By Lara Pickford-Gordon
There’s a saying in T&T, “my blood don’t take to…”. The repulsion felt towards another person can be our psyche pointing us to qualities within. We could be “meeting ourselves in other people”.
Fr William ‘Bill’ Jarema said, “The psyche has permission by design, to move what is unnamed or grab what is unloved, push it through the ego, and it is called a projection. There are two types…infatuations and repulsions.”
Infatuation can come about when unnamed potential causes the psyche to create an attraction to another person whether it is their voice, what they do, say, etc. In the experience of repulsion, our unloved potential, that part of us that deals with faults, weaknesses, defects, and compulsion, can be brought to consciousness by the psyche.
“This is where you will meet someone and you immediately dislike them or because they said or did something you really attack them inappropriately,” Fr Jarema said.
An author, counsellor, spiritual director, founder of the Mercy Centre, Colorado Springs, Fr Jarema is incardinated in the Archdiocese of Kingston, Jamaica.
He was the featured speaker at the St Theresa’s Parish, Woodbrook, ‘Tuesday Talks’ on October 19. The title of his presentation was: ‘Detoxing Infatuations and Healing Repulsions’; it showed how hidden potential may be revealed in the people that attract or repulse us.
Fr Jarema clarified that there is a difference between repulsion and dislike, “we’re talking about a level of intensity…”. To deal with infatuations or repulsions requires getting to know oneself. Quoting St Teresa of Ávila, he said, “There is no growth in holiness without self-knowledge”. “You have to learn your strengths and weaknesses; then you graduate to the second dwelling place,” he stated with reference to St Teresa’s book The Interior Mansion.
When you attempt to deal with repulsion, Fr Jarema said the ego can rebel. “It is not necessarily that you become these qualities but you have the potential to act out these qualities. It could be one or two of them already at the surface of your ego and your psyche saying you better pay attention to this because this person has demonstrated it aloud for you.”
He asked participants to do the exercise and invited them to share one word or idea to describe the person. Fr Jarema told them the ego will only integrate when people say their repulsions aloud to a significant person.
“We are talking about owning some of the dark stuff within us. If you can love those negative qualities within yourself, you can expand your capacity for mercy and empathy.”
To deny the negative qualities and believe that “I will never be like…” can cause ego to be inflated. “You’ll probably act out some of the very qualities you find repulsive. Things that repulse you are really prayer content,” Fr Jarema said.
Understanding your infatuations
Infatuations are an opportunity to look at one’s hidden potential. He suggested 50 per cent of infatuations can be enjoyed by befriending the person who is the focus of the infatuation but “you’ll never become them”. The other 50 per cent requires doing the work to build up potential.
“…that is why it is so important for young people today to fall in love with the saints and the martyrs of our Church, to learn about heroes, about men and women who truly lived out the best of themselves, because in this infatuation with them they are actually going to become what they admire.”
When he led youth ministry, Fr Jarema conducted an exercise in which he asked youths to write the name of someone whom they wanted to grow up to be. Afterwards, they had to list adjectives for the person and put their own name on top. He re-wrote the adjectives to state, “Jane Doe can become…” with all the qualities they listed of the person admired.
Fr Jarema said, “it is amazing, when you give these things back to the kids and they read it and they go ‘wow! I can do this?’…It takes work, it takes effort, it takes time and energy, but these qualities belong to you.”
Fr Jarema said there are serious consequences to leaving infatuations in the unconscious. The young person falling in love can become as if they are “deaf, dumb and blind”. What they feel is addictive because they are hooked on the dopamine, the ‘happy hormone’.
Infatuation can be kept in check through the reality of conflicting experiences —disagreements, differences, seeing the faults in the other person. Fr Jarema said this is why he advised “a minimum” of six months to one year for marriage preparation.
“I want this couple to know how to fight, how to argue, to talk about money, how they are going to make decisions; I want them to practise unlearning their infatuations, so they are moving into a conscious marriage.”
Fr Jarema told attendees to the online forum, infatuation can be a stimulus, that it was time to think about the qualities we find attractive and to become them, not just admire them.
How to heal a repulsion
Take everything written about the other person and personalise it.
Photo by sifa diratama on Unsplash