Mind Matters — Taming the Tyrant Within

“Lead your own life and not the one projected on you” notes Marion Woodman, one of the wise elders of the “tribe” of Jungian analysts. (Carl Jung was, of course, a colleague of Sigmund Freud; and so just as there are Freudian analysts, there are also Jungian analysts.)

I came across this quotation in a new book Taming Your Inner Tyrant by Patty de Llosa. In this text, de Llosa explores how each of us, starting at an early age in our families, constructs our own inner tyrant from all the projections (labels, stereotyping, descriptions) placed on us—even before birth!

And from these projections, we develop a “hypercritical judge” whispering—sometimes shouting—in our ears about what we’re doing or not doing. “You’re stupid,” “lazy,” or “too fat,” or “not good enough,” “not talented enough,” “defective,” “you can’t do that,” “you’ll fail!” “The shoulds,” “the oughts,” “the nevers,” “the no’s.”

In childhood, we internalized these repetitive messages and in order to truly become adult, no matter our age, we need to courageously face the inner tyrant whose voice berates us. The Jungian, James Hollis, (in What Matters Most) reminds us that “no matter how sovereign we believe we are, we remain the lowliest of serfs to the tyrannies of whatever remains unconscious.”

De Llosa, in her writing, boldly discloses the steps of her own journey of open dialog with her inner tyrant. And then she gives clear guidance to the reader to do likewise. The process is not about killing off the “inner tyrant,” but taming him (or her).

Encountering our inner tyrant with courage is transformative. What was constricted in our hearts, becomes open and we are better able to let go into life with joy.

Furthermore, de Llosa’s book invites us to get to know the tyrant within so that we don’t continue the cycle of projection onto others. That engenders more tyranny. Marion Woodman (in the Ravaged Bridegroom) warns us:

“So long as we are blind to our inner tyrant, we blame an outer tyrant, some person or some system, for victimizing us. That maintains the split because victim and tyrant are dependent on each other, and together they must be healed.”

De Llosa’s book is a welcome aid to this healing. There is no better place than within our own hearts for the transformation of all tyranny to begin.