our pain, yet more pain is created, as we feel completely disconnected from ourselves and our own truth.
When our ego is in an undeveloped and regressed state, our life becomes a myriad of defence mechanisms. All of this goes on without any awareness of what is going on, unless we step into, observing, our own mind.
We all have ways of acting and thinking in our own lives that cause us to stay stuck and yet due to how the mind works, it can be extremely difficult to let go of these patterns. From my experience there is not only the behavioural and cognitive/emotional sides, there is also a biological need that is tied in with what’s familiar and what keeps us addicted. With there being a sense of safety about holding onto what’s familiar, even though it can cause us endless suffering. To our mind the familiar is safe, and therefore the same means safe to us.
This is why it is so important to observe our own mind; so that we can consciously choose another way, a way that is true for us.
Today we live in a world where there is the perspective that addicts are the ones who take drugs, drink alcohol or participate in gambling and other kinds of pursuits. However, I think if we step back and look at our own lives, we can see that we are all addicted to something. I think it is more of a question of; are our addictions helping us to realise our dreams and if not, is it time to change what we’re addicted to?
The Adjustment Bureau - My Interpretation Of The Metaphors
My interest in this film came about after hearing that it was based on a short story by Philip K. Dick. Blade runner, Next, Minority Report and Total Recall are just a few of the films that have been based on his stories. The storyline ‘Do we control our destiny, or do unseen forces manipulate us’ also piqued my interest.
Now that I have watched the film I can see that it has an incredible amount of metaphors. However, it wasn’t until the end of the film that I fully grasped what the metaphors were. I believe the main metaphors contained within this film are about success and following what makes us happy.
These metaphors of the film are my personal view and are based on my own interpretation of what these metaphors are and there meaning. They are in no way the right or only interpretation, they are just my view.
This will also mean that I will miss out certain parts and only describe what stood out for me and what I felt was significant. It will not be like a story board where I will describe the whole story.
So with the disclaimer of sorts out of the way, let’s begin.
Do We Control Our Destiny, Or Do Unseen Forces Manipulate Us?
First I will start with my interpretation of the storyline ‘Do we control our destiny, or do unseen forces manipulate us’. I believe that although it can seem as though unseen forces or something external to us is controlling our life, it is ultimately the result of repression and dissociation, of what is going on internally for us. I think this is partly the result of not being informed, at any stage of our education, that what is going on inside of us i.e. our emotions, feelings and thoughts, is actually having a direct effect on our reality. In day to day life it is the behavioural approach is often enforced, the challenge I have, is that the deeper causes are often neglected and this can potentially be another form of repression. These inner aspects are more of less taboo, and I believe due to the general ignorance around this, a lot of dysfunctional is created at a personal level and in our society and the world.
So as the repression and dissociation continues to grow in us, external problems will also increase in size. And as this happens the external problems will become more overwhelming and disempowering.
I think that our own ego likes to believe that there are unseen forces or something ‘out there’, so that it can avoid having to face itself, or should I say so that we don’t ever take the time to observe it.
The Moment David And Elis Meet
The first part of the film that comes to mind is the restroom scene where David (Matt Damon) and Elise (Emily Blunt) are brought together. Here we see that they have deep level of attraction, something that could be described as a resonance to each other. This interaction doesn’t last long though, as David has to perform his speech. After it has happened he begins to wonder if he will ever see her again. On his way to work the next day he just ‘happens’ to see her on the bus and quite naturally he can’t believe it. Is this destiny or fate or is something else going on? I suppose it also depends on the meaning one has for those words.
The vocations that David and Elis have are great when it comes to balance, with David being the politician he has a role that is of leadership and power, which is the masculine side and Elise having the role of the feminine with her ballet dancing. So together, they each have a side that can create great balance between them and the potential for great growth.
The chance encounter that David and Elis have in the restroom shows that they are attracted to each other and first it could seem to be just a chance meeting. However as they continue to meet, more can be said about their connection and how true it really is. This is a great example of what resonance is, that no matter how big the odds are, if we have a deep connection to someone or something it won’t matter what the outside world throws at us.
