Subjectivity and individualism.
We talk a lot about purpose as subjectivity work. About going inward and feeling what’s right to you. About creating—and expressing—a language to articulate your own subjectivity. An anchor to de-condition yourself from society’s predominant narratives. Understanding your own life experiences, wounds, traumas, gifts and desires.
Constantly, people confuse this radically inward view with individualism. Does this mean that your purpose is only about you? Does subjectivity work deny the context in which you live? Does your purpose exist independent of every other human being? And, furthermore, can you be creating fantastic containers for your purpose without caring about the containers for the world at large?
Essentially, is subjectivity work a gateway to greed? Do you need to ‘manifest’ that big home (which might make you feel Successful), without any regard for the state of the rest of the community, country, world?
Can you engage in both subjectivity work and collectivism?
In my experience, there isn’t really any other way. Subjectivity work, by its very nature, is a movement from individualism to collectivism. It widens the lens through which you see the world—your own lens. And you begin to see more of the world that you couldn’t see before.
When we’re hurting or suffering in any way, our lens is narrow. I mean, you wouldn’t look at a person whose leg was just cut off and expect them to be empathetic to your challenges. So how can we always expect people with emotional wounds to be able to?
You can’t de-condition your own life from society’s predominant narratives without beginning to see how those narratives have harmed others. In fact, it’s really only through my witnessing of distortions within myself that I begin to truly understand—not just intellectualize—distortions out there in the world.
Because good containers don’t just nourish us; they also help us share more of our gifts. Like a glass of water. Sure, we can drink the water now that it’s in an accessible container. But so can the rest of the world.
And the more we start to feel our purpose (or Brand Energies), the more we want to share it with the world. Organically.
Because the lines between our individual containers and our collective containers begin to blur. And we start to see that we’re just containers without containers.
In fact, any individual trauma is just a collective trauma housed within an individual container. That means that if one person is sexually assaulted, it’s not just that one person who has that trauma. It means that the trauma of sexual violence is in the society, and this person was personally assaulted by it.
It may sound subtle, but it’s a big difference. Because all individual trauma is collective trauma. And that means all individual healing is collective healing.
If we have distortions in our world—sexual violence, homophobia, racism, classism, sexism, anti-Semitism, you name it—then it means those are traumas are collective. And it means that we’ve been conditioned with that trauma throughout our whole socialization. Of course I’m homophobic and racist and classist by default. It’s part o the dominant narrative in our collective container. And it’s my job to de-condition myself from those stories and beliefs. De-conditioning is work I’ll be doing until the day I die.
That’s what subjectivity is. It’s an anchoring back to who you truly, truly are without any conditioning (or with as little as possible). It’s not just desire work (which are fleeting and often hijacked); it’s deeper in understanding every moment of your life. And why you have the gifts you do. And why you’ve felt the wounds you do. And why some containers work when others don’t.
Sure, it’s helping the individual. And, early on, when we’re working through significant trauma, there might be a lot more of an individual focus. Because our lens is still narrow. We can’t see pain outside our immediate surroundings because we’re just in so much pain. And, even if we can see it, we really can’t act on it much without reiterating harm because we’ve still internalized a lot of conditioning.
And then we go deeper into that subjectivity. And our lens gradually—and organically—broadens. And we know Extraction because we’ve felt it in ourselves. And we start to see all the ways that humans are objectified and extracted from externally.
And it’s no longer “out there.” It now personally affects us. Because we can see it through our wider lens.
We’re no longer “helping the marginalized populations.” We’re helping each other. We’re helping us. Because we can’t possibly be happy without helping all of us. Our container is bigger.
So, is subjectivity work individualistic? Well, it depends what you mean by that. Sure, it’ll help the individual. But we’re always cognizant of both context and conditioning. We’re always cognizant that we exist within structures and containers and history. We exist within a collective whole.
And the deeper we go, the more our individual healing starts looking an awful lot like collective healing. Maybe in loud ways. Maybe in quiet ways. But always in powerful ways.
Subjectivity is how you start to see the whole world more clearly. Through the lens of your purpose.
Because it’s all subjective.