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By Chandrama Anderson

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About this blog: About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and grief and have lived in Silicon Valley since 1969. I'm the president of Connect2 Marriage Counseling. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in ...  (More)

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Premarital and Couples: Here Be Dragons!

Uploaded: Feb 21, 2020
I wrote about the The Four Stages of Competency, that begins with the Unconscious Incompetent, perhaps also known as our unconscious. Jung referred to it as our "shadow" side -- the parts of ourselves we don't know about, and frankly don't want to face.

When I wrote the back cover copy for my Connect2 Personality Mapping book, and found myself using the term "here be dragons" -- representing the portion of the unconscious that was drawn on ancient maps when the territory was unknown. I find it interesting that terrifying serpents and dragons were used to represent the dangers of the uncharted places.

My take on the scary shadow side in therapy is that we are all human and all have traits that are on a spectrum of intensity -- and usefulness -- in the right situation. My tendency is to shine a flashlight in on the self that we don't want to see or know about so we can begin to befriend those parts of ourselves. My supposition is that our traits are important and necessary, and when we use them in the right volume in the right situation, we can feel good about and proud of ourselves.

For example, we have a cultural bias against being judgmental. Yet judgment is on a continuum in which discernment is near the other end. defines judgment thus: "the ability to judge, makes a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, especially in matters affecting action; good sense; discretion." And of course we all want to be discerning about everything from who we trust to what wine tastes good. The definition of judgmental, "of or denoting an attitude in which judgments about other people's conduct are made" is important -- note that the word "attitude" is critical to our relationship with our inner life and shadow side.

A situation, for example, in which a person around us is being bullied or treated in an unjust manner calls for us to use judgment to help that person. In this case, judgment is a crucial trait for motivating us to action. Ah, so judgment, wholesale, is not actually a trait to hide, be ashamed of or to eliminate! It is actually doing the right thing, and likely creating a connection.

Judgment that is based on "attitude" will usually separate us from another, and lead to disconnection. That's the time when we need to check in on ourselves regarding the volume and situation, and (hopefully) make an adjustment on the fly. And of course that takes practice. We likely will have amends to make while we're learning, but that's okay, too (this attitude in itself represents a decrease in self-judgment).

So the "here be dragons" portion of our incompetent self is just a stage in our evolution and growth as a human being.

#marriage counseling
#couples therapy
#premarital counseling
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