Meeting The Adjustment Team
It is soon after this that we meet the adjustment team, who come across as secret agents. Upon David’s arrival at work, he is captured and taken to an empty building. When the adjustment team open a door, it doesn’t open to the next room; it can open to a completely different place in the city.
The first thing David tries to do is escape, which comes to no avail. Here Richardson (John Slattery), who seems to be the person in charge at this point, tells David that free will is an illusion and that he has no free will and to top it all off he also says that he is not allowed to see Elise again. David resists and asks why, Richardson responds by saying that she is not part of the plan. This is where the whole question of was it destiny, fate or because of a resonance that they met or was is something else. Richardson says that it wasn’t meant to happen and that he only met her the first time so that it would cause him to give a great speech. This makes David believe that there must be something going on between them or they wouldn’t have met for a second time. The number that Elise gives to him is burned by the Adjustment team, this leaves David hopeless and makes him wonder if he will ever see her again, in a city with 9 million people.
So I think the Adjustment Bureau would best be described as a team of people who control the outcome of people’s lives. They also tell him that he is not allowed to tell anyone about what happened to him.
Finding Elise Again
Three years later and after David has travelled on the same route that he met her on, he spots Elise walking outside while he is on the bus. He explains to her that he lost her number and that he has been looking for her the whole time. And although it has been three years the attraction they felt for each other is still there and they arrange to meet that night for her ballet performance. The adjustment team are ever present and as they have the ability to control people within a certain radius, many challenges arise. David’s work colleague Charlie (Michael Kelly) soon appears and tries to convince David to come and do his speech, which he postponed upon meeting Elise.
Charlie is not the only one being mind controlled, as the venue that Elise will be dancing at is also changed with the help of the adjustment team, so that David goes to the wrong place and loses contact with Elise again.
I think the mind control aspect and having the ability to control what people do, is an interesting metaphor. For me it is an exaggerated example of what can happen when we don’t think for ourselves and end up operating unconsciously and from a place of reaction. There is a saying that says ‘If we don't stand for something, we'll fall for anything’. So I believe, if we have no sense of Identity, real identity, we can easily go along to get along. If the only thing we know about ourselves is what other people have told us, we will have no real foundations or understanding about who we are and therefore we will be easily influenced. This can all come about through our need for approval and as this is so deep and primal, it can be incredibly hard to observe. As a result of this, we can end up compromising our own truth to be accepted.
The Ballet Rehearsal
As soon as David has given his speech, he rushes to find a taxi that will take him to the ballet rehearsal. However all of the taxi drivers have been mind controlled and drive straight by him. He manages to find a taxi driver in the end and arrives at the performance.
They spend the night together, and out of the blue Elise receives four calls in one morning from her ex boyfriend. This makes David think that the Adjustment team are at work again.
This could be to test David, to see how committed he is to being with Elise, to see how important she is to him.
The Ballet Performance
The next day David has a talk show to attend to and once it finishes he opens a door and ends up in a big building. Here he meets Thomson (Terence stamp). He tells David that if he stays with Elise he will ruin her career and his own and if he leaves her Elise will become the most famous dancer and choreographer in the country and that David could become the president. He rejects these claims and wants to see her. David says that as he’s found Elise he doesn’t need to become president and that the emptiness he feels when he’s not in front of people, has gone. Thomson allows David to leave and says he has enough time to make the performance.
While David says that Elis fills the emptiness within him, I don’t think this is necessarily a healthy reason to base a relationship on. Although Elis could assist David in letting go of the perception that there is emptiness there and that he is not whole already, it could also create desperation and neediness on David’s part. And that if Elis where to leave the feeling could return again, with no real growth occurring .However, I think that if David observes those needs he will be able to let go and realise that he is already whole.
The part where Thomson tells David that he will ruin Elis career if they stay together, brought to my attention two metaphors. The first one is that we can easily become self centred and think about our own needs forgetting whether it would be best option. And only thinking about what will give us what we want now and ignoring what could be the long term consequences. The second metaphor is that we can feel the pressure to follow other people’s expectations of what is right and wrong and what we should be doing with our life. And out of our need for acceptance we can end up pleasing others and making ourselves miserable.
