“Only the development of his inner powers can offset the dangers inherent in man’s losing control of the tremendous natural forces at his disposal and becoming the victim of his own achievements.”
⁃ Roberto Assagioli
The current disruptive events taking place around the world, such as conflict, pollution, pandemic, poverty, starvation, scarcity, disease, crisis – all which strikingly parallel technological breakthroughs and a tendency towards transhumanism – are putting humankind in a profoundly delicate position.
Firstly, because they suggest a purposeful degradation of the collective psyche through the functional deprivation of its transpersonal will (dynamized by the purpose – meaning – values triad).
Secondly, because they innately reflect the truth nobody wants to hear – the lack of responsibility towards the individual inner growth. Moreover, self-realization is certainly out of reach when dealing with unrequited physiological and safety needs.
Despite the technological advancement, individuals are still largely ignorant of their true Self, thoughts, emotions, desires and most importantly, the critical impact their ignorance has on the ecosystem.
As Roberto Assagioli stated, “this wide gulf between man’s external and inner powers is one of the most important and profound causes of the individual and collective evils which afflict our civilisation and gravely menace its future”.
Since our unconscious, both individual and collective, is unceasingly absorbing and assimilating impressions from the vast psychological environment – living forces that stimulate and activate other forces within the psyche – we need to become aware of the true nature of these influences, be they beneficial or detrimental to evolution and, as consequence, we need to take full responsibility for what we put out in the world.
As long as we learn to utilize these influences in a virtuous manner, by acknowledging the laws which regulate their dynamics and harnessing the power that emerges from the centrality of will, we will find ourselves in the privileged position of training the will to act skillfully.
We should neither waste or misuse the inherent power that springs from these psychological forces, but explore and exploit it to our evolutionary advantage.
I genuinely believe that forwarding these psychological laws to the public awareness, as presented by Roberto Assagioli in its remarkable volume “The Act of Will”, will strongly echo in the conscience of those individuals that are eager to serve the evolution of collective consciousness through embarking on a personal discovery journey that leads to the refinement of their psyche and blueprint into the world.
In order to entertain a positive mindset even further, each of the Ten Psychological Laws is accompanied by a reflective question aimed to open up a whole world of possibilities in regards to the great benefits that using them to advance self-knowledge and inner growth can hold.
Law I – Images or mental pictures and ideas tend to produce the physical conditions and the external acts that correspond to them.
According to this law, “Every image has in itself a motor element”, therefore images and ideas are, in fact, “acts at an initial stage.” It is most cleverly and successfully exploited in advertising and persuasive rhetoric, for mass suggestion or by political leaders. This law is at the base of all psychosomatic influences and fuels the success of visualization in the achievement of goals.
Moreover, given the centrality of Will, an individual is able to consciously mobilize the latent energies of imagination and thought and direct them purposefully in order to select, evoke and focus on the ideas and images that sustain the actions he desires to take.
With respect to coaching, Law I is the underlying force that animates Life Vision and Enhancement projects and propels one towards its S.M.A.R.T. goals.
🔸 What images and ideas am I manifesting?
Law II – Attitudes, movements and actions tend to evoke corresponding images and ideas; these, in turn (according to the next law) evoke or intensify corresponding emotions and feelings.
This law provides the basis of the method used by coaches and other mental health specialists to dive deeply into the understanding of the psychological conditions of others, by mirroring their clients’ body posture and facial expressions.
Since the Will can move the body, thus evoking corresponding images and ideas associated with the movement, which in turn intensifies the emotions associated with it, this feedback loop can always be used consciously and purposefully to strengthen positive inner states.
Imagine an individual who is committed to develop, evoke and express courage using the power of thought and imagination (Law I) is also consciously exercising the physical attitude and stance of a courageous leader (Law II). Where will the positive feedback loop propel him to?
🔸 How do I show up in the world?
Law III – Ideas and images tend to awaken emotions and feelings that correspond to them.
Whether acts (Law I) or emotions (Law III) are the first awakened by an idea or image depends on the psychological type of the individual, the quality and the nature of the idea or image itself.
Through the skillful application of Law III, the will can mobilize the energy of emotions and feelings when using appropriate images and ideas. This is why visualization proves to be much more successful when it is accompanied by the strong emotions aroused by the act of accomplishing a goal.
Imagine the individual who is consciously developing and evoking the courageous leader within does so by harnessing the strong emotions and feelings stirred up through the purposeful and successful use of its leadership skills. Animated by the powerful positive impact he will have when he is overcoming challenges and improving the conditions or the quality of life for its team, community and organization, he becomes much more eager and driven to perfect its craft and embody the qualities he is aiming for.
🔸 What emotions honor best what I stand for?
Law IV – Emotions and impressions tend to awaken and intensify ideas and images that correspond to or are associated with them.
Another feedback loop is generated by the emotions evoked through ideas and images (Law III) that awaken other associated ideas.
A negative example illustrating this law sheds light on how the fear of becoming ill breeds images of illness which are not only depressing, but tend to induce psychosomatic troubles (Law I), thus creating a vicious cycle.
Although it is often perceived as a trending New Age philosophy principle, rather weak when lacking context, “Focus on the positive” certainly makes sense when considering this law.
🔸 What forces am I aiming to awaken within myself?
Law V – Needs, urges, drives and desires tend to arouse corresponding images, ideas and emotions. Images and ideas, in turn (according to Law I) prompt the corresponding actions.
“When a strong desire or urge exists, it influences the mind to find reasons for its fulfillment.” One must become fully aware of the illusions created by needs, drives and desires and consciously examine the validity of the reasons that justify their fulfillment.
