A Picture Of A Sun Flower And A Child The Acorn Theory

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The Acorn Theory

Each person has a uniqueness that calls for living and that exists before living.

The acorn theory was first proposed in the modern era, at least in the public domain, by James Hillman, author and psychologist, in his best-selling book; Code of Spirit. It is Hillman’s view that the greatest mystery of life is a question of character and destiny. In this theory he suggests that our calling is innate and that our mission in life is to realize its urgency. He called the “acorn theory” the idea that our lives are shaped by a certain image, just as the destiny of an oak is contained in a small acorn.

A central theme behind Hillman’s Acorn Theory is that some notable people, including famous artists and world leaders, as well as some serial killers, are born and not made. This of course flies in the face of what we call traditional psychology which believes that early childhood conditioning or socialization is the biggest determinant of what a person makes of themselves later in life.

Hillman asserts and I quote; “Neither nature nor nurture” (neither heredity nor environment) determines the outcome of life. Rather, it is an innate quality within each individual, a spark of individuality, which, like the cardinal code of a person’s life, determines the direction in which he pursues his destiny.”

It gets really complicated when he discusses the over-arching intelligence that provides the road map of a person’s life. In many religions it is referred to as the guardian angle, soul or spirit. In other words, the adult’s true destiny is already known to the child, and it is this knowledge that guides the child towards its inevitable destiny despite all obstacles imposed by parents and social norms. In his book he refers to it as “the code of the soul”, hence the title.

So the Acorn theory, broken down to its simplest terms, suggests that every life is animated by a certain image that calls it to its destiny, yes, after all it is the word. Plant acorns in a field of sunflowers and you get an oak tree, not a sunflower stalk. No matter what mom or dad does in the way of encouragement or discouragement, the little “child-spirit” knows where it’s going and will find its way there in time. Their guardian angle will guide them!

Now what Hillman says is more myth than theory. He attributes this myth to Plato; “You came into the world by fate, though he uses the word paradigm instead of fate.”

So understand that he’s not throwing the baby out with the bathwater, but he’s saying, and he’s said it very strongly over the years, that sometimes you come across someone who can’t be explained in terms of nature or nurture. There is certainly a place for traditional psychology but when it comes to dealing with a confused person one should entertain the possibility of an acorn theory and not try to endlessly explore using the position of traditional psychology.

Now on the other hand, I don’t have the brain power to argue the merits of his arguments against traditional psychology anywhere near his level, but I’m a romantic and steeped in the Christian faith, like to entertain the idea and the idea. That being said, my life experience and belief is that “life is hard,” something very different, something much more earth-bound than the idea of ​​destiny or preordained outcomes for one’s life.

When I first came across the Acorn Theory several years ago, quite frankly I thought at first that it was written in a book by some self-help guru and taken out on the road to sell on a speaking tour. You have to admit reading this, especially the first time, it makes you think! I know it did for me. My initial thought(s) was that this meant that we all have uniqueness and contribution and the power to make our dreams come true. But predestination never entered the picture for me. Instead, if we are taught to believe in ourselves and understand the value of hard work, we can find our way to our life’s purpose, to the fulfillment of our dreams. What I didn’t realize then was that it meant something very different to James Hillman and the world of psychology. The thing is that I still believe I thought it originally but now that I understand a little better that this theory (myth) actually came down to James Hillman from an eminent man named Plato, I want to move on. More respect for what it can teach.

I’m sure anyone with even the slightest interest in psychology has heard of the concept of nature (heredity) and nurture (conditioning or socialization) in relation to early family experiences and the role those experiences play in shaping us. to adulthood. In particular, the influence of mothers and fathers on our emotional, spiritual, and therefore intellectual and physical health. During those early years we develop our personality style or way of communicating, we develop our basic values, our needs and our interests through the relationships and influences of family and school.

All early experiences in family life translate into adulthood for better or worse.
Whatever my first family experiences are, or the idea that whatever I try to do or control will be of little or no relevance is abhorrent to me. I am going to become something that was pre-ordained by some force beyond my conscious awareness to understand or for that matter to believe. “What will be will be!” If it did, most of us would be “slugs”. After all, what does it mean to work hard for a goal, get out there and achieve something?

Either innate to us (nature) or socialized into us (nurture), take your pick, is a set or hierarchy of needs described by another psychologist, Abraham Maslow. So how do our ego-state needs get met, where do we get a sense of belonging, of being a part of something, of our worth? How can I find meaning in my life, if it’s all going to be handed to me without any effort on my part, where will validation and affirmation come from?

Healthy, well-adjusted, neurotic individuals are naturally created or develop a need to achieve something meaningful for themselves, even sometimes without being aware of what is causing them (need stress).

I remember once when I was a child I told my parents that I wanted to be a doctor without saying that I wanted to be a doctor. Needless to say, it didn’t work. In fact many false starts and stops followed. Finding my path to my life’s purpose at age 59 (human to others) came about because of life experiences I had no control over, or strategic control over. I asked myself so many questions!

It took over four years of near-death experiences to finally get me there.
Can I believe the acorn theory that nearly dying of lung failure over the course of two years and receiving a lung transplant at the 11th hour was part of my destiny, part of my life’s master plan? This is a strain even for a somewhat liberal thinker like myself.

And don’t overlook how important control is in everyone’s life. With little control left, we become terribly stressed and dysfunctional. Some are willing to fight to the death for control, especially control over their lives. I believe we call that freedom that suddenly spans the entire spectrum of free will.

Acorn theory flies in the face of free will, something Christianity teaches us. How can one believe in fate and free will at the same time? No matter what’s going on out there and how it’s affecting your life, they’re not aligned if you believe you’re still being drawn or drawn to your destiny.

However, this ambiguity and what makes it so fascinating to James Hillman and others, myself included, is that the exceptions are the individuals who grow up in unhealthy environments who become solid citizens, leaders, famous and accomplished people, and what about them? Became a serial killer despite a seemingly normal, healthy upbringing? Could there really be something different going on in the lives of these individuals? Obviously this is a mystery but what a mystical idea!

So for all the parents in the audience and the soon-to-be parents or those planning to eventually become parents, the lure of this question, if you come down on the nature-conservation side, as most do, is a pretty powerful one. The message here is you don’t think so.

As you work to find your way to your life’s purpose and reflect on the impact of your first family on your journey and your past and present struggles, think about what happens to the children in your care during their early years? Will they get quality time and attention from you to grow emotionally, spiritually, intellectually and physically healthy and balanced? The demands of our world make it very difficult to distinguish between what our children want and then be able to give it to them.

Hillman is credited with:

“I think we’re sad in part because we have only one god, and that’s economics. Economics is a slave-driver. Nobody has free time; nobody has leisure. The whole culture is under terrible pressure and full of anxiety. It’s hard to get out of that box. It is. This is the situation all over the world.” James Hillman

My God is he alive? I cannot believe the truth of his statement for all of us. Are we letting economics rule our lives, thereby compromising our mental and physical health and in turn our children’s?

With regard to children, James Hillman’s message can be summed up in this saying; “We worry about what the child will be tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.” Stacia Toscher

And please, please never forget; “Children are living messages that time will not see. John W. Whitehead: The Stealing of America, 1983

Coach Ladd P.S. Make sure you harvest all those acorns before the snow flies, or your lawn will be doomed next spring.

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