Hubris to Humility

Dynamics of Denial versus Acceptance

In the Eye of the Storm

An individual response to the Global Crisis

ISSN 1939-3407

May 26, 2020

Ashok Bedi, M.D., Jungian Psychoanalyst

Robert BJ Jakala PH.D., Jungian Psychotherapist

In a storm, the safest place is in the eye of the storm. My colleague BJ and I will share our daily reflections on this centering process from an Analytical perspective, sharing from the repertoire of our personal and professional experience. BJ is a psychologist and a photographer and will pick an image of the day that catches him in this collective crisis. I will amplify it from a Jungian Analytical perspective. We hope that this may offer you a baby step on the path to your own unique response to this chaos.

We do not know how far the process of coming to consciousness can extend, or where it will lead….Meaning makes a great many things endurable—perhaps everything. (Jung, 1961, p. 340)

The natural light in the foreground is from sunlight shining between the trees from above. My vantage point gives some perspective of what lies in front of me in the deeper terrain. I can take twenty to twenty-five steps before moving into unseen and unknow territory. I feel confident I can navigate the places I can see. There does seem to be safety beyond, but I have no certainty, just hope and curiosity of the moment. I know I will assess as I go, taking one step at a time while continually reassessing.

The image feels quite like the light of my conscious/aware mind. I journey forward with some familiar structures/defenses in trying to find meaning in this pandemic. I feel I can endure its presence if I can find meaning(s) for it in my life as well as for the planet. I know I can put up with inconvenience or hardship if there is a purpose to it. I can align with the deeper causes to give me strength and motivation to continue forward. The photo has a limited vista, so does the pandemic. Until it is over, I can only see what I can see, while I imagine what the future holds.

Perception is a matter of context. If this path is in a park, it would feel safe. If this were in prison on the way to execution, I will be last mile. The problem in the pandemic is that for many who are relatively low risk, this feels like a walk in the park; for others at high risk, it may feel like the last mile walk to the execution. One perception is based on the archetype of Puer – the folly of the youth, the other is based on the archetype of Senex, the wisdom of the age. For in the pandemic, the perceived level of threat is illusory. Everyone of us is at a high risk. When we are caught in the dynamic of Denial, we may actually be more susceptible to a bad outcome. It may be how the passengers and crew of the Titanic felt, smug in the illusion of strength of their engineering marvel of their times.

We have two choices as an individual and as a nation. We may stay in Denial or Acceptance or the peril ahead. Denial will lead us right into the iceberg of the pandemic, acceptance will help us be better prepared under the circumstances. We are a strong and a proud nation – rightfully so; but the crisis at hand calls from moving from Hubris to Humility. Humility is not a sign of weakness. This attitude is best exemplified in –

Matthew 5:1-12

Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

These are the guiding principles in the pandemic. Many of us feel that we have been forsaken by those who are entrusted with protecting and guiding us. But there are forces more profound than governments and human enterprise that are at play. When we accept the limits of our enterprise, the wisdom and the flow of the Universe kicks in to guide us in Mysterious ways. Let us do our personal best as individuals, families and community that then Let Go, Let Be and Let Go. As the Serenity Prayer in the Twelve Steps program goes

God, grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change…
Courage to change the things I can,
And Wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it.
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His will.
That I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with Him forever in the next.

Some Points to Ponder:

  1. What meaning(s) does the pandemic have for you?
  2. How have others seen it?
  3. How do you manage uncertainly in your life?
  4. What gives you strength and motivation to go forward?
  5. In this pandemic, are you in a state of Acceptance or Denial of the dangers?
  6. Would you characterize your personal response as one of Hubris or Humility to the dangers of the pandemic?
  7. Do you feel that you have displayed the Courage to do what you can do in this pandemic to protect yourself, your family and your community?
  8. Do you think that you have invoked Humility to accept the things that you cannot control in dealing with the pandemic to protect yourself, your family and your community?
  9. Do you feel that you have been discerning in accepting what you cannot change but have outlined what you CAN DO to be part of the Solution?

Photo taken in Victoria Canada

Jung, C. G. (1961). Memories, Dreams, Reflections (R. a. C. Winston, Trans. April 1989 ed.). New York: Vintage Books.

New International Version (NIV), Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®

© Ashok Bedi, M.D. and Robert BJ Jakala, PH.D.