Any intense interpersonal encounter that isn't fully experienced and expressed will become part of your sense of self or worldview instead of something that happened to you.
It's been tickling me, initially as something that sounds a little too convenient to take at face value. However, as a rule of thumb it lines up with the Subject-Object dichotomy of adult development psych: something is either an object that you "have", or it's a part of the frame/context that "has you". As a categorization, it's non-falsifiable, but Subject-Object has been so useful in my experience and it seems to map directly across to "happened to you" vs "sense of self".
That mapping would imply that "experienced and expressed" is the processing which defuses/unblends/objectizes the experience into something distinct from your sense of self. I'm re-translating that as: the conscious brain can reconsolidate the storage in the "reptilian" layer, and this "metabolizing" of experience requires conscious reprocessing but only in conjunction with the activation of those lower systems - which lines up with Unlocking the Emotional Brain, and I hope I'm still in line with Bio-Emotive Framework theory here.
Now, to tie that back to "sense of self" in the quote above. I think putting this all together converges on:
- your self-identity is largely made up of the brain content that you're not aware is brain content
- adult development, the subject-object shift, is largely a process of jailbreaking unconscious assumptions via reconsolidation and integration driven by conscious awareness
I'm not saying either of those in a totalizing fashion: Self-identity also involves conscious values, and AD is not entirely from lizard-brain encodings. However, putting them next to each other has that tantalizing whiff of truth to it: Why else are Kegan stage shifts triggered by major crises, if not the emotions-as-unlock-key mechanism? Why else is psychological growth such a long slow process of decades, if not the poor brain coordination between what we consciously know and unconsciously feel?
The "ergo" here is this: Our self identification is with the things that we do not have conscious free-will choice over. We identify as those things because we are not conscious that they are changeable. Our identity is our cage.
Why else is "no self" (or "unitive self") the empirical result of "enlightenment", if not for the truth of "identity == unawareness"? If we become "fully conscious", everything in us is changeable, therefore we have no more "self" identity left!
As to getting there (leaving aside whether enlightenment is objectively good, I still care anyways): Are powerful emotions a brain-opening-and-rewiring substance that open up some of the same self-freeing (and self-shrinking) options that advanced meditators can reach?