It doesn’t go well for Elise though, as she falls and sprains her ankle. They say it will be healed in about a month. After this David takes the advice of Thomson and stays away from Elise
Elise And David Unite Once More
David reads in the paper that Elise is going to be getting married soon. And with the help of Harry (Anthony Mackie) he finds a way to see Elise. Harry could be described as the only member of the adjustment bureau that is on David’s side and wants to help him. He could be a metaphor for the people and situations in our life that support us no matter how we see ourselves and who will encourage us to follow what makes us happy. I believe that the more committed we are to living our life that way, the more assistance we will receive from people and the world.
He says to Elise that the reasons he disappeared were because of what Thomson said about ruining her career. They use Harry’s magic hat and open the doors to get closer to the chairmen. Elise doesn’t know what is happening and starts to panic and soon they are being followed by the Adjustment team. The more doors they go through and the more David tells Elise, the more she believes what David is telling her. They continue their search for the chairman and they end up in the adjustment bureau headquarters.
The Truth Is Revealed On The Roof
When they get to the top of the building, they find themselves cornered by the adjustment team. They begin to kiss and Elise says she loves David and at that moment the adjustment team disappear. I believe it is at this moment that the fundamental metaphor of the film is revealed. Soon after Harry appears on the roof and explains what the adjustment bureau is really about. I was aided in understanding what the metaphor was with the literal meaning of the film at this point.
Harry explains to them what has happened and as they have showed courage to go for what they wanted, they have earned the right to be together.
The Adjustment Bureau to me would be an exaggerated projection of what is going on at a deeper level for us and I would say this is the result of what we are holding onto from our past. As although in this film it was a group of people called the Adjustment Bureau who were trying to stop David and Ellis from doing what made them happy, in our everyday life it is not as extreme and can show up in the form of family, friends, people we work with and numerous other types of people. At a more internal level we can also have thoughts and feelings that keep us from living the life we truly want to live and what then cause us to behave in ways that can push our own happiness away.
I believe that it was also showing us that when we show commitment to following our truth and what makes us truly happy the universe (or whatever you believe it is) will be there to assist us. And that the more me move form a place of control, which is our ego, to a place of trust, which could be described as coming from our heart, we will see that this is so.
I think to one degree or another, if we are not currently in one, we have all been in a relationship that is dysfunctional or abusive. So here, I am going to give my current understanding, based on my experiences and observations, of why I think they exist and what is going on at a deeper level.
The typical perspective is that there is a victim and a perpetrator. With the perpetrator being at fault and the victim being completely innocent. Now, on the surface level, we can all see that this is the case and that action needs to be taken accordingly.
However, the question I ask is – does this perspective empower us or does it make us feel completely powerless? Constantly living in the fear that a perpetrator will come into our life and make it a misery. I also ask; how is it that a perpetrator has more power than a victim? Do we automatically gain more power over others and in the world by becoming a perpetrator?
From my experience, I believe this is a two way occurrence and that it is symbiotic. I don’t believe though, that we consciously attract these kinds of relationships into our life. This all happens through what is going on unconsciously for us. What resides in our unconscious is everything we have repressed about ourselves, which it is too painful for us to currently look at. This whole process of repression happens throughout our life and as time goes by we can quiet easily forget about everything that’s stored there.
When it comes down to the quality of our relationships, our perception of ourselves is monumental. I believe this self image is initially built on how our parents or caregivers treated us, which of course comes from how they treated and saw themselves. So in many ways, it could be said that we can end up with the same level of self worth as they had.
After everything that has happened to us in our childhood, the last thing we want to do is dig up the past and relive what happened to us, especially if it was traumatic. We quite naturally want to move on and do our best to forget such moments. And this is where our problems start to arise. Although we want to move on from the past and embrace the future or more importantly the present moment, out life will always be a reflection of our past, unless we have released our past pain.
This is why life can seem like the same every day, as although we have pushed down our past, so our awareness of it is just about gone; it is still there, until we take the time to release it. It might seem to us that it’s in the past and doesn’t matter anymore, however nothing is ever removed by repression. With the more we repress something, the stronger it actually becomes in our life.
