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Collectivism Is Absolute

February 5, 2018

Although the western world prides itself on individualism, ownership, and distinctiveness, collectivism is still running in the background of family systems and beyond. Collectivism is simply suppressed or becomes subject to de-emphasis in the modern paradigm. The individual is taught to express their preferences and inner qualities independently from their social settings, or at least try. There are benefits to this mode of self identification, but it has it's limitations too. 

 

The reality is that collectivism never really disappears, especially through the lens of systems psychology. People are always weighing their identity based on the impact they've had on other people, or lack their of. A prime example of this can be found in a modern relationship between a mother and her son in his journey to succeed in a career. Although the mother claims her own individuality and tries to orient herself towards her own self awareness, she cannot help but be triggered by her son’s successes or failures. This weighs heavy on the mother’s underlying sense of accomplishment with regards to parenting and ability to spawn a successful person. Whether or not the mother can come to term with these internal triggers and nuances, they non-the less are an integral part of her family system and extended identity. In this way collectivism spirals through the person even in a seemingly person-centered culture like the Unites States. In truly collectivist cultures these themes are very much on the forefront and drive the family system explicitly. 

 

For the purpose of emotional and spiritual growth, the western person would benefit from becoming attuned to these collectivistic elements in their family by staying true and open to feelings of responsibility and potential influence towards other members. This would necessitate a balanced approach towards self-identification and developing equanimity with regards to pride and self-loathing. Being too hung on pride could lead to unnecessary pressure and expectations and a sense of guilt a shame if the family members do not perform to standards. On the other hand, having some amount of pride is healthy and it shows ownership of the quality of life and example that a person may have lead amounting to such a profound impact on the family members. All food for thought.  

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