Where Is Your “I”? Discovering the Joy of Connection by David Tresemer, PhD

Where Is Your I”?

Discovering the Joy of Connection

David Tresemer, PhD

A person feeling besieged by life, asking for help, with a list of physical and emotional complaints, sits across from a counselor. Each of us has sat on either side of that encounter. A counselor can include an uncle, aunt, friend, licensed clinical psychologist, an employee of a company’s human resources department, and many others.

In every encounter, the counselor wonders, Where is the core of the person before me?” Words are spoken—fast or slow, quiet or booming, strained or flowing, in tones that communicate more than the words. Bodies fidget or gesture. The client often doesn’t notice this as they are consumed by the maelstrom of their life sucking them down in torrential rainmaking crescendos of internal noise.

The professional counselor notices body, tone, words, and gestures. A counselor has been trained to observe. Some counselors—the aunts, uncles, and mentors—have matured observations through years of experience.

Through the waterfall of desperate words, stories of woe, and anxious fidgets of the body, the counselor asks inwardly, Where is your ‘I’?”—meaning, seeking to peer through the waterfall of personality narratives and defenses, Where is the essence of your being?”

That is a central task of therapy, to help the other find their I.” The young therapist, recently graduated or recently licensed, might think that the task is to say something clever, something that interweaves separate phrases uttered over the course of the hour or sessions, something that wraps it all up and penetrates a mystery, something that is life-changing! But those zings often don’t endure. When clients find their own I,” they stand on a deep foundation that will serve them in the future. Quietly nudging a person to their own I” can sometimes be misunderstood by the client as a therapist’s passivity. They didn’t do anything” describes the success of not interfering with the client’s meeting with their I;” it confirms a prognosis of strength going into the future. That process of nudging requires from the counselor an eagle’s attention and an elephant’s equanimity. But, to avoid your reputation as being the one who didn’t do anything,” the counselor might wish to describe simply what has been accomplished and how.

It’s tempting to steer the client in a direction other than the I”—because the I” may embrace the uncomfortable symptoms that brought the client in seeking to be rid of them. The trauma of betrayal might grate painfully on the client’s personality, yet be part of the growth curriculum for that I.” Anxiety may overwhelm the identity, the small-s self, but might be necessary to the life’s journey to the Self. The I”—your individuality across lifetimes, your spirit-spark of I-AM!”—does not hold comfort and ease as the highest goals for this life. In this School for Souls—the term we use at the StarHouse in Boulder for this Earth plane—destiny cannot be measured by the metric of wealth that is often applied. More important is soul growth, which requires a separate scale of measure for each and every I.”

Studies of psychological efficacy judge reductions of the so-called bad symptoms as success and a counselor is drawn to emphasize techniques that reduce suffering in the client. However, adaptation to life’s impossibilities and numbing injustices on every side are seldom in line with the responsibility of the I” to lead you to your destiny.

Rudolf Steiner named twelve senses, including The Sense of the ‘I’ of the Other.” It is a sense mode under construction, so to speak, not yet matured. A good therapist has developed that sense.

The Sense of the I” of the Other can be more or less mature. You can recall the times that you have not been seen and instead been treated as an object, an It.” You might have begun to notice when you treat others as It.” Over time you can develop a sense for the I” in others, which permits you to have an I” blossom in yourself.

In the circle of twelve senses, the polar opposite sense to the Sense of the I” of the Other is the Sense of Touch.[i] At every moment, your body conducts a survey of touch of your body—you sense the clothing against your skin, the pressure on sitz bones and feet. You live in a subliminal touch-scape where thousands of impressions are sampled in every moment. This is a clue to the I”-scape in which you are also immersed, even when seemingly alone. In every moment, we exchange I” experiences with many people, as subtle as noticing the clothes on your skin. The two senses can work together. You can touch the I” presence of others, as confirmed by the times you suddenly feel a distant friend has fallen ill or died. You can learn from touch to attend to the I.”

Touch affirms the existence of the physical body and the vital (etheric) body. Touch affirms the support of the elder for the younger. The abuses of children by people supposed to mentor them—coaches, clergy, and others—are horrible. More impacting than those transgressions in <1% of encounters are the rules, over the long term, reactively set in place that prohibit touch for everyone. That includes a touch of the shoulder—“good job, well done!”—or touch of the hands in a handshake, or bandaging a scraped knee, or any of the ways in which you can help a child come to know their own body. Especially in youngsters, whose bodies crave simple touch to attest to changing boundaries of the body, prohibitions on touch make it more difficult to mature the Sense of the I” of the Other. A healthy Sense of the I” of the Other comes to know the other not as It” but as soul-in-action. From these realizations comes a sense of oneself as deserving of a connection with an I.” When I treat others as It,” my own being becomes an It.” When I treat others as dangerous—cringing from being touched or touching them—and I feel it dangerous to sense their I,” their inner destiny, I become an energetic porcupine to them and to myself.

Thus true conversation—“I” to I” in every sense mode—discovers, again and again, the realm of destiny for oneself and for all, as well as the joy of connection. When I find your I,” I also find my own.

BIO: David Tresemer, PhD, has taught in the certificate program in Anthroposophic Psychology (www.AnthroposophicPsychology.org), and presently at the StarHouse in Boulder (www.TheStarHouse.org), with his spouse, Lila, about the 12 Senses (on-line course recently available), and New Astrology Emerging (with Brian Gray and Robert Schiappacasse).

[i] The assignment of sense modes to zodiacal beings that we use at StarHouse is the same as used by Albert Soesman (Our Twelve Senses) and James Dyson, and is described in more detail in the materials for the 12-Senses course, as well as the New Astrology Emerging course, through TheStarHouse.org. Technically, the Sense of the Iof the Other” is gifted by The Ram (Aries) and the Sense of Touch by The Scales (Libra).