For example, if the person working to develop courage has to give a lecture to a larger audience and it is not fully committed to the goal of becoming a courageous leader, it can suddenly think of very good reasons to stay home and avoid taking responsibility.
However, by knowing this law, one becomes aware of the inner drive that tries to foolishly lead its attitude regarding the situation and can certainly use the other psychological laws to temper emotions and mobilize itself to perform the action.
Through imagining itself delivering a speech in a confident manner, the will is used skillfully in the direction of accomplishing the goal.
🔸 How do you stand in your own way?
Law VII – Attention, interest, affirmations and repetitions reinforce the ideas, images and psychological formations on which they are centered.
Attention enlarges, clarifies and sharpens images and ideas, enabling new features to be found. The obiect of attention becomes well-defined. Interest maximizes the space that images and ideas occupy in the field of consciousness and expands the span of time invested in them. Interest increases attention, while attention increases interest in return, thus creating a powerful feedback loop. Affirmation stimulates effectiveness, while repetition ensures the dominance of the images and ideas in the field of consciousness.
By becoming aware of this law, one can make sense of the reasons behind millions of dollars being spent in advertising with the purpose of raising the frequency advertisements are exposed in mass media.
Frequency and repetition tend to suggest a convincing proof of effectiveness, which is not necessarily true.
This law is used wisely when unwanted images, ideas and psychological formations are substituted by desired ones.
While withdrawing interest and attention from unwanted images, ideas and psychological formations can be rather de-energizing and demanding, substituting them with desired ones and activating the attention – interest – affirmations – repetitions loop in this direction can prove to a more fluid and victorious endeavor.
🔸 What ideas and images are prominent in your consciousness field?
Law VII – Repetition of actions intensifies the urge to further reiteration and renders their execution easier and better, until they come to be performed unconsciously.
This law illustrates the formation of habits. Repeating habitual actions until they are taken over by the unconscious frees the conscious for higher activities.
Even though following beaten tracks tends to limit an individual, it is still the only one responsible for entertaining them.
🔸 How do your habits serve the fulfillment of your potential?
Law VIII – All the various functions, and their manifold combinations in complexes and sub-personalities, adopt means of achieving their aims without our awareness, and independently of, and even against, our conscious will.
What Baudoin calls the “Law of Subconscious Finalism” is one of the most important psychological laws. It implies the person is seldom conscious of the complex mechanisms and operations that convert the ideas into action.
For example, the mental picture of an objective starts a series of activities in the unconscious directed towards achieving it. This principle is mostly evident in successful creative endeavors, when an idea passes through an elaboration period in the unconscious realms. Paradoxically, conscious attention and preoccupation disturb creative endeavors.
This law is essential to the optimization and efficiency of leadership and management impact when delegating a certain task to a team member – the best results are delivered when there is little interference in the workflow process.
🔸 How do you get creative in your line of work?
Law IX – Urges, drives, desires and emotions tend and demand to be expressed.
All human actions spring from the dynamic forces of the psychological life, independently of their nature, value and diversity of effects.
These must be recognized, observed and evaluated objectively, while cultivating a necessary disidentification from them with the purpose of acquiring awareness of the Self.
The most pressing aspect of this law is how to give a harmless or even constructive expression to the urges, drives, desires and emotions and avoid the nervous stress and psychosomatic disorders repressing them would cause.
🔸 How does expressing your urges, drives, desire and emotions best serve your mental health, emotional wealth and the accomplishment of your goals?
Law X – The psychological energies can find expression: 1. Directly (discharge – catharsis); 2. Indirectly, through symbolic action; 3. Through a process of transmutation.
To achieve a healthy regulation based on possibility and sustainability, deliberation, choices and decisions are necessary in the process of expressing psychological energies.
Restrictions can interfere in this process because of physical, psychological, social and environmental circumstances and conditions. When direct expression is improbable, indirect expression with adequate satisfaction becomes preferable.
The symbolic expression of anger by trouncing an object symbolizing an opponent is just as liberating as a reprovable assault. Expressing resentment and indignation in a letter that would never reach its destination can successfully discharge the psychological voltage hostility holds.
Transformation is a natural process active within each of the physical, biological and psychological levels, which happens between all levels, as the energy is carried to a higher level (sublimation) or a lower one (degradation). It occurs spontaneously or deliberately through an act of will.
Many of the laws presented in the article are facilitated by transformation and the interaction of psychological energies: “An idea combined with a desire or feeling arouses an impulse to set in motion the physical activities.”
All basic instincts undergo transformations, a fact which is particularly evident in the line of aggressiveness, sexuality and love – the ways to deal with these powerful drives is basically an existential issue confronting every human being.
The transformation of aggressive drives is one of the most effective means of preventing war and eliminating interpersonal conflicts.
There are five ways of psychological transformation and sublimation: elevation, purification (of motives and intentions), interiorization, extension and outer expression. It is always the sincere intention that counts in a healthy, constructive and elevated expression of sublimation.
🔸 How can transformation and sublimation best serve your self-expression, interests and potential?
“A person who is able to be a living centre of peace in today’s world and who is able to radiate that peace powerfully, ceaselessly, will be in a position to give needy mankind the benefit it lacks most and is in greatest need of.”
⁃ Roberto Assagioli
In accordance to the ICF Core Competencies, the purpose of this article is to:
7. Evoke Awareness
🔹 Ask questions about the client, such as their way of thinking, values, needs,
wants and beliefs.
🔹 Ask questions that help the client explore beyond current thinking.
🔹 Help the client identify factors that influence current and future patterns of behavior, thinking or emotion.
8. Facilitate Client Growth
🔹 Work with the client to integrate new awareness, insight or learning into their worldview and behaviors.
Assagioli, R., M.D., The Act of Will (New York, 1973)