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« Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #35 of 52: Leadership Psychology | Main | Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #37 of 52: Inter-Gender Attraction »

April 04, 2006

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #36 of 52: Life is Relationships

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- Yesterday we talked about politics, leadership and psychology. Today, we shall talk about a human interest subject. Thereafter, we shall return to a vexatious subject, animal territoriality and whether human beings are pure animals, as materialism would seem to suggest that they are.

Today, let us talk fun stuff, our relationship issues, general interpersonal relationship, and the next essay, relationship between the sexes. Oh, goody.

As you may have noticed, we live in a world of space, time and matter. We are separated from each other. We are separated by space, time and matter. Each of us lives in a body that gives him a sense of boundary from other persons. Each of us sees space between him and other persons. It takes each of us time to reach other persons. Simply stated, we live in an atomized world, a world where we are individuals apart from each other.

Each of us is motivated to defend and protect his individuated self and resents it when other persons come into our personal space. In fact, animals do attack other animals who invade their personal space; for they feel safe in their space and feel threatened when a person enters that space without their permission. (Three feet or a yard is considered personal space for people; do not get too close to people if you do not want them to resent and or move away or even attack you.)

We are each unique. No two people are alike. Each of us has his own personal values, what he thinks is important for him. Each of us has his own personal beliefs, what he thinks are important and are worth fighting and dying for. Simply stated, we live in a world of differences.

In the real world, people are not only different but unequal. Some are born so intelligent that by age three they are already reading whereas some do not even begin reading until age seven and even then can hardly be said to read well. Some are born physically strong, others physically weak. Some are born into wealthy families and have most of their material needs met, whereas others are born into poor families where they starve and grow up malnourished. Some are born into politically powerful families and are connected to other powerful families and, therefore, can network and get their social needs met, whereas others are born into politically insignificant families and have to scrape for menial jobs.

We live in a world of differences and inequality; this is the hash truth of our human existence on planet earth. There are no use sugar coating facts, for facts are not amenable to our feelings and desires.

Whereas we are individuated creatures who fiercely defend our separateness, still we feel incomplete unless we relate to other people. As it were, we feel incomplete unless other people are connected to us.

Alas, whereas we seek other people to join us, we still fear them, we fear that they may absorb us and destroy our individuation.

This is a dilemma. We seek aloneness and yet we seek union. This is the paradox of human existence, a contradiction: our simultaneous desire for separation and union. The result is conflict.

This conflict can only be eliminated if we chose one and not the other. If we only sought separation, individuation and not union, we would have no mental conflict; or if we sought union only, we would not have mental conflict.

Logically speaking, we cannot seek only individuation, separation, for no human being can survive if he is alone. We simply need what others can do to help us cope with the challenges of this world. Economics 101 teaches us how interdependent we are. I am typing on a key board that some one else produced. I cannot produce it. I can produce ideas whereas others can produce other things and we, thus, need each other to survive. Absolute independence is a childish dream, not reality.

Union also seems impossible in this world. If we were unified, and there was no space between people, there would be no need for relationships. Indeed, there would be no movement and action were all things unified.

Moreover, it is impossible for material things to be unified. Matter, elements, atoms and particles must be separated to be what they are.

Only the non-material, spirit, can unify. Union is impossible in our material world.

This leaves us with the simultaneous existence of separation and union. We are separated from each other, and yet at some level are unified.

In union we seem completed. Yet in union we feel that others could squelch our individualism and we do not want that to happen.

I remember when I was a student. I valued my individuality. If other people came too close to me, I feared that they would overly influence me and I deliberately put some space between us. I remember my first girl friend, a black American. She wanted a close relationship and would be by my side at all times. At some point, I felt like she was swallowing me, squelching my individuality. I wanted space to be my self, to breathe fresh air. I did not want to have an external other referent point, a person I took into consideration before I said or did anything. So, I deliberately began putting a distance between us. I would not return her incessant phone calls. Apparently, she got the message and we went our separated ways. That episode actually aroused primordial fear of loosing my independence and thereafter I was hesitant allowing myself to be “in love” with girls. Superficial relationship with girls became my norm.

Many persons do not consciously know it but the fact is that they fear love more than anything else in their lives. They talk a lot about their desire for love but, in fact, they fear love.

Love is union with other people. To fear love is to fear union with other people. Look, some of us are totally conscious and know what is going on in our psyches. I am consciousness in motion and closely examine what is going on in my psyche, at all times. In that light, I know that I am afraid of love; I am afraid of union; I am afraid of other people. If other people came too close to me, I ran from them. As it were, I say to folks: keep a reasonable distance from me, okay? I don’t want you to come so close that you destroy my chosen independent path. This is also what you do, although you may not be conscious that it is what you are doing.