The way I look at it is, if we are having problems in our relationships, we have to ask ourselves, does this remind me of how I was treated as a child or is this just a recycling of my past. What is it that I’m holding onto, that no longer serves me?
Seeing that the patterns in our life mirror the patterns in our childhood, is not only difficult due to repression, it is also difficult as projection is involved. The ego mind uses this defence mechanism as a way to handle the input that it is receiving and to protect itself.
So what happens is, all of the parts of ourselves that cause us pain and we have repressed, start to show up in other people. Our own ego can then avoid taking responsibility, as it is other people who embody these aspects and not itself. It will use any defence mechanism necessary to fool us into believing that what is showing up has nothing to do with us. When ultimately what is showing up is just a reflection of what we need to acknowledge about ourselves and let go.
So, I would say the usual process goes like this, all the parts of ourselves that we haven’t realised, are embodied by the person that we are attracted to and this takes a while before it settles down. Once it begins to settle we start to notice in the other person all the parts of ourselves that we have repressed. My belief is that relationships are there for our healing and growth, so although they have the potential to bring us great joy, they also have the potential to bring up parts of our history than can cause us great pain.
However, it is clear that our unconscious mind has to have some way of motivating us, as if we were aware of the negative points straight away we would never get into a relationship to start with. So this way the mind gives us the opportunity to grow.
The more that we have the ability to observe out own mind, the more we will be able to see the patterns in our life, to understand that we are not our mind and neither are we are past. However, the reason the past keeps showing up is through our identification to it, and the act of repression is a form of identification with our past. As we let go off the past or our perceptions of it, our relationships will begin to change and relationships that honour who we truly are will start to appear.
So coming back to why we stay in dysfunctional relationships. I believe that although consciously we know we have to leave or to end the relationship, to our own ego there is a sense of safety about it all. If we were treated like this during our younger years then why would anyone else treat us differently? We can feel as though this is all we deserve and are worthy of.
We have all had people tell us we deserve better and that we shouldn’t put up with certain things. However, in order for our life to change we have to realise this ourselves. And although the people around us are trying to help us, they can very often assist us in forming an identity as a victim. I believe we all deserve great relationships, and yet in order to achieve this we have to look at what we are identifying with. If something is showing up in our life, it is clear that at some level we have to let go of something that is sabotaging us. I don’t think there is a place for blame, if we truly want to grow and be responsible. Identifying with our mind and therefore becoming a victim will just keep us stuck and lead to us feeling hopeless.
This is why I believe it is important to have people around us, who will support our true nature and not just validate our struggles and our story. If we want to embrace our true self, we have to make room for it, and if we are holding onto the past there is no place for it to exist.
As we begin to let go of our past and live from the present moment, which is our place of power and who we really are, we will be examples to the people around us and the world. We will be inspirations of how relationship’s can be and how boundaries and not walls can be implemented.
Most importantly we won’t feel as though we have to compromise who we are and that we will be able to speak our truth. Without feeling as though we will be rejected for saying what we want to say. We will be able to honour ourselves, as we will have the self worth to do this, and as a result of this we will be able to honour other people’s truth.
We live in a time where there is intense focus and even an obsession when it comes to our environment. In many ways, I believe that this is a good thing. The questions that arise for me are; what causes us to act in ways that are so destructive to the environment? And at the same time, why is it that we only seem to care about our environment, now that it is in such a precarious position. This is a position, which has been described by many, as the point of no return.
Now, I don’t believe that global warming is black and white and that one way or one approach will solve all of the problems. So with my understanding of the psychological and emotional aspects, I will focus on that side of the equation.
My perspective is that through our own avoidance of looking at our own pain and processing that which we find unpleasant and causes us conflict; we have become dissociated from ourselves. By this, I mean we have become numbed to how we truly feel, and as a result of this, we not only treat ourselves badly, it also extends to our own environment.
When we act out of dissociation, one our abilities that makes us human, our ability to empathise is very much out of action. This then leads us to act unconsciously and react to life and in doing so we lose our capacity to act consciously, to question, whether what we are doing is helping our harming ourselves and others.
