We might think of frame of mind as just another mood that we are in. But what happens when our frame of mind takes over, dominates us and stops us being able to reflect on what we are doing?
My sister and I fell out and it lasted for years. I spent such a long time thinking that she was in the wrong, it never occurred to me that it might be my fault. I was like the Emperor in the folk tale who believed he was wearing fine clothes when in fact he was naked. I was a fool, not that anyone could have told me that at the time.
I didn’t notice it happening, but over the years I became fixed in my view of things. I became set in my ways. This had some advantages when it came to work with other people, but it got in the way of me being able to develop better relationships with my family and friends.
I became so identified with my frame of mind, with particular ideas, that I lost sight of what was important in my individual relationships. The frame of mind that I developed just took over until in the end it dominated me. The problem was that I always thought that I was in the right and that other people were wrong. Then people went along with me and that wasn’t helpful. I think they were intimidated by me. Over time I started to see that people were keeping out of my way. And then it dawned on me, it was my frame of mind that was causing the problem. It was me. With a bit of help I started to rethink things.anonymous client
- Is your frame of mind flexible and adaptable enough?
- What would it take to enable you to develop a more flexible mindset?
Carl Jung, Complexes and Frame of Mind
Jung’s theory of complexes can help us to make sense of how to understand an individual’s personal experience of consciousness; their frame of mind.
In Jung’s theory the personality is not a monolithic fixed fact
Here, frame of mind is not viewed as permanent; but is made up of different dynamic elements that react and interplay with one another. One way of grasping this is to think about the complex. Jung asserted that complexes behave like autonomous, independent beings.
Jung spoke of complexes as splinter psyches
- What is interesting is that when a complex comes into play, when it is activated, whether the individual knows it or not; they behave under the influence of it.
In this view, our frame of mind is not a fixed thing unless we have become dominated by a particular complex. A complex is just one of a series of different potential qualities of each of us. It’s important to remember that a complex is a natural phenomenon which develops along positive as well as negative lines.
- The question is whether we can develop an ego that can reflect on and understand these different complexes so that instead of being stuck permanently in one frame of mind, we have the possibility of being able to adapt ourselves to different situations.
Frame of Mind
Like the client example at the beginning of this blog, the individual may not know or recognise that they are in the grip of a particular complex. They may think that this is just who they are, that this is just their normal frame of mind. It can go on for years.
In Jungian analysis it becomes possible to think of the fixed frame of mind, the complex as just one in a series of potential identities. By thinking in this way, we become able to reflect on our experience so that we can change the way we respond to things. We come to develop a capacity to have some distance from a fixed frame of mind. We may start to see there are other options available to us; other frames of mind.
Being able to reflect evenly on our frame of mind may be harder for some of us than for others
Sometimes it takes a crisis to jolt us out of our fixed frame of mind. A bit like the Emperor in The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Anderson. In the story the emperor allows himself to become convinced that his new clothes are exquisite, in doing so he overlooks the fact that he is naked.
- Then it takes a traumatic experience, humiliation, shame to bring him to his senses. Only then does he snap out of his frame of mind.
It may be that our early experiences are pivotal in allowing us to develop a way of reflecting on our frames of mind. Perhaps people who grew up in more secure, more stable homes and families may have the advantage. But we may all be able to develop the mindset to reflect on our frame of mind. We may all learn to spot the different ways in which we become over attached to particular ideas and mindsets.
Psychotherapy can help us to see our emotional and psychological tendencies more clearly. In psychotherapy we can develop a working relationship which helps us develop greater perspective on ourselves.
As we become more able to see the influences of our early experience, to understand the way they have shaped our frame of mind, we may become more able to relate to ourselves more fluidly. This means we are less likely to become dominated and trapped in one particular frame of mind and better able to adapt to changes in our experience.
If you feel that your life might be dominated by a particular frame of mind, and that this may be getting in the way of knowing more about who you are and what you want, then it might be helpful to talk about it.
I have been working with people on issues such like this for twenty years. My work is built around helping people to develop greater insight into who they are, and how they live.
Contact me to arrange a free 15-minute conversation to discuss how my work might be useful to you. I have a lot of experience of using telephone and online platforms and I would be pleased to hear from you.
Mobile: +44 7980 750376