What did I tell you was/is my personality type? Avoidant personality. What does that mean? It means a person who avoids other people. On the surface, he avoids people because he fears that they would reject him because he believes that he is not good and that other people would see that he is not good and, as such, reject him. This is what psychiatry says, and superficially it is correct description of the shy child. What is equally true is that beneath the fear of rejection, beneath the belief that one is not good is belief that one is better than other people.

My God, I used to fancy myself better than every person I saw. God, I would automatically dismiss folks as riff raff and feel that they are not good enough for me to relate to. The average person seemed so dense that I actually sought out very bright persons, the Mensa society type, to relate to.

I certainly did not consider myself physically ugly. In fact, I have been told that I am very handsome, so physical appearance could not have been the source of the self rejection.

The point is that those who feel inferior actually feel superior, too. Alfred Adler made that point rather well. The neurotic (in degrees, all human beings) feels inferior and compensates with a feeling of superiority.

The shy, avoidant child simultaneously feels inferior and superior, not one and not the other, but both. He has the pair of opposites in his psyche: inferiority and superiority, good and bad, light and darkness etc. This is what it means to be a human being, to simultaneously have opposite trends in ones mind.

In eternity, we do not have opposites. In eternity we are one: one self, one mind, one thinking, and one consciousness. God is one and we are all parts of him. We are in God and he is in us and we are in each other.

We desired the opposite of God, the opposite of reality, the opposite of oneness. We could not gratify it in reality and dream it.

Our world is the dream of the possibility of the opposite of God, opposite of union, opposite of love.

This world opposes God, opposes union, opposes love, and opposes oneness. Our world is the world of opposites.

Whatever exists on earth must have an opposite. This is because the world started in opposition to what is, oneness, God, and must itself be opposed.

If you do something, someone will oppose you. Even if you have the best intention in the world somebody must oppose you. Your spouse will oppose you; your children will oppose you etc. The moment you think out an idea, another idea arises to oppose it. This is our world, a world of opposites.

In the world of opposites, there are different and opposing people. These people look for every opportunity to oppose each other. You oppose me, and I oppose you. There is no end to this dance of opposition. As long as we live in this world, forget union and harmony and accept that other people will oppose you and go ahead and do what you think is right, despite others barking at you. Other people cannot help themselves but to oppose you, so do not permit their opposition to make you conform to their own ideas of reality. (Conformity to others views merely masks differences but does not eliminate them.)

In a world where we oppose each other, a world of differences and inequality, how are we going to relate to each other?

Thus, relationship issues are the greatest challenges facing human beings. As already pointed out, people cherish their individuation yet are pulled to unify with each other hence must relate to each other. They want to relate to each other yet fear relating to each other.

If people have mutual goals, they come together and temporarily agree to join and pursue their goals together. But as soon as they meet their goals they stimulate a crisis that enables them to justify moving away from each other.

Boy desires sex; Girl desires sex. Both meet and have sex. The itches of their groins are scratched. They no longer need each other to scratch each others itches. They begin to see their differences, differences that were always there, differences they temporarily overlooked when they were driven by the need to satisfy the itches of their sexual organs.

After a few years of marriage the average couple sees each others faults and the illusion of ego based love disappears.


The grass is always greener elsewhere. Thus married folks separate and imagine that they could recapture their lost love by having love affair with other folks. They separate, remarry and for a while have the substitute union of marriage.

Marriage is special relationship where two special people, two people who think that they are special, two people who think that they created themselves, two egos, two different people, temporarily agree to suspend their desire for specialness and separation and be with one another. Actually, they always retain the illusion that they could separate at any time; that is, they did not give up their right to independence. They came to this world to seem independent and only associate with each other to reduce their felt aloneness.

Sooner or later, the desire for separation returns and the couple separates and or divorces. If one has had one divorce, other divorces are easy to handle.

So you do not like the way your partner brushes his teeth? What do marital counselors tell you to do? They tell you that if there is irreconcilable difference between you and your spouse that you should leave. Life is too short to waste it accommodating another person’s peculiarities.

You keep moving away. And suddenly you are a fifty five year old woman, and as far as male psychology goes, no man wants to marry you. Even older men want to marry women no older than thirty nine. (That is before menopause, for a woman who cannot bear children, to the male psyche, is an old woman.)

If you are an aging man and you are poor, forget about girl friends. If by age fifty you are not rich, forget it. It seems women are programmed to desire young, athletic and handsome men and only tolerate rich old men to provide for their children. Selfish genes, it is called. (See Edward Wilson, Sociobiology.)

Okay no man wants to marry you. You try lesbian relationship for a while. You masturbate each other. Then you realize that women can, in fact, hate each other more than men hate them. When I worked full time as a therapist I heard so much from my lesbian clients about their abuse of each other. These people have disobeyed the laws of society and know that the larger society loathes them, so they cling to each other for company and when a partner threatens to leave, it is not unusual for the abandoned one to threaten to kill her, so they hang on to each other, out of fear of harm. It is a mess out there in the relationship world.