So when it comes to the question of why do we treat our environment so badly, I would add, do we truly treat ourselves much better? And that is our environment just a mirror of what is going on inside of ourselves? I don’t believe that our own environment can be looked at in isolation, if we want to gain the right perspective and see the full picture. I believe that we have to look at all aspects to gain the right point of view.
This perspective clearly won’t become front page news or a stance that will be favoured by many. I would say this is due to living in a society that is largely identified with the mind and as a result rarely has the ability to observe it. With dissociation being a defence mechanism of the mind, it is a way for the undeveloped ego to escape looking at itself and to avoid responsibility. I would say that the majority of what is supported by the mainstream is that which validates and strengthens the ego mind.
This is why I believe it is important not to get caught up in the media fear frenzy, as although there are clearly problems, as human beings we are also projecting our own meaning onto the world and that meaning is not the world. And as much as we try to understand what is happening through science and research, we can never see the whole picture and know everything. So being in a place of fear and hopelessness as a result of what the media says could be complete waste of our energy, as it could not only be false, but we could be using that energy to make a difference.
If we see the environment as an extension of ourselves and we bring our awareness to that point, we can begin to ask the question of, what are we holding onto that doesn’t serve us? And as a result of this, is also harming our environment.
If we take the perspective that our environment is a living organism, that has feelings and needs just like ourselves and is not an inanimate object, would we start to treat it differently? As we start to love and appreciate ourselves more, will we also treat our environment in the same way? And if we see ourselves as separate from our environment, does his also make it easier for us to harm it?
The film Avatar by James Cameron, posed plenty of questions when it comes to our environment. While there has been numerous interpretations of what the film was about, Cameron himself has said his meaning was about mans sense of entitlement when it comes to the environment. How we believe that we are above and have complete control over our environment. Seeing our environment as sacred and something we can work with and not against, is overlooked and usually dismissed. Perhaps this way of looking at nature seems a bit bizarre to many people and might even draw comparisons to pantheism.
There is also the view point that nature reacts to how we feel and absorbs our emotions. This sounds normal to me; however I have no empirical experience to know it at a deeper level. If indeed this is so, would it explain a lot of what’s going on, with the amount of negativity it would have to process from us all?
The outlook I have, is through our disassociation from ourselves, we start to become dissociated from our environment, as this happens we begin to project separation onto life. As this is all occurring we try to control and dominate our environment, as a way to compensate for our perceived loss of power. One of the consequences of this is we destroy the very thing that supports and nourishes us. Although our ego is there to give us our sense of individuality, when we have forgotten that we are also connected at the same time, it can naturally lead one to feel powerless.
The second question I posed was why does there only seem to be widespread concern for our environment now that it is in dire straits. As I look at this occurrence, I can see that there are many examples in life where this happens. Whether it relates to our health, our diet or how physically fit we are, very often we are only motivated to do something about these areas when they are really bad and rarely in the early stages of when the signs first start to appear.
I currently believe there are two reasons for this. The first is that one of the ways the mind operates is through pleasure and pain. The other reason is gained, by looking at how defence mechanism’s work.
I would say that these two aspects work together to motivate what we do and don’t do. However when we are the observers of our mind, we can become conscious of them and decide whether we want to live that way or change how we are. This is something that is not possible if we remain unaware of their influence over us.
So there could be a degree of pain in our life and yet very often it is not enough to motivate us to change. However the more we avoid the pain, the stronger it gets. As it accumulates we will continue to receive warning signs and the consequences will continue to compound. With the egos need to feel safe, being the very thing that often leads to our own downfall. It has just occurred to me that defence mechanisms are the application of pleasure and pain, as they allow us to avoid pain momentarily or that’s what their intention is. This is done by using any of the defence mechanism that will allow for the instant release and escape of that pain. Although there are many different ones, they all serve the same purpose.
So I believe, as we continue to appreciate and love ourselves, not only will we as individuals treat our immediate environment better, we will also see a global change as a result. I believe there is always a way, and our own mind wont necessarily be able to comprehend another way. And this is normal, as the only thing the mind knows is the past and a combination of the past, however as we continue to expand what we know and trust in our hearts, the answer’s and solutions will be revealed.
Oliver JR Cooper
Author, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant - With Over 2,000,000 Article Views Online.
That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.