So you leave troublesome relationships, and now what? Now you are all alone in this wide world. That is it. Accept it. You came here to seem separated from the whole (God and all other people). Be honest with yourself about what you did and accept your aloneness. Deal with your existential alones without self deception.

Or, is there more to life than separation? Why do we seek union with other people, anyway? Is it a fluke that we are only happy in love, in union with all people?

In reality, in eternity, in God we are unified. We are only happy and peaceful when we are unified with other people.

Separation is alien to our nature. Still, we came here to seem separated from our creator and from each other. We came here to experience the opposite of reality, which is union. We came here to experience separation and so must experience it.

Do not deceive yourself with the pseudo unions we form in this world. When push comes to shove, other people will leave you. Accept it, my friend; you are all alone in this wide world.

Like the Bible’s prodigal son, we went away from our father (union, God). For a while we enjoy our independent existence. Then we begin to experience pain. When we have suffered enough we recognize that separation is an illusion and return to union. We accept that we made a mistake and correct that error by returning to union, to love, to God, to our real home.

To return to love and union is to return home, for our home is unified state. Unified state is spirit and non-material. It is only in spirit that union is possible.

In the meantime, while we are on earth, in the world of space, time and matter, we can genuinely love other people. Love means forgiveness of others mistakes.

I have covered this subject elsewhere. For our present purpose, we can have good relationships by loving all persons around us. I do not mean sexual love for sex is of the body. To love is to join the loved object and we cannot genuinely join other people through our bodies. Body, in fact, is designed as a means of separation.

We can only join, love, through our spirit. We cannot unify through body but through mind, spirit. True love is spirit love.

Look at all people and love them. Over look their bodies and what they do with bodies and love the spirit in them. Love the real self in people; love the Christ self in people. Love the sons of God as God created them.

If you truly love the spirit in people and forgive their earthly wrong doings, you would experience a sense of union with all people. You would occasionally feel unified with them and forget about your individuality. You would feel peace and happiness. It is only in love that we feel peaceful and happy.

In the meantime, we identify with the ego separated self and that self always feels incomplete and seeks association with other ego selves, to obtain some modicum of union. While it seeks union with other people, the ego strives to remain independent. Thus, it can only form substitute unions.

In the pseudo unions that the ego, our current self concepts, arranges for us, it simultaneously seeks ways to destroy them.

The ego seeks love and fights love, seeks union and fights union. We want to unify with other people yet we do not want to unify with them.

This is our dilemma here on earth. We seek love and we do not seek love. We want love and simultaneously do not want love. So what are you going to do about it?

Life is relationships. This is so in eternity and in time. We cannot avoid relationships, for even the effort to avoid it is relationship of sorts. I used to avoid people only to learn that I spent most of my energy avoiding people, separating from people, protecting and defending my ego.

We must relate to each other. Even when we make efforts not to relate to each other, that effort is relating to each other. We cannot not relate to each other.

In my early twenties, I was into race politics. I was thoroughly schooled in what whites did to blacks, slavery, discrimination etc. I was very angry at white folks. I did not want to talk to white folks. In fact, my professors used to invite me to their homes for dinner and I would find an excuse to not go. I used to run, every other day. I am out running and I run pass white kids and they say Hi there. I ignore them.

When I ignore them something in me dies. I felt alienated from my true self. My true self was a loving self.

In my thirties I learnt that we are all one, black and white etc and started relating to all human beings. I no longer even saw people’s color.

What do you think happened to me? I felt happy and peaceful. When you genuinely love all people, black or white, man or woman and overlook their bodies and mistakes, you begin the process of returning home to our God, unified spirit.

You cannot not relate to other human beings. So seek ways to relate to people as lovingly as is possible.

Figure out what people want that you can do for them, and do it. Give it away for free. (As I am giving it away, here.). Give of yourself freely. Abundance will return to you in many ways.

Do not ask how it would come back to you, just trust me, it will come back to you. Do everything you do with love and for the good of all mankind and do not expect any returns to you. God keeps records of your good deeds, and believe me, he will repay you. In fact, he has already repaid you. You are rewarded with the gifts of God: peace and joy.

Our human relationships are sick and need to be healed. They are healed when we forgive each other and love each other. Forgiveness and love is the medicine that heals our disrupted relationships.

The desire for separation, the identification with the separated self, the ego, is the source of our sick relationships.

To heal our relationships we must return to love, to real union with other people. What is mental health? You are mentally healthy when you are mentally and physically peaceful and happy.

You can only be peaceful and happy in healed relationships. Healed relationships are loving relationships.

So love all persons in our world; if you do, you will be rewarded with peace and happiness. If you want material abundance, that, too, will come to you, if you love all the people around you.

Ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

Posted by Administrator at April 4, 2006 12:59 AM

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